How to Hire an Electrician for a Real Estate Project

For your real estate project, you’re probably looking to hire an electrician. But how do you go about hiring the best electrical contractor in your area? It may be tempting to jump at the first encounter with an electrician, but knowing your project and asking the right questions can help you find the right electrician to hire for your specific real estate project. Here is our guide to help you confidently hire your next electrician and what to look for. 

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Do Your Research:

Whether it’s online or word of mouth, you’ll want to review multiple options. Finding multiple available electricians in your area is a great starting point to finding the right one for your real estate project. 

  • Online Reviews
  • Ask on Social Media
  • Friends & Family

When comparing and contrasting electricians, it’s best not to solely focus on price and availability – if you do, you’re much more likely to get an electrician that provides poor quality of work, which is not good in the long run. By getting some feedback from your extended network, you’ll have a much clearer understanding of the quality of work provided for past projects, and you can factor that into your decision making moving forward. This will help you narrow down the electricians to interview.

What You’ll Want to Know

Now that you’ve chosen a few electricians in your area, you’ll want to get a sense of how they can work with you to help complete your real estate project. When talking to electricians, here’s what to look for:

Project Costs:

During your search to hire an electrician, make sure to get a detailed quote from each contractor. You’ll want to know the hourly rate and the estimated number of hours a project will take. As you narrow down your decision, be sure to get a written quote that details the work to be done and the anticipated cost.  It is best to also include a “not to exceed” amount for potential overages. This limits the potential for creeping cost increases.

Level of Expertise:

Another thing to know for each electrician you’re considering is the level of expertise for the contractors. What level of experience are you dealing with – apprentice, journeyman or master electrician? You’ll want to know relative to the project what their capabilities are to see if the electrician would be a good fit.

Timeframe:

You don’t want a part of your real estate project to hold up the whole project. Will the electrician give a realistic, but quick timeline? You’ll want to know how long the project will take to coincide best with other parts of your real estate project.

Common Questions to Ask Your Electrician Before Hiring:

What questions should you ask an electrician before a job starts? Are there any follow-up questions to ask after the project ends? Whether it’s purposely done or accidental, you’ll want to make sure there’s electrician isn’t withholding information about how they work. Our expert electricians at Grayzer Electric, AC Electric and All Star Electric contributed some great insight and reasoning behind asking these questions.

How long have you been in business and in this area?

This is a great question to ask as a way to gauge how established an electrician is. The geographic area is an important distinction when you pose the question to your potential hiree.

Rick Grohman, All Star Electric:

This is a great question to ask a contractor because there are a lot of “fly by night” companies that open their doors, do a couple of jobs, cut corners to save money, and quickly close their businesses when things go wrong. Most companies that have been around a while have done so because they do quality work, stand behind their work, have a large customer base, and usually don’t have cash flow issues. This means they will stand behind the work done at a customer’s home or business and will stick around to fix any issues that may arise on a project“.

Mike Short, AC Electric:

By asking this question, you will get the details about the company’s experience servicing the area where they are based. This information will help you gauge their reputation. Asking this question can also be a great segway into getting testimonials from previous customers.”

Grayzer Electric:

Although electricians follow a codebook known as the National Electrical Code, you’ll want to know how long a business has been in operation in a certain area since larger cities and power providers may adopt different ordinances. For instance, the electrical code is updated every 3 years. The first year a new code comes out is typically the year for manufacturers to begin producing new products that electricians will need to do their work correctly. Typically, companies and cities should begin implementing and enforcing the new code rules around the second year of the newest code year. However, if an area would like to make a change to the code in the way that electricians implement the rules they can enact an area-wide ordinance”.

The City of Austin has ordinances that specifically pertain to the way an electrician completes their work; Austin Energy also has specific rules about electrical work. An electrician that’s never worked in Austin likely wouldn’t know about these requirements which could mean that an electrical meter replacement isn’t hooked back up by Austin Energy or that electrical work doesn’t pass inspection“.

Who specifically will be doing the work?

Before starting an electrical project, you’ll want to be certain that you know who exactly will be performing the work. Without asking the question beforehand, you may not know an electrician plans to outsource work to someone you’ve never met. Along the same lines, it’s also worth asking about the supervision of a project – will there be active supervision of the team as the project progresses? 

Mike Short, AC Electric:

Knowing who specifically will be doing the work for a residential electrical project can help you make a more informed decision on a company to hire. More specifically, you should know the level of experience of the full team of electricians who might work on your project. Asking this question ensures that the whole staff will commit to the safety standards and deliver high-quality work for your project.”

Will there be a warranty?

When meeting a prospective electrician initially to get a quote, you’ll want to know if the company offers a warranty. When electricians offer warranties, it means they stand behind their work and know what they are doing. If something goes wrong a few weeks after the service was supposedly completed, will you have to incur an additional fee to get the issue resolved? Another question to ask is how long they guarantee their work.

Rick Grohman, All Star Electric:

All established companies will offer some kind of warranty. This is a very important question to ask a potential contractor. Having a warranty shows that the company will provide a quality install and that if there are any issues within the warranty period, those issues will be fixed at no cost to the customer. Warranties help give customers peace of mind in their chosen contractor“.

Mike Short, AC Electric:

Asking about a warranty upfront is another important question to ask electricians for hire. The company offering a warranty ensures peace of mind during a project. With it, you get the guarantee that your contractor will address problems in the future at no extra cost.”

Are you licensed?

During your search, ensuring that potential contractors have proper licensing should be a must. The company should have proper licensing for the state in which they provide services. Unlicensed contractors can take advantage of you financially, and will typically provide lower quality work.

Grayzer Electric:

“This is one of the most important questions to ask when hiring anyone doing electrical work on or in the home. In Texas, many skilled trades, except for general contractors and roofers have a state-wide license. For electricians, we’re governed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). Any homeowner can look through the TDLR website and search for an electrician’s license number and expiration date. If you’d like to take it one step further you can search the TDLR website for violations. The TDLR licensing and violations search doesn’t apply to just electricians but barbers, athletic trainers, and tow truck companies“.

Rick Grohman, All Star Electric:

Hiring licensed professionals is vital. If a company does not have an electrical contractor’s license, then that company is most likely operating illegally. Most states require contractors to be licensed. Licensing tests given by a state or municipality are intended to be hard to pass in order to obtain licenses. This makes sure that those companies that get licensed fully understand electrical code so the customers that hire them to know that they will get the work done properly. An electrical contractor doing work incorrectly can at best cost the customer extra money to get the work done properly by a different company, and at worst can cost the customer their home or business due to an electrical fire started by their faulty electrical work”.

Are You Insured?

When it comes to insurance, they need to have both liability and homeowner’s insurance. This means that they won’t be able to sue you if one of their workers gets injured on the job. It also means that, should electrician damage your home or wiring, you won’t be held financially responsible for a mess you didn’t make.

Grayzer Electric:

Similar to the importance of being licensed, electricians should also be insured. An electrician should also be insured for general liability to cover the homeowner in the event something goes wrong with their electrical work. Real estate professionals can request a certificate of insurance from the electrician for a little more peace of mind, we are obligated to provide confirmation“.

Rick Grohman, All Star Electric:

All electrical contractors operating legally will have insurance. If you find someone that is not insured, walk away from them quickly. If you hire a company that is not insured and they damage your home or business, there is no real way to go after that company. An electrical contractor’s insurance will cover any liability for damages caused to a customer’s home or business“.

Do I need a permit? Who will obtain it?

A permit ensures electrical work will be checked by a city inspector — an important safeguard for homeowners. It’s standard for electrical contractors (not homeowners) to pull permits.

In Closing

Hiring an electrician that is the right fit for your real estate project is important for getting the project done on time, on budget, and the right way. Asking questions during the hiring process will help you navigate the best choice for your project moving forward.

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