Hiring an electrician is a big deal when you are looking to remodel your home in any number of ways, whether it be a kitchen refurbishment or installing lights in your new conservatory. The difference between a legit or a shady electrician could be weeks of your time, thousands of pounds and whole bundles of stress.
So don’t rush ahead and grab the first option available: you may risk getting yourself a dreaded ‘cowboy’ electrician. Be sure to read our guide and find yourself a trustworthy tradesperson.
Seven Simple Rules for Finding a Trustworthy electrician
We have a list of simple steps that will help you on your way to getting the high-quality service your house deserves:
1. First things first – ask for their registration.
18 million people are too afraid to ask for proof that their electrician is registered. This is the definitive proof you need to rest assured you are not hiring a ‘cowboy’ electrician, with zero accountability, to work on your home.
From the legal perspective, tradespeople must work to the UK national safety standard (BS 7671) and you can search for legitimately registered electricians in your area at Registered Competent Person or, if you live in Scotland, the government’s Certification Register.
2. Get a reference.
Think of this as a job interview (which it is essentially), in which you are the employer. The electrician may make all sorts of fanciful claims; but you must ask for references from his previous customers to make sure these claims are substantiated, and ensure you have a trustworthy electrician on board.
The ideal reference would of course be from a member of your family or close friend, who has had the electrician work on their own home and were delighted with the work done.
3. Take your time when choosing.
Make sure to get at least three quotes from different electricians before you embark on any major electrical works in your home. Although it may be time-consuming, it could save you a lot of money.
This is not to say you should base your choice on pricing: that is only one factor, with the most crucial factor being the quality of their services. This article details the behaviour of ‘cowboy’ electricians who will want to pressure you in to making a rash decision without examining their credentials.
Use online review sites to narrow down your options, and read all the reviews you can, both positive and negative, to get a fuller picture of the electrician you’ll be hiring. For instance, there could be a slew of positive reviews based on the electricians personality and friendliness, that ignore his lax scheduling.
4. Get a quote! (don’t ever pay up front)
If an electrician is insisting on giving you an estimate instead of a quote you can shoo him on right out of the door. The differences between a quote and an estimate are simple: a quote is an agreed, legally binding price that is fixed unless extra work is commissioned.
An estimate, however, is just a best guess at the cost, not legally binding and subject to change. As you can imagine estimates are a favourite tool among cowboy electricians so make sure to avoid these at all costs.
Your quote must contain agreed start and finish times, as well as agreed payment terms.
5. Check that everyone working on your premises is licensed to do so.
You’ll likely spend most of your time talking to an individual contractor whose credentials you should have seen by now.
However, they may have an entire team working in your home (depending on the scale of the project). You need to vet every electrician working in your home.
6. Give your electrician a clear brief.
Give a clear, unambiguous statement of what you want done, to avoid them doing too little or too much work, and then over-charging you.
If your whole garage needs rewiring, explain in detail how you want it done. If you just need a switch replaced, the brief should be a great deal simpler.
The brief should be a discussion between you and the electrician: you need to find out what needs to be done on your end too.
Ask if you need to supply any materials and whether the agreed cost includes subcontractors, and the cleaning up and disposal of waste.
7. Prepare for the worst
If you meticulously followed the first six steps then there should hopefully be no need to use this step.
However, just in case there are discrepancies with your electrician during or after the work has taken place, it is important to do all the following.
- You should keep all relevant paperwork and receipts,
- Take photos of the progress of their work and make notes, detailing any problems with dates and times.
Bonus: What to do if you are unhappy with your electricians’ work
If you are unhappy with the work carried out by your electrician there are numerous routes you can utilise to settle these problems.
You can get in touch with the Trading Standards and Citizen’s Advice, who deal with any company you think didn’t carry out their job properly.