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Choosing the Best Electrical Contractor

- April 6, 2018 by Diego Garcia (View all posts by Diego)

Electricity is certainly the one utility a business cannot work without. So when it comes time to perform electrical work, how can an organization ensure they are finding the best qualified worker for the job?

First, what is a qualified worker? The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) defines a qualified person as one who has the skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of electrical components and has received training on the hazards involved. The key things to remember are: is the worker knowledgeable on the equipment and have they received safety training?

While most workplace maintenance crews have sufficient knowledge to conduct most in-house repairs and upgrades, would your maintenance staff be considered a qualified person for all electrical jobs? The reality of most businesses is that sooner or later there will be a need to seek the services of an electrical contractor.

When choosing a contractor, some important factors to consider are:

  1. Licenses, certifications and insurance. Every State will have basic licensing requirements an electrician must possess before selling services. Verifying your contractor possess all licenses, certifications, and insurance certificates in your State is the first step to ensuring you are dealing with a trustworthy contractor.
  2. Experience. Not all electricians are equal! Electrical systems differ greatly from residential, commercial, industrial and machinery applications. Moreover, depending on the location of your electrical systems further considerations must be taken, for example, is the system located in a wet, dusty or explosive environment?
  3. Continuing education. Unfortunately, experience is not enough when choosing the best contractor.   Electrical devices are continuously updated and new products are invented regularly. Moreover, the National Electric Code is updated every three years and local regulations might update in between the NEC updates. Many contractors will participate in trade organizations, Union training or some sort of third party training to stay current with regulations and best practices.
  4. Warranty and References. Any good electrician should be able to provide references and proof of quality of work. Other good indicators include willingness to provide a written work guarantee and promise to fix any non-conforming work. Number of customer reviews, testimonials and pictures of completed work on public websites compared to years in operation.
  5. Cost. Beware of low estimates. Ensure your quote is in writing and that it specifies who is responsible for ancillary cost. Many times low estimates are given based on a “best case scenario” however, when it comes to fixing or upgrading electrical what is actually behind the wall, is rarely what is expected. Dealing with unforeseen cost after the work has begun can be a really unpleasant experience if not detailed in the contract.

There are many things to consider when hiring a reputable electrical contractor. Ensuring these steps are taken, however, can be the difference between a smooth electrical upgrade or a potentially catastrophic fire.