Choosing the right technician will determine the quality of the job in the long term. Choosing the wrong tradesman could leave both your home and family at risk.
That’s why at Pat.org.uk we’ve prepared this easy-to-grasp guide to help you pick a reliable electrician and leave the nerves and worry behind,
#1 Check for license, certificates and other qualifications.
Every time you consider hiring an electrician to help you at home – check for license details! And what’s more important – background vet them yourself!
Read more: Who can carry PAT testing?
Don’t be afraid to ask for a paper proof of qualification and certification status. Don’t be unsure if you should confirm the legitimacy of proof yourself.
For your best peace of mind – check with any of the government approved associations. Not all tradesmen claiming they posses the right skills are truly certified electricians. Although regulations are becoming ever tighter, there are still rough tradesmen who might try to deceit you. Here in California, almost all electricians are certified because people are aware of the consequences of hiring an uncertified electrician. Moreover, California is a great state for electricians.
Only certified tradesmen like the professionals at the Fantastic Electrical department can truly guarantee you that everything will be done according to the national safety standards and will provide written proof for you to use in case of insurance claims.
If the electrician is unwilling to provide evidence of his status, that’s certainly a BIG RED FLAG.
#2 Double-check on pricing!
The nature of a job can vary but you should always ask for quotes from at least two or three different companies.
Truly professional electricians can provide a WRITTEN estimate for cost of labor and materials.
A sure sign of a suspicious tradesman would be the line “It’s all included”. Although many would rather have materials as part of the hourly rate, current industry standards do not.
A tradesman should be responsible only for the labour at hand, not materials. Buying materials outside the labour fee is the one sure way for the actual quality of those. If you trust a tradesmen for “his materials” you might never find out where those came from and are those really quality enough.
#3 Background research the company or tradesman you choose
A good electrician will have a decent history of happy customers and reviews.
Reputable tradesmen could even provide a portfolio of jobs done. If you want to take your research one step further – simply reach out to people who already reviewed the electrician company you’ve chosen.
We are in the age of “referral marketing”, so asking yourself is the best way to make sure you’ve found a good electrician whom you can trust. Ask them if the job was done in a professional manner and within the budget initially stated in the quote.
If an electrical repair or installation is not done according to the up-to-date safety regulations, your home and the life of your family could be in danger.
Certified vs a qualified electrician?
Typically any qualified electrician could perform services that are for certified electrician, however, after the completion, a certified (registered electrician) should inspect their work and sign it off. Tradesmen merely “qualified” can’t sign those off.
NOTE: A handyman can and should only replace light fixtures (such that are not within one meter from your shower/bath), sockets (not in a bathroom) and light switches, low voltage transformers, and light bulbs.
Certified Electricians should be registered with the leading voluntary regulatory body for the electrical contracting industry. In the UK, that’s NICEIC. It has been assessing the electrical competence of electricians for nearly sixty years.
Here’s a list of jobs that certified electricians (left) and qualified electricians can handle according to their accreditation.
|A Certified electrician can:||A Qualified electrician can:|
|● the installation of a new circuit, whether at low voltage (typically 230 V) or extra-low voltage)|
● the replacement of a consumer unit (fusebox)
● any alteration or addition to an existing circuit in a special location*, whether at low voltage (typically 230 V) or extra-low voltage
● A special location is a room containing a bath or shower, swimming pool or a sauna heater.
● An alteration or addition to an existing circuit in a room containing a bath or shower is notifiable only where carried out in the space surrounding a bath or shower.
● An alteration or addition anywhere within a room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater is notifiable.
● Install new smoke/fire/heat/CO2 wired alarms
● Issue LandLord Certificates
|● Replace existing light fittings / switches / dimmer switches / lights and bulbs|
● Replace existing extractor fans and hoods
● Hardwire ovens / cookers / dishwashers / washing machines
● Replace wired smoke/fire/heat/CO2 alarm
● Replace electric towel rail
● Replace garden light fixtures
● Find and fix electrical faults in circuits, fuses, sockets, light switches, etc…
● Replace low-voltage transformers
How can a cheap but botchy job cost you more in the long term:
- Poorly insulated installations of outdoor lighting fixtures can cause a fire:
A poor job of hooking wires to the current could lead to insulation melting resulting in the whole system short-circuiting. At worse case scenario you might have to change your entire distribution board, not to mention fire.
- Sockets and switches fitted at ground level within bathrooms or in a near-sink area.
Inadequate socket or lighting switch installations placed close or directly exposed to water and moisture pose a direct risk to people in the property. It’s surprising that this can and still happens. Keeping the electrical current away from water and moisture is the 101 rule of electrical installations. A misconducted wiring in an area exposed to water and moisture can lead to short circuits and thus endanger your life and well-being. So if you have just finished a bathroom or kitchen renovation, make sure a certified or the least qualified electrician will inspect the final wiring.
* PS: Should we even mention naked wiring in the bathroom? It’s a bit sad, but there are occasions where renters would rather leave that be than letting the landlord know.
- Outdoor sockets require a circuit breaker in case of water exposure:
Few know that installing an outdoor socket requires a unit equipped with a ground-fault breaker that will shut the outlet down in case of water exposure. Needless to say that such a mistake might cause your home to burn to the ground.
- Scotch-taping lighting wiring:
Renters will often try to scotch tape any loosen or naked wiring without even bother about connections being risk-free or grounded in the first place. This obviously poses huge risks both to the well-being of tenants and to the property itself.
- Improperly connected boiler.
You should be aware of the details for connecting a boiler to the grid. Many boiler models are directly connected to the electrical panel without a boiler panel but some boilers are wired to an existing socket along with other units such as lighting. This should be avoided at all cost. The circuit supplying the boiler must be self-contained and necessarily be having a circuit-breaker or an electrical switch. Boiler panels can be for outdoor installation, built-in or the console type. There are boiler panels with a contact or two contacts. Regardless of the type and brand of the panel, it’s an obligatory part! The connection of a boiler without a panel, an own electric cable and fuse is completely wrong!
- Light bulbs burning out too often.
A big issue with UK properties are light bulbs burning out on a regular basis. Bulbs last less than a year and those are warrantied for 7+ years. There are a number of reasons why the lights can be burning out but the most common is bad wiring to the circuit and the mains. As well, the insulation can be too close to the bulb itself and heat might cause
- Installing ceiling fans.
Although installing a ceiling fan might look like a simple electrical task there many things that can go wrong. If the wiring is not done properly this can lead to electrical sparks coming out once the unit is switched on.
Choosing the right tradesman is indisputable crucial. Hiring the wrong person could not only cost you thousands in repair but a ton of nerves as well. Being able to distinguish a qualified tradesman versus a certified professional can jeopardize both your home and family.