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Owning your own home is a great adventure in independence, freedom of choice, and personalization. Along with the comfort of your own place comes the responsibility of caring for that place. It is not always easy to know what types of upkeep is needed, and figuring out how to perform it is even more difficult.
Sometimes it is as easy as a quick search for a do-it-yourself blog and the minor costs incurred from the hardware store. Other projects require a professional’s touch, however. Keeping in mind the pros and cons of doing things on your own will help you to make the right decision.
When it comes to the most important maintenance items, electrical, plumbing, and temperature control, it may take some additional questioning. In particular, electrical work can be very dangerous if not performed correctly. Check out these six questions to ask before hiring an electrical professional.
1. When Do You Need a Professional
Electrical knowledge is a large part of running a home with vastly different skill requirements needed for the various tasks. There certainly are electrical functions that can be performed from a do-it-yourself standpoint if proper precautions are taken. Items, like updating plug-ins or changing light switch faceplates, are easily done and relatively low risk.
When you get into exposed wires and cabling it is important to know your limits. Having a small amount of information or a basic electrical task guide is not always enough to get the task done safely. If all aspects of the job are not done correctly there is a very real risk of property damage, and even injury to yourself or loved ones.
Be sure to ask yourself if you are comfortable doing the maintenance or installation of electrical-related items. If there is any question about doing it yourself, it is always best to take the safe route and hire a professional. Keeping your home and family out of harm’s way is worth the cost.
- National Electrical Code
Though it is not a federal law to adhere to the National Electrical Code, it is an important topic to broach with an electrician you hope to hire. The standards set forth in the National Electrical Code are monitored and updated as new safety standards are adopted. Most states and municipalities use this code to keep an enforceable level of electrical code safety standards in their area.
An important part to recognize when speaking about the National Electrical Code is that it changes. If the electrician you are working with has been out of touch with the code, it is possible that they have missed out on new updates in safety measures. Be sure to clarify that they have recently refreshed on the code and are ready to perform in a way that keeps your home up to code.
- Three Protective Considerations
There are three important pieces to ask for information on in regards to the contractor you are hoping to hire. Are they licensed, are they bonded, do they have insurance. With these three protections in place, you can rest easier with the professional you’ve chosen.
Licensing among contractors is a fairly standard requirement. In many states contractors of any type, electrical included, must meet a set of minimal requirements for their line of work according to the region in which they wish to practice. Unlicensed workers are not able to get permits and therefore go uninspected. Additionally, homeowner’s insurance typically does not cover damage caused by the work of an unlicensed contractor.
Contractors who have purchased a surety bond, a type of insurance meant to cover the costs associated with lawsuits due to work that doesn’t meet code, are “bonded” contractors. The bond is meant to payout to the government in the event a contractor licensed under them performs work that does not meet code and the government then gets sued.
Insurance in contracting is much like bonds in that it is paid out on poor service or faulty work. However, insurance coverage pays out to the homeowner who was affected by the incorrectly done job. This is such an important part to contract labor that many places make this type of insurance mandatory for becoming a licensed professional in the field.
- Do They Offer a Warranty?
Deciding to have a professional come in, getting the appointment set-up, missing work, and then having the problem come back in two weeks is the worst. It is difficult to trust professionals again when after this happens. Will the issue ever be properly repaired?
Though it is not a requirement for professional electricians to offer a warranty on their work, it is a best practice in the industry. Warranty periods have wide ranges and sometimes depend on the type of work being done. Most warranties run between six months and one year after completion of the service, however.
Typically this time period is enough. If the issue is not corrected, it is likely to crop up much sooner than a year out, and this window provides enough time to catch any recurring problems. Verify with your contractor if they offer a warranty on the service they provide; if they offer high-quality work, there should be no concern in guaranteeing the excellence of their service.
The question that drives people to do-it-yourself blogs is pricing. It is scary to consider what type of bill might be coming from the work an electrical contractor will perform. There are many types of work in the field of an electrician, so the price can range pretty widely.
An important question to ask when shopping around is whether the contractor quotes at a job level or charges an hourly fee. If the fee is set by an hourly rate, you’ll need to find out what the typical time frame of the work is. By comparing professionals at the same level, the cost of the job, it will make it easier to choose a price range you are comfortable with.
Also, you will want to verify if there are any added expenses that you can expect. Depending on your proximity to the electrician, there may be fees associated with their travel. Sometimes this manifests in a minimum charge no matter the work done on location.
No matter the work being done at your home, you want to make sure it is done right. Whether that is by making it a do-it-yourself project or if it means calling in a professional, it is important to consider the decision. Find a contractor who will make sure the work is done correctly, or cover the repairs and reworks associated with work that is not.
Verify your regional rules for licensing and National Electrical Code training to know what exactly a licensed electrician is bringing to the table. It is not easy to find the right contractor for your exact needs, but it is worth the effort to shop around and connect with your perfect fit. The professional you need is out there, you just have to find them!