If you’re looking for an electrician, find someone you can build a long-term relationship with. It will save you a lot of time and money if you can find someone you trust to get the job done right the first time and give you the right price.
Step 1) Find recommended companies
You can get recommendations for electricians from friends and neighbors. You can also search online for Electrician Los Angeles or Electrician Burbank and so on. If you add the word reviews to your search, you can search company reviews.
Another approach is to search websites with reviews. Reviews appear on many websites, including Google Places, Yelp.com, AngiesList.com, and CitySearch.com. AngiesList.com is an excellent source of contractor recommendations, but requires a small annual fee. On AngiesList, you can see how customers rated their contractors, including electricians, and details about how their work went.
When looking at customer reviews, look at the big picture. Is there one bad review among many good ones? Is it just a grumpy customer? Is there a company response that clears things up or says it corrected its employee?
Once you have three or so recommended electricians, check out their websites.
Step 2) Check the electricity company’s website
· Is it presentable and well maintained?
· Easy to find what you are looking for?
· Friendly, helpful and not cluttered with hard-to-sell advertisements?
· How many good testimonials?
Once the website checks out, it’s time to interview the electrician.
Step 3) Interview
When talking to the electrician, pay attention to how comfortable you feel, including your confidence level. I have listed the questions you can ask. If you’ve already gotten glowing recommendations or it’s a minor repair like fixing a broken light switch, you probably wouldn’t want to ask them all. But if you don’t talk to a recommended electrician and you’re planning a remodel, ask.
· Experience with your type of work
· Years in business. Most companies that have been in business for a long time have managed to keep their customers happy. They also gained a lot of useful experience and competence.
· Contractor’s license number
Liability insurance and employee insurance. It is desirable that the company has at least $1 million in liability insurance to protect your home if their work causes property damage. Workers Comp provides medical care for the electricians if they are injured on the job. Again, this protects you from liability.
Warranties. Some companies give a lifetime warranty on their work. This generally does not include the electrical parts they install – that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. However, the electrician must give you a warranty on labor for at least a number of years. A guarantee up to the life of your home is best.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. Ask for the exact company name where to search and in which city. Sometimes the BBB uses a slightly different name, possibly the company’s formal legal name.
· Website address if you don’t already have one
· Names and contact details of five customers
Take notes on all of this, especially the license number. If you decide to proceed, you may want to check some of what the electrician said. If you decide not to proceed, you do not need to continue with this electrician. But keep the notes so that you can later remember which companies you have already excluded.
Step 4) Watch and listen
As you gather this information, listen to what is being said, but also pay attention to how the electrician acts and makes you feel. When you meet the electrician, keep your eyes open too.
· Do you like the electrician?
· Do you feel comfortable and are you not under pressure?
· Does the electrician inspire your confidence?
· Do the electrician and company employees seem to know what they are doing?
· Do they appear to be operating legally and behaving ethically? Does he act the way you would like him to act towards you?
· Do they call back quickly?
Do they come to you on time for appointments?
· Do they listen to your questions and concerns and answer them in a way that is accessible and you can understand?
· Is the electrician neatly dressed and does he have a well-maintained vehicle and tools?
Electricians offering jobs are on their best behavior. If you already notice that an electrician is treating you or others in a way that worries you, you should find another one with whom you feel more comfortable.
Step 5) Check it out
· Check customer reviews if you haven’t already. The first part of this article provides details.
· Enter the contractor’s license number on the website of the contractor’s license board for your state. See if there are any “black spots”.
· Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau at http://www.bbb.org/. Ratings run from A+ to F based on customer complaints submitted to the Bureau. An “A” reflects the same level of customer satisfaction as an “A+”. The “A+” is earned by an “A” contractor who becomes a paying member of the Better Business Bureau, which supports the Bureau in its work.
Step 6) Call references
Don’t hesitate to call references. Customers are usually happy to give a good recommendation to help a deserving electrician. You can return the favor later if a homeowner calls you. To ask:
· How did your work go?
Was your job done right the first time?
· When a return visit was required, was the electrician easy-going and prompt?
· Was the company’s pricing competitive?
Was the electrician within budget and schedule?
· Would you like to continue using this electricity company?
Speak to at least three references. Listen carefully for enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm about the electrician. Customers, past or present, may not feel comfortable saying anything negative. If they express little enthusiasm or say something negative, keep that in mind when making your decision.
One last tip: don’t automatically choose the low bid
There may be an offer at low. How can that be? An electrician may deliberately leave out items the job requires, only to come back later saying additional work needs to be done. On the other hand, some electricians may inadvertently bid low due to inexperience. Either way, the electrician may ask for more money to complete the job or may leave you with an incomplete project.
Price is important, but evaluate the whole picture an electrician is showing you: character, expertise, ease of working with him or her, and overall value. A big part of the value of an electrician is that he/she does the job well and safely, without taking up too much time and hindering you. A highly skilled electrician can save you money by suggesting more efficient ways to get a job done or to save on electricity. A good relationship with your electrician can save you both time and money.