One of the things that can make a project enjoyable or a living nightmare for me is a client’s choice of electrician. I have been privileged to work with some fantastic electricians over the years and sadly there are some that I would not care to work with again. I often get asked to recommend electricians or asked by clients what to look out for when choosing one. Here are my best tips for choosing the right electrician for a project:
- Ask around for recommendations – friends, neighbours, other contractors on your project. Would anyone recommend someone who they don’t expect to do a good job?! If the same name keeps coming up wouldn’t you be mad not to at least consider them?!
- I am not a big fan of asking past clients to let my potential clients troop around their homes so I can understand anyone else who feels the same. I am so lucky that I have past clients who are often willing to provide written testimonials (I have quite a few on my website) or chat on the phone on my behalf. Look for proof that they can do what they say, AND then check up on it.
- I try to fit in time having professional photographs taken as these help provide proof of the quality of my work. Ask for the same from an electrician – ask to see a portfolio of their work if they can’t provide testimonials or you can’t talk to previous clients or visit their homes. If they can’t prove that they have handled projects similar in size of complexity to yours then I personally would not consider them. I have worked on a quite a few projects where I don’t think the research into the electrical contractor’s capabilities was enough. They have struggled and sometimes failed to do their job properly – it was frankly, beyond them. A couple of years ago I was asked by a mutual contact of a fairly local electrical contractor if I would recommend them to my clients. I didn’t know them and I’d never worked with them so my message was that we could meet if they could bring a proof of working on at least 5 projects of 5+ bedroom homes, which is my main market, and I haven’t heard from them yet…
- I must admit that I always feel happier with an NICEIC Approved Contractor rather than one who is just registered as a Domestic Installer. An Approved Contractor’s training and breadth of experience should be a lot wider. Clients don’t hire me if they want a single pendant or a couple of rows of downlights in all of their rooms. They tell me that they hire me for my creativity, ideas, inspiration, technical knowledge, to create mood and atmosphere, etc. and that tends to mean that my schemes require a level above that which the average Domestic Installer is used to.
- If your lighting designer is making noises that they aren’t sure that an electrician is up to the job please listen to them. You have hired them to have your best interests at heart.
- Be wary of contractors who are immediately or easily available. The good ones are always busy and you may need to wait for them. Or, better still, really plan ahead and get a good one booked in for when you need them. The exception to this rule is sometimes a project drops through or gets out back or on hold so someone could be available quickly for good reasons.
- Look for the transparent quotation. I have always listed every lighting item, right down to the cost of each lamp (bulb) and am very way of “bottom-line” quotations for anything as who knows what they are hiding.
- Look at their reaction to your lighting plan. I have found that the electricians who complain about the complexity of my plans and say that they can’t understand why people need more than one light and switch in a room haven’t been up to the job. That’s not what I’m hired for – I am hired to add variety, flexibility and mood to homes and that can’t be done with one light and a light switch in every room. If they have an interest in your lighting plan, see the point and aren’t phased by it you will be much better off hiring them in the long run even if they are charging more than the others. They are more likely to understand what you want to achieve and be capable of implementing it.
- Note that an estimate is just that – it isn’t a quotation so can be varied (= increased) as much as they like!
- I have adapted the old adage – get 3 prices and pick the middle one. I’d say pick the middle OR the top one. The bottom price can be someone who is pitching low and then planning to add in loads of “extras” along the way (please see the point above about estimates). The top one may be taking the mickey but they could be just the most thorough and honest and I am a bit of a “you get what you pay for” kind of gal!
I hope that this will help you when you are choosing the electrical contractor for your project. If you would like the details of any of the fabulous electricians that I have worked with then please contact us on [email protected].