How to work with an electrical contractor

October 17, 2014

When tackling any home improvement project, working with an electrical contractor qualified for the job is half the battle.

How to work with an electrical contractor

Define the task at hand

  • Are you looking at a major renovation, or are you simply looking to repair existing electrical wiring?

Electrical contractors are specialists to some extent. Some have the equipment and manpower to tackle major projects while others are equipped to handle smaller-scale repairs and installations.

Defining the task also helps you clearly communicate your needs to potential contractors so you can receive an accurate estimate for the task.

Contact contractors

Once you have identified the type of work needed, it's time to contact contractors.

  • This is the time to ask your friends and acquaintances for recommendations.
  • Additionally, you also need to make sure that contractors are qualified professionals that are able to meet building code specifications and other by-laws.

The Canadian Electrical Contractors Association (CECA) is a great resource.

  • Contact three to five contractors, present them with the task you want to accomplish, and find out how they would approach the project.

The goal is to find someone with the technical proficiency, reliability and reputation for doing a good job. The most pressing concern in any electrical job is safety and system reliability. To ensure this, contractors have to follow electrical safety standards and install systems that can be expected to perform well for many years.

Ask many questions

Ask all the necessary questions up front before you're ready to work with electrical contractors. Important concerns to raise include:

  • Will electrical installation meet the standard codes?
  • Is the contractor committed to correct work that is not up to the recognized standard?
  • Will a written estimate of the project be provided?
  • Is a copy of the insurance certificate of the contractor available?
  • Does the contractor have testimonials or references?

Have the agreement on paper

Once you've done the initial legwork in selecting a suitable contractor and you've made your decision, it's time to get the agreement on paper. Verbal agreements are not ironclad, and it won't help settle anything if there are any problems along the way.

  • Details like the final estimate and target completion date are too important to leave to chance.

*Not only is it dangerous, it may even be illegal in some provinces, such as Québec, to do your own electrical wiring. The solution: consider hiring a master electrician.

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