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Just like choosing any other contractor to work on and at your home, finding the right electrician is not simply a matter of calling up the first name that comes up on your Google search and asking them to come on over (or it should not be anyway.)
Electricity is very useful stuff but also extremely dangerous. Hire an electrician that performs shoddy work and you could very well be in for a lot of trouble, especially if you are trying to upgrade a home for sale. Poor electrical work is something many home inspectors put up on quickly and it can derail as possible sale. Here are some of the things you should do, and the questions you should be asking in order to make sure that the electrical contractor you hire is the right one for you.
Make a Short list
The first step is to draw up a shortlist of possibilities. Friends, family and coworkers can be helpful sources of referrals when looking for a good electrician but beware of the “my cousin Jack is handy with electrics” type referrals. Handy does not mean qualified. Just because Cousin Jack put up a ceiling fan that has managed to stay intact for six months does not mean he is the right man to rewire your entire kitchen. Online referral services can be very helpful as they have usually already investigated an electrician’s credentials are as he or she claim they are.
A word about licensing
Licensing requirements for electricians in Canada may vary from province to province and even from town to town in some cases. You can check with your local building office to find out the legal requirements in your area. But the majority of good electrical contractors do become licensed whether they need to or not, as doing so protects their business and reputation as well as giving the customer an added sense of confidence, knowing that they are hiring someone who has had all the proper training.
Making a Choice
The electrician you choose may depend very much upon the nature of the job you need them to perform. When discussing a large job, such as updating the wiring for a whole house, ask the electrician you are considering if they have undertaken such big projects before, as some firms prefer to stick with the basics.
You should of course ask for, and check references. There is more to consider when hiring an electrician than their (admittedly very important) technical skills. When speaking with references ask if the electrical contractors were easy to deal with, showed up on time and finished the job when they said they would. All of these are important factors to consider when choosing an electrician.
Get it in Writing
For all but the very smallest electrical jobs it is crucial you get a written contract before work begins. The contract should spell out the exact scope of the work to be done, the materials to be used and a time frame for the job’s completion. A reputable electrical contractor will be happy to draw such a contract up, as in the long run it is as much for his protection as it yours, especially if unexpected problems arise.