Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibility, which can translate to a lot of money. Who can blame you for wanting to DIY as much as you can? But when it comes to electrical problems, it’s better to leave solutions to the professionals.
From installing new outlets to lighting upgrades to renovations, hiring a licensed electrician is crucial whenever you’re dealing with electricity. Not only are electrical projects dangerous, but a mistake could have a larger impact on your entire home’s electrical system, which could turn into an even more expensive repair. While you may be capable of doing the work, if you aren’t a licensed electrician, you should absolutely hire one.
When you think of electrical work, you might go back to 4th grade when you discovered how circuits worked and plugged wires into a potato. Shockingly, wiring and electrical systems are not nearly so simple. The circuits in your home are built on a vast interdependent network designed to optimize power usage across lights, heaters, outlets, and all the other various electrical components in your home.
Licensed electricians can help resolve any issue relating to your home’s power grid, from flickering lights to a new electrical panel. Some of the most common projects electricians take on include:
Unlike some other specialists, the answer of when to hire an electrician is a pretty easy one. You should hire an electrician when you identify an electrical problem. Simple, right?
If a switch isn’t doing what it’s supposed to, an appliance isn’t turning on, or lights are flickering, under no circumstances should you go into the walls and start messing around with the wires. If you go down to the electrical panel, re-set a tripped breaker, and the problem isn’t solved, it’s time to call an electrician because you have a more complicated electrical issue.
Hiring an electrician is much like hiring any other kind of home specialist. Follow these steps:
Nearly every state requires electricians to obtain a license before they can be paid for their work. In most states, the main levels of licensure are:
Each of these levels is technically licensed and capable, but apprentices may only perform limited duties as supervised by another licensed electrician. They’re basically indicative of experience level, but will also demand different pay scales.
For most common household problems, a journeyman or even a supervised apprentice is fine. If you’re pursuing a full rewire of your house or need new electrical work in an addition or renovation on your home, it’s better to hire a master.
The internet is full of resources and reviews of electricians, so you can see who is most highly regarded in your area. You can also ask friends or family members if they have an electrician they like. Finally, if you can’t figure it out, check with the local home-builders’ association or an electrical supply house in the area and describe your project so they can help match you with a licensed pro.
You’ll likely need to call an electrician more than once in your time as a homeowner, so it’s best to find someone you like and build a rapport.
If you get a recommendation from someone you trust, you probably don’t need to interrogate an electrician. Likewise, most general contractors have electricians they trust, so if you’re working on a larger project and you trust your contractor, you can likely trust their electrician, too.
Most electricians specialize, so those who have made a career out of working on residential homes and work with general contractors are probably uniquely suited to meet your electrical needs.
But if you want to be very thorough, some good questions to ask are:
The cost of an electrician largely depends on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the skill level of the electrician. Most electricians charge $40 to $120 per hour, depending on experience level. You can also expect anywhere from $150 to $600 added for materials and components like fixtures.
You can generally assume when jobs will be on the less expensive vs. more expensive side. Jobs that require a whole-home rewiring cost more than wiring a single room, and something like putting in new switches may not cost very much at all. You can always ask your electrician for an estimate upfront before you commit to the work, too.
More answers to your questions about hiring an electrician:
There are several ways to save money when hiring an electrician. Assuming you have a large job, you can bring the price down by requesting a cost breakdown ahead of time. Looking at costs, you may opt for less expensive materials or fixtures, bundling multiple projects into one to reduce the number of times an electrician has to come back, and by getting multiple quotes.
Sometimes the best way to save is by simply giving yourself options.
Rewiring an entire house is one of the most expensive electrical projects you can undertake. Electricians typically charge by hour, not by square foot, but wiring large areas takes more time. Plus, wiring for new construction is easier than rewiring existing homes since there’s less to work around. As such, new wiring costs $3 to $5 per square foot, while rewiring costs $6 to $10 per square foot.
If you project that outward, a 1,000 square foot home typically costs $3,000 to $5,000 for new wiring and $6,000 to $10,000 to rewire. A 2,000 square foot home will likely cost twice those numbers.
No, you should not pay an electrician until you’ve inspected and are satisfied with their work.
Electricians are licensed professionals who generally know what things cost and how much time work will take. As such, there’s often not a lot of room for negotiation, especially since they’re doing dangerous work in your home. Still, as we touched on before, you have a little wiggle room to negotiate on parts and by getting multiple quotes.
Of course, it always helps to be polite and reasonable in your requests, too.
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