Why Use a Licensed Electric Contractor

Posted on: November 27th, 2011 by Glen 4 Comments

Are you ready to have some electrical work installed or maybe an electrical problem or two repaired? You have to consider "How much is this going to cost me?" People advertise things like "the lowest prices in town", "I'll beat any estimate", "No job too small or No job too big", "I'll fix any problem" " Cheapest Electrician in town" or "I can do it all". This sounds very good and maybe they really do know this profession that well.

In reality if they are the lowest price in town and can beat any estimate they may not have a state certified electrical contractor's license, proper insurance or bonding. They may be supplying low quality electrical material.  You also have to consider if they will be in business for possible warranty work required in the future, they may lack enough capital to finish your job properly. Yes, it costs money to protect you, the consumer.

"No job too small, No job too Big", "I'll fix any problem" or "I do it all" are red light warning signs of a novice not knowing what they are talking about.  Generally speaking the small companies or the one man shop don't have the manpower or financial backing for the big jobs. A couple of my favorite comments in many of the ads posted include "I'll fix any problem" or "I do it all". Really, if they could do it all, they would have a great job working someplace making really big money.

Is every licensed and insured electrician better than an unlicensed electrical person?  I highly doubt it!  I'm not criticizing the unlicensed persons' ability to do their job properly. Some of these people are the same people the licensed contractor will dispatch to service your home or business' electrical needs.  The difference arises when there's a problem with the job. Nobody is perfect, mistakes are made and accidents do happen to the best of us.

What happens when there's a major safety problem with the job and you can't resolve it with the contractor? The local or state licensing board is a very powerful dispute resolution force for the consumer if they have a problem with a licensed, insured & bonded contractor.  What if the unlicensed & uninsured person damages your home because of an accident or a mistake in the wiring job?  Sure you can sue them but you probably can't collect anything because they don't have anything of value to lose. You are just plain out of luck and you'll have to pay someone else to fix it again.  Also, check with your own insurance agent about who is financially responsible for the uninsured worker(s) that might get hurt while working on your property, before hiring them.

I believe most contracting companies started out as small one or two man operations just as I did years ago. The skilled trade people are good at their profession but most lack a good business plan to run a successful company. Sadly many businesses fail in the first two years and most will fail within five years.

Before doing business with any "company" verify if they are registered, licensed, bonded and insured. Additionally find out how long have they been in business?  Reputable service people and companies are easy for you to contact. They should have a business card or photo identification, business address, phone, fax line, cellular number, e-mail address and maybe even a website that you can contact them through.

If you think paying a professional to fix an electrical problem is expensive, you will be shocked to see how much an amateur will really cost you in the end.

4 Responses

  1. chanel walker

    December 29, 2012

    i want to know about how much it cost to buy permit to fix meter in home?

    • Alex

      January 2, 2013

      This varies depending on what city you live in. Just call you city’s building department and they will point you in the right direction.

  2. glen

    January 3, 2013

    Check with your local building department. In my area permits are in the $35 to $218 range for a basic permit plus the power company disconnect / reconnect fee of $156 and the additional charges the electrician for the pulling the permit and setting the inspections to replace a electric meter base box. So you can have $500 in non electrical work costs before the electrician preform any of the labor or provides any material for the job. best guess $1,000 to $1,500 to replace meter base and more if they have to replace feeder wiring. note higher costs if the electrician has to update the grounding system to meet code. Talk to local area electrician to meet your wiring requirements for your project.

  3. David Garrett

    April 11, 2013

    Additionally, in South Carolina, it is unlawful to hire an unlicensed contractor. If the work goes well, no one will probably ever know. However, if there’s a problem, and as mentioned above, the homeowner tries to use the State to go after the unlicensed contractor, it could result in a fine to the homeowner. Some people have an issue with this due to “too much government control”. But the reason for the law is 1) to protect those of us who have invested considerable time and money to be licensed and insured, 2) encourage fair competition and 3) protect the occupants of the home… which may or may not be the one hiring the contractor.


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