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How to Find the Best Electrician

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Electricians bring us light, power, heat and other good things, so unless you live in a cave somewhere, you're going to need an electrician at some point in life. Even if you're one of those 'do it yourself' people, you're going to need an electrician. Electricity is a dangerous, powerful thing. Wiring something incorrectly can result in your appliance not working, but more seriously, over-loaded wires and circuitry can end with a fire or a life-threatening shock.

So where do you find a good electrician, and what do you look for to know he's a quality craftsman? Knowing how to find a good electrician is tricky, especially since there is a shortage of electricians in Australia today. A good electrician is one that is educated, licensed, insured and knows the local building and wiring codes. He'll charge you a fair price, stay within the quote provided and keep you apprised of work progress. If an electrician apprentice works on your home, he/she must work under a licensed electrical contractor with insurance.

Make a list: What do you need done around the home? Are you re-wiring for a new appliance, adding an alarm or air conditioning system, or do you need a new home wired? Knowing what you need done will help you narrow down the choices and get the perfect electrician for your needs. Plus, if you have several small chores that need to be done the electrician can give you a quote on all of the jobs, which will be more cost effective in the long run than adding them on to the job later.

Ask around: Chances are your friends, neighbors or colleagues have used an electrician in the past, and as word of mouth is the best advertisement, you'd be further ahead if you asked around. Anyone who is pleased with an electrician's services will be eager to pass on the phone number.

Give them a call: Get at least three phone numbers and give the prospective electricians a call. Ask how long they've been in business, if they are licensed and insured and if they have references. You'll also want to ask about the type of work they do usually. Some electricians specialize in home repairs while others specialize in new buildings only.

What about insurance and licenses? Electricians need to carry insurance and be licensed to work in your state. A license means that the electrician has been verified by the state/government agencies to be competent and skilled at his job. Insurance is your friend, and your electrician's friend. Your electrician should carry liability insurance in case accidental damage is done to your home or your neighbor's. If he has employees working for him that will be in your home, he should carry Workman's Compensation so they are covered if they are injured in your home. You'll want to see proof of both and call to make sure none of the cover or licenses have lapsed or expired. It is important to check that their license is active and covers the work they are performing. You can check licenses at

What to ask the references: When you get reference names and phone numbers, make sure you call them. Satisfied customers are ones that will be happy to talk to you and give you the scoop. Make sure you ask if the work was done on time, within budget and if the electrician answered all of their questions. If they had a problem with the work done, find out if the electrician responded well and fixed the problem promptly.

Getting an estimate: After you approve of your electrician from the phone conversation you will want to have him come out and give you a quote. The quote isn't a ball-park figure of the work to be done but a guarantee that this is the amount you will pay. Beware of a seriously low quote as you're probably going to have to add in things not taken into consideration, making your budget skyrocket.

If you're renovating, make sure you ask about new technology such as whole house surge protectors to guard against overloading computers and other electronics, as well as other devices that may need special wiring. It's easier and cheaper to add in these devices during renovation than to tack them on at a later date.

You get what you pay for: Cheapest isn't always best, not when it comes to wiring your home. Stay away from electricians who offer dirt-cheap prices or want a hefty deposit up front, because you're probably getting taken for a ride. A good electrician will give you a quote that includes the work to be done, the amount of money needed for his services, permits and any equipment/parts.

If you're having extensive renovation work or new construction done you'll want a quote that outlines the schedule of payments in detail. Most contractors will want a portion to get started with purchasing of materials, a portion part of the way through the job and the last installment after the work has been completed and inspected by authorities.

Permits: Permits are a pain only if your electrician is incompetent and has something to hide. While a simple task such as installing a new light fixture doesn't need a permit, larger projects such as installing new circuits will need proper permits filed and then posted on the job site. Think of a permit as insurance that the work will be done properly and competently because another professional will come out and inspect the work after completion.

The permit will be in the electrician's name, not yours, and should be figured into the price of the job to be done. After the work is completed a commissioner from the town or city you live in will inspect the work and certify it as a competent job.

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Live in New Zealand and want an electrician?
Great news if you're looking for an electrician in New Zealand! The certifying organization called ECANZ--Electrical Contractors Association of New Zealand--offers a guarantee for their members. ECANZ certifies and brands electrical professionals and promotes education of electrical contractor apprentices in New Zealand. A MASTERelectrician's work is guaranteed for free, up to $10,000, if he/she is a member of ECANZ, so hiring an ECANZ MASTERelectrican means you'll have some peace of mind if the job isn't done correctly or if something goes wrong.

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