If you need to find electricians to make repairs or install fixtures in a rental property, it’s important to research all of your prospects to find out whether the electrician has the proper training, is insured and licensed, and has knowledge of the local wiring and building codes. A good residential electrician charges reasonable rates, stays within his/ her quote and keeps you informed about how the job is progressing. You need to have a list of questions to ask electricians when you are ready to begin your search. This will ensure you collect all the information you need to your options properly.
The task of finding a home service electrician is not a small one. Before you even contact an electrician to get a bid, you can do research that will give you information about his/her performance. Of course, a personal recommendation from a trusted friend or family member is a good place to start. You can also search the web for websites that recommend service industry providers. Some of those websites charge for this service, however there are also some that are free. Some of the free websites services include background checks, criminal checks and reviews that are written by former customers of that website. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau. You will find ratings there for electricians, particularly ones that are incompetent or unreliable. Each electrician is graded individually. There should also be reviews available from professional associations including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). An electrician is also affiliated with a local union and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
When beginning your search for an electrician to fit your needs, keep the following in mind:
• If a repair is needed, who is responsible for buying the parts – you or the electrician?
• Is this an emergency repair because your tenants are without power, or is this a maintenance issue that can be scheduled ahead of time?
• If you want items installed, have you purchased the item and researched the electrical needs?
• If you want to install ceiling fans, for example, does your existing wiring support that installation or will you need to install additional lines?
When you have made a list of prospective electricians, contact them and ask them for the following information prior to meeting with them to get a bid. A reliable electrician will be happy to provide you with this information.
a) Ask how many years they have been in business.
b) Ask if they are licensed and insured and get their license number and the name of their insurance carrier so that you can call the city or county that issued the license and see if it is in good standing.
f) Ask if the electrician has a website and then check it to see if his certification and licenses are prominently displayed. There should also be a list of services for which the electrician is qualified and a list of the specs and materials he uses for whatever job is needed.
c) Ask if the electrician is willing to provide a certificate of insurance prior to any work commencing.
d) Ask for references that include the names and telephone numbers of previous customers (be aware that there are some unscrupulous contractors that will have family members and friends pretend to be former customers, so don’t rely solely on references to make your decision) - When you call references, ask them if the job was done in a timely fashion and within the budget. Ask if there were any problems and as if the electrician fixed the problems.
e) Ask for his current work schedule to see if there will be a long wait for his services.
The more information you have before you discuss a job bid with an electrician, the better you will be at evaluating his level of expertise and his job pricing. In fact, it is a good idea to have a list of written specifications listing all aspects of the project to present to prospective electricians.
When you have a list of prospective electricians, arrange for an on-site inspection of the issue and get a bid for the job in writing. While you are discussing a bid, ask if the planned job can be installed with the existing power line. If the installation requires an additional line or an upgrade, that expense can be extremely expensive. For example, an older residence may have a 110-line but when you install a new electric water heater, the electrician may have to install a 220-line and new breaker box to meet code requirements (be sure items like this are included in your bid). Ask for an itemized bill which lists all of the estimated costs, and ask that a cap for any estimated items be listed on the bid as well. In addition, be sure to have the electrician add the date the job will be performed with a start date and finish date.
When you have selected an electrician, execute a contract. An experienced electrician will have a contract form and you should make sure that it specifies the work to be done, cost, payment schedule, start date and estimated completion date. Always try to minimize any up-front or deposit payments and try to negotiate a payment schedule that matches the pace of work and material deliveries.
This may seem like a laborious process to find electricians to perform work on your property, but it is important to minimize your risk and maximize the value of the property. Once you have found a good, reliable electrician, you can develop a relationship and use his/her services for all of your residential real estate needs.
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