Managing construction projects doesn’t just involve the onsite work but also includes pre-planning, including hiring workers. Electrical work for a construction project is a very complex job– you can’t just get a novice to design and create the intricate systems.
However, it’s a known maxim in the construction industry and among the trades, a highly skilled tradesperson is not a cheap hire, but it still costs less than hiring a bad one. Think of it this way: spend money on a lousy electrician first, and then you’ll have to pay more for an expert to fix the first’s mistakes.
For the client’s and the project’s sake, hire a good and qualified electrician from the get-go. With that said, here’s what to ask potential electricians for the project to help you weed out the bad ones, as well as some tips in hiring. If you’re an electrician, you should also know these questions so you can prepare for interviews.
What To Ask An Electrical Contractor Before Hiring Them
1. Do you have a license and insurance?
Finding out if they’re appropriately licensed is among the critical step in the hiring process. The majority of municipalities and states require an electrician to have a legitimate license before doing any electrical work. Also, make sure the electrician you hire is licensed guarantees they are adept in the electrical trade and minimizes legal risks.
There are two levels to being an electrician: journeyman electricians and master electricians. Journeyman electricians can only install and maintain electrical systems. They are required to complete a two- to six-year apprenticeship program. The programs usually include 4000 to 6000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours for classroom education. On top of that, they should pass the licensing exam.
Second, master electricians can design electrical systems, in addition to installing and maintenance. Electricians of this level must have professional experience of at least two years.
If you want to know more about electrical apprenticeship programs, read our article “Electrical Apprenticeships: A Basic Guide To Become An Electrician.”
2. Are you insured?
Other than licensing, insurance is another crucial thing you have to look for in an electrician. The electrical trade, like many others in the construction industry, has many risks and hazards. Because it comes with high liability, all concerned parties must be appropriately protected. A safe baseline is $500,000 in both worker’s compensation and liability.
3. What is your area of specialty?
Like other contractors, electricians generally have an area they specialize in. Some primarily work on residential areas, others focus on commercial work, and a few service multi-family buildings (e.g., apartment complexes.)
Albeit there may be some overlap among them, the electrician on the project should be experienced in the type of work required. While most electricians market the specific kind of work they’re in, it’s never wrong to make sure and ask. This ensures the project managers encounter fewer problems, and the client will end up with a safe and high-quality structure.
As a follow-up, ask about their training and experience they have for the specific variety of work. This is an essential question in gauging their expertise on the subject. While there are some benefits to having a “jack-of-all-trades” electrician on the team, it’s ideal to have one with specific experience for jobs that are not as common.
4. What is the estimate?
This is not a one-leveled question. Naturally, the electrician’s response would be to give you a base number. But it would help if you also asked how they got to that number. There may be a part of the job that requires more work hours or labor than usual?
Instead of just accepting what they offer, you have to understand why they’re charging you that amount completely. That way, you can get the best person for the job while staying on budget.
More than that, look into whether the number they provided covers incidentals, such as going through concrete to reach the wiring then repairing it. If they say no, you’ll probably have to pay for those.
5. Who will be working on the project?
With this question, you’ll find out who’ll be on the project, whether it’s the contractor, employees, or subcontractors. It’s important to know who they have in mind to put on their teams and work on the project so you can plan accordingly.
If they say their employees will take on the job, see that the apprentices in training are appropriately supervised. You’ll want, at a minimum, a journeyman on the project.
On the other hand, if they say subcontractors will be on it, ensure that you understand your legal responsibility as a customer to their services. Some contractors don’t have their subcontractors covered by their insurance.
6. What guarantees do you offer?
Needless to say, you’d want all electrical components to work well when the job is done. But the construction industry is not perfect, and some things don’t always go according to plan.
As a layer of security and precaution, ask the potential electrician what policies they have on warranties and guarantees. If they offer any, this could be a sign that they are willing to stand behind their work quality.
7. Do you use project and task management software?
Asking them whether they use management software is not common in job interviews for electricians. But asking them this before working with them ensures that you get the best quality service.
Companies that employ management systems are generally organized. They can keep better track of their financial situation, which helps them give the most accurate bids.
Plus, they can improve efficiency and boost productivity onsite, finishing the job quicker and better. With a proper timeline for the project, they can meet deadlines and milestones on time. The client will not only be pleased with the end structure but will be satisfied with the efficiency it took to complete it.
Other Tips For Hiring Electrical Contractors
1. Scour your network for recommendations
You’re in a field stocked with professionals with ample knowledge on this matter. Use this to your advantage and ask around about electrical contractors they can recommend. They can be people in your company, fellow project managers, even past clients. You can even inquire in local electrical supply and hardware stores. They often have a shortlist of recommended professionals.
By asking around, you can quickly form a list of potential electricians to hire– you don’t have to start from scratch. Also, recommendations can serve as testaments to how well their candidate works. Ask about the scope of the projects and if they were satisfied with the services.
An additional note would be to remember that you are not just taking the business owner on board. If they put their employees or subcontractors on the project, you’d want them to be skilled. So, look at companies that conduct thorough background checks.
2. Verify their license and insurance
Asking if they’re insured and licensed is not enough. You’ll have to verify that they are.
As said previously, licenses and insurance are crucial when hiring electricians. Although choosing the one with the lowest bid could save you some money in the short term, you could be compromising the quality of the project and the integrity of your company.
If you take on someone who is not properly licensed and insured, you’re just opening yourself and the project to safety and legal risks. So, always ask for a copy of their insurance certificates.
3. Consider multiple candidates
It’s always good to have options. Just because you like the first one you met with doesn’t mean there aren’t better ones. Keep your door open to see who is the best fit for the job.
Your list doesn’t have to be very long. You can narrow down your choices to the best three to five electricians from the recommendations and personal research.
By interviewing several candidates, you can get a sense of the normalcy of rates and operations.
4. Look over their reviews and references.
After assessing the electrician candidate yourself, call and ask their previous clients for information on the electrician, such as work ethic, attitude, and satisfaction with their work. Work ethic and attitude are often overlooked but vital in making the team healthy and productive.
Employers can use it to their advantage in today’s prevailing digital landscape by simply looking up an electrician candidate online. It’s easy to scroll through the company website, go over reviews, and look at a portfolio of their past projects.
The Internet is indeed an excellent source of information that can be easily accessed. Be that as it may, what you see on it is not always reliable or factual. Even in a majorly digital world, references are still an important thing to look at.
Statements or testimonials from people who have worked with the electrician or electrical contractor service are better than reading them on a curated site. Directly talking to them, they can give genuine first-hand accounts of what working with the said candidate.
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