By Gene and Katie Hamilton
To find an electrician, ask friends and neighbors for a referral, use the Yellow Pages or online by typing "electrician in (your town)" in the search box of any search engine.
Expect to pay $60 to $100, the national average hourly rate for an electrician. Hire a licensed electrician who is responsible for the workmanship and quality of his or her workers. There are two levels of electricians: master and journeyman. A master electrician knows the National Electrical Code and any state requirements, has passed a test and has at least two years experience. He or she is qualified to plan, design, install and maintain electrical systems.
A journeyman electrician is licensed by the state to install wiring and equipment. Some states require that a journeyman work with a master electrician. This license may be revoked if the electrician has a history of doing shoddy work. Always hire a licensed electrician because they take pride in their work and value their licenses. And remember, if you are hiring an unlicensed electrician to do a side job or work on the weekends, you don't have much recourse if the work is unsatisfactory.
To evaluate an electrician's workmanship, look at the electrical outlets and switch plate installations on walls. They should lie flat on the surface of the wall and be plumb and square, not tilted. Wires and cables should run straight into the service panel, not be tangled or crossed. All wires should be attached firmly to the framing at regular intervals. You can check for this in areas where the wires are exposed, such as in the basement or attic.
Here are the basic points that should be included in a written contract with an electrician:
- Description of the work to be completed with a detailed list of materials to be used including the brand name, style, color of fixtures
- Cost of material and all warranties from the manufacturer
- Cost of labor and amount of deposit, if required
- Job installation date
Click Electrical Projects to compare how much it costs to do-it-yourself with hiring an electrician for 41 electrical improvements.