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May 15, 2011

Just after I sent out last month’s newsletter, I found out about a press release from the State of Massachusetts about a Sting on Craigslist.  Apparently 20 unlicensed electricians were caught advertising their services on the popular classifieds website.  They now face some hefty fines for unlicensed practice.  (Click here for the official press release from the State of MA.)

Paul Newman in "The Sting"After I finished reading the article, I thought of the customers that have been potentially burned in the past by electricians with, well, discreditable behavior.  It's things like this that tend to bring people's opinions down of tradespeople.  There are only 20 cases currently being reviewed by the Board of Electricians and Alarm System Installers from this "Sting" - but we all know that there are more out there than just those who were caught.

My point is this - it is crucial to know who you're hiring; and be weary of low prices or what might seem to be a "good deal".  Make sure that the company meets the following standards:

1)  They are licensed to perform the work that’s going to be done.  If an electrical contractor isn't willing to share with you his license number, then there's something very wrong.  In short: no permit, no deal!

2)  They are prepared to pull a permit with your city or town.  This is usually a small and perhaps overlooked task, but it is so vitally important especially for a homeowner.  When an electrician pulls a permit, an inspection is needed by the local "Authority Having Jurisdiction" or Electrical Inspector.  It is his job to make sure that all work that was performed meets local and National Electrical Codes.  You'll smell something fishy very quickly if the electrician doesn't want to pull a permit.

VERY IMPORTANT:  If work is performed without pulling a permit, and an issue arises, you won't have much recourse with your insurance company.  For instance: if there is a fire in your home because electrical work was performed illegally, your insurance company will not cover your claim.  The insurance company will research for past permits at the building department, and if none are found, there will be trouble.

3)  They carry the proper amount of liability insurance and worker's comp.  This is perhaps something else that is overlooked, but vital.  You need to ensure that you're not going to be held responsible for any shoddy work performed, or even sued for injuries that can occur on the job site.  In fact, when a permit is pulled, the contractor must provide proof of insurance and worker's compensation to the city or town - or they don't get the permit.

4)  Quality references and testimonials are readily available.  One of the best ways to tell how good a company is, is to ask what other people say about them.  Be sure to research the company you plan to hire and read reviews about them.

5)  They have no (or very few) complaints with the Better Business Bureau and other similar organizations.  This is basically in the same vein as number 4 - if there are a lot of complaints about a given company, just stay away.

The bottom line:  To do the job right the first time will always save you money in the long run, and that's a fact.  If it's not done right (and on the cheap) you'll be forced to repair the issue sooner or later, and probably at a much higher cost because of the creation of additional problems.  When it comes to electrical work, you need to have the peace of mind of a job well done.

If you are ever in need of a quality electrician, you know where to look.  But we also have a database of excellent tradespeople, so please consider us a valuable resource for a trusted referral for your next project - whatever size it may be!

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