Don’t Hire a Cowboy
Some electricians may not like us for this, but here’s a list of the most widely-used ways that some in the trade will try to get you to pay more than you need.
“Buy cheap and you’ll pay twice”. Remember that old saying when you hire an electrician. Some operators will try to attract customers with an hourly rate that looks too good to be true. But be careful. If they turn up at all, they may rush the work in order to get to the next customer. Try getting them back to fix a poor job and see how far you get! Alternatively, once you’ve been hooked in by the low price, some operators may tell you that you need more work than is really necessary (see the “Selling on” section below). The hours add up and make more money for them.
At the other end of the scale, you’ll get the outfits that charge exorbitant hourly rates. Often you’ll just be paying for a brand or franchised name – and they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. In some cases, these companies claim NICEIC accreditation with the “Domestic Installer” logo. Again, be careful. The Domestic Installer designation was originally intended to show that tradesmen such as plumbers and kitchen fitters were competent to carry out minor electrical works related to their main business. Larger electrical companies with a genuine concern for high standards tend to favour the NICEIC’s stringent Approved Contractor status.
So what’s a reasonable hourly rate? In current times it’s tempting to go with the company that offers the lowest figure, but a price that’s too good to be true may indicate that the electrician is poorly qualified or not properly accredited. Good electricians with recognised qualifications are professionals and this is reflected in their rates and salaries. Even so, we’ve noticed some companies charging around £90 per hour for their electricians one weekdays. We think that is excessive. Worse still, some companies are now advertising half-hourly rates so that they appear to be cheaper than they really are. Please do be very careful when making price comparisons, particularly in central London.
- “Selling on”
They start work, and suddenly the problems start. They suggest more and more improvements, and find problem after problem. The costs soon rack up until they’re way above the original estimate.
A reputable electrician should prepare you a detailed itemised quote before starting work. They won’t just give you a ballpark figure. They’ll discuss details with you in advance so that you can choose what to put in, and whether you need to take anything out. Some electricians will charge for a detailed quote because of the time and effort involved, but this is not necessarily a bad sign.
All electricians – including us – have come across hidden problems that could not have been foreseen when work started. In this case, they should be able to tell you exactly what they have found and explain it to you, and ask your permission before starting extra work. If there is anything in an explanation that doesn’t make sense, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from an approved electrician; a reputable electrician won’t mind.
Also in this section, we should mention the old chestnut called “You need a complete rewire”. An electrician walks into a property, particularly one that has not been refurbished for a while, and declares that because the installation is old, the property must be rewired immediately. What may not be made so clear at the time is that a complete rewire will take several weeks, and will involve extensive disruption. In most cases you may have to move out of the property whilst it is being rewired, particularly if you have children. Costs will always run into thousands of pounds and you will need to re-plaster and redecorate the property afterwards.
We work on the principle that a property is not automatically unsafe just because the installation is not contemporary. First we conduct a thorough test and inspection and all too often we have found that only parts of the installation are unsafe. Remedial work on these parts can bring the installation up to current standards without the disruption and expense to which other companies would subject you. We are pleased to have saved our customers many thousands of pounds in unnecessary work, not to mention the inconvenience that a full rewire always brings.
- Shoddy work
If you’re not an electrician yourself, how can you judge the work that’s being done in your home? Before you hire an electrician ask whether they are approved under “Part P” legislation (we explain all about it here). This means that their work is inspected regularly and found to meet high standards. It also means they can self-certificate the standards of their own work. This leaves an official “paper -trail” which means that specific jobs can be traced directly to the electrician who did them. Insist on getting your copy of the certificate before paying off the final instalment for the work. This also applies to kitchen fitters or other contractors that need to work with your electrics as part of other work.
- “You’ve got to comply with new regulations”
In July 2008, a revised set of electrical regulations (known as the 17th Edition) came into force. New works carried out after July 2008 have to meet these technical standards. However, some cowboys are telling householders that they need to upgrade their existing installation, even though it may be perfectly safe, just to comply with the updated rules. For example, you may be encouraged to fit a new distribution board or agree to extensive rewiring. Ask for an explanation as to why you are being recommended to carry out extensive works. A reputable company should be able to point out specific faults or potential safety hazards that genuinely require remedial works. If the argument for new works is based on compliance only, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.
If we can help you with your electrical needs, please call us on 020 8451 0345 or send us a message.