How to find a good electrician
When it comes to changing the electrical services in your house, you want to make sure any changes are done properly and to a high standard, both for safety and quality of finish. Finding an electrician can be as straightforward as asking a friend for a recommendation, but you need to be sure they are the right person to work on your job.
Competent Person Schemes
The most important question for any electrician you might hire is: what organisations are you registered with? There are various registration schemes (also called 'competent person' schemes) in the UK that deal with electricians:
- National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT)
- National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC)
- British Standards Institution (BSI)
The schemes ensure their members are fully qualified to do electrical work, and provide a complaints procedure should something go wrong. You can use them to find qualified electricians near you, or use the Registered Competent Person - Electrical website, which searches multiple sources.
When an electrician visits your home, ask to see their registration card or other proof that they are a member of the schemes they said they were part of. A reputable electrician will have no problems with providing this information. It is just a standard part of their job.
Value for money
The general rule of thumb is to get at least three quotes for the work you are having done. To get a quote, you need to tell the electrician exactly what work you need done, and what fittings and materials you want to use.
Although you should get multiple quotes, do not choose your electrician on price alone, you need to take in to account their experience, any recommendations, and their attitude towards you during the quoting period.
Do they have relevant experience in the type of work you need doing? If you're having an office wired for networking, that involves very different work to having variable mood lighting installed in your home. Make sure you're clear about what the job is before you meet the electrician, it can save you both wasted time if it's not their area of expertise.
If possible, try to get recommendations from family, friends, or other tradesmen you trust. If the electrical work is part of a larger transformation to your home, ask the builders you are already working with if they can recommend an electrician. If they know someone who does high quality work and is easy to work with, it can help the whole project go more smoothly.
If you cannot get any recommendations, ask the electricians you find if they have any references, and use websites like CheckaTrade to see if anyone has reviewed their previous work.
If you do not get on with someone during the quoting process, it is unlikely you will get on with them when the work is being done. You need to hire someone you feel you can communicate with easily, and where there is mutual respect between you.
Did they turn up on time for the quote? If not, did they call or text you to explain that they would be late? Was it a reasonable reason? Did they act professionally and communicate clearly with you, and did you feel they understood what you were explaining fully? Did the quote come through within a reasonable timeframe? Don't expect this to be instant, but it should not take weeks to create a quote unless you have some very specialist needs.
Your project is very important in your life, and a good electrician will understand that. But please remember that good craftsmen are in high demand. If you meet an electrician you think is good, and you like their quote, they may not be able to start work on your project immediately. They might be able to, but it is more usual that they have to book your work in around other jobs they have got on. Please try not to get frustrated by this, it is just a reflection that they get on well with their clients and have other people they need to treat as well as you expect to be treated.
Good luck finding an electrician you can work with. If you are in the Sussex area, I can recommend Sparktacus, good electricians based in Brighton. They have a particular specialism in lighting, but can handle many areas of both domestic and commercial electrical work and are fully registered and well reviewed.
Paul Silver has lived in the Brighton area for 20 years and is best known for running a networking group for freelancers, The Farm.