Most people do not understand how their electrical systems work, and are completely unqualified to do electrical work themselves.  That leads to the following predicament in selecting an electrical contractor.  On the one hand, they don’t want to get “ripped off,” and since they are not familiar with how electricity works, they are afraid they will be “sold” into contracting for expensive work they don’t need.  On the other hand, they know they don’t understand how things work, and they need to trust that whoever they hire will do things right.

When it comes to selecting an electrical contractor, the phrase “you get what you pay for” generally applies.  But before you pay for anything, if you want to trust the person doing your work, make sure of the following.

  • License. Individual electricians do not need to be licensed in Illinois. However, professional contractors are required to be licensed and insured. So if a contractor tells you he is licensed, ask for proof. Follow up with the municipality where they secured the license to verify what type of license they have and if it is up to date. Most towns require the license to be renewed annually. It is public record. Check with the building department of the town you live in to see if the contractor you are considering hiring is on file to work in your town.
  • Insurance. A good electrician will have ample insurance, and should be able to show you their certificate of insurance.
  • Education.  Check to see if the electrician has taken courses on the National Electrical Code.
  • Length of time in business.  The longer the better.
  • References.  Get three references.  Check them.
  • Warranty.  A good contractor will offer a parts and labor warranty to demonstrate they stand behind their work.
  • Permits.  Find out from your town whether you need permits.  The electrician should be able to get them for you.  The electrician that says you don’t need a permit after you are told you do or says you can just get it on your own should be a red flag. He either has had issues with your town, is not licensed to obtain a permit, or is uninsured. Eliminate that contractor from consideration.
  • Emergency service.  Prefer an electrician that provides 24-hour emergency service, or at least has a 24-hour emergency hotline.
  • Check the electrician’s Website.  It is not so much what is on the Website; it is that the electrician is enough of a professional to have one.  Be wary of hiring somebody that does not have a Website.
  • Get a written estimate detailing the work to be done.