Every homeowner wants peace of mind when they go to bed at night. Doors locked, kids tucked up in bed, lunch packed for the next day and ready for a peaceful slumber. There are one or two panics that disrupt a good night’s sleep and sometimes we jolt awake at night in a panic – did I really lock the front door?!
Safety is the number one priority in the home, and we sometimes sweat the small stuff more than what we should really focus our attention on. Testing smoke alarms regularly is something we all know we should do, yet, the reality is many people put this job off until the telling beep-beep noises remind us to change the batteries.
Electrics are very similar. Until something goes wrong, we barely give electrics a second thought. However, when they do go wrong, they often go very wrong indeed. And whatsmore, although blowing an appliance will cost money in replacement, there should be no expense spared when it comes to safeguarding our homes and families.
According to my old school science teacher hardly anybody even knows how to wire a plug on an appliance cable 'properly' these days. He told us that only 1 student in his classes ever managed to rewire a plug 100% correctly and surprise surprise the student's father was an electrician. 30 years after hearing this story I still can't help but look at plugs on tools that non electrician tradespeople use where I work and sadly even these carpenters and furniture restorers would not have past my teacher’s electrical safety standards. So apart from changing light bulbs and smoke alarm batteries for most of us when something goes wrong with our wiring or electrics (unless your parent was also an electrician and you happen to have a thorough understanding of electrical safety) you are going to need a qualified competent electrician.
You will want a qualified and respected electrician with a proven track record to risk assess and make your home safe. Do not delay emergency jobs, or patch things up in a bid to buy time or save money. Electricians should risk-assess first and advise on the best way forward, particularly for urgent work. All home improvements and renovations will require a qualified electrician before the work begins, and this is the most important thing you can do. Mistakes can prove dangerous so put safety first in all you do and consult an electrician first.
Find your electrician on Hamuch.com – you can compare costs, availability and qualifications with the click of a button. You should also always ask to see a copy of their certification before they start a job.
Hourly and daily prices are generally highest in London and the Home Counties and can be considerably lower elsewhere. Use HaMuch to search in your area and you will see a graph of what Electricians charge. Location, qualifications, overheads (office staff to answer your calls, appropriate insurance, clean vehicles and clothing etc) and how busy electricians are all affect their prices and the lowest or highest prices are not necessarily the best value for you. Getting an excellent electrician for the right price while avoiding additional cost due to poor workmanship or cheap substandard materials is a challenge every homeowner regularly faces.
Also remember to treat your electrician respectfully when it is time to pay them (they have mortgages, families and bills to pay too). If you get on with your electrical contractors then you are more likely to avoid disagreements and have their ongoing support in the future should a problem occur.
Electricians have undertaken training, worked hard to build a business and take pride in what they do and so they are generally very professional and honest. What often leads to arguments is when unexpected problems and costs occur. To avoid these disruptive disagreements both the homeowner and electrician should communicate before, during and at the end of a project so everyone understands what the expectations are, what is happening and what the outcome is meant to be. If at some stage something unexpected appears with your electrics then together and calmly a plan of how to proceed (including additional costs if relevant) can be agreed without tearing each other’s heads off and everyone feeling hard done by.
Paying Cash - there used to be a big culture of paying cash to electricians to avoid taxes/VAT etc and generally not receiving an invoice in return. Apart from being illegal it also leads to arguments and lack of on-going service. If you want honest electricians in your home then don’t encourage them to be dishonest.
VAT - Most electrical contractors are VAT registered because all the materials they buy/sell quickly takes them over the VAT threshold so normally you will be charged 20% VAT on top of the bill - check whether your quotes include this as it makes a big difference. Some works have reduced or no VAT depending on current laws e.g. works which improve efficiency or are Eco friendly such as installing PhotoVoltaic panels. Your electricians may not be VAT experts so if you think your work is exempt check yourself and then point it out.
Materials Mark-Up - we can all google the cost of everything nowadays but the lowest price isn’t necessarily what your electrician will be paying. They cannot spend days shopping on different electrical supplier websites if they are to finish a project on time plus they need to be on the tools working. When they arrange, collect and sometimes even return materials it costs time and money so it is natural that tradespeople build in a margin to cover this. If you want to organise buying expensive items yourself to save not paying a Mark-Up then many electricians will work with you on this as long as you discuss it and allow them to earn a fair income overall.
Payment schedule - is made up of 3 stages; deposit, stage completion payments and final completion payment. It is important that the expected amounts, timing and conditions for payment are written down and agreed by signature so everyone knows what to expect and arguments are avoided.
Deposit - It is fair to pay a deposit to cover materials which is often 20%
Stage completion payments - this should be simple as long as you have a written agreement.
Completion payment - the amount held back for completion should be significant so it is worth your electrician rectifying any snags at the end rather than feeling it better to just walk away. If you have an on going dialogue and have a healthy working relationship this should not be an issue.
Extra Costs - Even with the best laid plans and years of experience extra labour or materials can be required on top of those budgeted for. The potential for argument would be where the labour or materials is not perceived as ‘Extra’. Try to both be fair and if these extras were not agreed then often it is appropriate to have a discussion about what is an additional fair cost – however this should not be an opportunity to charge excessively.
Electricians get busy when the seasons start to get darker, in the UK that means Autumn and Winter.
If you have had an electrical company work for you and you paid them fairly then they will usually make an effort to get to you quickly.
Make sure you agree what you expect the guarantee to be and how long for.
In England and Wales electrical work on your home must be carried out by an Electrician who is registered in compliance with Part P of the Building Regulations. The principle of the Building Regulations is to ensure that consistent standards are applied to the construction of buildings including its structure, fire safety, sound insulation, drainage, ventilation and electrical safety.
The following organisations are approved by the Government (England & Wales) for the registration of electricians; NICEIC, ELECSA (ECA), NAPIT, BSI, Blue Flame and STROMA.
In short, electrical installations must be safe! Part P of the Building Regulations applies to fixed electrical installations in dwellings (including gardens and shared amenities in blocks of flats, and any building that shares its electricity supply with a dwelling).
In Scotland the required qualification is "Electrical Installations to BS7671" and Scottish Electricians can be registered with; NICEIC, SELECT, NAPIT
In Northern Ireland Electricians can be registered with; NICEIC, ECA or NAPIT
Some electricians have ratings on their profile page or you can ask your selected electrical contractor for past customer’s contact numbers and speak to them directly about their experience.
All Electricians working in your home need to be covered by Public Liability Insurance which covers everything from a personal injury claim to damage to your property i.e. if your electrician breaks something in your house or has an accident, the insurance company will pay for it. Your Electrical contractor should either have their own policy or one from their employer which covers them – ask to see a copy. The amount usually varies from £1 to £2 million.
If you are installing a new Chandelier then most likely you (the home owner) will have selected it. Once you move away from the visible products to functional things like switches and dimmer modules etc then your electrician is more likely to be guiding or outright making the decisions.
After rewiring my home a few years back slowly each spot light run would flicker and the electrician would return to change a couple of dimmer modules. Over the next 3 years all were changed and it was clear that the first batch were inferior quality and caused significant expense and argument but as I never asked about quality of components I had to pay for all these changes. It would have helped me (and my electrician) a lot if I had communicated clearly at the beginning what I expected ie non flickering lights on-going.
There will be cost and installation time differences for different brands or systems and if you do not discuss your preferences then you may end up with the cheapest and easiest to install which may not be ideal for you a couple of years later. Ask your electrician what the benefits are of each system and then decide whether you want to pay extra, this way even if you pick the cheapest option at least you know what you are getting.
|Location||Hourly Cost / Rate||Daily Cost / Rate|
|Rhondda, Cynon, Taff||£32||£220|
|Bath & North East Somerset||£31||£227|
|North East Lincolnshire||£30||£186|
|Basingstoke & Deane||£39||£255|
|Dumfries & Galloway||£30||£232|