With so many electricians in Los Angeles, there are likely to be a few bad apples in the bunch. How can you tell whether the electrical contractor you’re considering for your next project is reliable and on the up and up?
Here are five red flags to watch out for when choosing an electrical contractor:
- No License or insurance
Electrical contractors and electricians in Los Angeles are required to be licensed by the Electrical Contractors’ State Licensing Board. Licensing attests that the contractor or electrician has met required standards of knowledge and experience.Electrical work has potentially high liability; if your contractor doesn’t have insurance and something happens on your job site, you may be held accountable for injuries and damages. A reliable, professional electrical contractor will carry coverage for personal liability, worker’s compensation and property damage. To verify that the coverage is current, get the certificate of insurance directly from the insurance company. A common scam is for a shady contractor to secure coverage and obtain a certificate, then cancel the coverage but use copies of the certificate to “prove” that they have insurance. Ask if the contractor plans to use subcontractors on the project. If so, verify that the subcontractors are also licensed and insured.
- A lowball bid or a request for too much money up front
If you’ve received bids from several electricians in Los Angeles and one is significantly lower than the rest, be very cautious about it. Some contractors offer clients a very low bid in exchange for using the project as a showcase piece for advertising or promotional purposes. Just remember the old adage that says you get what you pay for. A very low bid almost always means substandard work.An electrical contractor should also never ask for significant or full payment up front. The Better Business Bureau recommends following the Rule of Thirds. Pay a contractor no more than 1/3 of the project up front, another 1/3 when half of the work is done and the final 1/3 after it has been completed to your satisfaction. Even if initial expenses total more than 1/3 of the total project cost, a reliable, proven contractor should have enough credit to cover the difference. Additional payments should be based on tangible project milestones rather than calendar dates.
- Unprofessionalism or disagreeable demeanor
The most skilled electrical contractor may not be someone you want to work with if his or her attitude, appearance or customer service skills are unprofessional or abrasive. A client-oriented electrician will welcome questions and take a results-oriented approach to even the most challenging projects. A professional appearance is also important as it suggests pride in one’s work and craftsmanship.Trust your instincts. If you are uneasy with a contractor after the first meeting, you’re not likely to feel comfortable having him or her work in your home or business.
- Reluctance to put things In writing
Don’t even consider hiring any electricians in Los Angeles who won’t give you a written contract detailing the terms and conditions of your project. No matter how big or small the project is, a detailed written proposal and a clearly worded final contract are critical to ensure that your project is completed to your satisfaction. A trustworthy contractor should also agree to written change orders signed by both parties.You should also steer clear of electrical contractors who say up front that they are sure you won’t need a permit for your project. Most local jurisdictions require a permit forelectrical renovations ornew construction. Without a permit, there is no way for a local inspector to verify that everything is being done to code. Your insurance company may require a permit to cover future replacement or liability costs related to the work.
- No references or halfhearted endorsements
A good contractor should be willing and able to give you the names and contact information of at least three satisfied customers with projects similar to yours. Follow up with these references and ask them specific questions about the contractor’s customer service, if the project was finished on time and within budget, and whether the client was completely satisfied with the experience. If possible, visit a job site. Be wary of tepid reviews and references that describe the contractors work as “ok.”When considering quality electricians in Los Angeles for your next project, look to Tri Star Electric. Tri Star Electric is Los Angeles and New York City’s premiere commercial electrical contractor. A full-service boutique firm with principal involvement in all projects, we have been in business since 1973 and are fully licensed and insured. Our forward-thinking professional team is known for its ability to expertly manage high-end commercial construction, renovation, build-outs and tenant improvements.
Call Tri Star Electric at (646) 235-9129 today to learn more about our leading-edge electrical services.