The Ultimate Guide on How to Choose an Electrical Contractor

handsome cheerful electrician repairing electrical box and using screwdriver in corridor

Whether you’re building a home from the ground, up, you’re remodeling a part of your home, or retrofitting an area of your business, the right electrical contractor can make a world of difference.

You’d generally hire an electrical contractor when you have a large-scale electrical project that needs work. But what do most home or business owners really know about hiring the right person/team for the job? Our guess is that this is not something most people have a great knowledge of.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable Baltimore-based electrical contractor, allow this guide to point you in the right direction.

What Exactly Does an Electrical Contractor Do?

Now, before you dive into hiring the best electrical contractor for the job, it’s important to check your expectations. It’s a good idea to fully understand what an electrical contractor can offer you.

You might be wondering ”what’s the difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor, anyway?”. An electrician usually refers to an individual that’s trained and licensed to perform electrical work. But they tend to work for themselves, or they sub-contract their work to electrical contractor companies.

An electrical contractor refers to a business with a team of qualified individuals that focus on contract electrical work. The scope of an electrical contractor is far more in-depth than what your regular electrician can offer.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Electrical contractors specialize in electrical construction work and larger-scale electrical projects
  • They concentrate on the design, installation, and maintenance of all electrical systems
  • They’re responsible for ensuring all electrical systems work in unison, in an effective and safe manner
  • They are well-versed in the best environmentally-friendly practices and will implement them
  • They also plan out each electrical project to the finest detail and acquire the right permits to complete the job
  • They source and schedule resources and sub-contractors throughout the duration of the project
  • They manage the budget of your electrical work
  • They manage relationships and communication between all workers, sub-contractors, and stakeholders onsite

Naturally, an electrical contractor’s scope of work and duties will vary depending on how large a job is.

Helpful Tips on How To Choose the Best Electrical Contractor for Your Project

When it comes down to how to choose an electrical contractor, it’s not about choosing the first option that pops up in your Google search results. While their SEO ranking might speak volumes for their website, it means nothing about their actual service and quality of work.

Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting a top electrical contractor.

1. The Quality of Their Work

When it comes to the world of contracting, quality is a very broad term. What does good quality work actually entail? Here are some of the hallmarks of true, top-quality craftsmanship:

  • An electrical contractor that’s 100 percent proficient in their trade — from the smallest to the largest, most complex tasks
  • Attention-to-detail and a mindset that focuses on this from the start to the end of your project
  • Applying the very best of their industry knowledge and experience to every project they handle
  • An open-minded mindset when it comes to problem-solving issues onsite and staying within the project budget
  • Consideration of other trades and workers onsite
  • Completing the project right the first time around — a minimal need for callbacks
  • Displaying an obvious sense of pride in their work and how they uphold their reputation

Aside from this, the quality of their work also depends on certification and licensing for all areas of your project. You also want to ensure that an electrical contractor has some form of industry reputation and recognition.

2. How They Prioritize Onsite Safety

It’s no secret that electrical work, no matter the size of the project, comes with its own set of dangers. This is why onsite safety should be a top priority for any electrical contractor. And it’s on you to research what type of safety practices and reputation a contractor offers.

When choosing a contractor, you want to ensure that they establish and maintain a comprehensive safety program for the duration of the project. It’s also important that they supply proof of training in all elements of work safety — for both themselves and team members.

Ultimately, this type of safety knowledge helps to minimize the risk of onsite accidents, your liability, as well as project delays.

3. Contractor Reliability

The reality of contractor work is that they juggle a number of different tasks at any given time. So there’s always a risk of dropping a ball and throwing the entire project timeline and budget out of whack. At the end of the day, this means lost time and money for you.

For this reason, you want to choose a contractor that’s truly reliable and they have a track record and reputation to prove it. But what exactly does reliable mean in the contracting world? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Your contractor shows up when they say they will, for every single task
  • The work they perform lines up with project specifications and industry standards
  • They always respond to your queries in a timely manner and keep you in the loop
  • They concentrate on working within all time and budget parameters

While any contractor can rattle off how reliable they are to you in person, how do you know it’s valid? The best way to verify their reliability is to ask for references and ask for candid, honest feedback on their service.

4. Industry Experience

It goes without saying that there really is no substitute for good experience in the world of electrical contracting. The contractor you choose should be able to prove that they have enough experience that speaks for itself.

Experience is crucial for two reasons. The first is the fact that some types of electrical projects necessitate specific training and qualifications. A contractor must provide proof of this.

The second is that a good scope of experience means your contractor has knowledge of alternative approaches that can benefit their work. In some cases, multiple approaches could work for one electrical task. If these approaches help to save time and money, then this works in everyone’s favor.

This means the contractor you choose should have a great breadth and depth of experience in different fields of electrical work. They should also have a sense of creativity and insight when troubleshooting or problem-solving onsite.

5. Commitment to Professionalism

Yes, this relates to both reliability and quality of work. But your electrical contractor must maintain a sense of professionalism that begins at the top and permeates all levels of their business.

What this means is that your electrical contractor should maintain a strong internal culture of professionalism and respect for their work, their team, and you, as a client. Their level of professionalism should speak for itself, just like their experience. It should reflect in their track record of success, happy clients, and the work morale of their team.

Don’t underestimate the importance of job satisfaction among team members. If they show the same level of professionalism, you can rest assured they’re being looked after and will do their job better.

6. Reasonable Pricing and Reliable Cost Control Practices

Finally, it’s always wise to compare pricing between electrical contractors. At the end of the day, this pricing should be competitive. If you’re quoted something too high or too low, this is a major red flag (more on that later).

If a quote seems a little high, there’s no harm in asking why, in order to understand their quoting process. The same applies if a quote seems a little low. Bear in mind that some electrical contractors tend to underbid on a job, only to make up for it with order changes throughout the project.

All in all, this is not a good scenario for you as it will cost you more in the long run. So, do your research on average costs in the Baltimore region, and don’t settle for anything that seems out-of-the-ordinary.

Another important factor is cost control practices. Make sure your electrical contractor has a reputation for staying on track with their timeline and budget, and this is one less thing to worry about.

Electrical Contractor Red Flags To Keep in Mind

Now, when it comes to choosing the right electrical contractor, you can’t always be too sure who’s 100 percent reliable, and who has a habit of duping people into believing so.

Sure, shady contractors are not always the majority, but when you choose one without realizing it, you’ll wish you had taken note of these red flags:

1. A Vague Contract

When you hire a contractor for your electrical work, they should draw up a contract outlining every detail of the job, the specifications, projected timelines, costs, materials, etc.  In short, the contract should include as much detail as possible so that you are both on the exact same page in terms of project expectations.

It’s also the best way for you to have a clear idea of how you’re spending your money. With this in mind, be wary of a contractor that draws up a contract that omits detail. Or, one that does not offer you a contract at all.

In a sense, your contract is a point of reference for you both. The attention-to-detail in your contract is just as important as a contractor’s attention-to-detail onsite. The same goes for unnecessary pressure to sign a contract. A contractor should never rush you into signing anything, without allowing you the time to thoroughly review it beforehand.

2. References They Cannot Verify

References are super important because they allow you to do your due diligence and fact check that a contractor is, indeed, reliable and experienced.

If they cannot supply you with legitimate references to verify the quality of their work and service, don’t waste your time trying to convince yourself that they’re reliable.

3. Non-Existent Business Insurance

Regardless of the safety measures that your contractor implements, accidents still happen. In this case, business insurance is absolutely crucial. Otherwise, you could find yourself in the thick of an unwanted liability case.

Always ask an electrical contractor to provide proof of adequate business insurance. If they fail to do so, it’s time to stop your negotiations and consider someone else.

4. A Questionably Large Downpayment

When you hire a contractor of any kind, you’ll generally have to pay some form of downpayment, upfront. But, by no means should this downpayment be unreasonably large. And if they ask for full payment upfront, this is the first and only sign you need that you need to move on, and consider another contractor.

It’s also wise to be wary of a contractor that asks for a cash downpayment. They should be able to accept all forms of payment, whether it’s an electronic transfer, money order, etc.

5. Project Estimates That Seem Too High or Too Low

As mentioned earlier, this is definitely something you need to question when your contractor presents you with their project estimate. Remember, if an estimate seems ”too good to be true”, i.e. it’s very low, it’s generally that way for a reason.

If an estimate seems too high, they could be overcharging you for work they have not even completed yet. There’s no harm in questioning estimate amounts. Ask the contractor to explain how they got to the estimate so you can understand it better.

Ideally, you want to get at least three different estimates from three different contractors for your project. This way, you can compare estimates. If any of them stand out or cause suspicion on your end, this might be the contractor to avoid.

Baltimore-Based Electrical Contractors You Can Rely On

On the hunt for a trusted electrical contractor in the Baltimore, MD, region for your next project? Look no further than experienced experts, Rowbel Services, specializing in the fields of HVAC and electrical contracting.

With over 20 years’ industry experience, you can rely on our team to provide unparalleled levels of service. With an outstanding, well-trained team of technicians, you can rely on Rowbel to get the job done — no matter how big, or small.

Take some time to read our customer reviews for the type of service you can expect!

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