Home electrics are a serious matter, even if the job seems small. While most of us are able to switch the fuse box on and off, anything that requires dealing with electric wiring should be (and legally has to be) looked at by a qualified electrician. Which is where things get complicated – how do you find a good electrician? Our advice, in a nutshell: don't just ring the first person who comes up on an internet search. Follow our guide to finding the best possible person for the job – and make yourself aware of what to expect cost-wise, too.
Rewiring as part of a house renovation? Once you've finished reading, explore our dedicated renovations section.
How can I find a reliable electrician?
Industry bodies like the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) and the National Association of Professional Inspectors & Testers (NAPIT) allow you to search for accredited electricians in your area.
‘With a little research, finding a reliable electrician should be hassle-free’, says Declan Curran, director and owner of property maintenance company, HomeFix-Direct. ‘It’s always worth asking a local estate agent for recommendations, too, as they will have tried and tested contractors before keeping the best on their suppliers’ list.’
Should I always consult an electrician before changing my home’s electrics?
‘Yes,’ advises Mike Andrews, chief executive of NAPIT. ‘Before any work is done, an approved electrician will check whether the earthing, bonding and other safety measures, such as your residual current device, are in place.
‘Where electricity is concerned, even the most capable person can make simple mistakes that lead to serious accidents, which is why inspection and testing is so important. That’s why it’s always best to consult an accredited professional.’
Are there any checks I should make before hiring an electrician?
Always check electricians are Part P approved, which means they’ve been certified and that work they carry out is legal and, most importantly, safe. This is especially important if you’ve found your electrician through word-of-mouth, rather than the NICEIC or NAPIT websites.
Liz Male, spokesperson for TrustMark, says ‘By employing a registered electrician you have assurance that the work will be carried out to a consistently high standard and that it’s a safe job that will last for years.’
What will it cost to hire an electrician?
‘Rates will vary depending on location and the type and size of the job,’ says Declan Curran. ‘I would always recommend getting two or three itemised, written quotes, that include a breakdown for parts and labour, before choosing who to work with.’
All figures from Ratedpeople.com
|Rewiring a room
|Rewiring a three-bedroom house
|Installing a new consumer unit (fuse box)
|Installing a light fitting
|Installing an electric shower
|Installing new light switches
|Fitting an extractor fan
|Diagnosis of a wiring or circuit problem
Should I get a written agreement before work is carried out?
‘It’s important to clearly outline what works need to be done and what actions have been agreed before any work is started,’ says Tony Cable, spokesperson for NICEIC.
‘Always get at least two or three written quotes for the work and ask the electricians to spell out what is included. That way, both parties are aware of what work will be carried out and the expected cost.
‘Once the work has been completed, the electrician should issue certification to declare it has been completed to the correct standard and is compliant with electrical regulations.’
How do I plan a new wiring scheme?
‘First, give thought to where and how you would like things to be installed’ says Mike Andrews. ‘Think about your room layouts and where you’d like your furniture to be. Then, choose a registered electrician. Avoid attempting to plan a new wiring scheme yourself as – aside from being complex and dangerous for the non-electrician – certain works need to be notified to your Local Authority Building Control department.’ You could be fined £5,000 for non-compliant work.
How do I spot electrical problems when viewing a house?
‘A good electrician should help you make a list of work and explain the options available,’ explains Andrew Penty, certified electrician and spokesperson for Checkatrade.com.
‘You and your electrician should start by looking at the fuse board and main earthing. If there are rewirable fuses, the mains box will definitely need to be upgraded as these fuses can’t cope with modern electrical demands. Other things to look for include old light fittings, broken fixtures, and wires clipped around skirting boards, as these will need to be upgraded.’