Older homes are a great buy for the home improvement enthusiast, but they harbour outdated, often dangerous electrical wiring that needs to be replaced by a qualified electrician. While homes built in the ‘70s and ‘80s may be structurally sound, various building projects have, over the decades, reduced the electrical system to a shambolic accident waiting to happen. Although most of us dread a home rewiring like the plague, it doesn’t have to be a costly nightmare. Here are some tips to make the transition as seamless as possible:
Do you even need an electrical upgrade?
Getting an upgrade will make your home safer and possibly more efficient. There are some tell-tale signs that let you know when you need to call in an expert:
- Fuses blowing or the breakers tripping regularly
- Crackling noises from the panel box
- Flickering lights that cannot be attributed to the starting up of a large appliance
- If your home is equipped with ungrounded, two-pronged outlets
Any kind of alternation to the original building, from small renovations to large-scale additions, should necessitate an electrical upgrade. Increasing demand means that your electrical system needs to be reconfigured in order to handle the heavier load requirements.
Choose the right electrician
Recommendations are best, so ask friends, colleagues and family members if they know someone that they trust.
Ensure that your electrician has public liability and property damage insurance in case of unforeseen circumstances.
Check with the Better Business Bureau to see that no complaints have been lodged against your prospective electrician. You can also consult consumer websites such as Angie’s list.
Ask your electrician for references from other clients who have had similar work done.
Find the most cost-effective electrician
Get a local contractor: Traveling time and costs can add to your bill, especially if your electrician has to come to your home or business more than once.
Get at least three quotes: You will be amazed at how different they can be. Ask your contractor to break down the quotes into labour and material charges so that you can compare quotes more comprehensively. It’s helpful to get a list of all of the tasks they will complete as they may differ in what they intend to do.
Make the moist of their time: Bundling all the electrical work together in a visit will reduce travel time and costs. Avoid emergency calls whenever you can as these will be charged at a premium.
Paying more means paying less: The cheapest quote isn’t necessarily the best one to go for. Choose the electrician who is best qualified for the job as shoddy electrical wiring can have truly disastrous results. An electrician who doesn’t do a good job will definitely cost you more in the long run through damage done or because you have to have an expert redo the job.
Getting your wires crossed?
Even though you’ve done your homework and carefully planned for every eventuality, sometimes electricians make mistakes or do jobs they don’t have the qualifications or experience to complete comprehensively. In these cases you do have recourses that can rectify the situation to your satisfaction.
You can ask for a refund by sending a registered letter to your contractor asking for reparations. If this should fall on deaf ears, then lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the licensing department. Register a complaint with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) if the electrician has not worked to code and they could be asked to rectify the situation at their own expense.