Electrical contractors and companies hold a lot of power. Hiring the wrong person or company for your project could cause delays, damages, impact your home insurance, and ultimately create an overall unpleasant experience. When looking to hire your next contractor, Kato Electrical recommends you do your due diligence and check licenses and certifications, references and online presence and reviews.
Licenses & Certifications
A lot of companies always include the tag line “Licensed, Insured and Bonded” But what does that really mean?
A licensed Electrical Contractor in BC must hold a certification through the Technical Safety Authority of BC (https://www.technicalsafetybc.ca/), noting a contractor will typically hold a license with the numbers (LEL) in front of their registry number. Always inquire about this number to ensure you are working with a company that is registered and licensed to perform work in Vancouver and BC.
Some specific questions you can ask your potential electrician or electrical contractor would be:
- What type of electrical license does your company hold?
- Are you electricians Red Seal Certified?
- How much liability insurance do you have?
- Is your worker’s compensation reporting up to date and paid?
Every company should retain a RED Seal Journeyman Electrician that holds a Field Safety Representative card (FSR) which allows the company to apply and hold electrical permits in BC. This is specifically important for small, medium, and large sized projects that will need electrical permits.
When it comes to liability insurance there are many different types an electrical contractor, or electrician can hold. Always ensure that their insurance covers the type of work that they are hired to do. Industry standard is 2 million in liability, however, as we all know insurance claims can quickly ad up, and in a serious situation, or working within a multi-family building, you may want to ask your potential contractor if they carry a 5 million liability ticket.
Do not be fooled by the misconception when you see “Bonded”. Bonding is project based, and the electrician or electrical contractor must apply for a project specific bond with an insurance agency. Depending on their credibility and financial statements, they will be accepted or rejected at the time of the individual application. There is no one bond fits all.
Credibility & References
It’s a good idea to ask if the electrical contractor brought in to do the work if they have experience with this type of project. You need the confidence that they can complete the work with minimal deficiencies or setbacks. Nobody wants to deal with things that don’t turn on at the end of your project.
Some ways to define credibility could be as simple as checking to see what type of organizations the electrical contractor is a member in. The Electrical Contractor’s Association of BC (ECABC) is a chapter that is part of a larger organization of Canada where many of the top contractors can be found. This organization keeps its members up to date with code changes, technology, and educational courses in many different aspects of electrical construction. You can also reference the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if there had been any complaints filed against the company and if they were resolved. A complaint is not always a bad thing either! You can observe how a contractor deals with conflict resolution, which is extremely important in construction and renovation projects.
Two other associations that electrical companies can be a part of are the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) and the Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) these two organizations cover construction and renovation companies in the commercial and residential sectors all over the lower mainland. They are great organizations for anyone to gather resources about companies when looking to build or renovate.
Also ask for relevant references.
“You are only as good as your last job” is a common phrase in the construction industry, hence the importance of relative references. Industry standard when hiring employees would be to do a reference check, so why would not you do a reference check when hiring an electrician or electrical contractor. Do not expect the feedback to always be positive! Focus on the bigger picture, more positives than negatives! If there is a negative review, rather find out how the contractor fixed the issue. Everyone has had a bad experience at a good restaurant before!
Website, Online Presence and Reviews
Always be skeptical! What you do not see, you do not know. If you cannot find anything about an electrician or electrical company online that you want to hire in Vancouver, should you really hire them? Probably not. We are living in modern times. Websites are very affordable and easy to establish at this day and age.
Nobody wants to be left high and dry in the middle of their project, so due your diligence and look online first before hiring. Some common channels where you can connect with electrical contractors would be Instagram, Facebook, or use Google to search for their website. These are all platforms that revolve around photo and video content which will allow you to make a connection with the company before calling with your inquiry.
We live in the age of reviews, and everyone wants to know how many 5-star reviews a company has, who has the most, and then lean towards that company first. Always take the time to read a few of the online reviews to get a feel for how the company appreciated great feedback or delt with the not-so-great feedback. Great companies learn from feedback, can make improvements and continue on their journey of servicing their clients to the highest standard possible.
Accountability is extremely important with electrical contracting. If a company is not accountable and a mistake is made it could cost you thousands of dollars in the end. Make sure that your electrician is accountable, reasonable, and highly reviewed before making your decision to hire them! As they say, knowledge is power, so do your due diligence.