(With Thanks to Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant and Trainer Nationwide)
Question: Why is electrical work so expensive?
Answer: Believe it or not, it takes training, mathematical aptitude and at least four years of experience before an electrician is capable of working without supervision. After this 4+ year apprenticeship, he must be able to demonstrate his knowledge by passing a 4 hour, 100 question test, administered by the CA Dept. of Industrial Relations and receiving his Journeyman’s Certification card. Always ask to see his “wallet card” for proof of Certification. As with any job, employers such as D&L Electrical must pay a premium for these skills and experience. Further, the electrical contractor (the employer) must also be licensed by the California Contractor State License Board. This requires that he too must take a test to demonstrate his knowledge of electrical theory and code as well as CA Business Law and Practices, in order to be able to hire and supervise electricians.
Check Contractor’s License status at:
To the employees’ pay you must add the costs of payroll taxes, worker’s compensation insurance premiums of between 9 and 16 percent of payroll, liability insurance, bond, etc. And then there are the other overhead costs such as maintaining and insuring vehicles, tools, testing equipment, advertising and administrative expenses. Also consider that it isn’t cheap to live in Southern California and electrical work can not be outsourced to China.
Question: Why should I use an electrician when I can hire a handyman or an unlicensed electrician for less?
Answer: Licensed electricians charge and earn more than handymen for a reason – they have to be able to understand complicated electrical concepts and formulas. We are called in to repair the electrical messes made by handymen on a regular basis, so we won’t complain if you use them. However, keep in mind that you’ll end up paying about as much for a handyman who thinks he knows what he is doing and takes twice as long to do it as you would for a licensed electrician. Also, the work of the licensed electrician is guaranteed to meet code requirements whereas the work of the handyman and unlicensed electrician is not. NOTE: NEC 2008 Art. 90.1(A), the first article in the code, states “The purpose of this Code is the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity.”
Question: What is the difference between a licensed electrician and an unlicensed electrician?
Answer: Unlicensed electricians are not regulated by the State Board of Contractors. It is illegal for them to provide labor and materials in excess of $500 per project. They are not subject to laws designed to protect consumers and do not have bonding or insurance. Perhaps most importantly, most home owners’ insurance policies do not cover damages associated with work performed by unlicensed contractors – exposing consumers to considerable financial risk.
Question: Why do electrical companies charge for travel time?
Answer: Because they have to pay their employees from the time they clock in until they clock out, whether or not the employees are actually working or just driving to a job. They also have to pay for the associated costs like taxes and worker’s compensation insurance – which is pretty high for electricians. And don’t forget about the high price of gas these days. If a company says it doesn’t charge for travel time, it is making up for the cost somewhere else (or cutting corners on your job).
Licensed Electrical Contractors are regulated by the California Contractors State License Board, which assures customers that they have met the following requirements:
Certified General Journeyman Electricians are regulated by the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards, which assure that they have met the following requirements:
By using a licensed electrical contracting company, employing certified electricians, the consumer can be confident of the electrician’s qualifications and can obtain restitution in case of dispute or damages.
Think of it this way. If you or a member of your family developed a severe pain in their abdomen or chest, who would you go to? A neighbor, who’s a really nice guy and has taken some first aid classes? OR A Board Certified Doctor who’s been through medical school, internship and residency and has access to all the latest diagnostic and therapeutic tools that might be needed? Of course this isn’t really a question. When we’re talking about your family’s health or safety, you want the best.
Question: What are some signs that there may be a problem with my electrical system?
These signs should be taken seriously! They indicate the presence of overloaded, improperly wired or defective circuits, which can lead to electrical fires or shocks, which can result in serious injury or even death.