Finding a good electrician not only guarantees that the work will be finished to a high standard but also ensures that it’s carried out safely and complies with Building Regulations.
Here, then, are six questions you should ask an electrician to find out if they’re up to the job. You may feel awkward asking some of these, but bear in mind how important it is to know the answers to them before engaging an electrician to do any work for you.
1. Are you qualified and registered?
The first thing to check is whether an electrician holds the relevant qualifications and if they are registered on one of the schemes approved by the Government. This gives you extra protection in the event of something going wrong.
The main qualification you would expect them to hold is compliance with Part P of the Building Regulations. This states that anyone carrying out electrical work in a home must ensure it will not cause a fire or electric shocks.
Ask to see evidence of an electrician’s credentials. Some will have an ID badge linking them to a Government-approved Part P scheme. You can also check whether they’re registered by contacting the relevant scheme.
It’s important to check the qualifications of everyone involved in the work on your property. If you’ve employed a contractor such as a builder of kitchen fitter, they are likely to bring in their own electrician. Make sure you have proof of their expertise.
2. Are you part of a Competent Person Scheme?
The electrician you used should also be registered with an approved electrical Competent Person Scheme (CPS) such as those offered by the NAPIT, NICEIC or ELECSA. Introduced by the Government, these schemes are approved by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and ensure that work complies with building regulations.
An electrician registered with a competent person self-certification scheme authorised by the Secretary of State will self-certify that notifiable work is safe and complies with the Building Regulations. When using a registered electrician, you do not need to notify a building control body.
Once the works are complete the electrician will arrange for you to receive a Building Regulations compliance certificate within 30 days, and for your local authority to be notified about the work for its own records. If you do not receive this certificate, please contact your electrician’s registration body.
The registered electrician should also provide you with a completed Electrical Installation Certificate to show that the work has been tested for safety.
It is advisable to ask the electrician to provide information about which scheme they belong to and their membership number. You will then be able to check the electrical competent person register at www.electricalcompetentperson.co.uk to make sure they are registered. You can find a list of organisations that run competent person schemes for electrical installation work on the Gov.uk website.
3. Can I speak to someone you’ve already worked for?
Getting a reference from previous customers is a great way of finding out more about an electrician’s abilities and standard of work. Ask them what kind of work was done, what the quality of workmanship was like and how happy they were overall. Even things such as how good an electrician is at keeping customers informed of their progress can be important in helping you assess whether you’d be happy to have them work for you.
4. Do you have insurance?
Your electrician should have public liability insurance in case anything goes wrong. You could also ask if they have a warranty policy.
5. Can you quote me for the work?
It’s a good idea to get at least three quotes for a job and compare which would provide the best service. A good electrician will happily provide a quote – but remember, the best one may not always be the cheapest!
6. Will you provide certification of the completed work?
Electricians should always provide a certificate on completion of the work confirming that it meets the British safety standard BS7671.