There are several ways that hiring an unlicensed electrician can hurt you as the consumer, but most importantly, it is dangerous! If they don’t hold a license, there is a reason for it. Either they were too lazy to put forth the effort in obtaining one, or they didn’t have the skills, education, or experience necessary to acheive it. Remember, an electrical license is something you earn, and not something that is simply handed to you. When choosing an electrical company, the most important element to remember is safety. True, hiring someone that is not a licensed electrician may hurt little companies like us trying to making an honest living, but even more so it hurts you, the consumer. The average customer does not understand what it means to hold an electrical license, and how important it is when it comes to their safety. These electricians not only lack the license to perform the work they are quoting, but they sometimes lack the education and experience needed to perform the job at hand. Furthermore, those that are not licensed electricians can not carry insurance needed to protect you or them. Sure they can carry general liability as a contractor, which covers the jobsite for the most part, however in order for the electrical to be covered, it must be done by a qualified person. That can only be an electrician licensed by the State of Texas. So if something goes wrong, where does that leave you as the consumer? You guessed it. You are now on the hook for someone else’s mistake. At this point it's only damage control, you can only hope they didn't get hurt on your property while attempting to perform the job. Unfortunately, you have paid an unqualified person to do the electrical job, and good luck getting the money back in small claims, and your insurance carrier now has to fight the injury claim they've placed on your homeowners policy. Don't believe that's a possible scenario? Run a quick google search and read the horror stories for yourself. Even if your insurance carrier doesn’t pay the claim, they'll still have to fight the allegations on your behalf. If the insurance company doesn't drop you completelly, which is highly likely, what do you think it will do to your premium? It's just not worth the risk.
How to protect yourself as a consumer.
While it's tempting to hire a company who’s price is $1000 cheaper than the others, it is often times just like that old saying, too good to be true. It's easy for these unlicensed companies to quote the job at half of what a licensed electrican can when they don't pull permits, because they can’t, or they don’t have general lability insurance, because their overhead is obviously much lower. In most cases it’s not doing one or the other, but both that drive their costs down. However, there is a sure fire way to be certain that the company which you are receiving quotes from has a licensed electrician. Ask for a copy of their current electrical license, or have them write down their license number for you. With their license number, you can look them up at www.tdlr.texas.gov/LicenseSearch/, and make sure that they are licensed in the State of Texas. The next step in making sure that you are using a reputable electrical contractor, is to ask for a copy of their current Certificate of Insurance. This certificate will show the company that they are insured through, the policy's effective dates, and the amount of coverage they have. Don't worry, this is not too much to ask, and a legitimate company would be proud to present the information. If the electrician you are contemplating on hiring has excuses about their license, or baulks at showing you the proper paperwork, save yourself the hassle and don’t hire them.
Here at Estess Electric, we hold a current Master’s Electrical License, a current Journeyman's License, and carry the General Liability Insurance needed to protect us and our customers. It's funny, more and more we hear people say “good for you” as if we are doing something exceptional. When in fact, all we are simply doing what's required. If all the companies out there would just start playing by the same rules, we could level the playing field and stop competing on price, and rather compete on the talent of the trade. For your own protection, when you are looking for an electrical company to handle your project, make sure that they have a current and active license in the state the work will be performed in. Also, make sure that they have general liability coverage. Please always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
When it comes to electrical work please keep in mind - Cheap Electrical Work Can Cause Fires. Always Hire A Licensed Electrician.