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Choosing An Electrical Contractor For Your Business 6 Top Tips

Updated on October 15, 2013

Finding The Right Electrical Contractor

Finding the right electrical contractor to service your business is imperative.

They should be experienced, highly-qualified and well presented.

They should also be prompt with timekeeping and leave your premises clean and tidy on completion of the job.

For any landlord, owning an HMO (or House of Multiple Occupancy) can seem like an attractive proposition. And it could be, provided you attract quality tenants and ensure your HMO complies with health and safety regulations and that all the necessary documentation is kept up to date.

PAT Testing
PAT Testing

Six Tips For Choosing The Right Electrical Contractor For Your Business

You might think that all electrical contractors are pretty much the same. Most people do, until they have a bad experience. And by that time, it is often too late, because the damage will have been done. We regularly hear horror stories of jobs which have gone badly wrong, but when you are dealing with something as potentially lethal as electricity, one mistake can be one too many.

Here are 6 top tips to bear in mind when choosing your electrical contractor:

Are they NICEIC registered?

NICEIC is the national body for electricians and contractors who are NICEIC registered will need to adhere to stringent criteria. What's more, the company will be reviewed at yearly intervals to ensure compliance with the latest legislation.

Are materials sourced from reputable suppliers?

Much has been made in the trade press recently about contractors found to be using sub-standard cabling which could prove a fire risk. Ensure your chosen contractor uses only approved materials which conform to the British Standard of safety and come with a reasonable warranty or guarantee period.

Will they provide a formal written quote?

This is important because you need to make certain of getting a quality service, genuine value for money and you won't want to be stung by any nasty 'surprises' later.

Referrals/ testimonials

Does the company have a batch of recent testimonials on their website from happy customers? I say 'recent' because you do come across some websites where the last testimonial was dated several years back. It makes you wonder . . .

Are the contractors clean, tidy and punctual?

This is not something you are likely to know in advance, though the testimonials may give you a clue. You can normally expect personnel to dress smartly in corporate clothing, arrive when they say they will and tidy up after themselves.

What experience/ qualifications do they have?

Are the operatives qualified to City & Guilds' standards? How long has the company been in existence? If you look on the internet you will find 'fast-track' courses that state they can teach you to become an electrician in 6 weeks. The stark reality is that it takes around 4 years to train for a career as an electrician. It's only after that your 'real education' begins - and it lasts a lifetime.

Choosing the right electrical contractor for your business is important, because you will be relying on their expertise to ensure that your electrical systems and equipment are performing to the optimum. Anything less and it could be putting an unnecessary burden on your resources and more importantly, endangering the lives of you and your employees.

PAT Testing
PAT Testing

PAT Testing – Why Not Just Go For The Cheapest Firm?

The cost of portable appliance testing, otherwise known as PAT testing, is getting ever more competitive as electrical firms seek to outdo one another by undercutting their prices – significantly in some cases.

But let me ask you, if I offered you a brand new iPad mini for £40 (no questions asked), wouldn’t you be more than a tad suspicious as to its origins?

Well you would be quite right to be concerned. And in the case of companies which charge ridiculously low prices for portable appliance testing, you should be equally sceptical.

Of course you might reasonably conclude that smaller organisations are able to charge less because they aren’t saddled with the overheads of larger businesses. While this may be true to some extent, beware of companies which boast of being able to ‘service’ over 20 appliances per hour – how thorough might their testing processes be?

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is certainly true of many service industries, but when you are dealing with something as potentially lethal as electricity, you really can’t afford to take any chances.

And if you are interested in what some electricians are faced with when they carry out these kinds of electrical checks, just Google “PAT testing horror stories” and take a close look.

I rest my case.

You would have to conclude that companies undertaking electrical testing work at ridiculously cheap rates must be cutting corners somewhere. And surprisingly, some clients don’t appear to care too much, providing their equipment has a nice little sticker clamped to its exterior, deeming it safe to use.

Talk about burying your head in the sand! That’s simply asking for trouble in the long run.

The cold hard fact is, that if the worst were to happen – and heaven forbid – someone were to be maimed or killed by faulty or defective electrical equipment on your premises, then not only could your insurance policy become invalidated, but you could also find yourself being prosecuted. Either way, you would almost certainly lose your livelihood – and along with it – your good reputation (possibly built up over many years).

Yes, you can certainly get your PAT testing done ‘on the cheap’, but you won’t have the reassurance of having it done thoroughly and to the highest standards.

So for complete peace of mind insist on an electrical firm you can rely on. You’ll be charged a fair rate for the amount of work involved and you won’t have sleepless nights worrying about the “what ifs?”

EICR
EICR

Landlords: Make Sure Your HMOs Are Legally Compliant

Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs), defined as properties shared by three or more tenants who are not related, can be highly profitable source of income for a prospective landlord.

However, with the extra earning potential, often suggested to be between 2-3 times of single family dwellings, comes the added responsibility of ensuring your property complies with the latest legal legislation and Health and Safety regulations.

If you own a House of Multiple Occupancy (or HMO), the property is required by law to undergo an Electrical Installation and Condition Report (EICR) periodically - at intervals not exceeding five years.

If you employ a lettings agency to collect rents due to you and otherwise keep your property maintained in good order, it may well be that your agent will arrange this for you (but it's wise to check rather than assume).

Before commencing with the testing of electrical items, your electrical contractor will undertake a visual inspection to determine that appliances have been sited in the correct way and that there are no obvious flaws with each device such as cracks or evidence of overheating.

When people use the same electrical appliances every day such as toasters, kettles, lamps and so forth, it is normal to assume all is well and even to become complacent - ignoring tell-tale signs of wear and tear. Only with electricity - complacently can be fatal.

Tenants also have a duty to comply with legal requirements and to ensure they co-operate fully with landlords, officials and contractors by providing access to the property as required.

Landlords considering turning a property into a House of Multiple Occupancy will need to comply with planning, building, fire and environmental health regulations. As a landlord, you will need to be mindful of the type of tenants you attract, as well as controlling occupancy levels and keeping on top of paperwork.

Bear in mind also, that should a neighbour bring a nuisance claim against one of your tenants and the property is deemed not to have been run responsibly, you, as landlord, could be held partly liable. Keeping all documents up to date will help prove issues of liability in the unfortunate event that you have to evict somebody.

If you are unsure as to your obligations as a landlord your local authority should be able to help you. And if you'd like to know more about health and safety in HMOs, or about the procedures involved in producing an Electrical Installation and Condition Report, the Health and Safety Executive's website should be your next port of call.

Do you have a top tip for choosing a contractor?

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