If electrical work is not carried out correctly, it can pose an incredibly serious health and safety risk. In the UK, there are building regulations that state that all electrical work must comply with Part P and should be inspected by a qualified professional. This is to ensure that all installations are compliant and more importantly, safe.
However, there are a lot of people operating as electricians within the UK that do not have the correct qualifications. Shockingly, there are as many as 20,000 unregistered electricians in the UK and while clues like lower prices may give them away, it isn’t always apparent.
Before employing anyone to work on your electrical systems, it is vital to perform checks to ensure that they are registered and qualified to do the job. While this might seem like a lot of additional work, it isn’t as complicated as you might think.
Choosing An Electrician
Whether you are building an extension that needs wiring or having some remedial work done on an existing circuit, you’ve probably sat back and wondered ‘is my electrician suitably qualified to do the job?’
Frighteningly, there are a wealth of rogue traders that do not have the training, knowledge, experience or qualifications to call themselves an electrician.
What Qualifications Does An Electrician Need?
To qualify as an Electrician, you need to either complete an apprenticeship (3-4 years) or qualify with a Diploma / Technical Certificate, NVQ & AM2 (2-3 years). As with any skilled work, an electrician cannot simply set up shop and start doing jobs. They first need to go through the relevant training.
At MJP electrical, we ensure that all of our staff are fully qualified and are registered. However, it’s easy for an individual or a firm to claim these things and a customer could take this at face value.
If you arm yourself with the correct knowledge, you will be able to better understand what it is that an electrician has to have under his or her belt. Asking your electrician about their qualifications is the first and easiest step in determining whether they are suitable for the job. A good electrician with the correct qualifications will have no issue in sharing these details with you so be sure to ask this before committing to using their services.
In the UK, any electrician worth their salt will be registered with NICEIC. This organisation performs checks on how compliant an electrician is by things like assessments, verification and testing of the work as well as looking at the equipment being used. Your electrician should have their NICEIC registration displayed on their business card, vehicle or website and will be happy to show this to you, should you ask.
As previously mentioned, to become a fully qualified electrician, training can take anywhere between two and four years. Typically, this involves an apprenticeship alongside study up to at least level 3 in an area such as electrotechnical services. Many electricians may also gain their education through an electrical installation course at a college. In any case, they will have certificates to prove that they have completed the course.
Your electrician will also need to have a clear understanding of building regulations in order to remain compliant with these laws.
Why It Is Important To Check
For a lot of home and business owners, it is easy to fall into the trap of sourcing an electrician and taking them at face value. But the cost to yourself could be devastating if you do not check their qualifications and whether they are registered. For example, if an unqualified electrician performs a job poorly, this will need to be rectified. When you call in an individual or company to perform this remedial work, the cost will often be much greater.
But this is far from being the only risk of not checking. The safety of your electrical work is at risk when using an unqualified or unregistered electrician. Just consider the following points:
- Fires can break out due to overloaded or faulty circuits.
- Electric shocks are common when using faulty or incorrectly installed circuits; some of which could result in an extremely serious injury or even a fatality.
- If you cannot prove that your electrical work meets Part P of the Building Regulations then this could mean that any insurance on your property becomes void. Not only will this mean that you could be left with hefty repair bills but it may also make your home more difficult to sell, should you ever decide to relocate.
Where Can I Check?
If you have never checked an electrician’s qualifications or whether they are registered before, then you may be concerned about where to start. Fortunately, the UK has some excellent resources for ensuring that you always work with competent traders.
As we have mentioned, electricians that register with NICEIC have to undergo detailed assessments before they can be considered fully competent. Registering with NICEIC is not an obligation so electricians that do register are demonstrating their willingness to provide a good service from the off.
As well as the initial assessment, electricians must also undergo further assessment in order to retain their NICEIC registration. While it is possible to ask to see the electrician’s evidence of being registered, it can also be useful to check out the NICEIC website that will provide you with up to date details on all of their participants.
The Electrical Competent Person Scheme is a government-led program that was passed in parliament in 2014. Anyone wanting to prove themselves as a reputable and competent electrician may register and once they are approved, their details will be available on the website as well as allowing them to display the logo as further proof of their registration.
The Electrotechnical certification scheme sees electricians undergoing a rigorous assessment that, when passed, allows them to become registered with the scheme. In addition to this, electricians must be able to provide proof of their qualifications and meet the detailed health and safety requirements. Their details are held on the website so that consumers can check that their electrician does have this registration.
Other Important Things To Look For When Choosing Your Electrician:
Hiring an electrician who has the relevant qualifications and registration with reputable UK bodies is of the utmost importance. But these are certainly not the only things you should be looking out for when choosing an electrician. It is essential to think about every aspect of the work and discuss your needs with the potential contractor.
Getting A Quote
It is no good accepting a quote from the first electrician you come across. This is particularly important when looking for someone to complete extensive or major work. You should always get at least three quotes from different electricians after having given them details of the work you need completing.
A good electrician will provide you with a detailed quote and will demonstrate a good understanding of what it is you are asking for.
Payments And Receipts
One of the ways that a lot of rogue traders operate is by not leaving a paper trail. When choosing an electrician, always make payments electronically where possible and ensure that you are given a receipt.
In most cases, a trustworthy and competent electrician will not surprise you with hidden costs, although in some cases, this may be unavoidable. But when this happens, your electrician should discuss the options with you and be open and honest.
Look At Their Website
If an electrician is registered with any of the schemes we have discussed in this guide, they will want to show this on their website. Before agreeing to work with the person or company, take a look at their website for things like NICEIC badges and other accreditations.
Ask For References
When you begin your discussion with your potential electrician, ask him or her for references from previous customers. People who are competent and do a good job will likely have a lot of good references that can be used as a guide on how reliable their service is.
Ratings And Reviews
If you don’t feel comfortable asking the electrician for direct references, you could do some of your own research. Checking out Google reviews and social media, such as a Facebook Page, will give you a very clear idea of what previous clients have experienced when working with the contractor. People tend to leave honest reviews on the internet and you will find that most are either extremely good or extremely bad as people generally wish to express passionate views.
Check For Licensing And Insurance
The last thing you want is for faulty work to impact your bank balance and for this reason, it is vital that you check whether your chosen electrician has the right insurance that will cover any damage or accidents.
Moreover, you will need to ensure that the contractor has the relevant license to perform the work they are undertaking. Again, you can do this by using any of the resources listed in this guide.
When you hire an electrician, you are putting the safety of yourself and your property into their hands. In the wrong hands, this can lead to accidents and damage as well as hefty bills for remedial work.
To avoid these problems, home and business owners can perform their own checks to ensure that electricians are compliant and qualified. There are various websites that offer registration to electricians who pass their assessments and these sites also display information so you can check whether the person you want to hire is qualified for the job.