Everybody likes to think whatever they purchase will give them good value for money. Employing an electrical contractor is no different, but to carry out comparisons against several quotations can be quite a daunting prospect to a customer. This article is here to help and hopefully guide the customer into understanding what to look out for when employing an electrical contractor to ensure they receive good value for money.
Quality of the Company You Employ
Whatever you purchase, quality must be one of the most important factors in your decision making. Your property is probably the biggest asset you own and alteration or changes made to it should be carried out by experienced companies with a proven track record in the type of work you are asking them to carry out. Experienced contractors will be more efficient and be able to complete the work quicker than inexperienced contractors. They will have greater purchasing power supplying materials for your type of work and be able to pass these saving onto to the customer.
When meeting contractors for the first time, ensure they offer the following as a minimum standard:
- Arrange a convenient time to meet you
- Arrive on time in a presentable manner
- Are patient and willing to listen to your requirements
- If the work relates to a modification or extension, survey your property and take detailed notes on the existing services
- Confirm when you will receive a written estimate from them. This estimate should fully itemise all works to be carried out, together with details of the materials they intend to use
Quality of the Materials Your Electrical Contractor Will Use
Not all electrical materials are the same and the lower the purchase price the more likely they will not meet your expectations and fail prematurely. Think of shopping for a new television, you know the Sony set may be slightly more expensive, but the quality of the picture is so much better, it’s worth the extra investment.
Your electrical installation should last for a minimum of twenty five years and to achieve this, you should insist that your electrical contractor install good quality components. They should be willing to show you samples and explain what guarantees come with the products they supply. Modern LED lighting should give many years maintenance free service and typically good quality manufacturers will offer 7 – 10 year written guarantees. In order to secure work, many contractors will offer low quality products, such as LED downlights that have poor colour temperatures (making your rooms feel stark and cold) and guarantees that are only for the minimum twelve months.
When comparing quotations, the following points should be taken into account:
The quotations should be concise and fully detail all the works to be carried out, together with a schedule of all materials that the contractor will be supplying
- The quotation should be well presented and legible
- A good contractor will identify any areas of the project which may be variable and subject to additional cost
- The contractors should be members of a self certification scheme such as the NICEIC
- Costs should indicate if value added tax is included
- Details of guarantees should be noted
Summary and Conclusions
We hope you have found this guide useful and informative. Any feedback you have would be most welcome and will assist us with future amendments we make to this guide. Value for money should not mean accepting the lowest estimate. The lowest estimate may be offering lower quality products, or in the worst case scenario, the contractor may have identified an area within the project that they can exploit to generate more income. Only consider estimates from reputable established electrical contractors that are happy to demonstrate to you that they have experience and skills to deliver to you a good quality installation. Also remember that the company you select will be working in your property and you need to have faith in their ability and trustworthiness.
Make sure you have written guarantees just in case something goes wrong. Before placing orders, ring your contractors under consideration and establish how quickly they answer their telephone. Your contractor should be happy to supply a landline telephone number as well as a mobile number. Having their address is essential should a written complaint be required.
There is a host of good electrical contractors working throughout the United Kingdom, that have the appropriate insurances in place, are members of trade associations, have calibrated test equipment and suitable plant and tools to carry out your works efficiently and safely. Unfortunately, there are also many contractors tendering for work who are unscrupulous and likely to carry out shoddy work which they fail to return to if something goes wrong. Value for money should mean paying a fair price for a quality product that meets your complete satisfaction.
In summary, to make sure you receive good value for money, look out for the following when employing an electrical contractor:
- Experience in the type of work you are asking them to carry out
- Fully detailed written estimates
- Supply of good quality CE marked products
- Willingness to obtain samples for you to compare
- Clear written details of any variables in their estimate which may be subject to additional cost
- Members of trade associations that give you the customer guarantees
- Mobile and landline telephone numbers
- Can provide references
- Dedicated member of staff that will look after your project
It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much you lose a little money, that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing you bought it to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it’s well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)