There is no shortage of nightmare contractor stories. A family hires a contractor to complete work in their house and the contractor ends up demolishing half of the house before leaving. Or a contractor has to set up in someone's house because the work had turned out to be bigger than first assessed. While picking out a contractor can be stressful, there are several steps that can be followed to find the right one for your project.

Ask Family and Friends

If you are looking for an electrical contractor, start by asking family and friends for recommendations. A family member or a friend can recommend an electrical contractor who they themselves have worked with in the past. If a family member or friend has used an electrical contractor in the past, make a list of questions to ask them. For example, ask them why they needed an electrical contractor, and how long the work lasted. Did the contractor finish the work on time? Were there any complications along the way? If so, how were they handled? Did the contractor request additional money for supplies because the problem was bigger than initially assessed?

Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Visit the web site for the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org to find electrical contractors in your area and to check their ratings with the BBB. Enter your zip code and search for electrical contractors. When you click on a contractor's link you will be directed to information such as the company's contact information, the owner's or the manager's name, the company's address and/or web site, accreditation by the BBB, reviews and complaints by former clients, when the business was incorporated, and whether they are still in business.

Here are some things to look for when researching for electrical contractors on BBB:

  • Look for contractors with a rating of B or higher. The highest rating is A+.
  • Find out if the electrical contractor is accredited by the BBB. Better Business Bureau has accreditation standards in place that measure how contractors respond to consumer complaints.
  • Find out if there are any complaints listed on BBB for a specific electrical contractor and if and how the contractor has responded to the complaint.

Remember, there are always two sides to a story. Keep in mind that just because an electrical contractor is not accredited by BBB, it does not mean that you should avoid them for that sole reason. Businesses are not required to have a BBB accreditation.

Make a List of Questions to Ask an Electrical Contractor

  • Licensed, insured and/or bonded

Even if you are able to find out if a business is licensed, insured, and/or bonded when researching the BBB, ask the contractor directly. Do some research first to find out if your state or local ordinances require a specific license for electrical contractors. Try to find an electrical contractor who is insured and bonded, because this means that an electrical contractor is an established business.

  • References

Ask the electrical contractors if they can provide references. References will showcase the contractor's work and experience.

  • Education and training

You may ask the electrical contractors about their education or any apprenticeship. The electrical contractors may have learned the trade on the job through apprenticeship or by attending a technical school. This may give you some insight into their experience.

  • Quote

You may ask the electrical contractors if they provide quotes. Electrical contractors may need to visit your house to assess the work before providing you with a quote. Ask if the quote is free, or if there are any fees associated with providing the quote. Remember to contact more than one contractor to receive different quotes; the rule of thumb is approximately three.

If electrical contractors do not answer immediately, leave a message. A contractor may not answer the telephone immediately because they may be working.

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