How to find a licensed electrical contractor featured image
How to find a licensed electrical contractor featured image

How to Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor For Your Electrical Work

By Mike Holmes

Mike’s Advice / Electrical

Monday, August 14th, 2023 @ 1:41pm

The Best Way to Find a Licensed Electrical Contractor 

Wondering if you should do the electrical yourself or hire a licensed electrical contractor? I talk about electrical work a lot because everyone must understand the importance of doing the work properly. Electrical work isn’t always as simple or straightforward as it looks and one bad wire or connection can be dangerous. I’ve seen too many electrical disasters waiting to happen. Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) have the expertise, equipment and training to do the job safely. Ultimately, it will keep you and your family safe, and what’s more important than that?!

Here is a guide to hiring an electrician.


Homeowners And Electrical Work

In most areas in North America, homeowners can complete electrical work in their homes. However, you need to get a permit and have the electrical work inspected. Don’t take unnecessary risks with yourself and your family, especially if you feel uncomfortable doing it. Let me say this again, It’s not worth the risk!



Everyone can change a light bulb, but I recommend hiring a licensed electrical contractor for anything more complicated than replacing a face plate or tightening a wall plug. In Ontario, homeowners can replace light fixtures and switches rated at no more than 15 A and 130 volts. This does not include recessed light fixtures or connections to aluminum and knob and tube wiring. A permit is still required and the work must be inspected. The average person would have no idea how to do this – so DON’T!

BOTTOM LINE: If you don’t know basic electrical, don’t do it! Licensed Electrical Contractors are businesses that have a team of electricians that can help you. Hire them and be safe.


Can My General Contractor Do My Electrical?

Here is an honest story. When I first started in the construction business, I was doing all the wiring. One day after I rewired a whole house, I heard a knock on the door. An inspector with the electrical safety authority showed up. They were notified a general contractor did the wiring and this is not allowed. I invited him in and he went through the whole house with a fine-toothed comb. In the end, he told me he couldn’t find anything wrong with the work I had done. However the point is, I should NOT have been doing the electrical work.



It’s not uncommon for your kitchen installer, general contractor or pool company to offer to do your electrical work. I have even seen electric vehicle dealerships offering to install EV chargers for people. A general contractor is NOT ALLOWED to work on your electricity in most areas. They must hire a licensed electrical contractor to do the job. I’ve been a contractor for over 30 years, and even I bring in licensed electrical contractors for my jobs.



NOTE: Electricians are NOT General Contractors. Homeowners need to understand that LECs are licensed electrical contractors, not general contractors. For example, they don’t perform tasks like drywall repairs after an exploratory investigation or after a home has been rewired. 


A good LEC will remind you of this so you can prepare accordingly, knowing it will affect your timeline and budget. Some electricians may even include this service in their estimate, but make sure either way!

Electricians tend to specialize. Some concentrate on new construction, some just on commercial work, and some only on service calls to fix dead outlets or faulty fixtures.



Reasons Why Hiring An Electrician (A Licensed Electrical Contractor) Is Important:

#1 A Licensed Electrical Contractor Can Assess Your Electrical Needs

Being an electrician is a specialized trade. A licensed electrical contractor is trained to assess your electrical and recommend solutions based on your lifestyle and needs. Don’t do electrical work yourself, most homeowners don’t have the knowledge, tools or skills to do the job safely. For example, if you are thinking about installing an EV charger, how do you know if your current system can handle it?


Mike Holmes and Frank Cozzolino. Always hire a LEC to do the electrical work on your home.

Always hire a LEC to do the electrical work on your home. Frank Cozzolino is a Licensed Electrical Contractor that we trust to do the work on all our projects, why? Because safety first!




#2 An Electrical Contractor Knows Code

Licensed electrical contractors are familiar with the National Electrical Code. Trust someone who has all the current knowledge about the code

Electrical code is continually being upgraded and added to the most recent building codes, so it’s important to be familiar with what is required in your region. This can typically be found through your local building authority or electrical governing board. The national electrical codes of any country are created and mandated by a national governing body and then modified and regulated by local municipalities and regions. Changes and revisions are done to protect everyone, so keeping up-to-date and informed is important. When discussing and educating yourself on electrical projects, factor this in. 

Do you know where in your house you should have GFCIs? Do you need to replace your knob and tube wiring? An electrician will have the answers.



Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) EXPLAINED


blue backsplash

Every receptacle installed in kitchens must be GFCI-protected.


#3 An LEC May Have Additional Certifications

Licensed Electrical Contractors can also take additional training and certifications with specific electrical manufacturers, like EATON. These LECs have additional training specifically with EATON products and have the backing of a trusted national industry-leading manufacturer. They go through training sessions to make sure they have the knowledge and expertise needed to do the job properly. 

EATON hand selects these contractors so you can trust they will provide quality work and service with respect and professionalism. Ongoing training is key!


To find a licensed, and Eaton Certified contractor in the USA in your area, visit 


#4 A Licensed Electrical Contractor will Do Your Electrical Work SAFELY

When I am driving around, it’s not that rare for me to spot contractors working on a roof with no fall arrest equipment. That makes me very nervous. Similarly, touching electrical work comes with its own risks. Poorly done electrical work can cause electrical fires, injuries, and even death.

If you are renovating or buying a home or have concerns about your electrical work, they can make your house safe for you.


#5 An Electrician Can Diagnose Problems

A licensed electrical contractor can diagnose problems with your electrical work. You may have hidden electrical issues that need a trained eye. If you have faulty wiring, damaged electrical cords, or flickering lights, don’t try to fix these yourself. Your licensed electrical contractor has the knowledge, education, and tools to make your home safe!


#6 An LEC Is Insured 

A LEC is bonded and insured. Being bonded and insured means that the contractor or their business is covered against any claims against the business and is protected from lawsuits.


#7 An Electrician Knows The Right Products

GFCIs, AFCIs, smart breakers – this can get complicated. A licensed electrical contractor can have a good discussion with you to understand your current and future needs.



Electrical Considerations When Renovating


How to Ensure You’re Hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor

I recommend looking for an electrician who has affiliations with a trusted manufacturer. For example, Eaton has a network of certified electrical contractors who are trained by Eaton on their specific products. 

In Ontario, ask for the electrician’s ECRA/ESA license number – it should appear prominently on their truck and any additional paperwork, like an invoice, estimate, or business card. Also, take the extra step to verify it with ESA, to avoid hiring an unlicensed contractor.


Pro Tip:

Trade certification for construction electricians is compulsory in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta and available, but voluntary, in British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.


Questions To Ask When Hiring An Electrician

  1. Are you licensed, certified, and insured to perform work in my area? This is a no-brainer. You don’t want them to work in your home if they aren’t licensed and insured.
  2. Have you seen an issue similar to mine? Check their experience level without asking them, “How long have you been in service.”
  3. When can you perform my job? Scheduling is important. Some contractors can troubleshoot and fix your issue that day. Some require parts or additional resources.
  4. Do I need a Permit? The answer is likely, yes!
  5. Will you perform a full inspection of my electrical system? We may assume this will happen, but getting verbal confirmation is key. I highly recommend this, especially if you haven’t done any electrical work or noticed things like constantly changing bulbs, flickering bulbs, or hot wall plugs.
  6. What is your preferred payment type? This can avoid awkward conversations once the job is complete.


Questions to Ask When Hiring An Electrician. Illustration by Restovate Ltd. Copyright 2023 Restovate Ltd.


You should be suspicious if the electrical contractor asks YOU to take out the notification of work (the permit) in your name. Also, never do a cash job and always get a proper receipt for the work performed.

If you’re in Ontario, tell your LEC that you have done your research and expect to get a copy of the ESA Certificate of Acceptance once the electrical work is complete. This certificate confirms the work was done correctly and has been inspected and approved.



Avoid Unlicensed Electrical Contractors

Nine Jobs To Leave to the Pros


Find An Electrician – Eaton Certified Contractor Network

Eaton’s Certified Contractor Network (ECCN) connects you with a network of certified electrical contractors in the USA that you can trust. Eaton has done the homework for you, making finding and hiring a licensed electrical contractor easy. 


Eaton Certified Contractor Network - ECCN Logo


ECCN is a nationwide program in the US specifically designed for residential, electrical service, and renovation contractors.  The electrical contractors in their network are specially trained in Eaton’s latest electrical products, local codes, and installation methods.






Homeowners should also regularly check in with their home insurance broker to ensure that their home insurance is up to date and adequate, especially if they have any plans to do any upgrades, like electrical.



Another way to help validate the legitimate and licensed electrical contractors is to contact the Better Business Bureau or Consumers Protection Act for any past complaints or disciplinary actions.


Are you an electrician in the United States? Visit today and see how the ECCN can help you grow your residential electrical business!


Ask For References

And finally, don’t be shy to ask for references. I’m talking names, addresses, when they did the jobs etc., and call these people and ask them questions. Were they happy with the work? Did they leave a clean job site at the end of the day? Did they have any issues and did they address them right away?


DID YOU KNOW? Ontario has two major electrician licences: the Industrial Electrician 442A and Construction and Maintenance (C&M) 309 A. Each licence has benefits over the other. Residential, commercial, and industrial work are all available at C&M Electricians.


There are three levels of certification levels for electrical workers:

  • Apprentice,
  • Journeyman, and
  • Master Electrician


Verify the electrical contractor is licensed and in good standing by contacting contact your local building or electrical authority. Also don’t be afraid to ask about their working experiences, and read online reviews and ratings from reputable sources.


Obtain Multiple Quotes

It doesn’t matter what kind of renovation you are doing; I always recommend homeowners do their homework. Take the time to understand what’s involved. What products will you need? How much time will it take to complete the project? Will you require more than just an electrician?

Reminder, electricians are not drywallers or painters. Depending on the project’s scope, you must hire and include these trades in your timeline.

Whether you are renovating the inside or outside of your home, there will be procedures that must be followed, as well as permits. Let’s not forget about getting the work inspected. Most inspectors can’t just drop by at a moment’s notice – you may have to wait a day or two for the inspection to happen. This, of course, will affect the timeline of the project. The better you understand the project and ask questions, the better the experience.

Review and compare the estimates or quotes, watch out if they are quite different. When comparing apples to apples – you will have a better understanding of what is required and what you will get. Perhaps one of your contractors didn’t understand the full scope of the job or something got missed. 

I always recommend that you set up a payment structure based on milestones, of course, depending on the scale of the project, but never put down more than 10% upon signing. Never. Also, discuss warranties on the products used versus warranties on the labour. These will differ and should be stated in the estimate and invoice. Most importantly, understand the timeline and how delays will be managed.


Conduct Interviews and Site Visits

After making the initial inquiries via email or call, I suggest meeting with the electrician to review the project. A trust level needs to be established, so this is important. This person is coming into your home and will have access to certain areas. Ask your questions again, especially if it’s a large job, like re-wiring your house, upgrading your panel, or wiring for an extension onto your home.

I also suggest inspecting your home if you haven’t had your electrical reviewed for some time. I recommend getting an electrical inspection every 7 years for your entire home.

The electrician will review the job, asking to inspect the electrical panel and the area being worked on. For larger jobs, like wiring an unfinished basement or a whole house rewiring, access to blueprints will be helpful, and you will likely be working with a general contractor who would help manage the electrician.  However, no matter how small or large the job is, I encourage you to become as knowledgeable as possible about the project because the more knowledgeable you are, the better the experience will be.

Of course, it’s impossible to know everything. As homeowners, we need to listen to the professionals. If you find an electrical contractor is making suggestions that go beyond what you thought was the scope of the project, it may be to improve the overall safety and efficiency of your home and not just upselling. 


Finalize the Contract

After the electrician has reviewed the job, they will provide you with an estimate, which should include the number of hours to complete the job and any electrical materials, like circuit breakers, surge protectors, number of switches and outlets, etc. You must have a clear understanding before the work commences.

Remember, new wiring is typically easier than replacing old wiring. Replacing old wiring will require access to behind the walls, more labor and tools – meaning more costly. LECs should send you an invoice once the job is complete, and the invoice will state the payment terms upon receipt of the invoice, net 10 or 30 days. 

You should receive the invoice once the job is complete and you have the certificate of acceptance confirming the work completed has passed inspection. Also, keep a copy of this in your renovation file, binder, or folder. I recommend every homeowner has this type of file – an ongoing record of the maintenance and upkeep of your home – invaluable when accessing home-related issues or when you decide to sell.



How To Hire A Contractor: Get It In Writing


I like to say knowledge is power. You don’t have to know every detail about the project. However, understanding what’s involved, estimating the time it will take, and anticipating the kinds of hiccups or delays that may arise is important. Having a good relationship with your electrician and understanding what will happen and what might happen will ensure your project goes smoothly and within budget.


Electrical Safety QUESTIONS

Can a homeowner do their own electrical work? 

Yes, but I wouldn’t advise it, and it still needs a permit to be inspected and approved, with a certificate of acceptance by ESA in Ontario.


What is the difference between an electrician and an electrical contractor?

An electrician is an individual tradesman, and an electrical contractor is a business person or company that employs electricians.


What is the function of electrical contractors? 

Electrical contractors are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems


Do electrical engineers write code?

Electrical and electronics engineers design, develop, upgrade, and maintain electrical systems and equipment. An electrical engineer figures out the quantities in a circuit when planning the internal circuits of a system.



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