Why You Should Hire A Licensed Electrical Contractor

By Mike Holmes Jr

Mike’s Advice / Mike Jr

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 @ 10:34am

As a homeowner, it’s important to educate yourself on what to expect from a contractor. For example, a contractor isn’t a contractor without a contract. Is the person you hired providing documentation, or is he asking you to pay cash, at a discount? Remember, in the event of an issue, documentation always wins.

Now let’s talk about electrical work. When it’s not done correctly it can be quite dangerous. If you notice flickering lights in your home, electrical outlets that spark, or warm light switches, you need to get your electrical work checked out. Your house could be at risk for an electrical fire. 

There are a lot of areas in your home where you could get away with doing it yourself, and your electrical system isn’t one of them. After all, this is your family’s safety at stake. Also, your general handyman is not the person who should be doing your electrical work.

How many times have we walked through a jobsite and seen dangerous electrical work?

Too many to count! Do you remember the first episode of Holmes Makes It Right Episode? This sweet homeowner was so proud of the wiring he had done in his home. But it sure was a disaster.

Even recently while filming Holmes 911 (airing on CTV Life), we gutted a bathroom and found that every single line for the in-floor heating was too short. You can’t stretch wire, can you? The electrical work was a mess and their contractor actually told them they didn’t even need to pull a notification (“permit”) for any electrical work! We reported him to the Electrical Safety Authority based on the unsafe electrical work he had done.

So, who do you need to bring in for electrical work in your house? A Licensed Electrical Contractor.


To always hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor!

What is a Licensed Electrical Contractor?

In the province of Ontario, Licensed Electrical Contractors (LEC) are the only businesses that can legally tackle electrical work in your house. Any electrician you hire should work for a Licensed Electrical Contractor and have an ECRA/ESA licence number on their business card, vehicle and estimate. Hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor means your electrical work is being done safely and in line with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. They are also fully insured and will arrange for any notifications required, and can provide you with an ESA Certificate of Inspection.

The great thing about working with an LEC is that they know the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, so they know where outlets should go and when they should be GFCI protected. You will be in good hands.

LECs can perform electrical services such as installing a breaker panel, installing pot lights, installing light switches and repairing wiring. Even a ceiling fan should be installed by an LEC.

You may have hired a general contractor for your renovation, but they should be hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor for electrical work.

Don’t be afraid to ask your contractor if the person doing your electrical work is an LEC. It’s a red flag if your general contractor swears that they are bringing in an LEC but you don’t see a  vehicle with an ECRA/ESA license on it or they can’t produce an electrical permit.



To find a licensed electrical contractor near you visit: or if you are in Ontario, Canada visit


Notifications for Electrical Work

A notification is required for electrical work. After work is complete, ESA issues a Certificate of Inspection to the notification holder once the inspection process is complete. This verifies that the electrical work is done in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. If your electrician is unwilling to file a notification for your job, or asks you to take them out yourself, that is a major red flag. It is almost a sure sign that they are not licensed. ESA notifications are applied for before or within 48 hours of the electrical work commencing.

How to spot an Unlicensed Electrical Contractor?

It’s easy to trust your general contractor to bring the right, qualified subtrades to your site. But that’s not always the case. If electrical work isn’t done right, it can be a serious danger. These are some red flags that you are working with an unlicensed electrical contractor:

  • They can’t provide an ECRA/ESA licence number and it’s not on their work vehicle.
  • When they provide an ECRA/ESA licence number, be sure to look it up on the ESA website.
  • When you ask for their ERCA/ESA licence number on the phone, they hang up.
  • When providing an estimate, they do not include their ECRA/ESA license number or ESA fees for the notification.
  • The company is not listed on the ESA website.
  • They can do multiple jobs around the house like plumbing, framing, home maintenance tasks.
  • They ask you to take out the notification with the Electrical Safety Authority under your name (we’ve seen this before). Because homeowners can take out notifications, sometimes unlicensed contractors will have the homeowner take out the notification and pretend like they did the electrical work themselves. 
  • They encourage you to pay cash, even offering you a discount if you do so.
  • You are asked to purchase all their supplies.
  • They show up in a branded vehicle but operate under a different name.

If you come across any of these red flags, it’s important to report it to ESA so they can investigate. You can anonymously report unlicensed electrical work to ESA, which is great.

Make It Right®