Judging Work Quality
Though it takes a trained eye to spot an electrician's mistakes, you can eliminate some names from your list based on the neatness of their work. As a rule, a job that isn't neat probably isn't safe. If you can get access to a site, find a place where a number of wires run together, usually near the service panel. Romex — the flat, white plastic-sheathed cable common to most residential wiring — should run to the service panel in a neat, orderly way. If cables are crossed and jumbled, or if they droop from joist to joist, the electrician is neither doing a methodical job nor exhibiting the care essential to wiring a home safely. This is not nitpicking. Cables that merge at the service panel in an orderly way make it easier for the electrician to match the cable with the correct circuit breaker.
In the living area, the cover plates on switches and outlets should be plumb and square to the wall and lie flat against the face of the wall. If they don't, the electrician did not take the time to set the utility box (the box behind the wall that holds the outlets or switches) squarely against the studs and the proper distance back from the wall. If the work looks sloppy, go instead with an electrician who pays closer attention to detail.
In my area, homeowners pay a minimum of $30 per hour for a master who works alone, and at least $55 per hour for a master and journeyman working as a team. These prices vary regionally.
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