How do you electricians that are in business legally deal with unlicensed individuals or companies that are engaging in electrical contracting?
Here in NC, it is a felony to solicit or to enter a contract to do electrical work without first having attained a licence from the state. As a licensed electrical contractor, I resent anyone trying to take business away from me that has not bothered to attain a license. I equate this to any professional occupation that is regulated by the state such as doctors or lawyers. Can I legally advertise that I will fix broken bones, pull teeth, handle a court case for someone, or do brain surgery, if I am not a licensed doctor or lawyer? The answer is obviously no, and the primary reason is the safety of the consumers. I am responsible for everything I do in my business, and have to follow all the rules as well as carry liability insurance on my business and my commercial vehicle. This is why I look for ads in the local papers offering to do electrical work, and investigate the owners to see if they are licensed. If the business is not licensed then I complain to the state board of electrical contractors and they investigate further. Generally, what they do is strongly advise the perpetrators to immediately stop advertising electrical services, and let them off the hook with a warning. The ads are changed to reflect this by dropping the electrical references. The state board has a full time investigator in my region that is doing his job well. Most of the ads are for handyman services that include painting, drywall, carpentry, electrical work, trash hauling etc..., they are not electricians, and have no right to advertise electrical services. One company kept sending me glossy postcards as well as big ads in the local papers advertising home remodeling and including electrical work as well. I called them and asked if they had an electrician on board, and if they were interested in subcontracting any of their electrical work. They told me that they had a "master" electrician working for them, and they didn't need my services. This got my curiosity up and I looked up their business license. It wasn't from this part of the state, and did not include electrical work.I then contacted the state board and an investigation was started. The latest ads have removed any reference to them providing electrical work. I have seen some results of work by unlicensed individuals, and some of it is frightening and dangerous. I really don't care if someone that does electrical work for a living does a side job as a favor for someone. They have to be careful and know that they are not working legally and can get into serious trouble if they are caught. What really bugs me is blatent disregard for the law by advertising their illegal activities and taking my business away from me, while jeopardizing the safety of the customers. My wife calls me petty and spiteful for reporting these ads, and I ask her if she is concerned if her doctor graduated medical school, has a license, and knows what he is doing. What do you think about this?
I agree 100%. Here in BC it's illegal for a non-certified person to advertise electrical work. Furthermore, it's illegal for any non-certified person to charge for electrical work. There's really not much that can be done about it, especially when a lot of the jobs they do are "cash under the table". When I see ads for electrical work that I doubt are from a certified contractor, I mail them into the electrical safety branch and let them deal with it. The problem is, with all the cutbacks there just aren't the resources for officials to go after the non-licensed ones. But the real problem is much of the public who are trying to get the best bang for their buck, and mainly out of ignorance hire someone who isn't qualified. They're the ones that need to be educated on the pitfalls of not hiring qualified people.
"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"
Licensing does not necessarily mean "quality work". I have witnessed work by so-called reputable EC's that was some of the worst workmanship and code non-compliance that can be imagined. In many, many areas the large contractor's work is not even inspected as the inspector relies on the EC's size and assumes the work is O.K. So, a license is not a substitute for knowledge and ability as from reading postings I believe several forum posters would agree.
"Licensing does not necessarily mean "quality work". I have witnessed work by so-called reputable EC's that was some of the worst workmanship and code non-compliance that can be imagined. In many, many areas the large contractor's work is not even inspected as the inspector relies on the EC's size and assumes the work is O.K. So, a license is not a substitute for knowledge and ability as from reading postings I believe several forum posters would agree. "
Arguing about quality and know-how have nothing to do with what is legal.
Having an EC may not mean absolute quality and know-how, but it is the way to bet.
I agree with Festus 100%.
[This message has been edited by Amazingmg (edited 03-31-2006).]
[This message has been edited by Amazingmg (edited 03-31-2006).]
"Let's face reality the quality of someone's work is based on his personal ethics, not the amount of gold foil paper on his wall." I agree, that's true. But if someone is willing to subvert the law by operating without a license and risk their own freedom and livelyhood, how much more would they be willing to risk of yours? In essence, if they'll ignore the big rules what makes you think they'll follow any other rules that aren't convenient? If you are licensed and insured, your customer has a legal path to take if something goes bad.
First, New Jersey has a Board of Electrical Contractors, which sounds similar to what Festus said, perhaps NC 'copied' our format.
Those of you who don't know me, I'm a Lic. EC in NJ, since 1985; and also a Lic. AHJ, I teach at a County Vo-Tech part time, and started teaching CEU's to EC's, also part time.
Our Board imposes $$$$$ fines on un-licenced persons performing electrical work, also IF that person was 'in the lic. application process (submitting app., or scheduled to test, or waiting for test results) they WILL be banned. Some of the fines, and payment plans are posted within the Board meeting minutes on the web site.
My stance; I'll drop a dime fast. Have I?? YES.
IF the guys who paid their dues to get the License don't keep their eyes open, who will??
NJ is becoming a tougher place to financially survive with tax increases, and all the other 'costs of living'. That said, people are looking to 'cut corners' and MAY let the 'handyman' fix the wiring.
As an AHJ, I look out for the safety of the public, conformance with the NEC (as adopted by NJ in UCC), and 'people doing what they should not be doing'
I'm not a licensed electrician, but I do "side jobs" for friends and family whenever they ask me to. I know licensed contractors frown upon people like me for doing unlicensed work. And they frown because they think we don't charge enough or don't do the work properly. There's really no way for me to spin this because the licensed contractor is right, and has the right, to be pissed off about guys who moonlight at night. However, if you're a licensed contractor now and used to do side jobs before you were legit, you are a hypocrit.