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TE Certified Electricians | TE Certified Electricians

Owner of TE Certified Electricians in Alpharetta, GA.

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caution

Red Flags for Professionals

This is a great question! After 15 years in the electrical service business, there is one question that I hear more often than any other; how much is it? I have probably heard that question a million times. Yet, I can count on my hand the number of times people asked to see a copy of my license or insurance. Even fewer customers ask for references, call my suppliers, or stop by the shop. Yet, every customer seems to have a horror story of the time they received bad service. Why, because the customer paid too much attention to the price and not enough attention to the product. This is an easy thing to do with service work because the product is not something you can hold in your hand or easy compare. Here are some warning signs that may help you avoid a lemon. My Prospective Contractor: 1. Does not answer phone calls or returns phone calls late. If you have trouble getting a hold of a contractor before you hire them, imagine what it will be like if you have a problem. 2. Dressed poorly during initial visit. This is a telltale sign that this contractor does not pay attention to details or cleanliness. 3. Has a disorganized or dirty truck. If you see papers strewn all over the dash and cups falling out of the door, imagine what your job site will look like if you hire this guy. 4. Is not wearing a company uniform or driving a clearly marked service vehicle. Side jobbers and handyman work out of unmarked trucks and wear no uniform. Professionals are hard to miss. 5. Does not cover his shoes when he comes into your home. Shoe covers are a nickel a piece. If your contractor does not care enough about your floors to invest a nickel in shoe covers, keep looking. 6. Does not provide a written copy of license and insurance. Professional electricians carry their credentials on every call. Ask to see them. 7. Wants you to get the materials. This means he is stretched very thin financially and supply houses won’t give him credit. This is a very bad sign. 8. Wants me to give a deposit before starting the work. Payment should be made upon completion. 9. Workers are 1099 sub-contractors not W-2 employees. Make sure you know who you are actually hiring. If the contractor is not doing the work himself, the workers better be W-2 employees. Otherwise, you will need to interview and verify each subcontractor’s license, insurance, etc. 10. The quote is significantly lower than the others. Did this contractor understand the scope of the job? What corners will be cut? Is this too good to be true? 11. One quote is significantly higher than the others. Did you miss something? Did the other contractors miss something? Don’t throw this quote out until you know why it is higher. 12. Does not have a good online reputation. These day having no positive reputation online is a very bad thing. A contractor should at bare minimum have 10-20 reviews on the major online ratings sites. If nobody knows this guy exist, there might be a problem. 13. Has a PO Box or no address on his paper, website, or business cards. This means the contractor hiding from someone or is not stable. Established contractors put their physical address on their website and paperwork. 14. Does not provide a written copy of the warranty. A verbal warranty often means no warranty. 15. Steers you towards cheaper brands or options. Good contractors like installing high quality material. If you have a contractor that wants to use a cheap or knock-off product, be on guard. 16. Is borrowing your tools. This is a very bad sign. 17. Spend lots of time on the phone and not working. Is he learning on the job or does he have other things on his mind? 18. Smokes, chews tobacco, or curses while at your home. Impolite contractors only get worse once the job gets going. If a contractor asks unprofessionally towards you, don’t expect his work to be better. 19. Has a bad attitude. Don’t expect the work to be better than the attitude. Avoid unhappy contractors. 20. Seems very busy or preoccupied. While a good contractor is generally busy, he must make time for you. Make sure you contractor makes you a priority from the beginning. If your low on the priority list, expect long delays and poor communication.
cutting costs 1

Cutting Costs Without Cutting Corners

Regardless of finances, it’s always my goal to do my job better with less work. This is of course the basis of saving money. While potential cost savings are everywhere the biggest place to save is in labor and labor related cost. This is especially true when it comes to skilled labor like plumbers, electricians, designers, consultants, carpenters, etc. Find a way to reduce your total labor input and you will save big. The best place to start is planning. A well planned project saves everyone time. Start with the basics. Who needs what, when, where, and for how long? When will you start and when will you end? Make a calendar the shows the days when each trade will perform their task so can avoid paying for multiple trips. Find out what questions the trades will ask you so don’t have to make decisions on the fly and what questions you have so you can get them answered now. By far, the worse time waster is indecision. There is nothing worse than paying skilled people to stand around waiting on a small decision, but I see it all the time. Moreover, I have seen many jobs were the change orders cost more than the original job. Make your plan early, consider potential problems, and then stick to the plan. Your project will run smoother and your expenses will be lower. If you need to make drastic cuts, start with things that can be upgraded or replaced in the future easily. Light fixtures, appliances, window treatments, etc. can all be added very nicely after the fact where as your structural elements are hard to change. Plus, these items tend to have the highest mark-up and it pays to give yourself time to shop. Regardless of your budget, never compromise on the quality of your labor. Nothing can turn a job south faster than an inexperienced, unprofessional or poorly equipped contractor. Using cheap labor is a major risk even if you know the trades very well. For a homeowner, it’s absolutely reckless to hire anyone who you are not absolutely confident in. The trill of saving money is short, but the pain of poor workmanship will last forever (or until you hire someone to rip it out....). Lastly remember that saving money is an honorable and smart goal, but being cheap is not. The surest way to get poor customer service is to try to save money at someone else’s expensive. Look for ways to save your vendors time and effort and you will find them much more eager to lower their price. Also, ask your contractors early on for ideas and tips. Often, a simple change can save you big money.
house from scratch1

Designing a Home from Scratch

1. Build good infrastructure. Its easy to ignore the basics when building your home but while the walls are open go ahead and put in the extra wires, insulation, ducting, etc. Many homeowners sacrifice on major infrastructure issues like a larger electrical panel or more efficient HVAC unit for items that can always be added later like upgraded light fixtures, appliances, and upgraded counter tops. We regular help customers in beautiful homes with woefully inadequate electrical panels, circuits, and lighting. The customers end up spending a small fortune to correct issues that could have been address originally at minimal cost. Focus on building a home with good bones. Ask your trades people what items typically get overlooked or skimped on and ask them what it will cost to make you home the exception. You will be glad you did. 2. Build for everyday use, not once a year else. Formal dinning rooms, giant soaking tubs, large foyers are great, but only if you covered the basics first. I rather have a walk in pantry that I use everyday than a formal dinning room that I use twice a year. Think about how often you will really use the features in your home before you allocate money and space to a particular feature. Think about how often you use your master bathroom toilet versus your master bathroom tub. Doesn't it make sense to spend more time and money on nicer washroom than tub? 3. Don't sweat the the small stuff. Building a house requires thousands of decisions and you are bound to get a few wrong. Make the best choices you have with the information you have available at the time and move on. Its impossible to build the perfect house because your idea of a perfect house changes...sometimes daily. So you didn't get squeeze every inch of storage space out of the house or you had to compromise aesthetics for function in a few areas...big deal. You have bigger fish to fry.
refuse project1

Refusing to Do Projects

The old adage is "what you DON'T do is more important than what you DO." Saying no is a skill and a regular occurrence for our company. As a professional it is our job to do good work, keep our customers safe, and of course keep everyone happy. Generally, we say no for safety reasons and most of the time homeowners appreciate it. Often customers know what they want but not exactly how to get it. So, their initial plans may need a bit of tweeking. We find that offering solutions, alternatives, and substitutes along with our advice goes a long way in easing anyone's mind. Of course, a good explanation of why we can't do a certain project also goes a long way. The most persistent trend we see in the electrical field is customers wanting to bypass safety devices in their home that inconvenience them. Typically, this is a GFCI outlet that shuts off when it gets wet or a breaker that turns off when overloaded. In the mist of their intense frustration over losing power suddenly, homeowners often forget the purpose of these devices. Often times the device is just doing its job but gets blamed for the problem. Generally, a thoroughly diagnosis of the situation will revel the true problem and we can correct it for the homeowner. Also, once a person really understands the safety system, they appreciate the protection much more. Despite our best efforts, sometimes, either to save money or to eliminate any inconvenience, customers will ask us to remove safety features. We never do this. Our position can lead to some awkward conversations but we never compromise on safety. Sometimes, we miss out on work because we won't bend the rules and that is OK by us. Recently, we turned away work for a outdoor concert venue because they wanted to remove safety features in the facility to avoid upgrading their building. We regret missing out on the opportunity but we sleep a whole lot better knowing our installations our safe.
resources1

Best Resources for Home Improvement Professionals

The Internet! The availability of information online is amazing. As a rule, if it exist, you can find it online. I like good old fashion Google search for most information. Google search is actually better than even visiting a specialty website. With product related questions, I find it easier to get to a manufacture's product page using Google than actually searching the manufactures page. For example, if I need a installation manual for a 5 year old spa, I will Google search the model number and brand with the keyword "Manual." Usually, one of the first page results will be a link to the online PDF. A trick I use for finding information without a model number is to do an image search. I'll scroll through the images until I find a match and then get the information from the website that originally posted the picture. For installation help, I use YouTube. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is priceless. For inspiration we use Houzz.com and Pinterest.com. These sites are also useful for "idea checking." Sometimes a lighting design or bathroom installation is very pretty in your mind but not once its installed. Checking other peoples' version of your plan can insure that you will like the finished product. For tools, I recommend ToolUp.com. Lastly, for local company's like Lowes and Home Depot be sure to use their website to verify inventory. Before trekking across town to pickup a breaker or outlet, I'll check the store stock first.

Awards

Refusing Projects: Home Expert Awards

The old adage is "what you DON'T do is more important than what you DO." Saying no is a skill and a regular occurrence for our company. As a professional it is our job to do good work, keep our customers safe, and of course keep everyone happy. Generally, we say no for safety reasons and most of the time homeowners appreciate it. Often customers know what they want but not exactly how to get it

Home Expert Awards: Cutting Costs

Regardless of finances, it’s always my goal to do my job better with less work. This is of course the basis of saving money. While potential cost savings are everywhere the biggest place to save is in labor and labor related cost. This is especially true when it comes to skilled labor like plumbers, electricians, designers, consultants, carpenters, etc. Find a way to reduce your total labor input and you will save big

Home Expert Awards: Professional Red Flags

This is a great question! After 15 years in the electrical service business, there is one question that I hear more often than any other; how much is it? I have probably heard that question a million times. Yet, I can count on my hand the number of times people asked to see a copy of my license or insurance. Even fewer customers ask for references, call my suppliers, or stop by the shop. Yet, every customer seems to have a horror story of the time they received bad service. Why, because the customer paid too much attention to the price and not enough attention to the product