When you’re deciding on an electrician for your new build or renovation, your budget is a big consideration, but having confidence that you’re getting good advice is just as important and can save you stress and money in the long run.
Choosing the right products for your home and putting enough of them in the right places can add so much to your everyday living with convenience, comfort, safety and energy-saving. So, you want to know that you’re making the right decisions to ensure your money is being well spent.
Costs and connection
“You want an electrician who is going to be with you through the decision making so that you get the best outcome – and that doesn’t change the pricing,” says electrician Andy Hart.
Andy and brother James own Hart Electrical, which offers residential and commercial services in Auckland and Tauranga. Andy says the question of hourly rates is a common one, but points out that it’s just one piece of the electrical puzzle.
He says that when it comes to electrical costs, there’s a lot that goes into your final invoice – and not all of it is visible. “There’s cables and cable clips and backing boxes, conduits or cable supports, and protection and then obviously your fittings and fixtures,” explains Andy. “So, when you see a power point on the wall it doesn’t look like it should be a hard job to get that there, but it can be. Especially in a renovation.”
He says hourly rates can vary a lot between electricians as some might allow more time for a job at a lower rate, while others will charge more but aim to do it more quickly.
“Everyone is going to get around the same sort of invoice at the end. The costs are what they are for products, and labour will generally be ‘x’ amount. Your decision should be more about if you get along with the person and they’re going to provide you with the little details along the way that you might not think about.”
Andy says an electrician’s ability to manage the job is key as well. “You want them to be there when they need to be and not hold up other trades. That’s a big one. If someone turns up late or misses a site meeting that would be an indication to look somewhere else.”
For that reason, he recommends asking friends and family or your builder for referrals, rather than basing your decision solely on price.
If you’re renovating, the first step after choosing your electrician is to have your switchboard and wiring assessed, as any upgrades to these can have a big impact on your budget.
“With a renovation, it’s checking out what’s there and what circuit protection is currently in place,” says Andy. “It’s seeing what the outlets and backing boxes are like – you’ve got to look at all the existing elements to see if they’re up to standard. And if they’re not, then that can add the cost of a switchboard upgrade.”
Once Andy and his team start working with a client on a new build or renovation, they set a price and create an electrical plan, which is an overview of all the electrical elements in the home and where they’re positioned.
Andy says it’s important to review the plan as construction progresses. “Once the walls or rooms are built, then we go through again with the client to get a feeling of the space. If you’re not used to looking at a plan it can be quite different to actually be in the room. We do it so they can get a better understanding of questions like: How will they use the room? How’s the switching going to work?”
He recommends trying to visualise how you’ll use each space in your home and even how you’ll move through it, so you can consider functionality like 2-way switching. This adds convenience to areas like hallways and stairwells, so lighting can be turned on and off at each end, as well as in bedrooms (at the doorway and bedside) or in other spaces.
Practical and playful
Heating, ventilation and lighting are areas that Andy recommends giving thought to and discussing with your electrician. He says power point placement for heaters and fans often gets overlooked and can make a big difference to comfort in a home.
Lighting is an area with a lot of room for creativity too, and Andy is a fan of mixing things up rather than just having downlights in every room. “You can put strip lights in cool places or do low level lights, or wall lights, or freestanding lights – things like that are just a little bit different,” he says.
“There’s nothing special about a really bright room, but when you have a lamp in the corner of a sitting room or a hallway that comes on with a timer, then that can create a cool little quirk or something a bit different in a home.”
Making homes smarterAs smart home solutions become easier to install, Andy and the team at Hart Electrical are seeing more interest in adding these elements. They recommend PDL Iconic switchgear to their clients because of its simple installation and adaptability. The Bluetooth-enabled range can link lights, dimmers and timers to a smartphone app for convenience, security and energy-saving. Its stylish changeable ‘skins’ make it easy to update colours or finishes too.
EV car chargers are growing in popularity and Andy says pre-wiring for these is a sensible move. “It’s going to be a big thing moving forward and is something we’re getting asked about a lot. The cost is pretty minimal to get the cable there and prewire it, so it’s definitely a good thing to do in a renovation or build to save hassle down the track.”
He says all these sorts of decisions come back to choosing an electrician who wants the best outcome for their client and helps them to consider a range of scenarios. “What sets a good electrician apart from an average one is that they have everything done correctly, so if you wanted to add something at a later date then they’ve thought about that. They’re not just doing things as quickly as they can to get out of the job as quickly as they can.”
Ready to take the next step?
Visit the PDL Vision Studio Showroom or book a free virtual consult with one of our experts today!