Approximately 51,000 fires across the country are caused by home electrical problems, leading to over 1,000 injuries and costing billions of dollars in property damage. In order to avoid potentially life-threatening hazards or high repair costs, it is essential to hire a good electrician near you who can complete your works in accordance with the Los Angeles Electrical Code and the National Electrical Code. These codes set the minimum standard for electrical installations and repairs in the City of Los Angeles.
Though friends, family, and colleagues may refer you good electricians nearby, asking the following questions can further help you find out if an electrician is the best pick for you:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Los Angeles?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Electricians in the City of Los Angeles?
- Do You Comply with the City of Los Angeles Building Code for Electrical Works?
- Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Los Angeles Code?
- What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Los Angeles?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Los Angeles?
Only individuals who have obtained a C-10 Electrical Contractor license can legally undertake electrical works in Los Angeles that cost more than $500 in both materials and labor. Failure to obtain a license before undertaking such electrical works is a misdemeanor, which attracts a fine up to $10,000, a jail term, or both a fine and a jail term, depending on the number of violations.
Electrical contractor licenses in Los Angeles are issued by the Contractor State Licensing Board (CSLB). License applicants are typically required to be 18 years old or older, have a minimum of 4 years of practical electrical experience, and pass a specific trade examination. Note that this experience must have been obtained within the last ten years and at the journeyman level at least. Having satisfied these requirements, interested individuals can apply for an electrical contractor license by paying the requisite licensing fees and submitting a completed Application for Original Contractors License form to the CSLB. However, per the California reciprocity program, some licensing requirements may be waived for electrical contractors from Nevada, Arizona, and Louisiana. Interested individuals can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 for general licensing inquiries and processes, including inquiries regarding this reciprocity program.
To confirm if your electrician is licensed, you can utilize the CSLB's check a license portal or contact the Board at (800) 321-2752.
On average, electricians in Los Angeles charge over $30 per hour. However, the exact hourly charge for your electrical work is determined by different factors, including the nature of the work and required labor. To get a better idea of the hourly and total cost for your electrical work, it is recommended that you compare estimates from multiple electricians.
An electrician in the City of Los Angeles earns $77,470 annually. Provided below is the annual mean wage of electricians in Los Angeles and a comparison of these electricians' mean hourly wages with those of electricians in California as well as other major cities in the United States:Los Angeles Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$37.25California Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$36.49New York City Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$40.48Phoenix Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$23.86Austin Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$25.85Washington D.C. Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$31.72Seattle Electricians Hourly Mean Wage$32.67
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Los Angeles Electrical Code is a body of rules, requirements, and processes regulating the installation, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems across Los Angeles. The Code establishes a minimum standard for electrical works in the city, which aims to reduce hazards caused by electrical sources. Regulated electrical systems include electrical wirings, electrically-powered communication systems, fire and signal alarms, and outdoor lightings. The Code also contains stipulations on acceptable standards and quality of electrical materials and equipment used for electrical works. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Code can result in a suspension of your electrical work by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. This Department is also authorized to confiscate work materials or even disconnect your access to electric service for more severe violations. Therefore, not only should you engage a licensed electrician, but you should also confirm if this electrician is acquainted with the provisions of the Electrical Code to avoid Code violations and penalties. For more information on the Electrical Code and its requirements, you can contact the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety at (213) 482-0057.
Before any electrical work can begin within the City of Los Angeles, residents or their electricians are required to obtain an electrical permit. However, per the city's Electrical Code, some electrical works are exempt from permitting requirements, and they include:
- The replacement or repair of current-carrying parts of any control device, switch, or contractor;
- Replacement of an overcurrent device of the same rating and in the same location;
- Festive temporary decorative lighting in dwelling occupancies for a maximum of 90 days; and
- Joint taping.
Permits are issued by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS), and interested applicants are typically required to pay the applicable permit fee and submit an appropriately filled Application for Electrical Permit form to any of the LADBS offices located at:
- Metro (Downtown) Office
- 201 and 221 North Figueroa Street
- Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Van Nuys Office
- 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
- 2nd Floor
- Room 251
- Van Nuys, CA 91401
- West LA Office
- 1828 Sawtelle Boulevard
- West Los Angeles, CA 90025
- South LA Office
- 8475 South Vermont Avenue
- Los Angeles, CA 90044
- San Pedro Office
- 638 South Beacon Street
- San Pedro, CA 90731
The processing period for an electrical permit varies and depends on some factors, such as the nature of the work and whether the submission of plans is required. However, some small electrical projects are eligible for online permit applications, and applications for such electrical projects can be made via the LADBS online permit portal. For electrical projects that require the submission of plans, applicants can utilize the LADBS ePlanLA portal and submit the required plans online. To make permit-related inquiries, applicants can visit any of the LADBS offices or directly contact the Department at 311 for callers within Los Angeles or (213) 473-3231 for callers outside Los Angeles. The LADBS offices are open to the public between 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays. However, the San Pedro and South LA offices are closed daily between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Note that if a permit is required for your electrical work, you must schedule inspections with the LADBS at different stages of the project. These inspections are to ensure your electrical work is compliant with the city's Electrical Code and relevant laws, and they must be scheduled before the work can be concealed, energized, or used. Inspections can be scheduled online or by contacting the LADBS at 311 for callers within Los Angeles City or (213) 473-3231 for callers outside the city. You can also direct inspection-related queries to the LADBS through the aforementioned telephone numbers.
Electricians across Los Angeles offer various services, including the inspection, installation, replacement, repair, and maintenance of electrical systems across residential, industrial, commercial, and special-purpose buildings. They also offer outdoor electrical services and consultations. Considering this wide range of electrical services, it is highly recommended to ensure that any electrician you intend to hire specializes in undertaking electrical works relevant to your project. For example, an electrician that specializes in installing fire and signal alarms may not be the best fit for performing a complete electrical installation in a residential building. Also, while residential electricians focus on handling residential electrical needs, industrial electricians handle more complex electrical systems, and their services are typically more expensive.
Below are some common electrical services and their estimated costs in Los Angeles:Central vacuum installation$2,000 - $3,000Electric appliance installation/repair$100 - $300Electrical fixture installation$30 - $80 per hourElectrical remodelling or addition$100 - $120 per hourElectrical wiring installation$1,000 - $10,000Electrical wiring upgrade$2,300 - $3,200Installation of home electric vehicle charging station$700 - $1,500
Emergency electrical situations refer to electrical defects or hazards that can cause discomfort, injury, death, or property damage. Such electrical defects or hazards include a power outage, exposed live wires, electrical fire, and even flickering light bulbs or burnt electrical outlets. It is recommended that you only contract a licensed, skilled, and experienced electrician to handle your electrical problems, as even minor electrical problems may be an indication of a more significant issue. In this regard, you can confirm an electrician's license by utilizing the check a license portal maintained by the Contractor State Licensing Board (CSLB) or by contacting this Board at (800) 321-2752.
Next, you can assess an electrician's experience by asking them about their area of specialization and also requesting references from at least three recent clients who had a similar electrical emergency as yours. You can find an electrician near you by utilizing the CSLB's find my licensed contractor portal. While you search for an electrician with the skill and competence to handle your electrical emergency, it is a good idea to take measures to protect yourself from any hazard this emergency can further cause. For example, in the case of an exposed wire, you can seal off the area surrounding the exposed wire to avoid any accidental contact.
Although electricians in Los Angeles are not required to obtain general liability insurance, it is recommended that you engage an electrician with one. With over 160 fatal electrical injuries amongst professionals across the country in 2019, engaging an electrician who carries general liability insurance gives a financial buffer that shields you from monetary costs arising from work-related injuries or accidents. However, while general liability insurance is not compulsory, electricians are mandated to post a $15,000 bond, and electricians with employees are further mandated to maintain an active workers' compensation insurance. You can verify if an electrician has satisfied these bond and insurance requirements by requesting that the electrician provides proof and then contacting the relevant issuing institutions.
Before hiring an electrician to handle your electrical project, it is recommended that you take precautionary steps to ensure this electrician is legit and you are not scammed. In 2020, home improvement and utility scams were both part of the top 10 reported scams across the country. Also, in 2019, the Contractor State Licensing Board (CSLB) conducted an undercover sting operation in several cities across California, including Los Angeles, which led to the apprehension of several unlicensed contractors, some of whom were electricians. Generally, these scammers posing as contractors charge you exorbitant fees and do a poor job, or they take your money and never show up. Some of the popular scam methods used by these scammers include:
- Door-to-door solicitations
- Using fake, suspended, or expired license numbers
- Pressuring you into hiring them without letting you consider other bids or request a written contract
- Offering very cheap bids
- Requesting complete payment before working
Nevertheless, you can protect yourself from these scam methods by doing the following:
- Verify the license of any electrician you intend to hire. You can verify an electrician's license via the CSLB's check a license portal or by contacting the Board at (800) 321-2752.
- Review bids from multiple electricians. Doing this will help you have a budget range and discover when a bid is unusually low.
- Have a written agreement with the electrician. This agreement should include the duties of the electrician, the agreed payment, and any other important considerations. Ensure you understand all the terms of the written agreement before signing it, particularly if you are signing a custom agreement already made by the electrician.
- Do not make full payment until the electrician has satisfactorily completed your project. If the electrician requests upfront payment, ensure any upfront payment you make is a small percent of the agreed full payment. Also, ask the electrician to itemize how the requested upfront payment will be used for the project.
- Ask the electrician to provide references from recent clients. Doing this helps with assessing the electrician's competence, professionalism, and service delivery. You can also utilize review-dedicated websites like Better Business Bureau and Yelp to find electricians near you with generally positive feedback from clients.
- Avoid making cash payments, as they are easily disputed. Instead, make payment by credit card, money orders, or check, as they are better for record-keeping.
- Keep a record of documents related to the project, including any written bids, signed agreements, payment receipts, and written correspondences. Doing this can help with your claim for compensation in the event you eventually get scammed.
Finally, if you get defrauded by an electrician, you can file a construction complaint with the CSLB. If you need assistance with filing this complaint or you would like to make complaint-related inquiries, you can also contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752. If the fraud concerns your home equity or mortgage, you can consider submitting a separate report to the Los Angeles Police Department's Real Estate Fraud Unit at:
- Los Angeles Police Department
- Financial Crimes Division
- Real Estate Fraud Unit
- 150 North Los Angeles Street
- Room 302
- Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Phone: (213) 847-2749