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Licensed Electrician in Washington D.C., DC

How to Hire a Good Electrician in Washington D.C.

Electrical distribution systems are the third-leading cause of home structure fires, with arcing faults alone starting more than $28,000 home fires and causing over $700 million in damages annually. Hiring a good electrician in Washington D.C. to handle any electrical problems that you have can save you thousands of dollars in expenses and also protect you from potential electrical injuries. However, when retaining the services of an electrician in the city, it is of utmost importance to ensure that this individual is familiar with, and also performs the electrical work according to the National Electric Code and the Washington D.C. Construction Codes.

While you can find qualified electricians in Washington D.C. by getting referrals from friends, home improvement professionals, and reputable online directories, it is always a good idea to get answers to the following questions before finalizing any arrangements with the electrician in question:

  • Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Washington D.C.?
  • How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Electricians in the City of Washington D.C.?
  • Do You Comply with the City of Washington D.C. Building Code for Electrical Works?
  • Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Washington D.C. Code?
  • What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?
  • Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Washington D.C.?
  • Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Washington D.C.?

Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Electrician in the City of Washington D.C.

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Washington D.C.?

    Electricians that wish to provide their services to residents of Washington D.C. are required to obtain a license from the district's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) before doing so. Failure to meet this requirement is considered a Class 1 Infraction, and violators can receive fines of at least $2000. Note that repeat offenders may receive steeper penalties. The DCRA issues licenses to electricians across three levels, namely the apprentice level, the journeyman level, and the master electrician level.

    Applicants that wish to obtain an electrical license in any of the aforementioned categories need to meet certain eligibility requirements, which are dependent on the specific license type that is being requested. For example, apprentice electrician license applicants are required to undergo registration with the DCRA's Board of Industrial Trades and submit any documents that this board deems necessary at the time of this registration. Electricians that are issued these types of licenses can only work under the direct supervision and control of a licensed master electrician. On the other hand, journeyman electrician license applicants must meet minimum acceptable educational qualifications before being eligible for this license category. This education can be obtained solely via practical experience or a combination of post-secondary institutional training and practical work experience. Journeyman electrician license applicants are also typically required to sit for and pass a licensing examination or have acceptable certifications to waive this requirement. Finally, master electrician license applicants must have no less than four years of verifiable experience as DCRA-licensed journeyman electricians before they can obtain this category of license.

    Note that the DCRA has license reciprocity arrangements with master electricians that were licensed in the State of Maryland and journeyman electricians and master electricians that were licensed in the State of Virginia. You can contact the DCRA at (202) 442-4400 or (202) 442-4320 to get more information on its license reciprocity requirements or make other electrician license-related queries. You can also verify the licensing status of your intended Washington D.C. electrician via these numbers or online via the DCRA's Access DC portal. However, the creation of a user account is required for the proper utilization of this portal.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Electricians in the City of Washington D.C.?

    Electricians in the Washington D.C. area are estimated to earn an hourly wage of about $31. However, the amount of money that an electrician in the district will charge you for their services typically depends on a number of factors, which include the following:

    • The nature and scope of electrical work that you require
    • The cost of obtaining any materials that may be needed to complete the work
    • The cost of pulling any permits that this work may require
    • The electrician's skillset and level of expertise

    You should consider getting estimates from several electricians near you to ensure that you get a fair idea of the going rate for the specific type of electrical work that you need done. This also protects you from possible scammers and helps you stay within your budget for the project.

    An electrician in Washington D.C. earns $65,980 annually. Provided below is the annual mean wage of electricians in Washington D.C, and a comparison of these electricians mean hourly wages with that of electricians in other major cities in the United States:

    Washington D.C. Electricians Hourly Mean Wage
    New York City Electricians Hourly Mean Wage
    Los Angeles Electricians Hourly Mean Wage
    Chicago Electricians Hourly Mean Wage
    Jacksonville Electricians Hourly Mean Wage
    Detroit Electricians Hourly Mean Wage

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Comply with the City of Washington D.C. Building Code for Electrical Works?

    The design, construction, installation, alteration, maintenance, conversion, change, repair, inspection, and use of electrical conductors, equipment, and systems in Washington D.C. is controlled by Chapter 14 of the Code of the District of Columbia. This chapter is also referred to as the district's Construction Codes, and it is imperative that any electrician you hire near you is familiar with its provisions and requirements. This is because, these Construction Codes were created to ensure the public safety, health, and welfare of the residents of Washington D.C., and individuals that fail to adhere to them can face severe penalties. These penalties include, but are not limited to, imprisonment of up to 90 days and fines of up to $2,000, per violation.

    It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the Washington D.C. Construction Codes for your electrical work before commencing the work. This can help you spot unscrupulous contractors that may be looking to cut corners on your project. You can get code-related information by contacting the DCRA either via phone number (202) 442-4400 or via email.

  4. Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Washington D.C. Code?

    Permits are typically required for any work in Washington D.C. that involves the installation, replacement, or repair of electrical systems within the district. However, per D.C. Municipal Regulations Chapter 12-A105, exemptions may be made for some types of electrical work. These permit-exempted electrical works include, but are not limited to:

    • The repair of portable electrical equipment
    • The repair of lighting fixtures
    • The repair or replacement of ballasts, sockets, receptacles, and snap switches
    • The installation of temporary electrical systems that are required for testing or servicing electrical equipment and apparatus
    • The replacement of branch circuit overcurrent devices of the required capacity in the same location
    • Minor electrical repair work, such as replacing lamps or connecting approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles, as well as other minor repairs at existing outlets

    The Washington D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) oversees the district's permitting process, and parties that wish to obtain electrical permits will be required to ensure that no development restrictions apply to their intended project. This can be done online via the district's SCOUT platform or by contacting the DC Office of Zoning at (202) 727-6311. Once the full scope of the project has been determined, applicants will be required to submit an electrical permit application online. Applications for projects that involve one and two-family residences can be made via the DCRA Permit Wizard Portal, while applications for commercial projects can be made via the DCRA Citizen Access Portal. Note that both of these portals can only be properly utilized by individuals that create, or already have an existing user account. After the applications have been submitted and screened, applicants may be required to provide additional documentation, such as building plans, via the department's ProjectDox portal. Once the permit application, building plans, and any other requested documents have been fully reviewed and approved, applicants will be required to pay permit fees, following which the requested electrical permits will be issued. It should be noted that inspections of the permitted work may be required at several stages during its progress to ensure that it complies with the district's Construction Codes.

    You can contact the DCRA via email or by calling either (202) 442-4400 or (202) 442-4320 to direct any electrical permit-related queries that you may have. Likewise, you can direct inspection-related queries to this department via phone number (202) 481-3524. In-person permit and inspection inquiries can also be made at:

    • 1100 4th Street SW
    • Washington, DC 20024

    Hours: 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Mondays - Wednesdays, Fridays, and 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays

  5. What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?

    When searching for electricians near you, it is important to make sure that the electrician you hire has the proper skill set for the task at hand. Electricians in Washington D.C. offer a wide range of services to residents of the district. These include new electrical system installations, existing electrical system repair and maintenance, and emergency electrical work. Some of these electricians may also specialize in specific areas of electrical work, such as residential electrical work, commercial electrical work, industrial electrical work, and maintenance electrical work. As such, before hiring an electrician in the district, it is necessary to ensure that this electrician specializes in providing the specific type of electrical service that you need and is also properly equipped for the task.

    Listed below are cost estimates for some electrical services offered by electricians in Washington D.C.:

    Residential electrical work
    $82 - $103 per hour, plus parts and materials
    Commercial electrical work
    $116 - $127 per hour, plus parts and materials
    Electrical work for home remodeling or addition
    $109 - $121 per hour, plus parts and materials
    Electrical fixture installation for 120v outlet
    $177 - $202
    Electrical panel/wiring upgrade to 200 amps
    $2,489 - $3,283
    EV home charging station installation for 240 volts level 2 charger
    $1,396 - $1,448
  6. Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Washington D.C.?

    Emergency electrical problems generally refer to unexpected or unforeseen electrical issues that require immediate attention to either pre-empt the dangers that these situations pose or mitigate the damage that they may have already caused. Some common electrical situations that require emergency attention include:

    • Fallen power lines
    • Power outages that affect only you
    • Damaged electric outlets and frayed wires
    • Exposed wires
    • Electrical sparks, flames, or smoke

    When faced with any of the aforementioned situations, you should always ensure that the electrician you reach out to is not only licensed but is also experienced enough to tackle the situation and close enough to resolve it quickly. You can find licensed and qualified emergency electricians near you via several reputable sources, such as:

    Note that, while these are all reputable sources, it is your responsibility to make sure that any electrician you hire in Washington D.C. has a valid and current DCRA-issued license.

  7. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Washington D.C.?

    While there are no specific insurance requirements for electricians in Washington D.C., individuals that wish to operate a business in the district are typically required to carry liability insurance and meet certain bond requirements. Considering that 166 of the fatal work-related injuries recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2019 were due to exposure to electricity, the importance of hiring an insured electrician cannot be overstated. Working with duly insured electricians protects you from any financial liabilities that may arise if these work-related injuries occur during your project or if the electrician happens to damage your property whilst working on your project. To this end, you should always request a copy of your intended electrician's insurance certificate and contact the insurance company that issued this certificate to verify it. It is also a good idea to contact the DCRA at (202) 442-4400 to get more information on the insurance requirements for business operators in the city and whether these requirements may apply to your electrician.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Electrician in the City of Washington D.C.

Between 2015 and 2019, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia managed to secure more than $11.4 million in relief for residents of the district that were affected by unfair business actions and contractor-related scams. However, there is no guarantee that you will get monetary compensation or any form of relief if you fall victim to a home improvement or contractor-related scam. As such, when looking for a good electrician near you, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure that you do not fall victim to these scams. According to an annual survey by the Consumer Federation of America, home improvement and construction-related complaints were the second-highest category of complaints made in the United States in 2020. These complaints generally involved reports of contractors failing to start or complete jobs after receiving payment, performing shoddy work, or failing to possess the requisite license required for the job.

Some precautionary measures to take to ensure that you hire a legit electrician in Washington D.C. include:

  • Always verify the licenses of electricians that you intend to hire, either by calling (202) 442-4400, (202) 442-4320, or via the DCRA's Access DC portal
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers of electrical inspections and repairs
  • Make sure that any electrician you hire provides a clear and well detailed written contract for the project before any work commences
  • Never sign any contracts that you do not understand or contracts that have blank spaces in them
  • Keep records of payment receipts, invoices, contracts, and any other documents related to your project
  • Avoid cash payments
  • Never pay the full cost of the project before it is completed
  • Limit upfront payments a maximum of 10 - 30% of the total cost of the project
  • Do not make the final payment for the project until you are satisfied that it has been properly done

You can report home improvement-related scams that occur in Washington D.C. to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia via any of the following methods:

  • Sending an email to this office
  • Submitting a complaint form online
  • Texting the word œcomplaint to (202) 738-5212 and following the ensuing prompts
  • Calling (202) 442-9828

Scams concerning electricians can also be reported to the DCRA online. If you are unable to get satisfactory restitution from either the DCRA or the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, you can take further action by filing a lawsuit at an appropriate District of Columbia Court. However, it is advisable to get proper legal advice before taking this step. You can get referrals to qualified lawyers near you by accessing the D.C. Bar's Hiring a Lawyer webpage.