How to Hire a Good Electrician in Chicago
In the United States, it is estimated that annual electrical faults are responsible for starting more than 28,000 home fires, resulting in over $700 million in property damage and causing thousands of deaths and injuries. You will be saving yourself any of these liabilities by hiring a qualified electrician in the City of Chicago to rectify any electrical problem. Such electricians are trained, experienced, and well versed with the National Electrical Code and the Chicago Electrical Code to ensure your work is completed to established standards. However, before you hire an electrician in the city, ask the following questions to ensure you are making a smart choice:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Chicago?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared with Electricians in the City of Chicago?
- Do You Comply with the City of Chicago Building Code for Electrical Works?
- Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Chicago Code?
- What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Chicago?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Chicago?
Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Chicago?
An individual who wishes to operate as an electrician in Chicago must register with the Chicago Department of Buildings as a supervising electrician or an electrical contractor. Only registered supervising electricians and electrical contractors are legally allowed to offer electrical services in the city. Per Section 14A-3-302 of the Chicago Construction Codes, any individual who performs electrical works without due registration commits an offense punishable with civil penalties like fines ranging from $500 to $10,000.
Individuals applying to be registered as supervising electricians must be at least 21 years and have at least two years' experience under the direct supervision of a supervising electrician. If the applicant meets the requirement, they will be required to apply for the supervising electrician examination by submitting a completed exam application form, together with the applicable fees, via mail to the
- City of Chicago
- Trade License
- P.O. Box 388249
- Chicago, Illinois 60638-8249
If the application is approved, the applicant can sit for the appropriate electrician exam, and upon completing it, the applicant will be issued a license. Electrical contractor applicants seeking to be registered must indicate on an application form to be provided by the Commissioner of Buildings whether it is a Class 1 or Class 2 electrical contractor registration. To be eligible for registration as an electrical contractor, the applicants must have worked as a supervising electrician for at least four years alongside another supervising electrician. Upon receipt of the applicant's completed application and payment of the requisite fees, the Commissioner will review and register the applicant as an electrical contractor with the appropriate classification. For any queries regarding the registration process, interested persons can contact the city's Department of Building by dialing 311 if within Chicago or (312) 744-5000 for callers outside Chicago.
You can verify the registration status of an electrician in Chicago via the List of City-Licensed Electrical Contractors maintained and provided by the city's Department of Building.
How Much Do You Charge Compared with Electricians in the City of Chicago?
How much an electrician in Chicago will charge you for their services is dependent on factors like the electrician's level of expertise, cost of materials, the type of job, and labor required to execute the job. When looking for the best rates, you should get and compare estimates from at least three electricians in the city. This gives you insight into the average rate charged by electricians near you for the service you need and helps you find an electrician that matches your budget.
An electrician in the City of Chicago earns $84,230 annually. Provided below is the annual mean wage of electricians in Chicago and a comparison of these electricians' mean hourly wages with that of electricians in other parts of Illinois as well as other major cities in the United States:Chicago Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$40.50Illinois Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$39.25Los Angeles Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$37.25New York City Electricians Hourly Mean Wage$40.48Houston Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$25.57Phoenix Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$23.86Philadelphia Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$36.95
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Do You Comply with the City of Chicago Building Code for Electrical Works?
The Chicago Electrical Code is a set of rules that regulates the use of electrical materials and equipment in Chicago. It stipulates certain requirements electricians are to comply with when installing, altering, or repairing electrical appliances and electrical systems used in the city. The Code also stipulates the safety and health standards to be considered when using electrical materials in the city. The Chicago Electrical Code supplements the provisions of the National Electrical Code, particularly with respect to local electrical projects. To ensure compliance with these Codes, ensure that any electrician you intend to hire for your planned project is duly registered and well versed with all the relevant sections of the Codes applicable to your project. This is crucial, as contravening the provisions of the Codes can result in civil penalties, including fines up to $10,000. For all code-related inquiries, you can contact the Chicago Department of Building at (312) 744-3449.
Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Chicago Code?
According to the Chicago Electrical Code, electrical permits will be required for projects that require the installation, alteration, renewal, replacement, and repair of electrical systems. The Chicago Department of Buildings is responsible for issuing several types of permits, including permits for projects requiring electrical work in the city.
A homeowner or registered electrical contractor can apply for electrical permits. Applicants have to first determine if their projects need zoning approval or are subject to landmark approvals, and they can rely on the Zoning Ordinance Administration to help them resolve this. Once determined, applicants can apply for the relevant permits for their electrical projects. Note that the type of permits required for electrical projects depends on the size of the projects. For instance, smaller projects like homes and building improvement, repairs, and replacement require an Easy Permit (EPP), and the Department will usually approve the application the same day. Meanwhile, mid-size and larger projects require Standard Plan Reviews (SPR) and Developer Services (DS) permit applications requiring more extended permit approval periods. To apply, applicants can complete and submit a duly signed appropriate permit application form to the city's Department of Buildings at:
- Chicago City Hall,
- Department of Buildings
- 121 North LaSalle Street
- Room 900
- Chicago, IL 60602
- Phone: (312) 744-3449
- Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Monday through Friday
Alternatively, your registered electrical contractor can complete the permit application online. Permit holders should note that they must schedule inspections at relevant stages of their electrical project to enable building officials to confirm the electrical projects are being carried out according to the Electrical Code. Project owners who need to verify if their electrical contractors have obtained the required permits and find out about the status of inspection on the project can contact the city's Department of Building at (312) 744-3449. Alternatively, they can visit the office's physical location at the address provided above to make necessary inquiries.
What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?
Electrical contractors and supervising contractors offer various electrical services to residents of Chicago. These include house rewiring, minor electrical works like fixing sockets, internal and external lighting systems, inspections and testing, and installing home security alarms. Before hiring an electrician in Chicago, you must ensure that the specific work is within their area of expertise. For instance, some electricians are more conversant with electrical work in commercial buildings, while some only work in residential buildings. As such, you should always ensure that your intended electrician can handle your work and also has all the requisite equipment to complete the work. In addition to this, you should also confirm how much the services they are offering you cost.
Listed below are cost estimates for common electrical services provided by electricians in Chicago:Electrical for remodel or addition$89 - $99 per hour, plus parts and materialsElectrical fixture installation for 120v outlet$146 - $212Electrical fixture installation for 240v outlet$240 - $600Electrical fixture installation for mid-grade light switch$150 - $400Upgrade electrical panel or wiring for 200 amps$2,034 - $2,683Residential electrical contractors$72 - $88 per hour, plus parts and materialsCommercial electrical contractors$95 - $103 per hour, plus parts and materialsEV home charging station installation for 240 volts level 2 charger$1,141 - $1,183
Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Chicago?
Certain electrical issues in your homes require emergency services. These include exposed wires, electrical fire, constant electric power outage, overloaded outlets, and generally any issue causing inconvenience, discomfort, or that are potentially life-threatening. Usually, to keep your home safe, you should treat all electrical issues you experience with urgency. This is because these problems can eventually lead to bigger issues.
When confronted with electrical issues, ensure to hire only qualified and experienced electricians and not rush into repairs. You can find a qualified electrician in Chicago by utilizing the List of City-Licensed Electrical Contractors provided by the city's Department of Building. Also, you can use online member directories provided by the National Electrical Contractors Association and third-party review websites like Better Business Bureau. However, if you find an electrician through third-party review websites or referrals, do confirm that this electrician is duly licensed.
Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Chicago?
Even though general liability insurance is not mandated for electricians in Chicago, it is still advisable for you to only hire an electrician with proper insurance coverage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical injury is responsible for an average of 320 deaths and over 4,000 injuries in the United States. In 2019, Illinois had an estimated 158 fatal work injuries, with exposure to electricity accounting for 5% of the total injuries. Considering this, there is a need to hire only electricians that are duly insured and maintain both general liability and workers' compensation insurance, as this will protect you from incurring financial liabilities related to accidents that may occur while your project is ongoing. You can find out the insurance status of your electrician by requesting that they present their insurance certificate and verify with the relevant insurance provider.
Note that Illinois law mandates electricians with employees in Chicago to maintain workers' compensation insurance policies for their employees.
How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Electrician in the City of Chicago
In 2019, homeowners in metro areas in the United States, including Chicago, spent between $2 billion to $7 billion on home improvement projects. This is no wonder certain deceptive and fraudulent contractors try to take advantage of unsuspecting residents of Chicago by scamming them of their money and particularly leaving them with shoddy work. Annually, the Chicago Building Department records over 100 complaints against contractors, including electricians operating in the city. These deceptive contractors employ methods like:
- Door-to-door solicitations.
- Requesting for full cash payments before work commences
- Pressuring homeowners to sign work contracts on the spot without proper review
- Collecting upfront payment and abandoning work midway.
Therefore, before hiring an electrician in the city, it is necessary to protect yourself from possible contractor-related scams by taking the following actions:
- Get multiple quotes from electricians before settling for the one most suitable
- Request for previous work references and take further steps to confirm with these contacts about the work ethics, quality, and professionalism of the intended electrician
- Confirm your intended electrician is on the List of City-Licensed Electrical Contractors provided by the city's Department of Building
- Avoid paying fully until the work is satisfactorily completed. If you have to make a down payment, ensure it is not more than 10% of the total money
- Confirm that your electrician is well versed with the relevant electrical codes and that they know the permits and inspections requirements applicable to your projects
- Execute a valid work contract establishing the duties of contractors
- Keep proper records of all documents relevant to the electrical work, like payment receipts and invoice, and the signed work agreement
- Review estimates from multiple electricians to allow you to compare costs and eventually choose the one that suits your budget.
You can report deceptive and fraudulent contractors to the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection through the city's 311 system. If your complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, you can take further steps by filing a legal action against the erring electrician at an appropriate Chicago Court. For instance, you can file a civil action at the Circuit Court of Cook County if you are seeking restitution against the contractor. However, it is advisable to get proper legal advice from a lawyer before pursuing legal action. You can use the lawyer referral services provided by the Chicago Bar Association to find active lawyers near you.