Each year, seemingly minor electrical issues like arcing faults and faulty electrical receptacles cause more than 30,000 fires and lead to more than $700 million in property damage across the country. As such, it is essential to find a good electrician near you to frequently inspect your home's electrical system and make any necessary repairs. Particularly, doing this will help keep your home's electrical system in excellent condition and also help you avoid potential electrical hazards. However, note that all electrical works in Houston must be done in line with the National Electrical Code and the Houston Electrical Code.
While colleagues and neighbors can help with finding a good electrician near you, getting answers to the following questions will further ensure that you end up with the electrician best suited for your project:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as an Electrician in the City of Houston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared with Other Electricians in the City of Houston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Houston Building Code for Electrical Works?
- Will You Get the Electrical Permit as Required by the City of Houston Code?
- What Kind of Electrical Services Do You Offer?
- Do You Offer Emergency Electrical Services in the City of Houston?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Electricians in the City of Houston?
Any person who intends to perform electrical services and undertake electrical projects in Houston must be licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). Besides this licensing requirement, such persons are further required to register with the Houston Permitting Center. Electricians who offer their services within the city without the appropriate license are guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable with a fine of between $400 and $2,000. Note that each day of working without a license constitutes a separate offense.
The TDLR issues different classes of electrician licenses, all of which vary in scope. These classes of licenses include apprentice, journeyman, and master electrician licenses. Accordingly, the requirements for obtaining a license vary and depend on the class of license. For example, while apprentice electrician applicants are not required to hold any qualifications or pass any exams, journeyman electrician applicants must have completed a minimum of 7,000 hours of on-the-job training under a licensed master electrician and pass a licensing examination. Similarly, master electrician applicants must complete at least 12,000 hours of on-the-job training under a licensed master electrician, provide training verification, and pass a licensing exam. After meeting licensing requirements for the relevant license class, applicants can proceed to submit a completed license application form, pay required license fees, and submit any requested documents to the TDLR. Interested persons can also direct license-related queries to this Department at (800) 803-9202 for callers within Texas or (512) 463-6599 for callers outside the state.
Residents of Houston can confirm if their intended electrician is duly licensed by checking the TDLR license data search portal or by contacting the Department at (800) 803-9202. Similarly, you can contact the Houston Public Works Department at (832) 394-8860 or by email to confirm if your electrician has complied with city-level registration requirements.
Various considerations influence the hourly charge rate of electricians in Houston. They include the nature of your electrical project, the required labor, and the electrician's skills and expertise. Therefore, electricians charge different hourly rates. However, you can determine the average hourly rate for your project by comparing bids from more than three electricians.
Provided below is the annual mean wage of electricians in Houston and a comparison of these electricians' mean hourly wages with that of electricians in other parts of Texas as well as other major cities in the United States:Houston Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$25.57Texas Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$24.69Los Angeles Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$37.25New York City Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$40.48Miami Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$22.68Atlanta Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$27.77Austin Electricians Mean Hourly Wage$25.85
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
In 2020, the City of Houston adopted the 2020 National Electrical Code. However, the 2014 Houston Electrical Code currently regulates all electrical work across the city, pending the necessary amendments to the 2020 National Electrical Code. Notably, the 2014 Electrical Code stipulates minimum standards for the installation, replacement, alteration, repairs, and use of electrical systems across the city. Electrical systems regulated by this Code include wiring systems, meters, full cutoff fixtures, and electrical fences. The Code also regulates the quality of electrical equipment and materials used for electrical projects within the city.
Per Section 109 of the Code, failure to comply with the provisions of the Code during your electrical project is unlawful and punishable with fines of up to $2,000, as well as other administrative and court-ordered penalties. Accordingly, it is essential to only engage the services of an electrician who is familiar with the Electrical Code and understands the provisions of this code that relate to your electrical project. For more information on the 2014 Houston Electrical Code, its applicability, and assistance with complying with its provisions, you can contact the Houston Permitting Center at (832) 394-9000.
According to Section 301 of the Houston Electrical Code, no electrical alteration, installation, replacement, repair, or remodeling can be done without an electrical permit. However, certain types of electrical works are considered exempt from this permit requirement, and they include:
- The installation of temporary decorative lighting, which must not be in place for more than 90 days
- The reinstallation of attachment plug receptacles, but not including the outlet
- The installation of electrical devices, appliances, or wiring operating at 50 volts or less, and supplying or controlling a maximum of 50 watts of power
Electrical permits are issued by the Houston Permitting Center, and only master electricians are eligible to apply for a permit. Permit applications may be made online or by fax. To apply for a permit online, the applicant must register a user account or log in to a registered account on the Houston iPermits Portal, submit an online application, pay the required fees, and print the permit. For fax applications, applicants must download a printable permit application form and fax the completed form to (832) 395-9601. Applicants should note that they may be required to submit building or electrical plans in some cases, particularly for large-scale commercial projects. Also, such plans are typically reviewed before a permit is issued.
Additionally, applicants should note after obtaining a permit, they must schedule inspections with the Houston Public Works and Engineering Department before the completion of the project. These inspections are required before any electrical work can be approved by city authorities as completed. Inspections are typically performed to check electrical works and ensure that they comply with city requirements. Permit holders can schedule inspections online through the Inspection Request Portal or by dialing (713) 222-9922. Queries regarding permit applications, processes, and requirements can be directed to the Houston Permitting Center at (832) 394-9000 or by submitting an online contact form. Alternatively, you may visit the Houston Permitting Center to make relevant inquiries in person at:
- Houston Permitting Center
- 1002 Washington Avenue
- Houston, TX 77002
- Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays - Fridays
Electricians in Houston offer various services to city residents, including electrical rewiring, lighting installations and connections, electrical system upgrades, and electrical repairs. However, some electricians also specialize in offering specific types of electrical services, such as residential electrical installations and repairs, and security system installations. As such, you should confirm if your intended electrician offers services related to your electrical needs. Additionally, you should confirm the charge rate for the electrical services you need, so you can appropriately budget for it. Listed below are cost estimates for common electrical services provided by electricians in the City of Houston:Appliance water line installation$100 - $150Central vacuum installation for a fourbedroom apartment - $1,200 - $2,000Electrical appliance installation$100 - $140Electrical fixtures installations, up to 120v and 240v$110 - $150Electrical wiring or panel upgrade, up to 200 amps$1,500 - $2,100Electric vehicle home charging station, up to 240 volts$900 - $1,000Garbage disposal installation$290 - $350Home electrical remodeling$70 - $80 per hour
Generally, emergency electrical services are necessary when parts of your home's electrical system are malfunctioning or defective. Examples of instances when emergency electrical services may be necessary include random electric shocks or sparks, multiple burnt electrical outlets, and unusually low electrical output. If left unattended, such malfunctions or defects may result in more serious issues like severe body burns, fire outbreaks, and general discomfort. Therefore, when you notice an electrical defect in your home's electrical system, ensure that you contact a duly licensed and skilled electrical contractor near you to immediately assess and address the situation. You can find skilled electrical contractors near you by utilizing third-party review websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau or by getting referrals from family and friends. With these websites, you can search for electrical contractors by location and check recent reviews from previous clients of each contractor you find. However, it is advisable to always confirm that the electrical contractor you intend to engage is duly licensed by utilizing the TDLR license data search portal.
Per Section 1305.159 of the Texas Occupations Code, electrical contractors must maintain workers' compensation insurance. In addition to this, they are further required to maintain general liability insurance coverage. Therefore, before engaging an electrical contractor, you should confirm that this contractor has satisfied relevant insurance requirements to ensure that they are law-abiding. Also, engaging an electrical contractor with general liability insurance is essential, as this will reduce your exposure to financial or legal liabilities that may occur due to work-related injuries during your electrical work. This protection is particularly necessary, considering that there were over 7,000 nonfatal occupational injuries recorded amongst electricians across the country in 2020. You can verify that your electrician has the requisite insurance by asking the contractor to provide a copy of their certificate of insurance and verifying it with the appropriate insurance provider.
When planning an electrical project, one of the important factors to consider is how to avoid being the victim of a contractor scam. Contractor and home improvement scams are not uncommon in cities across Texas, including Houston, as they are usually one of the top 10 scams reported to the Texas Attorney General's Office each year. In order to reduce the occurrences of these scams and protect residents across the state, the Texas Department of Insurance maintains a contracting scam webpage that you can explore and use to acquaint yourself with common contractor scam techniques and how to avoid them. Common techniques used by contractor and home improvement scammers generally include:
- Presenting a blank agreement for you to sign
- Asking for large down payments
- Refusing to sign a written contract
- Using stolen, fake, or expired licenses
Nevertheless, you can protect yourself from these techniques by doing the following:
- Avoiding door-to-door or unsolicited bids
- Confirming the license of your intended electrician. To confirm an electrician's license, you can utilize the TDLR license data search portal
- Insisting on a written contract with the electrical contractor. However, if the contractor presents you with a standard agreement, ensure you understand the terms of the agreement before signing it. Also, do not sign a blank agreement. If you feel confused about the terms of an agreement, you can seek clarification from the contractor or request a legal review from an attorney before signing the agreement
- Not making large down payments. Advisably, a down payment should be 10% or 20% of the total pay for the project
- Asking your electrician to provide references from previous clients. Doing this will help to assess the electrician's professionalism and skill, especially with respect to your project
Residents of Houston who get scammed by a contractor or home repair scammer can report the situation to the TDLR by submitting a consumer complaint through an online complaint form. For more information on submitting a complaint or any alternative complaint mechanism, you may contact the TDLR at (800) 803-9202 if you are making this call from within Texas or (512) 463-6599 if you are calling from outside the state.