How to choose an electrician

Even if you’re a keen home handyman, doing anything electrical can be a challenge. After all, a ‘bad’ wire tends to look much the same as a ‘good’ one and the consequences of electrocution can be fatal.

So it’s time to call in a professional. But how do you ensure, firstly, that you’re getting a suitably qualified and registered electrician and, secondly, that he’s someone you’re happy to have on your property?

Use a member of the Electrical Contractors’ Association of South Africa, recommends Anthony Schewitz, Technical Adviser for the association’s Highveld Region. “Membership is voluntary, our members are vetted and are of high quality, and you have an assurance that the work will be done right,” he says. An electrician’s claimed ECA(SA) membership can be checked via the ‘Find a Member’ search function on the association website ( or by contacting the relevant ECA(SA) regional office.

Unqualified individuals

According to Schewitz, there is an ongoing problem with unqualified individuals passing themselves off as appropriately registered electricians. The concern for the homeowner is that work done by them may be illegal and problems would arise in the event of an insurance claim, for example. Similarly, a Certificate of Compliance (CoC), which is required when selling or renting a property, will only be valid if issued by an electrician who is a Registered Person.

It’s important to note that electrical contractors do not have to be a member of ECA(SA), but must be a Registered Person with the Department of Labour and this registration must be renewed every year. Any electrician that you deal with as a homeowner should therefore be able to produce a current registration document.

What if you’re unhappy with the work done by an electrician or feel that you’ve been overcharged? Schewitz says the ECA(SA) doesn’t intervene in disputes involving overcharging as the cost of a job needs to be agreed between the client and contractor beforehand.

However, if the work done is believed to be illegal and the contractor is an ECA(SA) member, then the association will intervene and require the contractor to carry out the work to the required standard. If the contractor is not a member, the homeowner should contact the Department of Labour, which will likely put the complainant in contact with an independent inspection authority.

Lastly, exercise common sense when choosing an electrician. A large and well-established contractor is more likely to have the required paperwork and to offer a realistic guarantee than someone you take off the street. Ask the contractor for contactable client references or, better still, ask for recommendations from trusted family and friends.

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