S & L Electric, Inc
Hiring Contractors

Not all contractors are the same! Most people know this but it can be difficult to know who to trust. Here are a few things you can do to greatly increase your odds of finding a reliable contractor. Also, see our topic about Permits and visit the BIA of Clark County  website for more information.

 Ask the contractor if they are licensed, bonded and insured. No? DO NOT DEAL WITH THEM ANY FURTHER! If they say they are, then ask for their contractor license number. Write it down! Then go to Labor and Industries website to verify that their license is current and in good standing. You can also check if they have had any claims against them. A contractor cannot have a valid contractor license if they have let their bond or insurance lapse. Labor and Industries will know because the bond company and the insurance company must notify Labor and Industries immediately if there is a lapse in coverage.

Ask for references. Write them down! Then call at least 2 of them. Make sure they do not have some other relationship with the contractor such as being a family member.

It is pretty rare that you would actually want to look at an electrical contractor's previous work but you might consider it if you have a large project such as wiring a very large custom house, or if the project is very delicate in nature requiring extreme attention to detail.

The contractor should be willing to come to your site and give a bid for free. Believe it or not, there are "contractors" out there that will charge you for coming out to give a bid. They will then give a very high bid with the idea in mind that they won't actually get the job. They make their money by giving bids all day!

It should be noted here that not all types of work can be bid. Some jobs are so basic that a minimum service call fee will cover them. This might be replacing a light fixture or light switch. Other projects might have too many unknowns such as determining why a circuit has stopped working. In this case you want to find out how the contractor will be billing you.

Get the bid in writing! We have had so many of our customers tell us horror stories about contractors who say something is included in the price and then after they are done working, they change their story. Or, just as often, the price mysteriously changes. (And it's always more, why is that?). Be sure the bid is detailed enough so there is no question about what is being done.

Be wary of contractors who will only work for cash (no checks), especially if he doesn't want to give you a receipt with his company name on it. This can be an indicator that the contractor is not keeping very accurate financial records (or no records at all!) for his company. For a business of any type this spells big trouble.

Do not be tempted with not having to pay sales tax. As soon as you agree to this arrangement you are A: doing something slightly less than legal and more importantly B: possibly forfeiting any legal grounds if you were to have to take this contractor to court. It's hard to prove the contractor was even at your house if you don't have a contract, receipt or cancelled check!

While we are on the subject of money, be careful of the contractor that wants money up front. Many, many times this is an indication that the contractor is taking money from Peter to pay Paul. If he uses the money he receives from you to finish someone else's project, where does he get the money for your project?

Any money you give the contractor should be for work already done or materials that have already been procured. And make sure the materials really have been procured. See our information about Property Liens. Most materials that an electrical contractor gets do not have to be paid for immediately, they are charged to an account or other credit. If the contractor cannot procure materials or pay workers until you give him or her money, it is a big indicator that the contractor has no credit and is close to bankruptcy. One exception to this is money for special order and non-returnable items. In this case the contractor is asking for money in the event the customer changes his or her mind about the product and refuses to pay for it, leaving the contractor with a product he cannot return.

Following the above guidelines will eliminate a lot of potential headaches. Also see our topic about Permits  and visit the BIA of Clark County  website for more information.