What Does an Electrical Contractor Do?

Electrical contractors perform specialized construction work related to the design, installation and maintenance of electrical systems. They use their critical thinking skills to create plans for wiring new buildings and identify the source of problems when a power outage occurs.

Before an electrician bids on a job, she normally reviews the building’s blueprints to determine the electrical requirements. This includes locating electrical panels, circuit breakers and switches.
Project Management

A career as an electrical contractor can be rewarding for those who enjoy hands-on work and like to think about the big picture. However, a successful electrical contractor must be able to communicate effectively and carefully manage projects. This means implementing the right project management tools and creating an effective communication process.

Project management involves the use of a system to track progress and ensure that deadlines are met. It also requires a strong understanding of how to reduce electrical estimate risk. In addition, an electrical contractor should be familiar with the different types of contracts and the responsibilities associated with each.

Generally, large construction projects are overseen by a General Contractor who provides the superintendent (supervisor of all blue-collar workers) and Construction Managers, or CMs. A GC may hire an Electrical Contractor directly or rely on the contractor’s own white-collar staff to handle project management duties. The latter could be experienced electricians with PM training or individuals who have a college degree in Construction Management and extensive work experience.

Electrical contracting can be a lucrative venture for established businesses, but it takes time to build a reputation and find clients. Until then, you’ll have to rely on your ability to create professional bids that win jobs and exceed customer expectations.

To do this, a contractor must first select the right project. This involves reviewing the bid documents, doing a quantity takeoff and requesting quotes from suppliers. Then, you must estimate labor and overhead costs and calculate your profit margin.

Traditional estimating can be time-consuming, especially when multiple people are involved in the process. However, modern software solutions can automate the entire estimating process. This saves electrical contractors time, reduces errors, and improves in-office efficiency. Electrical estimating programs such as Esticom feature extensive databases of equipment, electrical items, and materials. Some even come with pre-built assemblies to speed up estimating time. Ultimately, these tools provide a powerful, flexible tool that helps electricians win more work.

Electrical contractors install electrical systems in buildings, homes and commercial spaces. They also perform repairs and maintenance on existing equipment and wiring. They use their skills to identify and install the best system based on the client’s needs. They work on electrical and cabling systems for telecommunication, back-up power, climate control, wireless networks, security and energy-efficient lighting.

They usually double-check their work to ensure that the electrical wiring meets building codes and safety standards. This is especially important when working with high-voltage electricity. They also use a variety of tools and machinery like wire cutters, drills and small power augers to create spaces in wall framing for wires and outlets.

Starting an independent electrical contracting business requires a lot of planning and preparation. It is necessary to obtain licenses and permits, secure financing, insure equipment and develop a marketing strategy. It is also important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and regulations related to safety standards.

During the construction phase, the electrical contractor customarily double-checks each wiring path and connection to ensure that it meets professional codes. This process normally involves reviewing the building’s blueprints, an expansive technical schematic of the structure’s floor and wall plans that reveal all of its electrical needs.

Throughout the rough-in and final inspections, the electrical contractor also makes sure that all outlets (or receptacles) are provided with ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection where required by local codes. For example, these outlets must be installed in bathrooms, garages, grade-level portions of unfinished accessory buildings, crawl spaces and near sinks. They must also be provided in kitchens where there is a dishwasher or disposal.

Once the building has been inspected at its final stage, annual inspections must be scheduled to make sure that all wiring remains up to code. This prevents minor problems from turning into major hazards, such as fires. The frequency of these inspections depends on the laws in your area, but is usually at least once a year.

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