Cheaper is OK… right?

I had an interesting discussion with someone yesterday who asked me about my work. When indicated that I was an electrician, the first thing I got asked was “what is your hourly rate”.

There is now a part 2 to this article. It can be found at Cheaper or just more risky – part 2

Why does that matter?

My first response was:

Well I usually charge x amount.

‘Wow, my guy charges $50’, was their response, and they went on to say ‘I could imagine $65, but not what you are asking’.

I then went on to explain that I offer a 10 year workmanship warranty, and I comply with all of my legal requirements.

That didn’t seem to phase this person, who in their mind, just wanted a quick, easy and CHEAP job.

Huh?

So why do hourly rates differ from trades-person to trades-person.

Well here are some of those answers for you.

From my experience as an electrician for nearly 30 years:

  • Most electricians AREN’T complying with the law, and don’t care.
  • Most electricians are happy to quote a price, then cut corners to make money.
  • Some under-quote to get jobs, but then have to cut corners to make any money. Their work therefore does NOT comply with Australian Standards (AS/NZS 3000:2007 amdt-2 [Now AS/NZS 3000:2018])
  • Most electricians DON’T submit their MANDATORY Compliance Certificate of Electrical Work. This is a mandatory requirement in ALL states and territories of Australia – may be different names in different states.
  • Because most electricians don’t submit their paperwork, their work is NEVER checked by inspectors as is required to be done.
  • Most electricians DON’T test their work, or don’t test it properly, on completion of installation. I will give you some examples below.

For nearly 30 years, 50% of my work has been fixing other trades-peoples’ rubbish work! That means that clients are paying twice for work that should only have to be done once in a lifetime.

Can I prove what I have said above – yes!

In the past 2 months, I have been asked to provide advice, or offer quotes for either regular clients, or new clients. In every single instance, past work was not tested to AS/NZS 3000:2007 (what we call the Wiring Rules).

Most were dangerous in some way, while some were extremely hazardous. All were non-compliant with the Wiring Rules.

Standards Australia Logo
As an electrician, I am governed by the Standards set out by Standards Australia.

How do I know this?

In all instances, there were essential components missing from the installation, that should have been seen by ALL electricians during their mandatory testing phase of the installation.

What were some of the things that were missing.

  1. On four out of five houses, the earth electrode was missing, and on the fifth house, it was seriously degraded. This is required to be checked at the completion of EVERY installation and alteration carried out at the premises.
  2. On one house there was no earth on any lighting points located on the ground floor. All of those lights had been recently changed, and most had a metal chassis. During a fault, this could cause a fire, injury or death to the home-owner.
  3. On two of the houses, the earth connections in the switchboard were extremely poor, badly done and potentially dangerous. On both houses, the connections were so poor, that if a fault were to occur in a circuit, it is quite possible that the home-owners could be un-protected. This is because the individual strands could blow, resulting in a fire or a home-owner with a dangerous appliance or circuit. This could also result in injury or death.
  4. On one house a service link should have been repaired/moved. This wasn’t done, and when checked, the insulation on the service link was smashed with the cables at risk of damage. This should have been seen and rectified during recent electrical work – This was one of the houses that didn’t have an earth electrode, which was an obvious fault.
  5. On another house, significant works had been done to the buildings. A new garage had been built, and new air conditioners were installed. In the garage it was possible to stick your hand behind the power point and touch live contacts, and there was no protection against overload to the consumer mains. The first fault could cause the death of an occupant, child or user of the powerpoint, the second fault could cause the house to burn down.
  6. On one house a “plumber” had moved a water heater, which left cables unprotected and the home-owner at risk of injury or death. The resulting cabling is now non-compliant with Australian Standards, and potentially dangerous. Yeh… OK I agree this was a plumber, not an electrician…

Can I prove what I say – yes!

1. Section 8 of “The wiring rules” covers Verification. It states:

AS/NZS:3000/2007 – Verification:

8.2.2 Checklist

(f) Earthing:

  1. MEN connection
  2. Earth electrode
  3. Earthing conductors, e.g. size, identification
  4. Equipotential bonding conductors, e.g. size, identification
  5. Connections, joints and terminations
  6. Protection against external influences
  7. Connection to earth arrangements for other systems

Relating to item 1 above, points 2 and 5 show that the earth electrode is required to be checked, and the connections repaired if required. These checks are mandatory with every single alteration or addition – and some repairs. If your contractor hasn’t checked this, they are breaking the law.

Should one of those components be missing or need repair, section 5, covers the standards to which they should be repaired or installed. (clauses 5.3.4 to 5.3.7)
2. Section 5 of “The wiring rules” covers earthing. It states:

Clause 5.4.3 Lighting points – A protective earthing conductor, connected to a terminal or suitably insulated and enclosed, shall be provided at every lighting point, including transformers supplying ELV lighting [ELV is extra low voltage – <50V]

Clause 5.4.4 states: The exposed conductive parts of luminaires [light fittings] shall be earthed.

These two clauses show that an earth must be connected to all lighting points. The electricians who installed the light fittings broke the law, and left the home owner at risk of fire, injury or death.

RCDs (safety switch) are now required on all new circuits, and some alterations. This is now mandatory on every new circuit. The new AS/NZS 3000/2018 may indicate that RCDs are to be fitted to alterations as well – yet to confirm.
3. Section 8 of “The wiring rules” covers Verification. It states:

AS/NZS:3000/2007 – Verification:

8.2.2 Checklist

(f) Earthing:

  1. MEN connection
  2. Earth electrode
  3. Earthing conductors, e.g. size, identification
  4. Equipotential bonding conductors, e.g. size, identification
  5. Connections, joints and terminations
  6. Protection against external influences
  7. Connection to earth arrangements for other systems

As with point 1 above, during verification, there are mandatory checks that need to be done. This includes points 5 and 7 which states that connections, joints and terminations, along with connection to earth arrangements of other systems need to be checked. It might mean that repairs need to be made in order to make the house safe. Again these are mandatory checks.
4. Mechanical protection and earth electrode

The link I am talking about was the service neutral link. This had been previously repaired, but not upgraded to the current standard as required. “The Service and Installation Rules of NSW” covers location and type of neutral link required, and must be upgraded to the current standard if repaired. Section 10.10 covers type and location.

The Wiring Rules covers the section I need with regards to mechanical damaged, which is also relevant in this situation.

Section 3.3.2.6 covers mechanical damage due to impact.

Wiring systems shall be selected and installed so as to minimize the risk of mechanical damage.

Protection against mechanical damage shall be provided by one or a combination of the following:

  1. Mechanical characteristics of the wiring system.
  2. location selected
  3. provision of additional local or general mechanical protection.

Section 3.3.2.8 covers other mechanical stresses.

Wiring systems shall be selected and installed so as to minimize damage to the cable insulation, sheathing and connections due to installation, operation and maintenance.

Five further sub clauses go on to discuss how this might be achieved.

The previous repairs and maintenance, and recent installations, failed to comply with these basic requirements. Hence the lack of compliance, and ultimately the failure of this component.

This is of particular importance and should not be easily dismissed. If the connections of this neutral link fail, there is a very high chance that injury or death could occur. Please see another one of my articles that discusses this exact instance – https://electricgreg.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/death-by-electrocution/

I also note that this house did not have an earth electrode either, even though there had been recent electrical work. Again the mandatory testing and verification of the installation was not complete.
5. Too many breaches to count.

There are so many breaches of the wiring rules in this item, that it is beyond the scope of this discussion. It is sufficient to say that the work done on this premises was extremely poor, and the contractors should be referred to Fair Trading for investigation and prosecution.

The worst of it:

The cables in the garage were exposed, and subject to damage. The cables must be mechanically protected so that damage doesn’t occur, so that there is a reduced risk of injury to the home-owner. As above, clause 3.3.2.6, protection against mechanical damage is relevant. Section 3.9 also covers installation methods, and in particular clauses 3.9.1, 3.9.2, 3.9.3 and 3.9.3.1. These cover support and fixing of cables. clause 3.9.4.4 indicates how cables should be protected to prevent damage.

With regards to the powerpoint with exposed terminals, and cable that was exposed behind the power point. Clause 3.10.1.2 states: “Where the sheath of a cable is removed, the exposed cores of the cable shall be enclosed in accordance with Clause 3.10.1.1; Clause 3.10.1.1 states that “Insulated, unsheathed cables shall be enclosed in a wiring enclosure”

The exposed terminals at the back of the powerpoints were also significant and could cause the death of a home-owner or child. This is covered by clauses 3.1.2 (a) Protection against physical contact with live parts by durable insulation materials…

This particular house had a significant amount of work done, by two different electricians. It also did not have an earth electrode, and point one was relevant. Another problem with this house was that there had been a significant load increase, and no-one had checked the current carrying capacity of the consumer mains. One of the checks that must be done during the verification phase is:

They also overloaded the mains, as the mains did not have adequate overload protection,

AS/NZS:3000/2007 – Verification:

8.2.2 Checklist

(b)Consumer mains:

  1. Current carrying capacity
  2. Voltage drop, e.g. size of conductors
  3. Underground installation conditions, e.g. enclosure, depth of burial, mechanical protection
  4. Aerial installation conditions
  5. Connection of wiring
  6. Protection against external influences

Points 1 and 2 are both relevant, as in this house, there was no limit placed upon the consumer mains, even though the maximum demand was increased dramatically (by about 40-50A). There could potentially be an overload and a fire if there were too many appliances turned on at the same time.

There are some simple solutions with for this. In the garage, the cables should have been enclosed in conduit, the power point should have been fitted to a junction box. The checks should have found that the earth electrode wasn’t present, and the consumer mains should have been checked visually.

With regards to the consumer mains, all that was needed was for the electrician/s to check the current carrying capacity of the consumer mains and add a circuit breaker for the main switch. Simple! A small cost to the consumer – but it could stop a fire, or the death of home owners and their family.
6. Plumbers doing electrical work

Well actually they can, but only in very strict circumstances, and only if they have the correct license. Plumbers require a “connect/disconnect” certificate (the name might have changed now). Without this, a plumber is not legally allowed to touch electrical cables. Also a plumber is not legally allowed to move or change the wiring in any way, but just disconnect and reconnect at the terminals. As the cables had been moved the required mechanical protection was inadequate. This resulted in the water heater then becoming non-compliant and potentially dangerous.

The same applies to other tradespeople, such as builders, carpenters, plasterers etc, who regularly decide that they can safely disconnect/reconnect or move cables or appliances.

They are not permitted to touch or alter any electrical component, cable or appliance unless they are licensed to do so. Should they do this, they are breaking the law, and putting your family’s lives at risk.

Anyway…

Every single electrician (and plumber) who did the work shown above, broke the law! Also, not one of them tested their installation correctly nor submitted the MADATORY “Compliance Certificate of Electrical Work”, as required by Fair Trading.

Now the big question.

We come back to the heading of this article! Cheap electricians.

Why am I more expensive than some other electricians?

  1. I CARE about my work.
  2. I put 100% effort into all of my jobs.
  3. I supply a 10 year workmanship warranty on most of my jobs.
  4. Some of the parts I use come with a 25 year parts AND labour warranty
  5. Some of the parts I use come with a 7 year parts AND labour warranty (those with electronics in them)
  6. I comply 100% with the “Wiring Rules – AS/NZS 3000:2007” (Now to be AS/NZS 3000:2018).
  7. I test my work to fulfill my LEGAL obligations in 100% of cases, and
  8. I submit my paperwork where required on every single job!
  9. I test my work and supply a signed document with test results to my clients on every single job – without exception!

So why do I cost a bit more?

I have a significant amount of money invested in equipment to undertake my job to comply with those rules. I am asbestos, height, and WHS trained, and I have other related and advanced qualifications behind me; such as an Advanced Certificate of Electrical Engineering.

Just 3 pieces of my work equipment cost nearly $10,000. My test equipment costs over $2000, my asbestos vacuum (you won’t find another electrician with one) costs around $3000, my height equipment costs close to $5000 – and those 3 small items are just a small part of my essential work equipment, and they need replacement, maintenance and repair on a regular basis.


I therefore cost more – it’s as simple as that.


I will re-quote what I wrote above:

For nearly 30 years, 50% of my work has been fixing other tradespeoples’ rubbish work! That means that clients are paying twice for work that should only have to be done once.

  1. That also means that at least 50% of clients are paying twice for something they should only have paid once for.
  2. It means that the cheap job you just got could end up costing double what it should.
  3. It means that your job is likely non-compliant
  4. It means that your family’s lives could be at risk, or that your house might burn down
  5. It could also mean that your home insurance could be invalid – check your policy

Hmmm…

Maybe that $50 electrician isn’t such a good deal after all!

The question that I then have to ask you is this:

Do you want work like the above done on your house?
It could kill a member of your family, or your house might burn down, or you could end up having it repaired at a later stage (you’ll have to pay for the same job twice)…

or

Do you want to take on an electrician with integrity, who undertakes work that is compliant, safe, and 100% legal in EVERY instance?

That is the question isn’t it?


It is often said that:

When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys!

Chimp with fingers in ears.
OK… I know it is a chimp!
Take your pick, the choice is yours!

I would highly recommend that you read my articles on compliance, and the obligations of your tradesperson. Those pages will help you to choose the right tradesperson, understand their obligations and legal requirements. It will help to keep your home and family safe!

A contractor’s responsibilities
Compliance

See part 2 – Cheaper or more risky

Bye for now,

Greg.
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#Charges #Costs #Electrician #FairTrading #Compliance #safety #WHS

electrician; electrical repairs; electrical installations; power points; lights; light fittings; light switches; electrical fault; electrical faults; electricity; electrical hazard; electrical safety; electrical contractor; Normanhurst,2076; Wahroonga,2076; Asquith,2077; Hornsby,2077; Hornsby Heights,2077; Waitara,2077; Mount Colah,2079; Mount Ku-ring-gai,2080; Berowra,2081; Berowra Heights,2082; Carlingford,2118; Beecroft,2119; Cheltenham,2119; Pennant Hills,2120; Thornleigh,2120; Westleigh,2120; Epping,2121; North Epping,2121; Cherrybrook,2126; Dural,2158; Middle Dural,2158; Arcadia,2159; Galston,2159; West Pennant Hills,2125;

3 thoughts on “Cheaper is OK… right?

  1. The new wiring rules is out, and therefore the wiring rules is now referred to as: AS/NZS 3000:2018.

    Electricians will have until December 2018 to be compliant with the new rule book.

    Make sure that the electrician you use is compliant with the new rules, and not the old ones!

    Greg

    Like

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