Last Updated Oct 12, 2017 · Written by Kat Tate
So how much is it going to cost?
It is the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason. For most of us, dollars and cents really matter. Which is why getting a handle on labour and material costs is an important first step. You need a budget no matter the size of the job - routine maintenance, a major reno or simply getting through your to-do list.
And if you are looking at a project that involves electrical work, then the law is very clear. For your own safety and those around you, you need to hire a licensed electrician, and no one else.
This article will give you an idea of what an electrician does, how they can help and what they may charge.
The right lighting can help transform a home from drab to fab. © Builtex Design & Construction
So what can your local licensed sparkie help you get done? Quite a lot, including:
Alarm installation: some electricians will specialise in installing home alarms, and often undergo dedicated training for this.
Emergencies: some electricians are prepared to be available after hours, so you can get help when something serious happens at an inconvenient time.
Electrical data cabling: modern homes are full of ‘smart’ technology, and a sparkie can help make sure everything works and integrates as it should.
Home automation: electricians who specialise in home automation can help you make a smart home a reality, including giving you control of your access, security, lighting and much more.
Home entertainment system: integrating a fully fledged home entertainment system is a serious undertaking, best left to someone with the right technical know-how.
Lighting: lighting, indoors and out, is all about creating the right mood and making sure every space and activity has the right amount and type of lighting.
New homes: sparkies take care of all the cabling, powerpoints, lighting and much more in a new build.
Power points: if you are frustrated by a lack of powerpoints, an electrician can help alleviate your pain.
Renovations: no matter the size of your reno project, chances are you will need an electrician to install lighting, powerpoints and much more.
Repairs and maintenance: when electrical items need fixing or routine maintenance, a licensed sparkie can help.
Rewiring: older homes may have wiring which is unsafe and/or does not meet the latest standards, and a licensed electrician can help make this right.
Safety switches:these are an essential component of your electrical system, protecting you from power surges, faulty appliances and damaged wiring.
Solar power: an electrician can help you make the switch to a greener power source and install all the necessary elements of a solar system.
Switchboards: older homes often need their switchboard upgraded especially if you renovating or extending.
If you're building a new home or renovating there are some practicalities to consider regarding your electrical system and what functionality you require. Take the time to consider:
Read: 8 signs you need to hire an electrician
Overloaded powerpoints? An electrician can help you install more and stay safe (iStock).
#hiptip: Think about the number and placement of powerpoints and light switches when you are planning your project
Find a Local Electrician now
Unlicensed electrical work is not only unlawful in Australia; it could also pose a serious threat to the health and safety of your home. And even though each state and territory has slightly different regulations and classes for electricians, they all must be a licence holder before they can undertake work in your home. For you that means any electrical task, except changing a lightbulb or plugging in an appliance, has to be done by someone appropriately qualified and licensed.
Licence classes define what type of electrical work an electrician can legally carry out. This is detailed on their physical licence, alongside their number, name, registered address and expiry date. Licences generally expire after three or five years.
It is worth noting that if a trainee electrician is working in your home, they must be supervised by a fully licensed contractor. Electricians are also required to sign an electrical certificate validating that your job has been done to spec.
Only a licensed electrician can legally carry out electrical work in your home
You may come across some electricians advertising themselves as Master Electricians. They are members of Master Electricians Australia (MEA), a “national leading accreditation body which sets the national benchmark of excellence for the electrical industry in Australia.”
Look for this logo to hire a Master Electrician (Master Electricians Australia [MEA])
Members get access to the latest industry advice and expertise so they can maintain high standards and deliver a superior service to you. Master Electricians can easily be identified by the MEA logo which is often displayed on their vehicles, work gear and website.
Should you hire them? They might be better informed than other electricians, but they have the same licence as other electricians.
All electricians need to be licensed to work in your home. Glenco Electrical.
When it comes time to hire a sparkie you need to make sure they are right for your job. Some questions to ask them include:
So how much will a sparkie cost you?
Many sparkies will charge a flat service fee and a per hour rate. The service fee will often cover the first 30 minutes they are working on your job. Expect them to charge a service fee in the region of $70 - $130 and $70 - $95 per hour, with the hourly rate calculated in 15 minute increments. Electricians who do not charge a call out fee may charge extra for their first hour's work.
Many sparkies will charge a flat service fee and a per hour rate for your job
Factors that determine the final cost of their service include:
For example, installing wiring in a new build home will typically be quicker than in an older home, as it is likely to have better access to all the necessary points, such as the ceiling cavity.
An electrician is instrumental in major renovation projects, including kitchens. © Luke Interiors
Sparkies will often have set rates for particular tasks and jobs. Here is a sample of some common projects to give you a ballpark idea of what you may be charged:
Installing a powerpoint
Sydney-based GLENCO Electrical Services charges in the region of $150 to install a new powerpoint. This includes labour and materials.
Installing a hard-wired smoke alarm
Bronte Electrical Service charges on average $150 to install a smoke alarm, though this figure could be higher if access is difficult and the job takes longer.
Installing LED lighting
RJ and AM Lawrence Electrical Contractors charges around $60 - $75 per point for installing LED downlights, a popular retrofit option to replace halogen lights.
Installing wiring and connections (kitchen renovation)
GTK Group would charge $450 – $850 for the wiring and connection of appliances for a kitchen renovation project, assuming 5 power points are being installed.
Installing ducted heating
Advantage Air Conditioning and Electrical would charge anywhere from $3000 - $4000 for the installation of a basic three star ducted heating system in a small home.
Installing a home automation system
Sep Electrical charges anywhere from 20k to install a home automation system for a small 3 bedroom home, while a larger home with full control could range anywhere from 50k to 100k.
Get a sense how much your project will cost by getting quotes from licensed electricians where you live. This will enable you to get a sense of what market rates currently are.
* All the costs and prices quoted were sourced at the time this article was written. They are indicative, may vary locally, are subject to market forces and should only be used as a guide.