You’ve got a small electrical job that needs doing and you’ve got a few quotes from local electrical businesses, but there’s one quote from that handyman website that is coming in so much cheaper…
It’s such a simple job. Surely anyone could do it, right?
It might be tempting to use an unlicensed electrician or handyman because they can be cheaper, but think about why that is? They can afford to undercut prices because they don’t have to pay for licensing fees. They won’t have insurance to protect you and your home. They aren’t covered for workers compensation insurance. And they probably won’t spend the time or effort to comply with safe work practices.
Even if you do save a few bucks upfront, there is potential for serious costs down the track. Unlicensed electrical work can void your home insurance and can cost many times more if you have to get someone in to fix dangerous or faulty work.
Besides, it’s actually against the law to do electrical works without a licence in all states and territories of Australia.
What are the dangers of unlicensed electrical work?
Electrical work of any kind is inherently dangerous. The electricity that runs through your home’s cabling in Australia is 240 volts, which is more than enough to cause serious injury, fire or electrocution. The potentially fatal consequences of working with electricity in an unsafe manner is why Australian electrical safety laws state that all electrical work must be done by a licensed electrician.
So, just in case you’re still considering using an unlicensed electrician, let’s go through the risks.
Unlicensed electricians haven’t got the same level of training and there’s no way to be sure that they are complying with electrical safety standards. They may install things unsafely because they’re taking shortcuts, or because they just don’t know any better. Overloaded circuits, exposed connections, screws through cables, not earthing light fittings… these are all common mistakes made by unlicensed electricians.
Problems with unlicensed electrical work might not be immediately apparent. The work might look good on the outside but a mistake might lurk in the background for months or years before it causes issues. Incorrectly terminated cables in the roof might seem fine for years until they are disturbed by a possum and cause a house fire. Or a safety switch with the incorrect amps installed in your switchboard won’t work when you most need it to.
If electrical circuits or fittings are not installed incorrectly then they put future tradies’ lives at risk. For example, plumbers rely on electricians to terminate cables properly so that they can be sure the pipes they are working on aren’t live. And next time you have a pest control worker or an insulation installer crawling around in your roof, you’ll want to be sure there are no live cables lying around.
In 2018 we were sadly reminded about the dangers of using unlicensed electricians. A terrible electrical accident occurred while a carpenter was working in the roof of a Sydney home. It was thought to have been fitted with illegal wiring which connected the house directly to the mains power, bypassing the electricity meter, switchboard, and safety switches.
It’s not worth the risk.
Additionally, homeowners may find that they are not covered by their insurance policy if illegal wiring by an unlicensed electrician causes a house fire. A very expensive way to save a few bucks...
What about DIY electrical work?
Sometimes it is easy to think, “It’s just a simple job, it can’t be that hard to just swap over a power outlet”. But DIY-ing electrical work carries all the same risks as using an unlicensed electrician. And a seemingly ‘simple’ job like a flickering light can require expert fault finding to figure out the root cause of the issue.
DIY-ers won’t have the specialised testers that are essential for qualified electricians. There are numerous tests that licensed electricians carry out every time they do electrical work, to keep themselves and your family safe, and to make sure that everything is operating correctly.
DIY electrical work can carry penalties of up to $40,000 or even jail time. 240 volts is never something to play around with.
So keep the DIY for building that chook shed or putting up that new shelf your wife’s been asking for for months...
What sets a licensed electrician apart?
Every electrician in Victoria must have a licence to carry out electrical work. This licence is issued by Energy Safe Victoria.
Being fully licensed also means that the electrician is responsible for making sure that all their work is done in compliance with the Australian New Zealand Wiring Rules (AS/NZS 3000). Licensed electricians will always provide you with a Certificate of Electrical Safety from Energy Safe Victoria for any applicable electrical works.
Licensed electricians that work for a Registered Electrical Contractor (like Kenner Electrics) will have the appropriate insurances, WorkCover and accreditations required. Good electricians will also engage in continual training to update their knowledge as regulations change and the industry develops. Membership of an industry body like NECA means an electrical business is informed when wiring rules are updated and has access to education sessions.
How do I make sure my electrician is properly licensed?
Energy Safe Victoria recommends that customers ask to see an electrician’s licence before they begin work. If an electrician (or any tradesperson in a licensed trade) makes excuses about why they can't show you their license, don't use them. It's not worth the risk.
At Kenner Electrics, all of our electricians are fully licensed, insured and qualified. Our Registered Electrical Contractor Licence number is REC 23706. All our electricians have individual licences which they will be more than happy to provide on the job.
When in doubt, call Kenner Electrics. We’re a fully licensed electrical contractor that you can trust.