5 Reasons You Should Hire an Electrician Rather Than Do Your Own Work

Electrician Working on House 169270331
Electrician Working on House. Getty / Paul Bradbury

There are many benefits of doing your electrical work.  You save money; it is more flexible than calling in and waiting for an electrician; and you can call the shots.

But even the more experienced DIY electrician may reach the point when they feel like it's time to call in a professional:

1. You've Got Permits and Inspectors Added To the Equation

After you paint your living room or tile your kitchen backsplash, it's just you and your dog Spot "oooing and ahhing" over the fruits of your labors.

 While you should maintain basic building practices, nobody comes by afterwards to check up on your work.  Permits are not needed for painting your child's bedroom.  Inspectors do not need to approve the trimwork around your windows.

Electrical work does, though.  If you're going about homeowner-driven electrical work the right way, you will pull permits and have inspectors visit.  The approval/disapproval process is just an added level of frustration you can eliminate by having electricians do the work.  If they do it, most likely the permit will get "finalled."  If not, it's the electrician's job to make it right--not you.

2. Electrical Work Is Better Than Other Projects But Still Not Fun

In relation to other home remodeling jobs like sanding drywall or digging up sewer pipes, electrical work can be classified as "fun" (along with "clean" and "yields to logic.").

Yet few people--if fact, I will argue zero people--ever take on their own electrical work because it is fun.

 When you step back and compare electrical work to other things in your life not related to remodeling--playing with your kids, travelling, eating out, seeing a movie--running 12/2 cable through a cobwebbed basement pales by comparison.  Simply put, you've got better things to do in life, and hiring out allows you to do those tings.

3. Electricians Know Things You Don't Know

You hire people because they can do things you cannot do:  flying commercial jets, corporate litigation, repairing Teslas.  Because you know absolutely nothing about the task, there is no question about hiring a professional.

But you get into murky and often dangerous territory when you know a few things about the job-at-hand.  As they say, a little knowledge can be dangerous.

The issue is exacerbated when you've got home remodeling writers shouting from their bully pulpits ("Do it yourself!") and home improvement stores overflowing with boxes, cable, switches, outlets, and lights practically begging to be homeowner-installed.

This point about knowledge and experience is at the core of the argument.  Even if you know 92% about electrical work, it's the other 8% that can hurt you.

4. They Are Expensive, But You Can Control Costs

Electricians are true professionals, and whenever they are in your house, you can just hear the "money clock" ticking away and your bill rapidly escalating.  

By approaching it smartly, though, you can limit your costs.  Simple things like having your circuits correctly mapped out can save electricians from doing it for you.

5. It Can Be Dangerous

Death during home remodeling comes in different, often unexpected forms.  The U.S. Centers For Disease Control tells us that in the workplace "falls remain a leading cause of unintentional injury [deaths] nationwide, and 43 percent of fatal falls in the last decade have involved a ladder."  From 1992 to 2002, electrocution was #6 in the list of reasons for workplace fatalities.

The point is that homeowners should fear causes that appear benign (painting the house) as much as those that have the "scary label" plastered on them (electrical).

Still, 200 amps is enough to kill you, and that's what most homes have coming into their service panels.  Even 15A or 20A can do it, depending on the conditions.