Working with General Contractors
Make sure your home renovation doesn’t put your family’s safety at risk.
Planning even a small home reno can be complicated, so it’s tempting to lean on your General Contractor to take care of all the details. But when it comes to who’s hired to do the electrical work, you need to make sure you’re involved—because the wrong person could put your home and family at risk. Poor electrical work can have serious consequences, like electrical shocks, fire, even death.To be sure that your electrical work is safe and legal, you need to make sure that your General Contractor hires a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC), and that they get a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority for the job.
On this page:
- What is a Licensed Electrical Contractor?
- Why a Licensed Electrical Contractor is important
- Steps to take to protect yourself
- Spotting an unlicensed electrician
- Finding and verifying a Licensed Electrical Contractor
Licensed Electrical Contractors are the only electrical service providers with an ECRA/ESA licence number. This licence number is proof that they have the expertise, equipment, and training to do the job safely. In Ontario, only Licensed Electrical Contractors (or electricians employed by a Licensed Electrical Contracting business) are legally authorized to be hired to do electrical work in your home. “Master Electricians” and “Certified Electricians” may work for a Licensed Electrical Contracting business, but they do not have an ESA licence themselves, so they can't be hired directly to do electrical work in your home.
There are a number of different ways that a Licensed Electrical Contractor will help keep your home and family safe.
- LECs are qualified and trained to perform the type of electrical work you need.
- LECs are fully insured, which is the only way to be sure that you, the homeowner, won’t be held responsible if there’s an accident on the job.
- LECs will file the notification of work with the ESA, meaning that they’ll have a permit for the electrical work.
- When the job is complete, LECs will have their work reviewed by the ESA.
- After approval, LECs will receive an ESA Certificate of Acceptance—a document that may be requested by your insurance company, and could be necessary for home resale.
After engaging a General Contractor, make sure to ask the right questions, look for the right signs, and do a little research of your own.
- Talk to your General Contractor. Ask them if the electrician on your project is licensed, and insist that only a Licensed Electrical Contractor be hired.
- Look for the electrician’s licence number on their truck (and business card and estimate, if you’re presented with them). Ask to see it if need be.
- Make sure the Licensed Electrical Contractor files the necessary permit. The electrical work needs its own permit, separate from your general building permit.
- Look the electrician up on ESA’s Find a Contractor tool to confirm that they’re licensed.
If you notice any of the following, chances are the electrician you or your General Contractor hired may not actually be licensed.
- There’s no ECRA/ESA licence number on their work vehicle or estimate.
- The electrician won’t show you their licence number when you ask for it.
- They do more than just electrical work, like drywall, flooring, plumbing, snow removal, or other home improvement.
- They don’t have all the appropriate paperwork, such as estimates, contracts, and professional licences.
- They ask you to get the ESA permit, or say you don’t need one.
- They offer a discount if you pay cash, they accept only cash, and/or won’t provide a receipt.
- They say you don’t need to involve your local electric utility to change your electrical panel or upgrade your electrical service.
- They say, “If anyone asks, tell them you did the work yourself.”
If you notice any of these red flags, it’s important that you report the company to the ESA so we can investigate.
If you suspect someone is doing electrical work without a licence, let us know.
The ESA takes safe, legal electrical work very seriously. It’s why we make it easy for you to find a Licensed Electrical Contractor in your area, and to check if the person you’re hiring is licensed to legally do electrical work in Ontario.
Hire someone who can legally do electrical work in Ontario.