A general contractor is one of those jobs that have many, varied aspects. It can encompass anything from plumbing to construction and even engineering in some cases. Electrical-related work tends to be a common element of projects like kitchen remodels.
But what type or degree of electrical work is a general building contractor legally allowed to complete? Can they do this work without being a licensed electrician? Do they have to outsource to an electrician, or can they accomplish specific tasks with the right license?
Use this guide to help you learn about when to opt for a licensed electrician versus a general contractor.
What a General Contractor Can Do
A general contractor is advisable for simple electrician projects that don't need a permit. Some examples include installations and replacements of switches, sockets, and minor circuits. They can also perform lighting fittings.
If you're completing a home build or business renovation, it may be more optimal to work with a GC than hire an additional electrician. If they are already completing a project for you, they may be able to hire a subcontracted electrician at lower industry rates.
When a Licensed Electrician is Needed
A licensed electrician holds a level of expertise guaranteed with the profession. They will be a more suitable hire for significant electrician projects, like panel work or fire damage. If you have an outage or need a large circuit installation, the licensed electrician will be your best bet.
General Contractors are usually not allowed to perform work that is within walls or above a certain voltage threshold. While licensing regulations vary by jurisdiction, it's best to err on the side of caution and consult a licensed electrician if the work is more than 120v or is extensive in nature.
When Should I Use a General Contractor vs. a Licensed Electrician?
While both a general contractor and a licensed electrician may be able to perform many of the same duties, there are key differences. These distinctions may make one specialist more optimal over the other.
If the work required is handling high voltage, electrical panels, or work inside of walls, you'll need to consult a licensed electrician.
Note that contractors can get their licenses and become electricians to expand their prospects. If you're a contractor, use Contractor Training Center to help you pass your licensing exam!
The Bottom Line
While general contractors and electricians may perform similar duties in electrical work, there are some key differences. The next time you need panel work or fire damage repair, you will want to contact a licensed electrician. For smaller projects or general electrical projects that may be part of a multi-part remodel, a general contractor is a reliable choice.