Victimized by an electrician - PLEASE help!

blondelleNovember 14, 2012

We have a basement flood damaged by the hurricane and I had an electrician in there that was the biggest crook I've ever seen. One of the things he did was change the electric in the basement to the wrong apt. after I specifically told him to keep it on the line where it was, and then he charged me for it. Is there anyway to see if he changed it back so that area's electric goes on the right apt.?

Also, I'm confused. When you put the light switches to on there after the flood there was no lights. Would changing the receptacles (plug outlets) which were water damaged fix that? He lied about so many things he did, I can't even ask him anything.

Are there any electricians here? Would someone be so kind to talk to me by phone if I left an e-mail address for a phone #.

I'm just so upset. I haven't paid him yet. I have no contract, and he refused to tell me what anything costs before hand. He gave me nothing in writing and he has nothing in writing. Can you still file a contractor's lien with no contract or paperwork? It's seems it's almost 2.5 times what it should be. I'm just beyond myself as I trusted this person.

You wouldn't believe what else this man did!

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OK, you are using a computer. Search online at the licensing board for your state for electrical contractors to see if this person/company is licensed. In NC, my State, every advertisement and invoice by an electrical contractor must show the license number. The Board will gig any contractor failing to do so. I addition, they have (in NC) field representatives who will investigate, at your premises if necessary, what a contractor has done. So do not pay the bill yet-- remember the Golden Rule-- he who has the Gold makes the Rules. Ask the contractor to come back and get the system correct. After that is done, discuss the bill. If any of this is not to your liking, call the licensing board.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:24PM
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Plain and simple:

1. You haven't paid
2. Tell him you won't pay until he gives you a detailed invoice. Tell him the invoice must have his business name and license number.
3. If he doesn't provide #2, tell him this is an illegal transaction.
4. If he does provide #2, verify the license and contact the licensing board and inform them of your issue.

Believe me, when it comes to electricity, NO governing/licensing agency wants someone like this doing electrical work. In addition, no AHJ (authority having jurisdiction, i.e. city/county inspectors) want this kind of person doing electrical work.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 5:02PM
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#3. The contractor files the contractors lien against you
for non payment. Not the other way around.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 5:58PM
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1. To file a contractors lien you have to be a contractor, and, one in good standing. Does this contractor sound like either?
2. To file a contractors lien, there has to be an original scope of work quote signed by the the home owner
3. To file a contractors lien, there has to be an actual INVOICE!!!!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Thank you so much for trying to help. He does have a valid license with the NY Building Dept. They said that there's no agency that governs and oversees electricians though. He's not a member of their union. He didn't file for a permit before starting and they can't do an inspection without it.

This is what the man did:

1) Tried to charge me $250 for replaces light switch covers. He called them switches and I thought they were part of the repair. I said couldn't you have replaced the old ones and he said they didn't look nice. My basement was TRASHED after the flood! Do I care if I have decorative light switch covers. Then he pushed for matching outlet covers for heavens sakes!

2) Told me that it's code to need to have a washer and dryer on their own circuit. Another electrician said who told you that, and I just needed one as it's a gas dryer. He charged $500 for those two circuits. Nothing had to be changed at all there.

3) Then he charged $950 for replacing 19 outlets, after he told me how great a price was at $50 per. He also said first there were 12, and then he says there were 19? He missed SEVEN of them? It should be about $600 or less for all!

4) The he changed a circuit to the wrong apartment, after I clearly told him which one it was supposed to be on and charged me $150 for that too. It was correct before he touched it.

5) Then he removed a hard wired smoke alarm outside the boiler room and then tried to blame it on the flood remediation crew, and they must have taken it. Then he charged me $90 to replace it and then went on to say he was putting a special kitchen one outside my kitchen when there is no such thing. I didn't need another one there then.

6) He is trying to charge me $250 to file with the city and then he told me I had to for my insurance claim. The building department said he just needs to just file a $40 permit. Because of the hurricane it's even free now. I checked and he never even filed a permit so I can't get his work inspected.

Two people at the building department asked me if he gave me a contract or an estimate and when I said no the building department even told me not to pay him.

The kicker is, and the most disgusting part was he was extremely nice and presented himself as very religious and that he just has to answer to the lord for behavior to gain your trust. He told me I would be happy with the bill, not to worry, and he would work with me so we were both happy and to trust him. This is about $900 or so of work that he is trying to charge $2,300 for. I just told him I wanted the basement to just be functional and safe, nothing more and I was strapped for cash.

After all the lies I don't want him back in my house and if he won't file a permit, I can't get it inspected. Who knows what he did there as there's nothing ethical about this man.

I have never come across anyone like him who says he only wants me to be happy with his work and then does something like this. The man is sick. I guess he could take me to small claims court but I don't know how far he would get without anything signed as to what I was supposed to pay him and if he refuses to file a permit to have his work inspected.

I'm just a woman alone, and what he did was criminal. I'm shocked that the only place I can lodge a complaint is the BBB, and that there's no overseeing agency for electricians. He's not a member of their union. I checked the DCA site but I don't think they oversee electrician's licenses. I just see a general contractor designation.

Thanks so much for trying to help and the info about liens. At least I don't have to worry about that too.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 8:55AM
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I was surprised to learn that the state of New York does not license electricians! Caveat emptor, especially in NY, I guess.
Your issue comes down to exactly what your contract was with this person. Did you give him carte blanche to do "whatever needs to be done" or were there specific tasks only? Keep in mind that a contract CAN be verbal, but nothing beats a written one!

Here is a link that might be useful: No NY electrician license!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:15AM
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Wow, what a headache. Sorry for your troubles!!

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 4:20PM
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Ron Natalie

NY doesn't license electricians for the same reason the federal government doesn't. Such activity is reserved for the local municipality.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 4:39AM
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Something is fishy here. I honestly don't think the OP knows what was wrong and is blaming the electrician for finding more than she thought. I also question the pricing shown.
It is SOP to replace plates when replacing devices. I HIGHLY doubt he charged $250 just to replace switch plates. If he actually did he is a simple crook.

At the same time, I'm sure the electrician found more than the absolutely minimum to get things back to working.

The OP also needs to be educated on how things work in NYS. Electrical is NOT regulated by the building dept. You may need a building permit to do substantial work, but the work is inspected by a private third party inspection agency, not related to the building dept.
It is entirely possible for a permit and inspection to cost $250. $40 for the building permit, than another $100-$300+ for the inspection depending on the scope of the inspection.

blondelle, don't pay him and calmly go over what your discrepancies are. Let him try and explain things so you can understand. If possible, have a friend with you who knows about this stuff so they can help you understand.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:58AM
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Did he replace cables that had been submerged?

Something is really wrong with your description of the work.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 5:08PM
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Get a lawyer and follow his/her advice. Do not let the person back in your home. Refer all communications through your lawyer. He will fade away quickly when confronted.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 5:01PM
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Thanks to all who were kind enough to respond. The building department does deal with electrical contractors and he does have a license. 311 referred me to the building department for an electrician issue as well the electrical union. They do inspections at no cost. He came down about $1,250, but he's still trying to charge me for things he presented as being needed due to flood damage when they were not.

He is an out and out liar, telling me that I needed two lines for a washer/dryer and that it was code. Another electrician told me a gas dryer doesn't need it's own line and both could be on the same line. Then I'm told I at least needed one line added, but it's been that way for over 50 years. He said it's because it's around water, but the outlets he added were not the ones with the red reset button especially for that. They look like regular outlets. They also have no backing and are loose in the wall.

There are other things he did but this post is getting too long. About the light switch covers. The plug outlets in the basement were under water and he said he replaced the outlet boxes and covers, but what does that have to do with the light switches? Do the light switch boxes need to be replaced if the plug outlets get wet? If no boxes were replaced, yes, he did try and charge me $250 for Decora light switch covers.

I've filed a complaint with the building department and the BBB so we will see.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Well, for one, when you start working on electric, you usually have to bring things up to current code. As for the rest, you've got good advice. You really need to have it inspected, so they can highlight what he's done wrong.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:40PM
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"Well, for one, when you start working on electric, you usually have to bring things up to current code."

Can you explain this?
What are you saying needs to be brought up to current code?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:03PM
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I believe that alan_s_thefirst is in Canada. And perhaps has assumed that the same requirements prevail everywhere.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 6:06PM
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I am not a home electric cert. I am marine systems cert (shore power, 12,24 and 36 v ac and electronics). The coast guard mostly suggests how to wire but my insurance co says " If you touch any of it bring it to code". If you can't or they don't want to pay stay away. A wire problem 80 miles offshore is not a walk away thing.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 10:40AM
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"We have a basement flood damaged by the hurricane"

Not normally found "80 miles offshore."

    Bookmark   January 6, 2013 at 11:35AM
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what I ment was it is not the law to bring it up to code. It is my call if I don't think it is safe. In my old house I know what has been rewired I would not sell the house without doing the rest.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 10:49AM
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I don't think it is safe???? that are you talking about!!!! if you start working in a panel or on branch circuits you must bring them up to code..things are only grandfathered if you don't touch or move or add on...If I was in someones home trying to get their service to work and it's not wired or grounded properly..believe me I will bring it to code..cause if there house burns down or someone gets hurt I would be liable..let alone I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing something is not safe..something sounds funny I don't even see the worst crook charging $50 to change each outlet..there is always two sides to the story and I have yet to hear the other..but I do know that some homeowners that don't have a clue of work that is involved and to to justify non-payment

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 12:10AM
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I think you said what I ment only worded it better. Thank you

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:11PM
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Way to run up the bill.

I spent many years swapping out fuse panels for CB panels, and we never updated anything else.

Since we did not touch anything else no liability attaches.

Even the AHJs did not complain.

The only thing they wanted to see was GFCIs in bathrooms and kitchens.
Since these work even on 2-wire circuits it is not a big deal.

If we encountered branch circuits that had been over-fused, they went on correct size breakers.

We did find a few 20 amp fuses in 15 amp sockets, but not many.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Fri, Jan 11, 13 at 10:52

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 10:51AM
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