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Using Cheap Foreign Labor to Work on Your Home

Dear Mr. Electrician: I received several estimates from local contractors for a series of small electrical projects in my home.  All of the prices were higher than my budget allows.  A neighbor's visiting relative is currently painting my house.  He said that he does that type of work in his country and offered to do some of the electrical items on my list for a ridiculously low price.  Should I use this worker from a foreign land to install electrical wiring in my home?
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Answer: No!  Using someone who is unlicensed in your jurisdiction, with no permanent local address, and whose skills and experience are unverifiable is NOT a good choice of a trades person to allow to work in your home. This person will not have insurance should your home burn down or if someone is injured.  This person is also not likely to know the electrical, fire and building codes such as the National Electrical Code.  In addition the foreign worker will lack a broad familiarity with the materials used in local construction and will not have accounts at local suppliers like a licensed contractor would.  You may have to foot the bill for materials yourself upfront.  

I realize that there are budgetary constraints for your home improvement projects, however poor wiring practices can cause injury, death and/or destruction.  Quite often a wiring shortcoming may not manifest itself in the form of a fire or sparks until months or even years later, long after your worker has returned to his home country . 

Try to find a licensed electrical contractor who can work within your budget.  Maybe some things can be done over time.  Perhaps there is some labor that you can do to help out the contractor in exchange for a lower estimate. 
 
For example, you could offer to take care of all of the cleaning and garbage disposal after work is completed.  That would save some labor.  If you are able, you could offer to act as his helper or "Gofer".  You could also offer to drive over to the contractor's supplier and pick up his or her ordered materials for your job.  
 
 

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Updated June 10, 2018

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