What you need to know before you hire an electrical worker and what your rights are if you are not happy with any work done. Also, what electrical work you can do yourself.

 Electrical work: Do it right

DIY is only allowed for some low-risk jobs

It is always advisable to use a licensed electrical worker. But there are some very limited exceptions for low-risk electrical work which are set out on the WorkSafe website at Doing your own electrical work(external link).

Before you do any work yourself, you must comply with:

For more information, see Energy Safety’s:

Check before you hire an electrician

When you hire an electrician, check they are licensed and registered to do the particular work you want them to do.

Electrical work done by an unlicensed electrical worker may:

  • adversely affect your insurance policy if damage is caused by poor workmanship
  • be legally non-compliant under the Electricity Act and the electricity regulations
  • be unsafe, increasing the risks of electrocution and fire at your property.

It’s important that any electrical work you need done is carried out by a licensed worker, so it is certified and you have proof of compliant work.

Read the Checklist before you hire a tradesperson before you hire an electrician.

Safety issues with electrical work

Common issues with electrical work that contribute to risks of electric shock and fire include:

  • work not being properly tested after installation or repairs are done
  • unsafe wiring not being protected or secured properly (electric shock risk)
  • loose terminals on switchboards and fittings (fire risk)
  • overloaded circuits (fire risk)
  • metal fittings not earthed and bonded correctly (electric shock risk)
  • recessed lights and insulation not fitted correctly (fire risk)
  • certification not provided (no assurance of compliance and safety).

In association with: 




Know your rights

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) applies to all electrical services normally bought for personal or household use.

So if you have a problem with the electric work done or the materials used, you may have the right to free repairs, a full refund or a reduced price, or to get another electrical worker to do the work.

Also, every electrical appliance or fitting that is sold in New Zealand, whether new or secondhand, must be safe under section 80 of the Electricity (Safety) Regulations(external link)

See also:

You can now check an electronic register online to see if your electrician is licensed.

Your electrical worker must be registered and licensed for the work they do

All registered electrical workers must hold a practising licence to carry out prescribed electrical work. Registration and licensing is done by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB). The Board was set up to promote safety for all New Zealanders by ensuring the competence of electrical and electronic workers.

How to check 

However, just because someone is a registered and licensed electrical worker, it does not mean they can do any type of electrical work. So check their licence card.

There are 10 classes of registration for electrical workers and each class is limited to a specific type of work such as:

  • electrician – can do all installation work in your home
  • electrical service technician – can service your appliances
  • electrical inspector – can inspect the work done by electricians.

To find out how to identify a registered and licensed electrical worker, go to Find an electrical worker(external link) on the Electrical Workers Registration Board’s website.

You must be given a copy of the certification document

All electrical work must be tested and certified, whether it’s a repair, replacement or new wiring. You must be given a copy of the certification. This certification assures you that the work has been carried out by an authorised person and that it complies with the safety requirements.

When work is finished, ask for a certification and ensure you are issued with it. Keep this, as it is an important legal document. The type of certification will depend on what type of work was carried out, and may include some or all of these:

  • Certificate of Compliance
  • Electrical Safety Certificate
  • a safety tag for any repaired appliances.

Some work may also require independent inspection.

See also:

Getting electrical work done(external link) (WorkSafe website) – to find out more about certification and your rights with sub-standard electrical work.

Misleading statements or behaviour

You also have rights to protect you from misleading statements or behaviour related to products or services made by anyone in trade. You can claim for damages or other remedies under the Fair Trading Act.

For more information about misleading statements, see False and misleading advertising or trading.

Contact the electrical worker first

If you have a problem with electrical work, contact the electrical worker first if you:

  • are unhappy with the electrical work done
  • have been misled
  • have a dispute over an invoice.

Read Resolve a problem to find out more.

Next steps

If you are unable to resolve your issue directly with the electrician, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.

Resolve it: Electricians

Need more help?

Contact us for more guidance.


Common situations

Heated towel rail not earthed

Josh asks an electrician to install a new heated towel railing in his bathroom to replace the existing one. He is alarmed when the electrician tells him the old one is not earthed and he will need to do extra work to the main fuse box as well. Josh should be given a certificate of compliance once this work is completed, which he can keep to prove the work was done safely.

Unlicensed electrical worker

Tina had a problem with her electric hob tripping out the circuit breaker. She called an electrical repair person. They told her the hob was fine, but the circuit breaker and cable were too small and would need to be rewired. Tina agreed to have this work done, but later on the hob stopped working. Tina called in another electrical worker, who found loose connections with the new wiring work and told her this could have caused a fire. Tina later finds out the first person was licensed as an appliance service person, but was not allowed to install new wiring and she should have received a certificate of compliance for that type of work. Tina should have asked for the person’s practising licence and checked on the EWRB public register to make sure they were licensed for that type of electrical work. Tina then made a complaint to the EWRB because she was worried the person might carry on and do dangerous work in other people’s houses.

Different types of registration

Stan has purchased a house and the insurance company has asked him to provide proof that his electrical wiring and fittings are safe. Stan engages an electrician to complete an electrical check and is provided with a certificate of verification. The comments mention that the main switchboard is old but in a safe condition. Stan decides he wants to replace the switchboard anyway as he wants to put more lights and power points in his house. He gets a couple of quotes from electricians and notices one has a cost for an electrical inspector and the other doesn’t. Stan calls the EWRB info line and is told that certain high-risk work, such as upgrading and relocating switchboards, requires independent electrical inspection and for the information to be entered into the Energy Safety high-risk database.