What is a call out fee?

A call-out fee is the cost of attending your home and will vary according to the day and time – expect to pay more if the call is out of hours. An electrician’s call-out fee is completely separate to any charges for labour which is usually an hourly rate and the price of replacement parts which may be needed to effect a repair.

The electrician’s standard hourly rate and call out fee are normally connected in that the call out fee is often twice the standard hourly rate but will usually include the first hours’ worth of labour but some electricians will simply quote their hourly rate as the call out fee and then only bill you if the work needed exceeds one hour in time plus any charges for new parts.

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What is the average electrician call out fee?

On average across the UK, the fee is £45 so this makes a daily rate of £350. If you live in London or the South East where prices are always higher, then you should expect to pay a call out fee of between £80 and £100.

Electricians can charge what they like as a call out fee, there are no rules and regulations to control pricing but, they do have to make customers aware of the call out charge before they attend otherwise the customer may not be obliged to pay it.

At law, an electrician has to make clear that not only is a customer being charged a call out fee but also, what it is. This is under the provisions of the Consumer Contracts (Information Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). The electrician must clarify that the charge is separate to the repair or any work they may do.

How to save money on the call out fee for an electrician

One of the best ways to save money is to obtain three or four different quotes and there are several ways you can do this:

  • Ask family and friends for recommendations
  • Use a local community group on social media to find electricians in your neighbourhood
  • Go online and use a bespoke platform such as Local Heroes which will allow you to access a bank of verified and approved trusted traders, just key in your details and they can send you several quotes based on your postcode and the type of work you require
  • If you are looking for an emergency electrician then it is best to plan ahead for this and have the names and numbers of three or four companies who offer a 24/7 on-call service, these are likely to be medium-sized or larger organisations. Your own electrician may be able to recommend one.
  • If the work is not urgent then this is a good way to lower your costs just by using comparisons. However, if you need an emergency electrician then it can be much harder to control the cost particularly if you need them to attend in the evening or at a weekend.

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Insurance policies

Some household appliances like the boiler can be insured which spreads any cost over monthly payments and avoids a large and unexpected bill. The difficulty is that only a small percentage of faults on your boiler may be wiring related and if the boiler is gas, then only a Gas Safe engineer is allowed to repair it.

What are electrical safety certificates?

If you have bought a new home then an electrical safety certificate can offer you a review of all the electrical installations in the property and will give you a clear idea of the work that may need to be carried out in the future and anything that is looming and could become urgent. It will cost around £150 for an electrical safety certificate for a one-bedroom flat up to around £300 plus for a large five-bedroom home.

The report issued by the electrician will give you all the information you need to bring your property’s electrical system up to modern regulations and also alert you to any elements or installations which do not comply with modern wiring regulations. This will allow you to plan for wiring work going forward particularly if you have refurbishment plans and highlight any areas which may need immediate attention and which you should resolve before they lead to an emergency call out.

What are the signs that a property needs re-wiring?

A property that requires re-wiring could impact your pocket with repeated bills and call out fees for an electrician as well as seriously affecting the safety of the residents. Electricians tend to recommend a re-wire every 20 to 25 years but are there any signs other than age that your home may need re-wiring?

  • Look at the fuse box now more likely to be called a consumer unit, if the switches are made of iron, the back is wooden or the fuses are ceramic then you will probably need a new unit and a re-wire as well
  • Check the cables around your consumer unit, if they are fabric, lead or rubber covered then your wiring needs replacement
  • Does the fuse box have built-in RSDs and circuit breakers? These break the electrical circuit in dangerous situations such as a power surge preventing harm and possibly fire

Why is home re-wiring so important?

Modern regulations on wiring and electrical installations change constantly plus, householders use far more electricity than they used to even twenty or thirty years ago. A re-wire will ensure that your property can handle the electrical demands placed upon it keeping you safe from fire and injuries which can be caused by electrical appliances as well as ensuring you have the most energy-efficient usage. Modern wiring is also much less likely to need repair or cause electrical breakdowns.

One of the key elements when choosing an electrician is their professional qualifications and insurance and this can be overlooked in an emergency when time is of the essence and especially if the cost of the emergency electrician is high – there is always a temptation to use someone cheaper.

There are lots of online platforms which allow you to access registered and qualified electricians based on your postcode. Most people are aware of the Gas Safety scheme as this is quite high profile but fewer people know the type of accreditation they should be looking for when it comes to choosing an electrician. There are five different bodies of accreditation in the UK and here are just some of the reasons why you should always choose a registered electrician:

  • Registered electricians are regulated by the UK government
  • They work to BS7671 safety standard
  • Their work is regularly assessed
  • They carry the appropriate insurance for customer protection
  • It is a legal requirement for certain electrical works

What should you do when choosing an electrician?

Be clear about the work you want to be done unless there is a fault which you can’t identify

  • If it is an emergency then say so
  • Obtain three written quotations on headed paper and then you can also check whether the electrician is registered with a government-approved scheme and can see if they charge VAT as well
  • Check that the electrician has public liability insurance which should be at least £2 million

What is an electrical emergency?

Apart from routine electrical work, most people don’t see an electrician unless there is some sort of emergency. So, what constitutes an electrical emergency?

Burning wires – burning wires have a very distinctive smell, either metallic or plastic, and represents an electrical emergency. Basically, the smell is an indicator that you could soon have an electrical fire if the wires continue to overheat. The burning can indicate a bad connection or a faulty wire. Cut the power immediately and call a 24-hour electrician

Buzzing or humming coming from the breaker box or fuse box – this can mean that the circuit breakers are not working, they are trying to trip off the power but something is preventing them from doing so. This can be incredibly dangerous because there is a fault on the electrical system and the circuit breakers are unable to disconnect the power

Smoke coming from an outlet – remember the old saying that there is no smoke without fire? Smoke emitting from an outlet can mean that there is something smouldering in your electrical wiring system. Shut off the power and call an emergency electrician

Loss of power – the response to this will depend upon whether the power outage affects just your house or the whole road. If it is an outage affecting more than one property then this is usually a matter for the energy supplier or UK power networks who look after the infrastructure. However, if it is just one property then there could be a fault which will need to be investigated by an electrician

An electrical fire – this is an emergency for which you should call the Fire Brigade. Once any risk to life has been eliminated then an electrician will perform an assessment to establish what caused the fire in the first place

If you have bought a new home then an electrical safety certificate can offer you a review of all the electrical installations in the property and will give you a clear idea of the work that may need to be carried out in the future and anything that is looming and could become urgent.

FAQs - Electrician Call Out Fee

How often should my home be re-wired?

It could be that if you are having regular problems with your wiring and paying more and more electricians call out fees so your home may be in need of re-wiring. Most electricians recommend that you re-wire your home every 20 to 25 years. If you are considering a major refurbishment then this is a good time to do it – you certainly don’t want to be faced with doing it afterwards as it can have quite a significant impact on interior decoration. Other things that tend to lead to a re-wiring project are a home extension or if you are thinking of putting the house on the market. If the property needs re-wiring then this will come up on the surveyor’s report and will be a tool that any purchaser can use to try and lower the asking price and so outdated wiring will affect the value of the property.

Who should I call in a power cut?

The answer to this depends on whether there is an emergency situation like a fire or a threatened fire, a power cut which just affects your house or a power outage affecting several properties. UK Power Networks look after the provision of electricity and are the first port of call in a general power cut. If you have registered with them for phone alerts then you should receive a voicemail or text once they are aware of the fault and this service updates regularly. A power outage which affects just your house will need investigation by an electrician as an internal fault; if power remains on to your neighbours then the fault is somewhere within the house or just outside it. UK Power Networks is responsible for the provision of electricity right up to the door but anything within the home is looked after by the householder. An emergency situation with the threat of fire or an actual fire needs immediate attention from the Fire Brigade who liaise with UK Power Networks if there are cables which need to be made safe external to the property.

How can I minimise the cost of an emergency electrician?

If it is a genuine emergency then you have little control over whether or not you call someone, however, if it is a loss of power or a more minor fault that could wait until the next day within working hours then the call out charge will certainly be cheaper. However, never compromise on safety. It can help if you have already researched who you might call in the event of an emergency and have kept a note of their call out charges and labour rates. Having three or four registered emergency electricians’ details readily available will at least allow you to have some choice over the charges although you may end up just having to use whoever is most easily available. It is the people who are unprepared and rush online to call the first number they find that tend to end up paying over the odds.

Do I have to pay the call out fee even if the electrician is only here for five minutes?

The call out charge relates to the electricians’ attendance at your property and has nothing to do with the work they do so it may be the case that the repair is very quick and simple and takes no time at all but this won’t affect the price of the call out charge.

What is the connection between the call out fee and the labour charge?

Usually, the call out fee will cover the first hours’ work so if you are lucky and can get the job done within the hour then the only extra amount you may pay is for parts and materials. It is important to clarify this however as some electrician’s double the hourly rate as the call out charge and then offer one hours’ work without extra cost. The latter would be much more expensive as it would equate to two hours’ worth of labour.

Why is an out of hours call out charge or emergency call out charge more expensive?

Anything out of normal working hours is always more expensive to reflect the fact that you are seeking professional services at 10 in the evening or the weekend. Check carefully what the out of hours rates are as some firms will charge a different price for weekday evenings than for weekends and Bank Holidays.

Is distance relevant?

It can be if your emergency electrician has a long way to travel to reach you, generally, it is cheaper to use someone who is as local to you as possible as well as being much quicker. If an electrician is travelling for an hour or more to reach you then this will be reflected in the call out charge.

Some electricians don’t charge a call out fee, why is this?

Some electricians will price work in a different way and offer a fixed price for many standard wiring jobs. However, most electricians will charge a call out followed by an hourly rate as there are some many potential variables in what they may be asked to do that this is the easiest way to price jobs.

For more information on electrical safety when undertaking electrical works, see guidance from the NICEIC and Electrical Safety First.

Mike Alexander
Hey there, I'm Mike - writer and part time home improvement expert at Refurbb. Since owning and refurbishing my own property in 2018, I've since been developing rental properties, writing about my home improvement endeavours, sharing what I've learned and connecting readers to reputable tradespeople in the UK.
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