Most homeowners at one point or another need electrical repairs and installations completed. Sometimes the simple job can turn into a nightmare for the inexperienced person. Other times, you watch the electrical contractor complete the task and you think, "Man, I could have done that myself and saved a bundle." How do you know when you can do-it-yourself and when you can't?
Obviously hiring an electrical contractor makes sense if you're planning a room addition, or total room re-wiring. Other tasks that would be better for an electrical contractor to complete might be replacing a junction box, a fuse box or other projects that require adjoining new wiring to existing electrical circuitry. If the job requires going into the fuse/breaker box to add new circuits or into a transfer panel, you should probably higher an electrician.
Electricity can be dangerous but if you know some basics and have common sense, you can work with it safely. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what electrical project you're doing always make sure to turn off the power at the main service panel before working on any circuit. When ever you turn off a breaker or circuit, make sure to only use one hand on the breaker and the other in your pocket or behind your back. This will eliminate any chance of electrical shock.
With basic knowledge you can wire in new circuits, repair circuits, install new electrical fixtures, replace fuses and countless other electrical home maintenance/improvements. Just remember, if you're in doubt as to the safety of your work or if the final phase requires connection to the main entrance panel, call an electrical contractor.
Things like installing switches, dimmers and basics outlets can be accomplished with basic materials. Insulated wiring, wire strippers, cable tools and a combination tool are the basics. These items combined with the new item you're installing can help you complete most electrical installs/repairs that are safe without the help of an electrical contractor. Just be sure to follow instructions carefully, and to make sure you're working on a circuit that has no incoming power.