Tag: electrical

Electrician Kelly Vincent isn’t one in a million – but she is one in a thousand, according to a recent survey.

The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) survey found that 63% of 16-24 year old women were more interested in learning a skilled trade rather than a profession. And despite the fact that women make up at least 50% of the UK workforce, they remain under-represented in most trades and the number of female electricians is tiny.

So Kelly, a well-respected MyBuilder tradesperson from London, is bucking the trend, blazing a trail in a predominantly male world and proving you can be successful as a female electrician!

I caught up with Kelly just before she jetted off for a well-deserved holiday and we talked about electrics, MyBuilder.com and what it is really like working in a male dominated industry.

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Why did you choose to become an electrician?

“I was working as an administrator/personal assistant in the NHS, being in the same building and working with the same people everyday, I felt like I’d got as far as I could. I wanted a job where I would meet different people every day and do something practical.

My dad is a building contractor so I spoke to him about a career change, he told me ‘electrics or plumbing’ so I thought, well, I’m not going to go for plumbing because of smelly water and I hate getting wet, so I thought I’d try electrics. I started studying it and it turned out I was really good at it, and I started working and it comes naturally to me so it was a good choice!”

Kelly enrolled onto a full time intensive electrics course, which took a year to complete; she gained her level 2 and 3 with City & Guilds and also completed the inspecting and testing qualification. Kelly then joined a firm as a trainee so she could pick up the practical skills necessary to work as an electrician but after she was made redundant, she finally decided to start her own business.

“I thought why not, I’d go for it and see what happens. So I bought my own van and tools and started working on my own. It’s just grown from there” says Kelly.

So have you found the work has been pretty consistent since you started out?

“Yeah, I mean at first it was slow for the first couple of months, but as soon as I joined MyBuilder I’ve never had a quiet week…I’m really busy at the moment.”

What were your early experiences like using MyBuilder?

“I started with small jobs and people were intrigued; they wanted to know more and thought it was quite exciting to have a female electrician do their job. Now responses are based mainly on my feedback. People always say “We really like your feedback and you’re a woman, so we’ve gone with your quote.”

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Do you think being a woman has been an advantage for you then?

“Yeah because a lot of women, and men who are out at work and leave their wives at home, feel a lot more comfortable with a woman being there.”

How do you find working in a traditionally male dominated trade?

“I thought I would get a lot more resistance from the men or a bit more rude banter but actually they’ve been really respectful when I turn up on site. I think they’re just interested and like to chat away, wanting to know how I got into it. It helped a lot that my dad’s a building contractor because I was already accustomed to being around men while they were working and the kind of banter that they have. I really enjoy it and I think I slotted in nicely, but it can be difficult or feel a little intimidating sometimes when you turn up as the only woman on a site full of men.”

How do you balance that with your life outside of work?

“Hahaha, with difficulty! Believe me, it is very hard. Sometimes you have to say no; otherwise you do not get a minute to yourself, which is why I’ve recently taken on someone else. I was not getting enough time to myself, and it is really difficult to balance your workload. Now I try to make sure that I don’t take jobs on in the evenings every evening, I just allocate a couple of evenings a week where I work or maybe two weekends a month rather than every weekend. Before I was working every day, every evening and every weekend and it was too much.”

What would you say your favourite part of the job is?

“It’s definitely a toss up. I love all the different people that I meet, they’ve got so many stories to tell, and they’re so interested in me because I’m a female electrician. I also really like it when I finish a job and a customer sees the results and they’re really excited. Even something simple like a chandelier that’s been sitting in their front room for a year but they just haven’t got around to putting it up, it can be really exciting for them.”

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What do you think could be done to promote the trades to young women?

“There is a lot of information for women if you go out looking for it, but there is no promotion out there to the general public. For example, when you go to a bus stop and they have got the big posters, they stand out to you when you’re driving and walking. A campaign like that could be good.”

“When I was 23 I signed up to a college to do the 3-year electrical course. I walked into the college, I think I was about ten minutes late and I looked in the window, into the classroom, and it was an entire class full of young 16-17 year old boys.  I turned around and went home! I was just like ‘no way, there is no way I can do that’.

I think since being an electrician, I’ve gained much more confidence. I used to be really, really painfully shy so I couldn’t walk into a classroom full of boys, but when I was older and did the course, it was all mature students so I felt more comfortable.”

Are there any tips you would give to someone just starting out on MyBuilder?

“Make your profile thorough, add some photos of your work, be honest, and get registered with an electrical body so that you’ve got all the appropriate certificates. Check the site regularly; people come back to you so quickly. When someone’s decided they want a job, they want it done yesterday. They want someone who can do it quickly and be flexible as well, because you need to be flexible in this job. Clients can want you at any time.”

What do you think a person needs to be successful on MyBuilder?

“As long as you’re honest, dedicated and committed you will succeed. You can’t go on there and give silly quotes and then not follow through with them. When customers come to you with questions, you have got to get back to them and follow up on the jobs. There is so much work out there, if you’re prompt in replying and you’re dedicated, you can go places with MyBuilder. There are so many jobs on there, in fact so many that I’ve just taken on another lady the same age as me. I’ve been training her up!”

At MyBuilder, even though we have approved hundreds of thousands of jobs over the years, we still come across jobs when it is not clear which type of tradesman should be working on the project. Sometimes the whole job could be done just as well by professionals across different trades; for other jobs, several individuals across different trades may be needed to complete the work.

See if you know which type of tradesman could do the following:

- Who fits a power shower – a bathroom fitter, electrician or plumber?

- You want some new garden decking to be built, who can build the decking for you?

- You see mould growing on the walls of your bedroom – who do you call?

You can find out the answers below; see how many you can get out of the 13 in total!

Fitting a power shower – Replacing an old or broken power shower is actually just a small plumbing job, since the electrics are already there. However, if there isn’t an existing power shower and one is being fitted for the first time, you do need an electrician or a plumber who is part P certified (to do the electrics).

Window sills – if you had to replace any windows, you would ask for a window fitter to do the job. But what about the window sills? Damage to window sills, especially for older properties is common and can easily ruin the appearance of a house. It does depend on the property, as if the window sills are made from brick, a bricklayer is probably the most skilled tradesman in this instance to undertake the work. If the window sill is made from wood, a joiner could be the better option as they can replace the old and potentially damaged wood; or it could be a stonemason if the window sills are made from stone. If the windows need to be replaced then it could be a job for a window fitter, who would look at replacing the whole area and can find the relevant tradesmen to work on the project as a whole.

Kitchen worktops – it might be too expensive to have a brand new kitchen fitted, so instead you just want to change the kitchen worktops, especially if they’ve been scratched and a bit worn after years of use. Although kitchen fitters can fit various types of kitchen worktops, carpenters are equally skilled and competent enough to do the installation – it is not uncommon for kitchen fitters to have experience as carpenters.

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UPVC doors – if you want new UPVC windows fitted, you would call upon a window fitter. But what about UPVC doors? For normal internal doors, carpenters are skilled enough to be able to hang them at the right height so they do not scrape the floor or have a large gap between the door and the floor or ceiling. However, fitting UPVC doors can be quite different, and so we recommend using a window fitter, as there are similarities when fitting UPVC doors to fitting UPVC windows, but do check with them first.

Floor tiling – if you want tiles laid e.g. on your bathroom or kitchen floor, it can be tricky to decide between a flooring fitter or a tiler. Whilst flooring fitters may know how to lay tiles, it is more likely that a tiler will know how to tile a floor so that it looks immaculate!

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Flashing (weatherproofing) can be tricky as it could utilise the skills of a roofer or a chimney specialist, especially if the area to be worked on is in and around a chimney stack. The answer for which tradesman should be used is not straightforward, however roofers are likely to be a good first port of call, who may involve chimney specialists if needed.

Garden decking – often gardeners can work on most aspects of the garden, including fencing, but what about decking? Some landscape gardeners can build decking, but can often also be done by builders and carpenters. Our suggestion is to put garden decking jobs for landscape gardeners, as not only will they possibly be able to do it themselves (and if they can’t they will probably know someone who can), but they can help with the design and implementation in conjunction with the rest of the garden.

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Damp proofing – this may seem obvious, if the property is suffering from damp issues, then you should call a damp proofing specialist. But the question should be “Is it really an issue with damp?” It is common that condensation issues are easily confused with damp penetration, and so the easiest and cheapest solution is to try and address the cause. Some of these can be solved by relatively straightforward solutions such as allowing more ventilation into the property (e.g. opening windows), and hence don’t necessarily need the skills of a damp proofing specialist.

Laminate flooring – flooring such as laminate and vinyl come in various forms, so it’s not as straightforward as carpet fitting for example, which obviously would utilise the skills of a carpet fitter. Who lays laminate flooring depends on the type of laminate – if it is the type which is rolled out, then there are similarities to carpet fitting, and hence a carpet fitter is likely to be able to lay the laminate. If the laminate is more like pieces which are cut out and pieced together, then a flooring fitter is probably more suited for this job.

Gas boilers – we’ve had questions asked to MyBuilder, such as what should be done if the timer for a heating system (e.g. central heating, oil) no longer works correctly. The best bet is to call out a (central) heating engineer, who should have the relevant parts to work on the boiler if needed.

Handymen – handymen are all-rounders and due to this stereotype, sometimes the smaller jobs are assigned to handymen in the belief that “it’s only a little job”. Sometimes, this may be the case, but remember that even for smaller jobs, it may require a level of skill and expertise suited for someone who works in that specific trade day-in day-out. One example includes fitting a curtain rail – on the face of it, the job can look quite straightforward, but if it involves getting involved with the brickwork or plaster, then could involve the expertise of a carpenter and joiner.

Lastly, a few slightly less common ones we’ve seen at MyBuilder, but relevant nonetheless!

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Install a skylight – although there elements of skylights that builders could do, this should really be a job for a qualified roofer. Not only can it have an impact for building control, but there are elements such as ventilation and insulation that need to be adequately addressed.

Taking out a jacuzzi bath – to remove a standard bathtub, a plumber would usually suffice; but for a jacuzzi, do you also need an electrician? It’s advisable to have both, or a plumber who is suitably qualified to work with electrics in the bathroom. If the plumber doesn’t have the skills themselves, they will often know someone who has!


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