Author Topic: DIY and permits  (Read 3610 times)

pellep

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DIY and permits
« on: August 24, 2016, 02:11:38 PM »
In an effort to be as self sufficient as possible, I try to DIY home repairs and improvement as much as I can. Sometimes its to save some money, but more often it's just rewarding to complete a project and push the boundaries of my own knowledge.  One of the problems that bothers me is the inflexible town or state (MA) I live in.

Case in point:

I was semi-planning to add an outlet/circuit  in my garage for a future electric car.  It would be 240v and fairly high amperage to be future-proof, but well within my skill level.  Maybe an hours worth of work.

In my town, only licensed electricians are granted permits.  Homeowners cannot pull permits or perform electrical work.  So what this inevitably leads to is homeowners doing unpermitted work.  A rational town would allow the homeowner to pull a permit so that everything can be inspected,  and corrected if needed.

Same for plumbing.

So I either give up on self-sufficiency, or do unpermitted work....

What would you guys do?

 

seattlecyclone

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2016, 02:20:10 PM »
Around here, homeowners are allowed to do their own permitted electrical work. I decided against it on a project I did because the cost of permits and inspections would have been significantly larger than the cost of materials.

BigHaus89

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2016, 02:21:59 PM »
As long as your work meets NEC code, I say go ahead and do it yourself.

Miss Piggy

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2016, 02:23:29 PM »
If it's something that the town could "find out" about when I sell the house, thereby requiring a post-work permit and inspection (in which case I'd end up paying the money sooner or later), then I get a permit. That said, my town doesn't require a permit for everything. But they did require a permit for the electrical work we recently had done in our kitchen.

mozar

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2016, 10:26:30 AM »
I read from a poster that the entire country of Australia  (or was it New Zealand? ) only allows electricians to do work that involves permits. At least you can move.

mm1970

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2016, 10:47:09 AM »
I'd say the majority of the work done on our house is done by us, no permits.  Honestly, they want you to permit EVERYTHING.

So, we permitted the backyard redo, and the upgraded/ new central heat, and the new roof.

We didn't permit the redoing of the plumbing/electrical to add a dishwasher, other plumbing work, window replacement, and insulation.

We *will* permit replacing more plumbing to the street, and if we ever add on (what I wouldn't do for a second toilet) we will permit that too.  Whatever we hire out, basically.

My rule is: "can they see it from the outside?" or "is it obvious that something is being done?"

BlueHouse

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2016, 10:51:30 AM »
I would do it without the permit.  My city is similarly fucked up to an extent I cannot even describe.  I am generally a law-abiding citizen who sees no reason to do work without a permit, but when it reaches a point where you are hamstrung like this, then all I can say is, break the rules that no longer serve the community. 

lthenderson

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2016, 10:58:56 AM »
My state is the same way for electrical or plumbing. I just do it myself after making sure what I am doing is up to code. Fortunately, for stuff like that they have no idea if it was done recently or before the law was changed so there is really no way to enforce such a code unless you get caught red handed.

For obvious outside stuff like when I repoured my driveway and garage floor and couldn't really hide the fact, I did pull a permit and get it inspected. However, they don't require a license to do concrete and the permit was only a few bucks.

nobody123

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2016, 11:09:59 AM »
I wouldn't want to risk my home insurance not covering a fire caused by unpermitted electrical work.  Ultimately, even if you're completely confident in your work and it meets code, is saving the hundred bucks or so worth risking having a catastrophic claim denied?  What if there is some issue with the charging system of the car and they blame the electrical feed?

I lived in a city that had two permit rates, one for if a homeowner pulled it and a higher one for a licensed contractor.  So, a lot of folks just had their "friend" who just happened to be a contractor "help them do it" while pulling the homeowner permit.  Perhaps you can do some thing similar, or do all of the work except attaching the wire to the panel.  Then hire an electrician to only pull the permit, do the last step, and get it inspected.

ncornilsen

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2016, 02:28:59 PM »
don't like this law? Thank a trade union.

Luckily, in my city, I can pull my own permits, and do so regularly. In my area, a permit is minimum $100, so I usually batch projects like that, because I can get 5 circuits inspected for that $100 minimum.

pellep

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2016, 02:40:31 PM »
I wouldn't want to risk my home insurance not covering a fire caused by unpermitted electrical work.  Ultimately, even if you're completely confident in your work and it meets code, is saving the hundred bucks or so worth risking having a catastrophic claim denied?  What if there is some issue with the charging system of the car and they blame the electrical feed?

I lived in a city that had two permit rates, one for if a homeowner pulled it and a higher one for a licensed contractor.  So, a lot of folks just had their "friend" who just happened to be a contractor "help them do it" while pulling the homeowner permit.  Perhaps you can do some thing similar, or do all of the work except attaching the wire to the panel.  Then hire an electrician to only pull the permit, do the last step, and get it inspected.

I've wondered for a while about the insurance thing.  I'd imagine a large portion of electrical fires are related to negligence beyond lacking a permit.  Space heaters in lighting curtains, overloading outlets, faulty extension cords...

It seems we'd hear about these claim denials if they happened frequently.  Especially considering the amount of unpermitted work that's done.


Spork

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2016, 04:22:19 PM »

Currently I live in the boonies.  No permit required.  Our entire house was built with ONE permit: for the septic. 

My previous house was in a big city.  In 10+ years there, I never pulled a permit ever.  I did my best to follow code.  Maybe I was reckless.  It didn't seem to catch up to me.

I will warn you:  If you live in a larger city, more often than not the sanitation department gets a kickback if they spot and report unpermitted behavior.  I.e., if you replace a water heater, don't set it on the curb.  If you knock down a wall, don't set out a pile of old 2x4s and drywall.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2016, 09:38:38 AM »
I've wondered for a while about the insurance thing.  I'd imagine a large portion of electrical fires are related to negligence beyond lacking a permit.  Space heaters in lighting curtains, overloading outlets, faulty extension cords...

It seems we'd hear about these claim denials if they happened frequently.  Especially considering the amount of unpermitted work that's done.
FWIW, I've actually looked at the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports on causes and frequencies of fires.  They're the people who write the National Electric Code.  If you've done the electrical work per code, your chances of having something bad happen are infinitesimally small.  On the order of "similarly likely to be struck by lightning."

My municipality requires permits for any plumbing or electrical work, but allows homeowners to do their own work.  The minimum permit is $47, which basically covers the cost of inspection.  It seems excessive for small projects, and from what I've heard, most people skip the permit unless they're doing something big (like finishing a basement) or it's something visible (like a deck).

IANAL or an electrician, but I'd say just skip the permit, wire it up to code (or better), and if anyone asks, "it was like that when I bought the house."

lthenderson

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2016, 01:39:27 PM »
I've also seen licensed contractors who have done things that make me scratch my head. Licensed doesn't always mean competent.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2016, 01:43:49 PM »
If i know what i am doing i do the work and call it good.
If i feel i need someone to double check my work, i call someone off craigslist pay him 20$ and have him double check.

No need to get the government involved.  They are involved in my life enough as is. Anything i can hide i do
« Last Edit: August 26, 2016, 01:45:31 PM by MoonLiteNite »

FLBiker

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Re: DIY and permits
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2016, 04:18:39 AM »
Like a lot of other folks, we don't pull permits unless we absolutely have to.  And I don't think we're running a lot of risk upon selling the house, based on the amount of...creative...electrical work the previous owner had done. :)