Permit pros and cons

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Old 12-17-02, 08:23 PM
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Permit pros and cons

As a handyman/homeowner, this is an issue that I wrestle with every time I do a DIY project: do I or do I not get a permit for this work?

Today I wired a 50A outlet for a welder. Very simple wiring: two hots plus ground at the outlet, two hots plus ground at the breaker box. Really hard to screw up. I even measured infinite resistance btwn hot1 and hot2, hot1 and gnd, hot2 and gnd.

I haven't plugged the breaker in to the box yet because I'm debating the pros and cons of getting a permit.

When is a homeowner required to get a permit? When is a homeowner not required to get a permit? What are the ramifications of doing work without a permit?

I'm sure there are quite a few opinons on this. In particular, I'd like to know what kind of liability I'm exposing myself to here if I don't get a permit.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 06:33 AM
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The big problem of not getting a permit is if something happens your insurance company may not pay off. The next problem that can be encountered is the authority in your area may demand you remove the work which can cause a large amount of trouble not mentioning damage. The permit is for your protection to make sure the work is done correctly so your family has the chance to sleep better. You might think you know what your doing but in some cases the method you use might create a fire hazzard, having an independant expert take a look at the work and point out potential problems can help you in the long run.
All new work should be inspected and if it is done by someone who does not regularly do this type of work it is even more critical. I don't believe in permits to replace existing devices although I have been called to some places where it should of been done considering the problems they encountered after but when a new circuit is installed or new runs from and existing one then it should be permitted so a proper inspection takes place.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 06:34 AM
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A simple and quick call to your building department will clear up the question of whether a permit is required. If it is, then get it without even thinking about it.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 07:19 AM
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When I built an addition to my house about 20 years ago, I took a written test on the electrical code and was issued a permit to do my own wiring. Since that time local regulations have changed and homeowner's permits are no longer issued. According to our building inspector, you must be a licensed electrician and secure a permit for anything other than plugging and unplugging electrical devices or replacing lightbulbs.
That said, I do what needs to be done and don't sweat it (within my range of knowledge and skill).
 
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Old 12-18-02, 07:25 AM
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Well let me toss this out....

Just bought our house about a year ago.. The previous owners have several wiring issues in the basement that I know are not up to code and I will be fixing these on an ongoing basis.

Now say I get a permit and upgrade my main panel from 100 to 200 amps.. a big job but straight forward enough. I think this is big enough for a permit.

Now say the inspector comes in and inspects the box and sees that it is all hunky dory, but other things down the line are not..

What then.? Would I have to do all those other things right then? None of them are major just little things..
Doew my rambling make sense>?

Thanks
Curtis
 
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Old 12-18-02, 07:53 AM
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All electrical work should be permitted, no job is that small and that safe that you can take the chance with the lives of those you love. Inspectors are usually reasonable and in most cases will try and help you. When you don't have something inspected you risk much more then a slap on the wrist if something goes wrong. In some areas the tests for getting permits are still manitory and I have to agree with them.
If you get all your work inspected then you never have a problem and in most case existing work is not covered in the inspection as it might of been installed before the code relating to it changed. They only inspect what they came for they may offer advice if something should be changed by they will only force repairs that are major safety hazzards. trust them it can save you a lot of heartaches.
P.S.
I have had my share of run ins with inspectors but I still have everything inspected no matter how small, it is better to be safe then sued and loose everything because the insurance company now has a perfectly good legal way out of paying. Besides I like my family and don't care to see any of them dead
 
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Old 12-18-02, 08:13 AM
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EXETER_ACRES, Here in s.e. michigan (you did not mentioned what area your in) Most AHJ's (especially in the detroit area)have been denying homeowners wanting to pull homeowner permits to do electrical. They want a license contractor to the work.


Fred
 
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Old 12-18-02, 08:54 AM
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what grounds are they using to deny the permits? They would have to have some reasoning to be able to pull it off.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 08:58 AM
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Well, that certainly adds to the cost of a project.

New outlet: $0.47. Outlet box: $1.00. Romex: free leftovers from last project. Total cost: under $2.00

Permit to add new outlet to the house: $20.

That increases the cost tenfold.

I dunno... I just think that some projects, done by a competent homeowner, don't warrant a permit.

Sigh.... decisions, decisions...
 
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Old 12-18-02, 09:28 AM
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Not that I want to hurt feelings but not all homeowners are competent many think they are but a lot of them get over their heads. There has to be a method of checking these things and an inspection is one and if you have inspection the the permit fee is the only way to cover the costs of having an inspector. Would you like to buy a house from some one who wired a good section of it wrong and you have a potential firehazard onyour hands or breakers are tripping all the time because things are overloaded. Or do you want to live next door to someone who made a mistake and no one caught it, now his home burns and takes yours out at the same time. Or you rent out a house and someone starts running new wiring through out without having it checked then five years or so after they move the place burns down.
Saftey is the reason for the permits, can someone put a price tag on the life of one of their children.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 10:29 AM
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The one that needs the inspection on it is the one with the licence in his pocket. Thats really the only place there is any legal liability due to the fact there is a contract work for hire. Its a state licence you hold and a state would have jurisdiction to stick you with liability. I believe rental properties are considered commercial and wouldnt be covered under a homeowner classification. Now as a homeowner if I have it inspected and there is a wire fire can I sue the inspector? I dont think I have ever read a denial of coverage disclaimer in an ins policy pertaining to this issue. Most of the time they feel it best to fix unsafe conditions or install new than to use old junk,,, inspection or not. Its your house, have it inspected if you want or feel you need it,, or not. The state doesnt own it and say what you want about inspections about 3/4 of it is for liens and mortages and to collect fees. Its protecting a bank so the property is saleable. Of coures some inspectors are trying to deny owners permits,,, where did they work before they were inspectors? Where they gonna work if they get out of that? Who they have lunch with? duh!
 
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Old 12-18-02, 10:44 AM
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Sounds like the best compromise would be to do all the electrical projects you think you'll need, then get one final inspection and permit.

I think you guys may have convinced me.

I don't see this argument ending until HD/Lowe's stop selling electrical stuff.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 10:49 AM
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Everyone should be able to do whatever work they wish in their own homes, but the work should be inspected and permitted, Its said to have work inspected only if you feel the need is that the same as the neighbour who decides to build a three story garage on his property and does it because never filed for a permit and just went ahead and did it now it infringes or your things.
If your property is the only thing in the area and you don't have other lives but your own to worry about then I suppose its your call but no one lives under thoughs conditions other peoples property and lives are affected by things. House burns down, next door smoke damage to your house etc loose part of your lawn to damages you have an eyesore to look at until it is torn down and rebuilt your property during that time wouldn't sell for very much would it. The idea of permits are to safeguard the individual, every one of them from bad workmanship of a contractor to mistakes by the individual themselves.
Play it safe, do repairs according to the law of the land.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 11:24 AM
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If you damage someones property you are liable,, permit or not. You buy insurance to gaurentee your liability. You are still liable ,,, just someone else pays. The idea of permits doesnt really safegard squat. It is an agreement. Thats why you have to sign licences and permits. It allows jurisdiction to another authority. A licence is an agreement you sign with the state that allows someone to take action against you and it also allows you to ask a state to enforce a lien on your behalf. If you hire a non licenced person to do work the state will not take your behalf in a suit,, and will also not take theirs if you do not pay. There has been no contract signed with anyone with a state licence. They didnt come up with permits just because it was an "idea" as in the idea of a permit. They came up with it so someone would have to sign a paper consenting to jurisdiction. A permit gives permission for a inspector to have a say over your property. Look at the root of the word,,, permit,, permission
 
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Old 12-18-02, 11:40 AM
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The permit pays for the inspection process, the inspection process is to safeguard life and property No matter what your feelings are on it it is the law. You must be ready to take responsibilty for your actions, if your willing to do the work your self and that confident that the work is done right then having it inspected should not be a problem, and if it is a problem then maybe the work really needs the inspection in the first place.
Being no one is perfect and everyone makes a mistake now and them doesn't sound like a good idea to have someone check the work and then two heads are better then one.
I have dealt with inspectors for over 18 years in two countries and I have never found one that didn't not take his job seriously and truely want to do it right. Sometimes I admit I would of perferred someone to look the other way but you have to be ready to be accountable for your actions.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 01:24 PM
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It isnt the law.. its only the law after you apply for a permit. If you have a licence its a different matter,, regulated under a commerce law. It hasnt got squat to do with whether its done right or wrong. Its do you have to have it done,,, as a home owner you dont. Its implied by those with interest to gain that you do. Accountability only comes into play if you damage someone elses property.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 02:12 PM
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I think if you check you will find permits and inspections are the law in many locals. Maybe not in yours but I suspect yours would be in the minority. Permts are not just for contractors they are for everyone and I have seen very few places where contractors need a permit and the homeowner doesn't. I would suspect if you call your local authority you might be informed you do need permits to perform anything but the most basic repairs. the NEC does state in 80.19 that you do not require permits for;
The authority having jurisdiction shall be authorized to establish and issue permits, certificates, notices, and approvals, or orders pertaining to electrical safety hazards pursuant to 80.23, except that no permit shall be required to execute any of the classes of electrical work specified in the following:
(1) Installation or replacement of equipment such as lamps and of electric utilization equipment approved for connection to suitable permanently installed receptacles. Replacement of flush or snap switches, fuses, lamp sockets, and receptacles, and other minor maintenance and repair work, such as replacing worn cords and tightening connections on a wiring device
(2) The process of manufacturing, testing, servicing, or repairing electric equipment or apparatus

It in no place says only for paid contractors and I don't see anywhere saying a home owner is exempt.
If you wish give me the number of you local inspection department and I'll give them a call (actually be happy to) if they do have that rule that the permit is not the law then I can use that on other jobs as a president in a few states make my life a lot easier.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 03:35 PM
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This is obvously a hot issue, and we have spun round and round and round and round on this in this forum before. There are obviously very strong arguments on both sides. There is no way we'll ever agree.

In every place I've ever lived out in the wild west, the homeowner is allowed to do all their own work, with no prior demonstration of skill. But a permit and inspection are required. And you better do it right!!

Just one note to mrchris. You said, "Sounds like the best compromise would be to do all the electrical projects you think you'll need, then get one final inspection and permit." I don't think this is a good idea. The inspector may be unhappy if he didn't get to do the rough inspection. And you don't want to make your inspector unhappy. Get the permit before you begin.
 
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Old 12-18-02, 04:05 PM
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gard, It's about poltics and money. A homeowners permit cost about $40.00, trades permit (the last one I pulled) was $210.00.


Fred
 
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Old 12-18-02, 06:49 PM
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John is right the issue is just spinning wheels, and may never be resolved but I would like the number of an authority that does not require permits come to think of it who would then enforce anything to be done by the code rules in the first place I don't think I'd want to live in an area like that.

And I do agree in many areas the permit from the contractors side is way too high but then when you basiscally have a monopoply they can do what they like and that is the politics part
 
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Old 12-18-02, 07:58 PM
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I think you miss the point here. I can hook up any wire anyway I want in my own home. I have no contract for any thing else. If I have a construction lien with the bank that insists on an inspection then I need to have one to fulfill that contract. If I want to hook up to the power company I need an inspection as per terms of the contract with them. My point actually has nothing to do with electric but to do with contracts and who has jusisdiction over my property. I am not bound by the NEC in my own home. Not that it isnt a good idea to do it correctly and to a proven method. Your opinion is hearsay handed down from one to another. Once we apply for a permit it changes. It is an agreement we enter into to follow the NEC rules. You as a contractor are bound to follow the NEC as a condition of your licence. Now if I am a commercial business with a licence,,, such as a restaurant for example there is an agreement to follow state codes which state that a licenced electrician must perform the work on those premisis.
(I would like the number of an authority that does not require permits) There is no authority that does NOT require a permit. The authority gets its authority with an individual homeowner by application from the owner,,, the owner asks for it. Thats why the inspector cant inspect everything in the home if one applies for a permit for a service upgrade. All the owner succeed authority over was the service installation,,, not the rest of the house.
 
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Old 12-19-02, 05:52 AM
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Inspector Liability, Insurance issues.

Originally posted by sberry27
"The one that needs the inspection on it is the one with the licence in his pocket. Thats really the only place there is any legal liability due to the fact there is a contract work for hire. Its a state licence you hold and a state would have jurisdiction to stick you with liability. I believe rental properties are considered commercial and wouldnt be covered under a homeowner classification. Now as a homeowner if I have it inspected and there is a wire fire can I sue the inspector? I dont think I have ever read a denial of coverage disclaimer in an ins policy pertaining to this issue. Most of the time they feel it best to fix unsafe conditions or install new than to use old junk,,, inspection or not. Its your house, have it inspected if you want or feel you need it,, or not. The state doesnt own it and say what you want about inspections about 3/4 of it is for liens and mortages and to collect fees. Its protecting a bank so the property is saleable. Of coures some inspectors are trying to deny owners permits,,, where did they work before they were inspectors? Where they gonna work if they get out of that? Who they have lunch with? duh!"

I am not a lawyer and I do not play one on local cable access television but I did take four semesters of fire service law that focused on the role of public safety inspections and code enforcement along with the administrative and labor law issues. According to the lawyers who taught those courses an inspector who is acting in good faith cannot be successfully sued for her/his failure to find a defect in another's work. The main responsibility lies with the installer. If you do your own work you are taking that responsibility on yourself.

As for your insurance policy not containing a specific disclaimer of liability for unpermitted work it does not need one. It is considered a legal absurdity to attempt to get insurance to compensate for the consequences of your unlawful acts. If a permit is required by law and you do not get one then any loss caused by the unpermitted work is uninsured as a matter of black letter law. It is true that the insurance carrier is unlikely to discover that your non permitted work was the cause of the loss but is that a chance you want to take. I have been deposed in one such case and the homeowner did not get the claim past the preliminary hearing. His family had to absorb the cost of rebuilding his basement and repairing the first floor supports. So it really does happen.

The reason that the cause was so carefully pointed out to the insurance carrier was that another firefighter lost his life in that basement. Why any of you might think that I was angry and looking for a little pay back is beyond me.
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Old 12-19-02, 06:14 AM
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Originally posted by sberry27
"I think you miss the point here. I can hook up any wire anyway I want in my own home. I have no contract for any thing else. If I have a construction lien with the bank that insists on an inspection then I need to have one to fulfill that contract. If I want to hook up to the power company I need an inspection as per terms of the contract with them. My point actually has nothing to do with electric but to do with contracts and who has jusisdiction over my property. I am not bound by the NEC in my own home. Not that it isnt a good idea to do it correctly and to a proven method. Your opinion is hearsay handed down from one to another. Once we apply for a permit it changes. It is an agreement we enter into to follow the NEC rules. You as a contractor are bound to follow the NEC as a condition of your licence. Now if I am a commercial business with a licence,,, such as a restaurant for example there is an agreement to follow state codes which state that a licenced electrician must perform the work on those premisis.
(I would like the number of an authority that does not require permits) There is no authority that does NOT require a permit. The authority gets its authority with an individual homeowner by application from the owner,,, the owner asks for it. Thats why the inspector cant inspect everything in the home if one applies for a permit for a service upgrade. All the owner succeed authority over was the service installation,,, not the rest of the house. "

Have a lawyer explain the effect of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Camera V. San Francisco, Cea V. Seattle to you. In both cases the owner attempted to deny public officials entry to their premises to conduct a code enforcement inspection. In Camera V. San Francisco the premise to be inspected was Camera's domicile. The court held that a warrant was required to enter against the occupants will but that the probable cause for the warrant to issue was the need to conduct public safety inspections. Civil libertarians decried the decision but it still stands. Current law is that the states agents do have authority to enforce health and safety codes in your home. Even though that enforcement is against your will.
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Old 12-19-02, 07:00 AM
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Sberry27 according to your way of thinking does that mean you don't have to follow any kind of code when wiring your house?
If you choose not to permit the work does that mean you can also choose to install things in a manner contrary to any local bylaws? Without inspection who is to judge if what you do is correct? The homeowner? He may not had the expertise to do this. I have seen houses where the wrong wire was run and a light didn't have a neutral so the home owner connect the white off the fixture to ground the light does turn on but it is not safe also not right by any stretch of the imagination. The permitting and inspection is for your protection and the protection of others in your community. A fire truck responding to a fire because of improper electrical at one home owners house may not be able to respond to some innocent parties home. this same truck that responds to this fire who do you think has to pay for it (taxes) you can be charged so much but the rest of the money respond to calls comes from somewhere. There are many things to take into account when doing your own work don't think I'm the only one that suffers if I'm wrong many people suffer insurance policies get more expensive, taxes rise, someone may die and it might not be you. The supply authority does have the right to discontinue service if they deem the place they are delivering the power to is unsafe.
 
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Old 12-19-02, 04:47 PM
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The following is only what I understand of the laws. I have no intentions of providing legal advice. Just have a desire to help you understand enough that you can ask proper legal advice questions that you might want to ask in a productive manner.

A lot are touching on the rules of law but not getting the whole picture.

Federal law has what is called a KING'S CASTLE or LOG CABIN rule. This rule states that if it is your personal home for your personal use then you can do what you wish without permits or inspections. All you have to do is legally declare the KING'S CASTLE rule in writing to your Code Enforcement office and you are required to be left alone. States and local jurisdictions have to recognize that rule. Most states and local ordinances have that provision in their laws also due to that federal rule, they really have little choice in the matter to my understanding. That is the good news.



The bad news is it goes further to say that if you do declare the KING'S CASTLE rule then you must use that for your and your family's own personal use. You are not allowed to rent, lease or sell that property after you declare this KING'S CASTLE rule unless you bring that propery up to minimum safety standards including all plumbing, heating, cooling, building, and electrical minimum safety standards that are written and currently rules of law on the date of the sale of that property or you must tear down those buildings back to bare property. Either update everything to meet current minimum safety standards upon sale, lease, or rent or remove any and all bulidings from the property to meet those minimum safety standards.

That is the bad news and the really big stick.

The quotes of not being liable is referring to contract laws not pertaining to all types of civil law.

If you sell it without meeting those above rules then you will be held liable IF YOU GET CAUGHT. That if you get caught is kind of like do you want to run 100 MPH through a town. You can IF YOU DON'T GET CAUGHT. Then if you do get caught then you took the chance then you pay the consequences if you get caught.

As for an inspector entering a home without your permission. He can not. If he comes to your door but does not enter without your permission then he is legal. If you order him off your property then you are within your rights. If he feels he needs to push the issue then he does not need probable cause to obtain a search warrant. He or she is required to have a reason to believe. There is a difference.

Do not take the above as legal advice. It is intended only for you to know what to ask your attorney when you seek proper legal advice.

Personal opinions

An Inspector is not there to beat your up or go on an ego trip. It is intended that an inspector be a source of information and promote safety. An inspector may be your pain in the neck when he or she inspects. But if something goes wrong such as an insurance company declining your damage claim due to you having broken the law then you can show you obtained permits and you can subpenae that inspector to testify that he or she inspected your work product and it met his or her the rulings of hte authority having jurisdiction as to meeting minimum safety standards. Most often that inspector will be challenged as to his or her training or proof of knowledge. If he or she is qualified he
she now becomes your strongest supporter and often is the make or break of an insurance company's challenge to paying a claim.

Just think if you were buying a home and the seller provided all documents from the Code Enforcement Office that all had been inspected and passed minimum standards then the value of that home should have increased due to the ensurance, if you originally saw questions of conditions in the home.

Remember there is a difference between an AHJ [government appointed inspector] and a non licensed home inspector.

It is true most States have what is called a tort law that protects public officials from liability unless you can prove he or she knew better and violated that public office trust.

A permit and inspection approval is your cheapest form of insurance. The govenment is not supposed to make a profit with permit costs but only to support cost of that code enforcement office.

I suspect you have some bad inspectors out there. I also know you have many good inspectors out there only trying to help create an even playing field for all, be a source of information, and promote safety.

Hope this helps

Wg
 
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Old 12-20-02, 04:52 AM
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My concern is not that I don't want to get a permit and have my work inspected. I understand the benefit in the inspection. My problem is just that my community no longer will issue an electrical permit to a homeowner at all. This forces one to either do the work in contravention of the statutes, or hire licensed professionals (who generally charge an extravagant fee for small jobs when they will do one at all.)
 
  #27  
Old 12-20-02, 05:40 AM
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A previous owner of my home had a larger man-door retrofitted in the rear of the garage. Electrical wiring (12/2 UF wg) ran above the old door to feed a single recep in the corner of the garage. Because the new door was slightly wider and taller, the existing wiring was re-routed so it would fit between the new header and the top of the new jamb. No electrician was needed because there was no change to the existing wiring. It passed rough inspection on a structure-mod permit, not an electrical permit.

When the contractor added the molding around the door, they apparently broke the wire with a wayward 8d finishing nail. Rather than run a new wire, they used electrical tape to make a simple butt splice. They then finished the molding. The project passed final inspection.

Ten years and two owners later ... I plugged a space heater into that 15 amp outlet in the corner and noticed smoke coming from above the door. I killed the breaker and, with my wife standing by with a fire extinguisher, took an 8-pound hammer to the drywall and moldings to expose the smoking splice in a hurry. The wires were still too hot to touch, and the wood around the splice was smoldering.

Based on this experience ... even with proper inspections and a licensed contractor, it's still a crap shoot. I checked with the city building department -- their records showed that everything was legit. I tried to track down the contractor, but he had apparently moved to Florida long ago.

I re-ran that portion of the circuit with new 12/2 from the previous recep to the corner recep through surface-mounted PVC conduit. And no, I didn't call an inspector or pull a permit. At that point, I was completely distrustful of the entire process.

Fortunately, a close friend of mine is an inspector with the county. I asked him to take a look at my latest work in the basement. He said it's more meticulous than most he's seen. Based on his call to his counterpart in the city, I was able to sneak a permit and pass inspection without having to call an electrician to wire my basement. (The city does not allow homeowners to do their own wiring.)

Did I side-step the process? You betcha. Who can blame me? After all, my house was a few seconds from burning. What if I had turned that heater on and gone inside while I waited for the garage to warm up?
 
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Old 12-20-02, 06:31 AM
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What are your regions reasons for not issueing permits, did they have some problems or was the contractors association really vocal? Either way is it not against the equal rights act, discrimination? I really am not a lawyer but I seriously question the validity of such an act especially if what Wgoodrich is true. The locallity is forcing people to break laws which seems strange to me that no one has fought it. I'm against wiring that is substandard and that is one of the reasons I support a permit and inspection process it is not perfect and things do get missed but it is better then someone knowing no one is going to see anything but if the inpection process is stopped in some way and the rights of the individual are taken away from them then maybe ..... ?
 
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Old 12-20-02, 07:03 AM
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The explanation given to me by my building inspector for ceasing to issue homeowner permits was that they had a housefire after one do-it-yourself wiring project. Previously, a homeowner could receive a permit after taking a test to determine one's familiarity with the electrical codes. Several years ago I had done just that while building an addition to my house. The test was really just to ensure that you could find the appropriate sections of the code which applied to specific wiring issues relative to residential construction.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 07:07 AM
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I think that we should be able yo do our own electrical, as long as it is inspected. In our state it is law that you provide the buyer a disclosure and it asks if you have done any work to the home that requires a permit. The buyer can waive that disclosure but that does not happen very often. The state has been very good to issue a permit to inspect the work and make it legal. But the work that was done 10 years ago has to meet todays code. Make a deal with your electriction to do all the grunt work and have him do the technical if you need to save money. Apermit is a must in my opinion.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 07:31 AM
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Let me get this straight they stopped permitting homeowners because of one fire? Does that mean no electrician in that area ever wired a building and had a fire sometime after? If thats the case I want to have electricians from your area do all my contracts they must be the best in the world. Accidents happen the idea of the permit is to lesson these accidents by trying to have a second opion on how well wired the building is and catching mistakes so problems don't arise, if they had a fire in a do it yourself project it why was it not caught be the inpector?
Personally I think anyone who can demonstrate the ability to do the job should be allowed to perform the work on his or her own residence, the test idea is a good one in my point of view. but I don't see stopping permits helps anyone only leads to problems hidden work substandard etc.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 07:55 AM
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Nope, stopping homeowner permits just forces people like me to do the work and not have it inspected - Pitty.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 10:05 AM
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I agree with gard's perspective that there is a certain amount of human error and we try to keep it to a minimun and inspections certainly help. I believe that they are a benifit to the construcion industry and the public at large. I know a couple of licenced electricians that shouldnt be allowed to have tools near them or on their person and its only a matter of time till they kill someone,, directly or indirectly. In that case the licence protects them and instills a false sense of confidence. My argument wasnt wehether the inspts were good or bad but whether one can be compelled to get one for property they already own. As you can see now we have a local that isn issuing permits to homeowners. Is that a law? Probably not, but rather an administrative move that will given enough time will be accepted as such. Almost all laws of this type were originally intended for commercial regulation of proffesionals in the industry and over time it has slowly been implied that they apply to everyone. Once most of the people believe it it somehow becomes "law" Now as John Nelson states,, ask your electrical inspector. What do you think he is going to say? Thats like asking a cop that just gave you a ticket if you really need to pay it. A drifvers licence is a good case. Read the fine print sometime. So is a permit,,, the part no one reads is where it says under oath of pergury you are SUBJECT to. You are actually giving permission for the inspection. Read whatever section it quotes near the signature sometime just for the heck of it and see what you are signing up for. Not having this discussion and not questioning it is how all this becomes "law" and soon the homeowner need a a permit to flush.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 11:06 AM
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Ah, I love a good debate! I knew that starting this thread would be interesting!

Well, I went ahead and got the permit for the outlet I installed. As I suspected, the inspector peered at the outlet for 3 seconds, peered at the breaker for 3 seconds, signed off my work.

The sad part about this is that the only reason I paid for the permit and the inspection is to insure myself against my own insurance company.
 
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Old 12-20-02, 01:25 PM
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Wgoodrich Wrote:

"Federal law has what is called a KING'S CASTLE or LOG CABIN rule. This rule states that if it is your personal home for your personal use then you can do what you wish without permits or inspections. All you have to do is legally declare the KING'S CASTLE rule in writing to your Code Enforcement office and you are required to be left alone. States and local jurisdictions have to recognize that rule. Most states and local ordinances have that provision in their laws also due to that federal rule, they really have little choice in the matter to my understanding. That is the good news."


Wgoodrich
You are certainly not alone in believing this but not one of the persons I have asked has been able to provide the citation for this law. It is a concept that may be in some individual state's law but so far I have not been able to find it in any federal statute and I know that it is not in the Constitution because unlike most americans I have read the whole thing.

I have never been able to look up this supposed log cabin law but anyone willing to go to a library can look up Cea Vs. Seattle, Camerra Vs. San Francisco. As I have already stated the lawyers that provided the training that I have had in code enforcement taught that the US Supreme Court Decision in Cea V. Seattle, Camerra V. San Francisco held that the need to conduct public safety inspections is sufficient probable cause for a warrant to issue. Since the Camerra Vs. San Francisco case involved Camerra's domicile I don't understand how people can believe that they can turn away a public safety inspector once he/she presents a warrant. You can in fact turn them away until they return with a warrant but the issuance of a warrant to conduct a code enforcement inspection is a pro forma thing.

I have been on two inspections that were based on the issuance of warrants. One was a major petrochemical Company in California that declined entry into their refinery to the California Division of Forestry Engine Company that was seeking to do brush clearance inspections to confirm compliance with state statute. When we returned a week later with the district ranger wearing his dress uniform, including his seven pointed peace officers star, and carrying a warrant the companies attorney instructed the management that they could not keep us out any longer. The second inspection was of a private dwelling who's neighbors complained that they had seen the owner take delivery of drums of gasoline that he rolled into his attached garage. Before that incident was over his dog was in the pound, his home had been flash banged and gassed, and he was on his way to jail for assault on peace officers. The gasoline was removed and used to fuel city vehicles as the only safe means to dispose of it. If either of those warrants had been bogus I would have heard back from my officers about the legal repercussions. There weren't any.

So once inspectors become aware that you have unpermitted work going on they can obtain a warrant, enter to inspect, and issue corrective orders. Public safety inspectors in any area I have worked or lived in do not normally attempt inspections in private dwellings accept in response to an inspection request or a complaint but the idea that you can somehow place your home off limits to public safety inspectors and then ignore the health and safety codes of your State strikes me as radical right wing militia nonsense.
--
Tom
 
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Old 12-20-02, 03:40 PM
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Tom,

Thanks for adding well reasoned, verifiable information to this thread. While sberry's comments are intruiging, without substantiation I'm afraid I have to dismiss his opinions.

You did, however, misspell "Camara" which makes it hard to search, for those of us who are going to verify what's said here. The proper reference in the United States Supreme Court appears to be:

Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco, 387 U. S. 523 (1967)

Haven't been able to find any references to Cea v. Seattle, tho.

Edit: found a link here: http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/searches/camera.htm
 
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Old 12-20-02, 03:47 PM
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In ten years I have approached a judge for a search warrant only once. The homeowner met me at his door and informed me that he had indeed installed a 200 amp service in his mobile home in a mobile home park. The wiring on the pole mobile home service disconnect beside the mobile home was obviously upgraded. The power company had no record of the upgrade. Problem as I stood there talking to the home owner was that he stated he hired a professional to install a 200 amp panel in his mobile home yet the wires going to his mobile home were 100 amp rated by visual inspection from where I stood. I questioned the lack of permit and inspection. He informed me that he wanted me off his property. I immediately left the property after issuing an unsafe building sitation for refusing to comply.

I then had two choices in this matter. It was obvious that he was afraid of what I would see inside the mobile home self wired. It was also obvious that it only had 100 amp rated feeders on a 200 amp set of fuses on the remote pedistal. This added up to a fire trap from information I had obtained.

I either had to order the power removed from the property from the road by the power company or obtain a search warrant.

I talked to the judge issued my reason to believe and he issued the search warrant. I then went back to the property with police excort and the owner came out. I gave him a choice to allow me to inspect, have the power cut from the road without entering his property, or I could issue to him the search warrant.

He agreed to allow only me to enter the mobile home. I entered the home and found a 100 amp panel in his mobile home then found 100 amp fuses in the 200 amp disconnect outside. I told him that I found no violation but was concerned about the 200 amp weatherproof disconnect outside with the 100 amp fuses. I explained that it met Code yet it also in my opinion invited someone to over fuse those feeder wires.

He became furious at that point. He thanked me for working with him. Then he approached and attorney and filed a civil case against the electrician for corrupt business practices etc. for having sold him a 200 amp service upgrade but only installing a 100 amp service. I was subpeneaed as a witness. I have no idea how the civil case came out.

It was ironic that in 10 years as an inspector I have only had to push an issue that far and only becuase of concern for safety. Then it turned out that it would have passed inspection and hte electrician ended up in court over the situation.

Sometimes you win one and sometimes you lose one. This one seemed to come out to the good yet not sure if anyone really gained other than a learning experience.

Hope I never have to press that home is you castle barrier again. I have had about 3 people declare the king's castle rule but later all but one backed off and bought permits and obtained inspections when the bank mortgage holders called in the mortgages due to the declartion of the king's castle rule. One home owner paid cash all the way and was what is called a free holder of land. Today he is living in his home without ever having any permits or inspections at all. He is aware of the bring to current code rule. He says he will die in the place and will it to his sons who can sort it out after he is no longer on this earth. He by the way wrote the County Commissioners concerning and complimenting the professional manner all government officials involved in the situation handled their actions in a manner expected of governmental officials in his opinion being very helpful and professional. He went further to state that he was informed of all the repercussions about never renting, leasing or selling the property untill it was brought up to current standards. I believe today if he saw me he would sit down and have coffee with me. His belief was and still is it is his home and none of the government's business.

I see his feelings and concerns. I also see the other side of the coin of not having inspections and permits.

Half one half dozen of the rest. Not sure which way is right. I suspect if inspectors do their job correctly and are a source of knowledge to promote safety then many ill feelings would lighten up. Do believe many out there still feel it is their land and none of others business. Suspect that to be true until someone else enters the picture such as a sale of property or finding unsafe conditions after buying a home etc.

It is my firm belief that as long as I do not affect someone else then there should be no law to prevent what I am doing. Problem is very little can be done in today's society that does not and will not at some time affect an innocent party somewhere.

Just too many people getting crowded in the world. The more crowded we become the more rules that will appear, it is called the price of civilization.

Just my thoughts for what it is worth

Wg
 
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Old 12-20-02, 09:15 PM
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I have no argument with Hornted that the property can be entered with a warrent,,, it absolutely can be. My position was that one cant be compelled to get a permit and inspection. The service entrance is contracted with a company,,, the utility which wond hook up without an inspection,,, you enter into a contract with them when you seek a hookup. Actually thare are rights waved in each contract, permit or licence. Its the main reason the amish dont have on line electric and drive cars.
I dont really like most of those right wing milita types either,,, but every American ought to be thankful they are here.
 

Last edited by sberry27; 12-20-02 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 12-21-02, 06:53 AM
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Originally posted by NogginBoink
Tom,

Snip

You did, however, misspell "Camara" which makes it hard to search, for those of us who are going to verify what's said here. The proper reference in the United States Supreme Court appears to be:

Camara v. Municipal Court of City and County of San Francisco, 387 U. S. 523 (1967)

Haven't been able to find any references to Cea v. Seattle, tho.

found a link here: http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/searches/camera.htm
It seems my spelling and memory are to blame the site is
See v. Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 18 L. Ed. 2d 943, 87 S. Ct. 1737 (1967)
http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/sea..._v_seattle.htm
--
Tom
 

Last edited by hornetd; 12-21-02 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 12-21-02, 07:43 AM
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Originally posted by sberry27
I have no argument with Hornted that the property can be entered with a warrent,,, it absolutely can be. My position was that one cant be compelled to get a permit and inspection. The service entrance is contracted with a company,,, the utility which wond hook up without an inspection,,, you enter into a contract with them when you seek a hookup. Actually thare are rights waved in each contract, permit or licence. Its the main reason the amish dont have on line electric and drive cars.
I dont really like most of those right wing milita types either,,, but every American ought to be thankful they are here.
Sberry,

That's an interesting opinion that's contrary to what most of us seem to believe. Can you substantiate this claim?

If true, it kinda destroys much of what's discussed here and to a large extent negates the effect of safety codes in residential dwellings. I'll bet you real dollars that if I make an electrical alteration to my house and advertise that it's unsafe (to the point that the city inspectors find out), I'll be hit with a fine for not getting a permit. I'd be quite interested in any legal precedent that says I don't have to pay that fine for not getting a permit and inspection.

You'll have to forgive me for this healthy dose of skepticism that I have, but I do realize that free advice (and particularly free legal advice) is worth exactly what I paid for it.
 
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