Go Back  DoItYourself.com Community Forums > Electrical, AC & DC. Electronic Equipment and Computers > Electrical - AC & DC
Reload this Page >

Electrical done, no walls up yet; previous owners no permit

Electrical done, no walls up yet; previous owners no permit

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-26-05, 06:19 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Post Electrical done, no walls up yet; previous owners no permit

Hi all,

I just purchased a house, built 2001, a few months back and the previous owners already framed and put the electrical runs into the basement and hooked some up to the breaker.

Should I call the building dept and have them come down and inspect the work? What might be their reaction?

Do lots of people just flout electrical (and otherwise) inspections when finishing their basements? I'm not comfortable with that...but I'm worried about having to tear some drywall out that they put up in a small room. Most of the wiring is still accessible.

Thanks.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 07-26-05, 07:32 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
It is not uncommon for electrical work or any work done to a home to not have had an inspection done on it. Even if the work required an inspection. Many people fear the codes department or any authority having anything to do with inspecting their property. If you request a permit to finish the work in the basement then the city inspector may or may not sign off on the existing work. Best I think to call in an electrician to see if the work is compliant. Since you have already purchased the home I really dont see what you can do to remedy the situation after the fact.
 
  #3  
Old 07-26-05, 07:40 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Tearing out some drywall isn't that big of a deal. Drywall is cheap and easy to install.

Many people do skip the permit process when finishing a basement, but in my opinion, this is unwise for many reasons. Permits are public records and should be on file at your building department. It should be easy to check to see what permits may have been issued for this house since it was built.
 
  #4  
Old 07-26-05, 08:06 AM
ElectricalMan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
I agree with the ladder......Sheetrock is not a big deal...I know it is bothersome to think about and time it consumes in buying it, loading it and installing it..mudding it...sanding it....painting it.....and well I just made it worse for your choice...

The major thing here is Sheetrock will not burn down your house if installed incorrectly.......electricity will.....not that it is done wrong but do you feel confident enough to inspect someone elses work for compliance???? probably not so here is what I suggest.

Spend the money now on calling an Qualified, Licensed Electrician and ask them can they do a 1 hr minimum service call to inspect for code compliance and most will do this..I know we do it alot for DIYers in our area.

The main issue is safety......so stress that to the electrical contracting firm and they should do you ok.
 
  #5  
Old 07-26-05, 09:52 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Good stuff, Thanks all!

ElectricalMan, you hit the nail on the head. I *don't* feel confident in evaluating the job.

However, won't calling calling the city end up with an inspector at my house telling me if the previous work is up to snuff? Just wondering about this approach versus calling in an electrician and paying for the hour (I could put this money towards the permit fee and end up with the same code eval).

My quick dive into electrical book diagrams and wiring techniques hasn't turned up any gross problems (that a novice could spot) with the wiring in my basement. What I'm trying to say is that all 12 ga romex wires are stapled w/i 4" of the box, every 8', and look appropriately looped. Receptacles have yet to be attached, for the most part. I closely read the "what inspectors look for" sections....

Main Question: If the job appears properly done, can I just get the city inspector to look at it?

THANKS for the quick responses!
 
  #6  
Old 07-26-05, 10:05 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Dry Side of Washington State
Posts: 738
[QUOTE=Aussiecheezhead]What I'm trying to say is that all 12 ga romex wires are stapled w/i 4" of the box, every 8', and look appropriately looped. /QUOTE]


NEC requires that romex be supported at intervals not more than 4-1/2 feet.
 
  #7  
Old 07-26-05, 10:30 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Wink

sorry, meant to say twice every 8'
 
  #8  
Old 07-26-05, 02:36 PM
ElectricalMan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
Aussie.....just to clear up my quote

Spend the money now on calling an Qualified, Licensed Electrician and ask them can they do a 1 hr minimum service call to inspect for code compliance and most will do this..I know we do it alot for DIYers in our area.
I did not mean contacting your local AHJ...I was refering to calling a local electrical contractor to come and evaluate it.
 
  #9  
Old 07-26-05, 06:03 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 149
My vote goes with ElectricMan.... Building inspectors are not always electricians - while many are knowledgeable and experienced professionals in one or more of the building areas - they have basically learned the check list they go down in the areas they are not experts. They could (hopefully) find any gross code violations, but a practicing electrician would likely be better able to determine whether or not the installation is actually safe.

Also, there is always the chance that the AHJ may believe that YOU have done this work without a permit and that could lead to consequences regarding your new work.

As an amateur - I would have an electician evaluate what is there. Get a permit for the basement work and after doing what ever you have to do to correct or want to do, have the improvements appropriately inspected AFTER you have the permit.

The value of a permit? I know that here in Florida, an insurance company will not pay on any claim that is found to be the result of "illegal" work performed. "Illegal" work means work that requires a permit, yet none is recorded. One case I am familiar with. A neighbor built a shed not far from his house then ran a circuit out to it. The house caught fire 10 years later - no one hurt (Thank God). Damage was about $20,000 including water damage. Fire marshall determined the ignition point was electrical in nature, in the area of the main panel, but could not determine the exact source. Insurance investigator noted the circuit to shed was significantly newer than the original house wiring, found that it was "illegally" installed (no permit) and refused to pay. Neighbor hired and expert and an attorney and spent the next 2 years in court trying to get a payout from the insurance co. He did finally get one (cause of the fire was not related to the new circuit at all), but he could not recover the expense of his appeal, which represented half of the original damage. A homeowner permit at the time cost $25 which included one inspection.......

Sorry for the long post - but this thread seemed like a good place to share why I believe in permits..... and professionals.....
 
  #10  
Old 07-27-05, 06:38 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
hallelujah rodek01!

i've been debating this issue since I moved in 3 months ago. In that time I haven't touched a thing related to wiring or drywall down in the basement. Every lay-person I ask thinks I'm nuts for getting a permit, while "experienced" folks such as my home inspector and all you guys think I'm nuts for *not* getting a permit. My realtor even suggested that "99%" of people finish basements w/o permits. My first reaction was to get a permit, then I wavered about it, and now I'm firmly committed to it.

Is it pretty common for a DIY'er to run the wires and finish them at the switch/recept, but leave breaker work for a pro? Is this fairly inexpensive (south of $300)?

thanks all.
 
  #11  
Old 07-27-05, 07:51 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
I think having a permit changes your mental attitude. Without a permit, and knowing that no inspector is coming, people are inclined to guess a lot about proper procedure. Knowing that an inspector is coming is a good motivation not to guess, but to actually find out how to do things right.
 
  #12  
Old 07-27-05, 08:20 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Is it pretty common for a DIY'er to run the wires and finish them at the switch/recept, but leave breaker work for a pro? Is this fairly inexpensive (south of $300)?
I would think this is very commonly done. We do this quite often in my area. Leave plenty of cable coiled at he main panel for each circuit to be terminated. The electrician will do all the work that is necessary at the panel, he can supply the breakers or you can. I think I would just let him handle all that. Should be south of three hundred but costs vary depending on the work that presents itself when at the job site. If the panel is readily accessible and he doesnt have to create access etc...etc... Coordinate everything with your inspector and the electrician.
Get some books at the library or home center and brush up on residential electrical this will help and really its a wise thing to do, the terminations at the electrical boxes are just as important as the panel. If this is your first time running cable and wiring up receptacles and switches try to keep the number of cables coming into a box to three or less. Keep things simple. Use nice big volume boxes not the shallow ones that dont have much room. Sometimes in the basement you have to compromise on this depending on whether 2x4 walls were used. I would use plastic boxes this also eliminates having to ground the box. The blue ones at the home centers are good choices. Do not use the backstab option on the receptacles or switches terminate your wires to the screws. Check with the building codes on how they want things for the rough inspection. Normally they do not want the switches and receptacles installed just the cable tailed out of the boxes appropriately and possibly labeled...the latter is a good idea anyway so that you dont get confused with what goes where when you finish wiring in the devices. They will probably want you to submit a simple wiring diagram.

It is important that you understand the basics of residential circuits. You need to understand what 14/2G and 12/2G cable is. How do you use three conductor wire like 14/3G. Do not attempt any mutiwire circuits that you see in the home center books. You need to understand the colors of the wire in the cable...ie...what is the white wire and how is it different from the black and the bare ground wire. What are the different ways you can use the white wire etc... be able to have an understanding of hot wire, neutral and ground. You need to know the fundamentals before you wire.
 
  #13  
Old 07-27-05, 09:18 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
good stuff, roger.

I have purchased "Wiring Simplified 40th ed" based on the 2002 NEC, which will apply to my job. Also have Black and Decker's "Complete Guide to Home Wiring". I've been reading these, then looking at my setup, then reading some more, etc. Also at my disposal is an "electrical" uncle that fixes medical equipment and has gobs of experience. When I can carry on a conversation about electricity with him, then I'll know I'm ready to start wiring in my basement!

I'm in no hurry, which helps. Most of the wire already in use is 12/2, with some 14/2 that was installed originally for the overhead fixtures when the house was built.

There is 14/2 running into the bathroom (unfinished) which I'm thinking about replacing with 12/2 to give it a dedicated 20A circuit (which I don't have room for in my panel at this time....whole other issue).

I can now see why the previous owners stopped where they did. I don't think they wanted to fork over for a new panel, and possibly upgrade from 100A to 150A service.

I know I ask a lot about costs, but I just don't want to get taken for a "ride". What's a guy looking at shelling out to upgrade from 100A to 150A service in relatively new construction (2001). ---> ballpark of course.

thanks roger.
 
  #14  
Old 07-27-05, 09:28 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Whew! there is a whole lot to that question....ball park I would say 800 to 1500 without typing for two hours. Might as well go to 200 isnt much difference in cost.
 
  #15  
Old 07-27-05, 09:39 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Exclamation

thats a nice chunk of change!

would it be totally stupid to consider changing my dryer hookup from electrical to gas? this would create space in my breaker...gobs. and the gas line runs w/i 8 feet of the dryer (furnace/water heater are gas). aren't they more economical as well? we have yet to buy a w/d....

i've had this idea bouncing around for a while and can't decide if its idiotic or not!
 
  #16  
Old 07-27-05, 10:22 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Doesnt gain you much you still have 120 volt to the dryer for the motor and acc. So you get one breaker slot opened up is all.
 
  #17  
Old 07-27-05, 10:38 AM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Actually Roger, he might get two breaker slots opened up. Laundry rooms already have a circuit for the washer, and it can usually support both a washer and a gas dryer.

I would install a gas dryer. Gas dryers cost a little more to buy, and with your first one you have install a gas line, but they are much cheaper to operate.
 
  #18  
Old 07-27-05, 10:52 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Yes thats a good point that I overlooked. Must have been off in la la land
 
  #19  
Old 07-27-05, 11:45 AM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
There is one 20A circuit *just* for the washer, not even the light in the laundry room is on it. I think my best way out of this problem might be to install a gas dryer...I calculated the load for my house using the books I bought and it comes to 88 amps with everything finished off, would be even less w/o the dryer and then I'd have the two free spots I need on the breaker.

Either that or investigate tandem/double breakers, but I'm not sure if they'll work in my panel.

Do I look in the yellow pages for "pipe layers"???

I appreciate the input racraft and roger.
 

Last edited by Aussiecheezhead; 07-27-05 at 12:02 PM.
  #20  
Old 07-27-05, 01:13 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,535
Originally Posted by Aussiecheezhead
Do I look in the yellow pages for "pipe layers"???
A plumbing contractor should be able to run a gas line for you. Although that's pretty easy to do too. This is the DIY forum after all. The hardest part is threading pipe, but most of the big box stores do this for a nominal fee now.
 
  #21  
Old 07-27-05, 01:55 PM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
what about the flexible rubber-type pipe that is running to my gas fireplace?

The pipe running to my furnace/water heater is the thick metal type. Do I have to branch off this pipe with the same type of pipe, or can you 'hybrid' it with some 2-way splitter/adapter.

Man, its hard trying to explain yourself while knowing NONE of the lingo!!!
 
  #22  
Old 07-27-05, 02:01 PM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
I was going to post a diagram, but don't know how to put a .gif file here
 
  #23  
Old 07-27-05, 02:15 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 149
One option would be to arrange for installation where you buy the gas dryer. Any area involving such a significant risk to safety is a very dangerous learning place for anyone.... Remember, there's no circuit breakers on gas lines....
 
  #24  
Old 07-27-05, 02:20 PM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
but at least you can smell it!

can't say that for deadly electricity

 
  #25  
Old 07-27-05, 02:54 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: North Virginia
Posts: 192
Call your codes department and ask if a homeowner can do his own gas piping. In most locations, a licensed plumber must do all gas work.

You are right about being able to smell a gas problem as opposed to electricity, but think of it this way, an electrical fire may only destroy your house, a gas explosion could level your whole block.
 
  #26  
Old 07-27-05, 03:20 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,535
My suggestion was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. It is probably not a good idea to run a new gas line to a dryer if you have absolutely no experience with such a project. If you have experience with threaded steel pipe such as a compressed air system in an auto shop, this project would be within reach.

Given that your dryer is near an existing gas line, a plumber should be able to do this job in an hour or two. Remember, a gas dryer needs to have a good metal vent system also. No flexible plastic hose!
 
  #27  
Old 07-27-05, 04:29 PM
Aussiecheezhead
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
thanks for the tips, I'll let this idea brew a while.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes