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#79230 - 12/08/01 07:47 AM Permits & inspections
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I hope I'm not going to be too controversial, but I have a question.

Suppose I own a house in a city which requires a permit for any electrical work. What happens if I go ahead and carry out modifications within my own home without getting a permit or requesting an inspection? Who is going to know that I've even added lights, moved receptacles, or whatever?

Even if it was seen at a later date during some other inspection, and assuming my work was up to NEC & local codes, how would anyone know I'd done it without a permit? I'm sure that every City Hall can't possibly keep records of the electrical systems of every home within the city limits!

I can see how the permit/inspection system can work for new construction, major commercial jobs, etc., but I don't see how it can be enforced for the average person carrying out work on his own home.

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#79231 - 12/08/01 10:43 AM Re: Permits & inspections
Nick Offline
Member

Registered: 08/13/01
Posts: 603
Loc: Riverside, CA
Paul,
As far as I know if you are doing any modifications you are required to get a permit. If you add a plug or light here and there is anyone going to know? Probably not. When permit violations usually get discovered is in the sale of the home. Even then it is only the major things that are obvious.
You could have this angle though. We don’t get along with one of our neighbors. I put a small above ground pool in our back yard one summer. Said neighbor decided to call the city. City came out and said we must get a permit. I got a permit for the pool and another one for various electrical modifications I had done in the past. Called for inspection and passed with flying colors. We decided to return the favor to said neighbor who’s electrical to their pool is down right a hazard. The city wrote an extensive correction list including tearing down the pool (It was to big for the small back yard). Neighbor has done nothing. City has not been back. Life goes on. I guess they figure they will tear it all out when they sell it as they cannot sell the house with outstanding corrections.

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#79232 - 12/09/01 05:18 AM Re: Permits & inspections
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
It sounds as though it's as I suspected: Enforcement can be patchy at best.

It's like "planning permission" (building permits) here. Certain size extensions don't need a permit, but in this out-of-the-way area there are a lot of extensions just over the limit that were never authorized by the local council. Harder to get away with it in town though.

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#79233 - 12/09/01 09:35 AM Re: Permits & inspections
electure Offline

Member

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 4226
Loc: Fullerton, CA USA
I think Nick's call is right on the money.
The AHJ can charge you double permit fees here for a "retro inspect", and make you tear up whatever they want to see the installation.
You want to dig up a whole section of UG? (even if you did it right)
How about ripping all the cabinets out of the remodeled kitchen?
It's a much better plan to get the required permit and let the inspector make sure you did it right the first time.
If they have to do it "post facto", they're gonna be pissed, and very critical. A phillips head screw can Red Flag the time that the work was done.
Don't think the inspector's a dummy, they look at this kind of BS daily.

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#79234 - 12/09/01 11:04 AM Re: Permits & inspections
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I certainly wouldn't want to tear up anything -- There have been cases here where a building inspector has insisted the whole foundations for a new home be moved because they're an inch out from the approved plans.

What's the deal on Philips screws? I see most of the new fittings are slotted/Philips, but when were these introduced?

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#79235 - 12/09/01 03:04 PM Re: Permits & inspections
tdhorne Offline
Member

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 344
Loc: Maryland, USA
pauluk Wrote
"I hope I'm not going to be too controversial, but I have a question.

Suppose I own a house in a city which requires a permit for any electrical work. What happens if I go ahead and carry out modifications within my own home without getting a permit or requesting an inspection? Who is going to know that I've even added lights, moved receptacles, or whatever?

Even if it was seen at a later date during some other inspection, and assuming my work was up to NEC & local codes, how would anyone know I'd done it without a permit? I'm sure that every City Hall can't possibly keep records of the electrical systems of every home within the city limits!

I can see how the permit/inspection system can work for new construction, major commercial jobs, etc., but I don't see how it can be enforced for the average person carrying out work on his own home."

pauluk
Your home insurance contract is known legally as a contract of utmost good faith. This means that both parties must scrupulously obey the law in any matter that could affect the insurers ability to pay a loss or the insured's likelihood of suffering a loss. You can not buy insurance that will insure you against a deliberate act of your own. This is especially true of an unlawful act. So if your unlawful electric work causes a loss and your insurance carrier becomes aware of the cause of the loss and your role in it they could walk away. Your failure to obey the law and provide them with whatever protection from paying the loss that the electrical inspection may have provided is a breach of the contract which relieves the insurer of the responsibility to pay the loss. I am only aware of one such case in my thirty years in the fire service but it was still devastating to the family that found themselves uninsured.

--
Tom
_________________________
Tom Horne

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use" Thomas Alva Edison

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#79236 - 12/10/01 11:29 AM Re: Permits & inspections
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Tom,

I hadn't thought about the insurance angle, but I certainly see your point. Was the fire in the case you mentioned directly attributed to the owner's unauthorize wiring?

Knowing the way insurance companies operate, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they tried to use a non-permit light fixture as a excuse not to pay, even if the fire were found to have started at the other end of the house by a faulty gas appliance.

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#79237 - 12/10/01 03:02 PM Re: Permits & inspections
Steve Miller Offline
Member

Registered: 08/30/01
Posts: 322
Loc: Loudoun Cty, VA
Whos fault the fire was won't matter. The illegal electrical work will always be the first thing mentioned and the last thing considered. Kinda like getting accused of child molestation ... guilt is irrelevent, people brand you regardless.

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#79238 - 12/10/01 05:05 PM Re: Permits & inspections
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I think you're right Steve.

I don't doubt there are good people, individually, working for insurance companies, by in my experience they are collectively a pack of vultures, eager to take premiums and always looking for any loophole to avoid paying a claim.

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#79239 - 12/11/01 11:35 AM Re: Permits & inspections
BuggabooBren Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/01
Posts: 336
Loc: NM
Your suspicions are on target, Paul, but it's more than just a hint of vulturism... the insurance companies have well-established vultures called lawyers who are either on staff or on retainer to do just what you describe - make sure every other option besides paying out a claim is exhausted before the claim is paid.

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