Doug: Interesting reading! Here in New Jersey, based on state laws, we issue 'homeowner' permits. They are limited to single family, owner occupied residences.
They require the same inspections as a job by a NJ Lic. Electrical Contractor.
Some Townships require a 'CCO' inspection on change of ownership or change of occupancy. That is where all the 'Sins of the Past' show up. Basement finishes without permits, decks, the occasional addition, etc., without permits. Those are the tough ones!
The real problem is the work that doesn't get inspected. If you get rid of the home owner permit, the work that didn't get inspected still won't get inspected. In addition, the work that was inspected under the home owner permit, won't get inspected either.
TWH: Yes, I agree with you 100% that the non-permitted & non-inspected work is a problem. Yes, making it 'hard' to obtain an approved permit, will result in more work without permits.
Our CCO inspection procedure turns up quite a few un-inspected/un-permitted work; some code compliant, some hacks, some DIY disasters. It makes for a interesting day when the 'as-built' permit inspections are on the days list.
I have to agree with the others. If you eliminate home owner permits the work will still get done. It just won't get inspected. I also have to say that the specific issues he points out in his article probably weren't inspected either. I have also seen some stuff like he describes done by so called electricians.
Part of the problem is also that these "home inspectors" are rarely qualified to determine if residential electrical installations are safe or not. The turnover of the house from owner who did the hack wiring job to potential new owners is the best time to identify wiring faults. A prudent buyer should at least get a licensed electrical contractor to inspect the electrical. The home inspectors will often just tell the owner they need a GFCI receptacle to give the impression they performed their due diligence.
The author suggests that the insurance companies take this problem on board by demanding an inspection on change of ownership or every 10 years. I'd say a pro inspection. If they did that, our premiums could go down for once as the fire risks got eliminated.