This is the kind of b.s. which is making me want to get out of this stupid trade..electricians do it to ourselves...everything about "our" code the nec is dedicated to idiot proofing things ...I'm completely disgusted with the common misconception that all you need to know is white to white etc...I firmly believe that the box stores and supply houses should not be in the business of selling service equiptment to homeowners. I remember going into a hvac supplier and buying a contactor for a condension unit, they asked for my license wouldn't sell the parts to homeowners go figure...they did sell me the part with my electrical license however.. too often i see people shopping in the box store taking advice from some kid right outa high school. on a side rant why when you bring your car to a mechanic will people just cough up whatever they say? beacuse they have you by the short curlies? because they don't slice each others throats to do the work, for free.. just to keep "busy" I'm at an all time high as far as frustaration goes with this trade..and the funny part is I'm completely swamped at my job.
Snivelling? Consider it a reminder of the challenges we face. Let's look at some of the comments:
"Instead this requirement screams "If you were thinking about doing it yourself, don't let anyone know." That's a fair statement. Every additional bit of effort, every hoop that the law-abiding have to jump through, give you a bit more incentive to cut corners. If there's a requirement, the reason for it must be plain to all, at a distance. Think about that the next time someone proposes a code change.
"a simple job of upgrading my service panel" When we discuss service changes with customers, we need to get the point across that there's a lot more involved than 'swapping out the panel.' The customer has to appreciate that this is a job that's probably more than he wants to do himself.
"(very simple 30ft run costs about $300)." A recent job I priced was a 'simple' addition of 4-way switches to a trio of very accessible 3-way circuits. My materials alone would be in the $100- $120 range. You can bet the job would also take a good 4 hours, plus an hour at either end for set-up and clean-up. Can anyone run a business on $50/hr? Thos of us with businesses simply MUST stop hiding all our financials, or we'll never turn around this attitude that the customer doesn't pay when they try to 'punish' business.
"If you got a decent SAT score you can most likely pass the test." This is one of my pet peeves. The test is the EASY part. Folks have got to learn that there's a reason it's called a SKILLED trade. The 'real' test comes every day, where a slip of the drill and you've just PO'd the customer, and bought them a new marble counter.
"Here you must be an indentured slave ...." Again, we have got to start addressing the common perception - even among apprentices - that the apprenticeship period is nothing more than institutionalized harrassment. I probably speak for us all, when I say that in my first few years in the trade I did as much learning, every day, as anyone sitting in a college classroom. Indeed, I had no idea that there was that much to learn - and not just about 'electricity' either!
"I have a BSEE ..." And what has that to do with anything? Again, there this is this presumption that nearly anyone can do our work. The guy's belief that replacing a light switch was all there was to electric work only shows his ignorance.
"I can give you a list an arm long of things that a screwy about the codes." Sure he can .... I'll bet he has never even seen a code book. Where do folks learn to ridicule those things of which they are ignorant?
And not selling supplies immediately leads to people wiring their homes with cut off extension cords, scotch tape and scrounged materials.
I'm not really sure I like the Austrian system where normal people aren't allowed to do anything beyond replacing a light bulb but licensed electrician are not checked upon at all unless there is a fire or someone is electrocuted.
If you have a permit system and inspections, there is a very thin line concerning repair or upgrade work: how far do you require existing conditions to be fixed? If someone gets a service replacement, do you consider this a major change and force him to ground all his old ungrounded circuits, add all receptacles required by current code?
Or (ypical Austrian situation, because here the utility company gets involved and does inspect the work) if someone has a 1970s meter feed without a ground wire (because grounding was still commonly done via the water pipes back then), do you force him to get a new service for something like $2500? Don't get me wrong, such clauses are often the only way to get people to fix existing hazards that would have gone unnoticed otherwise, but it's a very very thin line to where such requirements make people think: "Then better do nothing at all!".
We can preach 'permits/inspections' around the clock....and there always will be work done without permits/inspections. From 'finishing the basement', to..."Sir, I only installed the new 200 amp panel, it was easy with the old #6 from the meter". Or, 'yes I'm doing the work myself, my friend is an electrician, he's helping'
"If you have a permit system and inspections, there is a very thin line concerning repair or upgrade work: how far do you require existing conditions to be fixed? If someone gets a service replacement, do you consider this a major change and force him to ground all his old ungrounded circuits, add all receptacles required by current code?"
We here in NJ have a 'Rehab' code as part of the NJ UCC. It's involved to get into here, but to answer your question 'Jersey style'
A service upgrade is considered minor work, and falls into rehab. Updating the grounds (GEC's) and bonding the water piping (if metal) is all that is required. AFCI's are not required. We (AHJ's) cannot require any additional work, other than any visable life safety items we may trip over while at site.
I have really wondered about this myself quite a bit since I did do a pretty big renovation last year as "owner/builder" and I built a pool a few years ago. Having a wife in the building business helped a lot and I had excellent access to the necessary trades but the permit process was daunting on the addition. The pool, not so hard. I really wondered at the time if the building department wouldn't have a profit center in charging double or more for owner/builder permits and then offering some extra guidance. In my case I would have paid double, just to get my permit without having to go back there 7 times. If I had some confusion in the inspection process it would have been nice to have an inspector who knew I paid extra so he could explain some things to me. Fortunately that never came up. Also an inspector looking at homeowner work should be spending more time there. I do have some experience with that since in my state job I did inspect a lot of work done by the maintenance department, inmates or park rangers. I took my time and inspected a lot more than your typical muni guy would, looking at a licensed guy's work.
I know in a perfect world everyone would hire licensed trades for everything but as long as Home Depot and Lowes are out there and we have TV shows telling people how easy these things are we will have DIY installers. I think there should be some way to help them do it safely.
BTW has anyone ever seen that mythical electrician (or other trade) who pulls your permits and then comes back to check your work before the final I always hear about that on DIY BBs and I always think it is up there with the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. To start with, it is illegal in Florida. It is far more likely that a homeowner would pull the permit and get a trunk slammer to do the work.