I had another inquiry the other day. Some licensing laws state that only homeowners can do their own work on their own dwelling as long as they reside in it. That would sound like a "Single Family Dwelling" (SFD) in my book and in most others as I am told.
NOW, what defines a SFD? If a person lived in a "Condo" or "Townhouse" would that be a SFD? I am getting many answers from many people in different areas. A "condo" means you own the 4 walls around your dwelling as well as the ceiling and the floor. Someone says that it is OK to do work inside that area only. Some say it is not.
As for a "Townhouse" Some are 2 story and the HO owns the 1st and 2nd floor. There are firewalls between units. They are allowed to do their own work in their house. It is their own SFD.
I think we're out of the realm of the NEC, and into the area knowns as "CommonS Law."
The "Commons" are those areas that are held 'in common' by several parties.
For an apartment, I would submit that there's enough play for either the tenant or the owner to do work- in the individual unit.
For a condo - which is often physically identical to an apartment - I again see a lmit to work on the living unit itself. Once you're working on the something that's part of the building in general - say, the feed from the meter bank to your own unit's panel - you're acting as a contractor.
Oddly enough, part of the reason the 'regulations don't work' here is because, in our system, there was never intended for there to be ANY role for government. A mans' home is his castle, limited governemnt, and all that.
Instead, we made provision for the ordinary person to use the courts to settle disputes with his fellows. Likewise, the courts are the place where 'gray' areas can be decided; that's why the rulings of a trial court are not binding on any other case, ever.
Harold: IMHO, which was discussed in detail recently, the 'condo' definition qualifies as a SF residence. Based on UCC, a HO who occupies (not rental) can do his/her elec, plumb, fire and/or bldg. However, they have to provide to the respective subcodes that they are capable or qualified to do it. None of the proposed work can affect any adjoining units, and the integrity of any rated walls/ceilings must be maintained.
Dependent on the 'age' of the structure (complete building or shell) we here in NJ fall into the 'Rehab' section of the UCC. However, there are life safety issues that must be addressed, usually on case-by-case basis.
That said, the 'condo assoc' has to provide a written approval to any interior work involving framing modifications.
Issues arise within 'condos' with regard to rated wall and ceiling penetrations, which IMHO, most (all) HOs have no understanding of.
Townhouses basically are the same as above for interior work within the individual units.
'Apartments' require lic ECs, plumbers, etc.
Common areas of condo and townhouse complexes require lic. professionals.
The usual scope of work I see within condo/townhouses is finishing basements, and kitchen & bath remodels. A 'new' complex in town had a few owners looking to add recessed lighting & changed their mind after an explanation of the rated ceiling requirements.
Let's look at what the owner's patch is again. It is really up to the skin of the wall. As soon as you penetrate the wall it is common area (at least in Florida). If a pipe breaks behind the wall, the condo assn fixes it. By a like token, if you fish a wire behind the drywall, you are in the Assn's patch. I suppose it is legal to run a surface raceway system as a homeowner on his side of the 15 minute barrier but he can't fish wires in the wall. Running wire down to the maintenance spaces is certainly far beyond the scope of "owner/builder". It might get more muddy in a town house style condo when you are talking about a wall totally within the envelope of the owners unit but if there is another unit above or below I think the rule stands.
I had a 8 unit condo complex burn up in Lincoln Park about a year or two ago. The fire started in 1 condo and ruined 3 more very badly. The 4 remaining condo's couldn't be saved and so the whole complex came down and was rebuilt from scratch. Having said that, Yeah, I guess I know that HO can do work in their own dwelling, but I sure wish that they would use a Lic. Elec. Cont., I also know that if they don't take my suggestion about a contractor, then I will let them do work in their own dwelling. The funny thing is that in several different towns, I have heard different answers to this question.
P.S. John, I know that all of this work will fall under Rehab and as for life safety, I don't think the HO is doing too much work in his area. This is a 3 story condo complex with 12 condo's per section and 3 sections per building.
I just had another thought. What about a 2 family house with the owner living on one side. Can he do work on his side of the dwelling? Would that be called a Single Family Dwelling? I am just playing devils advocate here.
When building or improving farm outbuildings or one-family or two-family residences on such property for the occupancy or use of such owners and not offered for sale or lease, or building or improving commercial buildings, at a cost not to exceed $75,000, on such property for the occupancy or use of such owners and not offered for sale or lease. In an action brought under this part, proof of the sale or lease, or offering for sale or lease, of any such structure by the owner-builder within 1 year after completion of same creates a presumption that the construction was undertaken for purposes of sale or lease.
I don't see any relief for a 3 family or larger building.
It took 3 reads to get an understanding (?) of 489.103 (7)(a). Basically, there's some legaleese within the NJ UCC that agrees with your version, with the one year, although there is no inclusion of commercial or farm.
The definition of a "family" has been debated around here for some time. That gets to be a very sticky zoning issue. We have a few landlords around here who like to have 3-8 individuals living in a "Single Family Dwelling"! It will drives the zoning officers crazy.