The DIY Electrician: Do You Need A Wiring Permit
The National Electrical Codeand most local Authorities Having Jurisdiction allow the homeowner to do anything that a licensed electrician can do. The homeowner electrician must meet these conditions. The homeowner/electrician must live in the home. The homeowner/electrician must pull all the required electrical permits and have all the required inspections performed on his work. The homeowner/electrician's work must meet the same standards as work performed by a professional electrician.
- When Do You Need A Wiring Permit?
- How to Apply for A Wiring Permit
- Post the Wiring Permit at the Work Site
- Call The AHJ To Have The Required Inspections Performed
- Get It Right the First Time
A few months ago, a neighbor asked me, "Do I need to pull a wiring permit to wire my three-car garage as a workshop?" My answer was, "Yes, you do have to get a permit, and you need to have your work inspected." We live in the hills. Things are relaxed up here. He could have wired the garage and ran the underground feeder from the house to the garage without being caught, but the risks involved would not have been worth the few dollars he would have saved. Working without a permit carries a steep daily fine if one is caught in the act. Besides the fines, ones homeowner's insurance policy can become void.
When Do You Need A Wiring Permit?
You need a permit whenever performing any electrical work that goes beyond repairing an existing wiring system. You do not need a permit if all you are doing is replacing a malfunctioning circuit breaker, receptacle, light switch, light fixture, or the like with a new one. You will need a wiring permit anytime your project involves running new wiring, even if you are merely extending an existing circuit. The best policy is to call the building codes department and ask if there is any doubt.
How to Apply for A Wiring Permit
Some jurisdictions allow you to complete the whole application process online, while other jurisdictions require you to apply in person at the building codes and permits department. You need to provide the following documents with your wiring permit application.
1. A detailed drawing showing your proposed electrical installation. This drawing does not have to be blueprint quality, but it does have to be representative of what you are proposing to do.
2. A detailed material list. You need to specify the types and sizes either on the materials list or on the drawing. For example, if you are installing a three-way switch circuit, indicate that you will be running 12/3 with Gr. Romex cable between the switches and 12/2 with Gr. Romex cable from the service panel to the first switch and 12/2 with Gr. Romex cable from the second switch to the lighting fixture.
Post the Wiring Permit at the Work Site
The wiring permit must be posted in plain view at the work site. The AHJ usually requires that the permit be posted on the front door of a house when the work is being performed inside the house. In the case of my neighbor rewiring his garage as a workshop, the permit had to be posted on the front of the garage. Never, ever start the actual work on a project until you have the permit and have posted it as instructed by the AHJ.
Call The AHJ To Have The Required Inspections Performed
Most electrical wiring projects require a minimum of two inspections, a "Rough-In" inspection, and a final inspection. The Rough-In inspection takes place after you have mounted all the device boxes, lighting outlet boxes, sub panels, etc, and have run the cables between them. During the Rough-In inspection, the inspector will be checking to see if the boxes were mounted properly and if the cables were routed properly between them. He will be checking to see if all your work is performed according to Code. If any violations are found during the Rough-In inspection, the homeowner/electrician will be given ample time to correct them before calling for a second Rough-In inspection. After your work passes the Rough-In inspection, you can proceed to connect all switches, receptacles, light fixtures, install circuit breakers, etc and make up all wire splices as needed. Before closing up the device boxes, panels, junction boxes, etc you need to call for and pass the final inspection.
Get It Right the First Time
The inspector will allow you time to correct any mistakes he finds in your work, but it would "Pay You" to do it right the first time. It would pay you to do it right the first time. You have to pay for the wiring permit, and you have to pay for every trip an inspector makes to the project site. You can get it right the first time by studying the latest revision of the National Electrical Code, the National Fire Protection Association, Publication. This publication is revised every three years. Right now, the 2008 Revision is the latest revision but the 2011 revision will be available next month. This is an expensive book but you need to have a copy in your library, and you need to study it religiously. Yes, religiously, because the NEC is the electrician's Bible. You also need to obtain and study a copy of your local electrical code available from your building codes and permits department. The NEC sets minimum standards for safe electrical installations, and in many case, the AHJ have requirements that exceed those minimum standards that you need to be aware of, and that your work must meet.