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Completing Electrical Work on Your Home? Reasons To Make Sure Your Contractor Is Licensed.

Posted by Mike Wootan on April 22, 2012 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (2)

There are a lot of contractors that do electrical work, but have no license. Why? Because first, your job may not require a permit. Items such as repairing a light switch or electrical outlet do not usually require a specific permit from the city. However, new electrical wiring, including the replacement of an electrical panel, would require such a permit. This results in many local contractors trying to complete small electrical jobs when they do not have the actual expertise to ensure a job is done correctly.

I see a lot of homeowners who complain about lights or switches not working correctly, or even worse, wiring that was 'repaired' in such a way that it could result in a fire hazard. A licensed electrician must have a least five years of experience, generally as an apprentice under a master electrician. In addition, they must pass an extensive exam which includes what it takes to ensure your project meets electrical code.

Some contractors may even try to convince you that a permit is not even necessary for larger projects; that you can get away with adding or replacing an electrical panel, especially if you have no intention to sell the property in the near future. Unfortunately, if city officials spot a project without proper permits and inspections, they might force the work to stop. This means your project could come to a screeching halt for weeks, which may be extremely inconvenient if you are remodeling a bathroom or kitchen.  Most cities even will cite homeowners with expensive fines for work started without the proper permit.

Even if the project isn't spotted by city officials now, you will eventually sell the property.  At this point, buyers and their real-estate agents will require proof of inspection for any remodeling work. If the work was not inspected, you may pay an expensive fine for such after-the-fact permitting.

 So while it may be tempting to pay a lower cost to a non-licensed contractor for smaller jobs, consider the possible consequences if the job is done incorrectly. In addition, larger jobs such as remodeling will require proper city inspections or you may risk paying out later in fines and/or an electrician to make the proper repairs.