Electrical Work Done Without a Permit
Home DIY projects are a great way to save money and to have a sense of self satisfaction knowing you were able to complete the job yourself. However, working with electricity at home can be dangerous and even if you think you know what you are doing, it is important to follow the local codes and requirements.
Do You Need a Permit for Electrical Work?
Not all electrical work at home requires a permit but it is imperative to check your local building codes to see whether a permit is needed for the type of job in question and that you are making repairs and changes according to the local electrical code guidelines.
Do You Need a Permit to Install a New Electrical Panel?
If you are replacing or installing a new electrical panel then you absolutely need a permit. This is a serious job that we do not recommend you attempt to do yourself. Even if you higher an electrician to do the job, it is imperative that you secure a permit.
The building and electrical inspector will want to take the panel cover off to see how the wires were installed into the panel and breakers. He will want to see how and where the ground wire is installed and also will inspect the meter tray if that was replaced.
Do You Need a Permit for Recessed Lighting?
Recessed lighting is a DIY project that the typical homeowner can accomplish if there is some knowledge and comfort in working with electricity. If you are installing new recessed lights or pots where none exist now, then you will need a permit.
If you are replacing existing recessed lighting pots or cans where one exists now, then you may or may not need a permit. This is where you should speak with your local building department.
If you are replacing the recessed lighting fixture that is installed into the recessed lighting can, then you do not need a permit. That is really no different than screwing in a light bulb. Read our article on how to install recessed lighting.
Do You Need a Permit to Replace an Existing Light Fixture?
When replacing an existing light fixture with a new one, you likely will not need a permit. Where a permit would be required is if you are installing a light fixture where one does not exist now and need new wiring.
A common light fixture replacement is when a flush mount light in the kitchen is replaced with a pendant light. This is often done when changing the light over a kitchen sink.
Do You Need a Permit to Install a Chandelier?
A permit is not needed to install a chandelier if you are replacing an existing light fixture in the ceiling. The wiring instructions will be virtually the same as installing any other light fixture but the complexity will come in if the chandelier is heavy. We wrote an article about how to install a chandelier where we talk about the additional bracing that is needed to support the weight
If you are installing a chandelier in a place where there currently is no wiring and electrical box then you will need a permit.
Do I need a Permit to Install a GFCI Outlet?
A permit is needed if you are going to run new wires to a new GFCI outlet. A permit also may be required if you are simply replacing a regular outlet with a GFCI outlet/receptacle where one exists now.
Do I Need a Permit to Install a Light Switch or a Dimmer?
If you plan to replace an existing light switch with a new one or replace it with a dimmer switch, then you do not need a permit. However, if you are installing a new light switch or dimmer where one currently does not exist, then you will need a permit.
Do I Need a Permit to Install Under Cabinet Lighting?
The installation of under cabinet lighting will likely need a permit especially if you are hard wiring 12-gauge wires to each of the fixtures. Many municipalities also require a permit if you are installing low voltage lights that use a transformer that plugs into an outlet. In this case, you should check with your local building codes.
If you are installing wireless battery operated undercabinet lighting then no permit will be required.
Do I Need a Permit to Pigtail Aluminum to Copper Wiring?
Homeowners who have aluminum wiring often want to pigtail from aluminum to copper making their electrical wiring and home safe. This could involve the use of a crimping tool which bonds the aluminum and copper wires together.
Another method to pigtail aluminum to copper is to use the AL/CU aluminum to copper wire connectors or Alumiconn connectors. Then from there you attach the copper wire to your outlet, switch or light fixture.
No electrical permit is needed to perform any of these pig-tailing techniques at home.
Do I need a Permit to Remodel a Kitchen?
If you are simply replacing your cabinets, installing new flooring, backsplash tile and counters, then you will not need a permit. However, if you do one of the following during your remodel, then you will likely need a permit:
- Relocate any plumbing supply lines or waste pipes
- Installing new plumbing supply lines or waste pipes
- Relocate any electrical outlets, switches or light fixtures
- Installing new electrical outlets, switches or light fixtures where there are none now
- Adding or moving a window or door.
- Making any changes to the structure which includes cutting away any wood framing behind the walls
- Installing AC powered undercabinet lighting where none exists now
What Happens If You Work Without a Permit?
Only bad things can happen when you work without a permit and many people regret the decision down the road. Although you may save some money on the cost of the permit, the costs could be far greater if you are caught by your local building department in the future.
If electrical work is not done correctly, there is the threat of a dangerous fire. As a result, work that is done without a permit and inspected may need to be removed completely. The costs associated with having to rip walls down to start over far outweigh the cost and inconvenience of getting a permit.
The final caution is if you have a fire at home that was caused by the work done without a permit, your insurance company may have the legal right to deny your insurance claim.
Can a homeowner pull a permit for electrical work?
A homeowner absolutely can pull a permit for electrical work regardless of whether they are using an electrician or contractor to do the work at home.
Can you get a permit after the work is done?
In some municipalities, it is acceptable to get the permit after the work is done depending upon the type of work being performed. If it is the type of job that does not get inspected until the work is completed, then you may be okay waiting until the work is done. However, if it is a job that needs to be inspected in stages, then waiting to get the permit after the work is done will cause problems.
Can you sell a home with unpermitted work?
If you are selling a home with unpermitted work, you will need to disclose this information to the buyers. If the unpermitted work is significant such as a room addition, this could be discovered by the building department when they have their walk through to issue the certificate of occupancy.