Electrical Permit Question

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Hiya Folks, Getting everything in order to build a courtyard wall at my residence. I intend to extend a lighting circuit and hang a couple of fixtures off the wall. The State of NM requires me to get a permit for the electrical portion of the work (as they should I suppose). To get this permit, I have to pass a small exam. They describe it as "the first 4 chapters of the NEC code" and the "NM Electrical code". This is a closed book exam. They are kind enough to sell me the NEC and NM Codes for $90 but offer no study guide etc... for me to use. Should I fail the exam, I can re-take in no less than 30 days. Has anyone got any advice on how to prepare for such a thing (ie. just what are the 4 chapters in the Code Book?). I really don't want to plonk down $90 so I can run 20 ft. of conduit (yeah, I'm being cheap!). I suppose I can take it and then I'll know what sort of material they are covering but I really don't want to wait a month to be able to get this done. Thanks for any advice. Cheers, cc
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James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

See if your local library has the books.
Jim
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You could buy exam preparatory books from Mike Holt . This would probably add another fifty bucks to your project. If I were in your shoes, I would just hire someone. That would be money well spent

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I'm not sure I agree with you on this. I'd save a considerable amount over hiring someone. The permit is inexpensive, materials won't be much, it's all my own labor.

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over
I think a law like that is designed to persuade you to do just that...... hire someone.
I wonder if the electrical systems in NM are safer because even homeowners must be able to interpret the NEC to do any permit work.
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Olaf ( snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com) said...

[regarding NM requirement of testing for an electrical permit]

I wonder if the electrical systems in NM are LESS safe because the permit requirements scare enough off from going that route and just wing it with no inspector ever looking at it to make sure it complies with code.
--
Calvin Henry-Cotnam
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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That's more like it. It's not well publicized until you call them to ask (and that was a feat in itself...getting someone to return a call/email). I can guarantee that a large percentage of "added circuits, additional lights, etc.." are done with no permit in hand. For me though, I think I'll go through the rig-a-ma-roll of staying legal if for no other reason than to insure a possible claim against my homeowner's insurance doesn't get dropped if heaven forbid, something should happen. Cheers, cc
said...

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Andy writes:
What you are describing is simple to do. Your insurance will only have a problem with your own work if THAT is the reason for a fire and that unacceptable procedures were used. They won't fail to pay a claim unless your negligence caused the problem.....
So, if you know how to do the work, I think you should get on with it, since it is a simple task... However, if you don't know how to do the work, reading over the NEC and asking questions of the guy at Home Depot can't hurt a bit. Think of it as an opportunity to learn a few things you haven't thought of....
I realize that your focus is on completing your project and you probably don't want to stop and pick up another skill before continuing..... Have patience. Set your project back a month or so and learn about this stuff. It's fairly interesting, and will serve you well for the rest of your life. In the process, you may even discover that you want to hire the work done, even if you understand how to do it yourself. Sometimes that happens with stuff like "fishing for wires inside walls", and "digging trenches 24 inches deep and installing a ground fault interrupter". Sometimes, it just ain't worth the hassle.....
But good luck on your project. It seems to me that the local unions have gotten another law passed to screw the homeowner....
In MY area, any outside work, regardless of the type, MUST be done by a "master electrician". Outside extension cords MUST be type "sj". etc etc......
..... unfortunately, I am not aware of these laws, passed in a town several hundred miles away, and will innocently do the job myself, even though I am only a registered EE and have been doing this stuff for 40 years...... I sure hope I don't go to jail.....
....... on the other hand, some of that good Texas jail food and a sweet cellmate named "Big Pancho" may be just what is needed to put a rebel like myself in line (grin) ....
Andy
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Um. Do you really... oh nevermind. And while you are at it, you might as well ask the lady at the hair salon too.
-K
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Maybe it's unique to Canada, maybe unique to our local HDs, but the floor staff at our HD are extremely knowledgeable. The electrical and plumbing sections each have a list of the professional credentials of 4 or 5 floor staff (ie: a master plumber with 25+ years of experience), and at least one is always available.
As a plumber we hired explained, many older trademen work for HD a few days a week to guarantee a minimum take-home, and/or some of them have just decided that slugging around HWTs or climbing down into well pits is no longer what they're interested in.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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Chris Lewis wrote:

...
Sounds pretty much of a local "takes your chances" scenario to me...been in HD's halfway across the US and have yet to find one that has that level of expertise displayed. Run across a few individuals here or there that have seemed pretty good, but far more just employees off the street than anything else. Department managers tend to be reasonably knowledgable of product, but that doesn't necessarily translate into trade or regulation expertise.
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Chris Lewis ( snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com) said...

I agree that a lot of the people at many of the HDs near us are quite knowledgeable.
My only complaint with this is that if I need something off the top of a shelf (i.e.: I need someone who's only skill is to climb a ladder!), I have to wait 20-30 minutes while the "expert" employees have to field a bunch of questions, many of which are well answered by the many how-to books that can be bought at HD.
Alas, I have learned the secret: move a ladder to where you need it and start climbing it. It is amazing how fast someone will be there to get the item down for you! ;-)
--
Calvin Henry-Cotnam
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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I would never take advice from a home depot clerk especially regarding electrical. You have no idea what their level of experience and working as a hardware clerk somewhat trains you in sounding convincing even if you have no real idea what you are talking about.
Stick with the books or someone you know is knowledgeable.
"But that's what the guy at home depot told me to do" isn't gonna cut much ice if someone gets hurt.
you can get good advice in this group but you must raise your level of knowledge to the point where you can smell the bs if it appears.
ml
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Andy ( snipped-for-privacy@juno.com) said...

Not necessarily -- if an insurance company can find a way to get out of a claim, or at least to reduce it, they will.
Let's suppose that you purchase a roll of Romex that has a small defect in it somewhere. Not very likely to happen, but let's say there is a small section where one of the conductors is 40% narrower than spec.
Now let's suppose you happen to use that section on a circuit that has a fairly heavy load on it (pushing the 80% limit for several hours at a time). Now suppose that this defect, under a heavy load for a long duration, overheats and starts a fire.
Should your insurance company find out that this circuit was installed without a permit, what are the chance they will deny the claim? In fact, even if they simply found out that *ANY* wiring in the home was done without a permit, there is a good chance the claim will be denied.
Admitedly, this scenario involves a lot of "what ifs", and the part about the insurance company "finding out" about the non-permit may be pretty dubious, but does anybody really want to take the chance. Even if they end up paying, it might be six months or a year later than otherwise.
If your work passed inspection, the insurance company loses any chance to deny the claim due to the electrical work - case closed.
--
Calvin Henry-Cotnam
"Never ascribe to malice what can equally be explained by incompetence."
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Calvin Henry-Cotnam wrote:

I have worked in fire and rescue for over thirty years and in that time I was involved in two declined claims. In both cases it was the homeowners own action that caused the fire. In order to breach the contract the insureds own action must be the cause of the loss a manufacturers defect would not be enough. Most state insurance commissioners take a very dim view of refusing claims and no carrier will do it lightly. I'm not saying that the insurance carrier will never refuse a claim but in thirty pluss years of service and thousands of fires with literally dozens caused by home owner action I have only heard of two refused claims. In both cases the insurer had an open and shut case and the home owners action was unlawful per se.
--
Tom Horne

Well we aren't no thin blue heroes and yet we aren't no blackguards to.
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I'm not sure that this "test" is not just a mechanism to dissuade homeowners from doing their own work, otherwise, they could offer a course on basic wiring. I'm a licensed electrical contractor in NY and I can tell you first hand, there can be an awful lot of below board shenanigans pulled by

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James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

Is there an electrical outlet nearby? Hang the fixture from hooks (do not permanently attach them to the wall) and plug them into an extension cord. You can redo them later; this is just to say FU to the inspector because you won't need a permit for it. Or maybe you can use kerosene lamps. You can redo it later after they sign off on the structural work and nobody is looking.
I ordinarily would not recommend doing the work without a permit, but is sounds like the permit system there is designed to screw homeowners, and I doubt anybody can pass their test on the second try (if you do pass, they'll say you cheated.) The reason for the 30 days until you can take the test again is so you'll hire out the work to one of their buddies.
Someone else said go to the library to get last years code book. Good idea.
If they have adopted the NEC into law, they need to have a copy available for reference. You won't be able to take it home but you should be able to demand to read it.
Best regards, Bob
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Yeah, the corruption in this state is unbearable. No doubt I'll get a few recommendations for hiring out the work from the folks at the testing center and they'll all know of a "great contractor"!
I won't be putting up something cheesy so I think I'll pass on the extension cords :) . Interestingly enough, they require no permit for the building of the wall. The only permit I'll need is the electrical and to be honest, I wasn't aware I couldn't extend a circuit without a permit until now. Once I have the permit, I'll have to grandfather a few other bits I've already done (added a circuit and subpanel).
Ahh the beauracracy of it all. I suppose it's all meant to keep us safe though. Cheers, cc ps. hadn't thought of the library. Do those still exist with the internet in full swing? Just kidding....
I'll pass the exam

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James "Cubby" Culbertson writes:

No, it is primarily designed to keep the trade employed at above-market prices. Any safety issues are a secondary effect. Look at who lobbies for these types of laws: it isn't the homeowners.
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Check with the local inspector and/or the local library on availability of current NEC code book to loan..

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