Legal Restrictions on DIY in USA? (Gas, water, electric)

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Hi,
In Great Britain a householder can do his own electric and water and installations/alterations with no legal restrictions or qualification requirements although with Gas there is a legal requirement that you must be "Competent to do so" and "Keep to safe and appropriate standards" obviously this is sensible for water and electric but not mandatory and there are no mandatory standards for electricity alterations/installations just guidelines from the institute of electrical engineers.
Are there any legal restrictions/requirements for a homeowner installing/altering gas, water and electric in the USA?
Thanks in advance,
John.
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JhnWil875 wrote:

Restrictions are local options, there is no universal code.
In most places the homeowner can do the work, but much of the work requires permits and inspections. Generally the owner can not do their own work on multi-family (attached) housing.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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JhnWil875 wrote:

I just upgraded the electric service in my kitchen (okay, my BIL did the work assisted by my 16YO son) and I had to get a permit from the appropriate governmental building authority (around $70) and two inspections (a rough inspection with all the wires in and a final inspection with the GFCIs and everything else all done) to make sure that the work was done to current building and safety code requirements. It was no problem to do this on my own home.
--
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. - Mother Teresa
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Possibly time to abolish these permits and inspections, firstly they cost the home improver uneccasary money, also they are probably a waste of time as a lot of people who dont do the work to safe standards would simply not bother getting a permit and an inspection.
In other countries like Great Britain that does not have this permit/inspection system I dont notice any more safety issues with unsafe wiring than I do in the US.
John.
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JhnWil875 wrote:

If someone just barely knows what they are doing, $20 for a permit gets him a lot of help from an expert consultant.
Every once in a while though, getting the permit and inspections works against doing the job right. When I had a garage built last November, I wanted to drive the ground rod under where the slab would be, and clamp a #4 copper wire to both the ground rod and the nearest 1/2" rebar. But I couldn't schedule to do it and have it inspected because the concrete guys set up the forms and rebar one day and poured early the next morning. I coulda done it anyway, but the inspector wouldn't have passed it because he never saw the work before it was buried under the concrete.
Overall I think it's a good system. You work on getting it abolished in your local jurisdiction and leave the rest of us alone.
-Bob
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JhnWil875 wrote:

Personally I believe they are a very very good idea.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

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You could very well be right, but it will never go away anytime soon. The town keeps the money they collect for so called permits, so essentially it is another tax that they would fight tooth and nail to keep.
Grim
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JhnWil875 wrote:

John The reason that most knowledgeable people comply with the requirements for permits and inspections is that anything done without a permit is not insured. If unpermitted work causes a casualty loss to the home it is not covered by the insurance policy. So if you perform unpermitted electrical work on your home and that work causes a fire the resultant loss is uninsured. -- Tom H
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wrote:

Someone told me that if a fire occurs, and any unpermitted work is found, insurance will be denied even if the change did not cause a fire.
Example. I install a receptacle in the kitchen without a permit. Then, some time later, a drunk friend comes in, falls asleep with a cigarette, the cigarette lights up the couch and the house burns down.
According to my friend's theory, if the insurance adjustor finds an unpermitted receptacle, my insurance will be denied. Is that actually true?
I tend not to believe it, but am curious.
Thanks
i
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Ignoramus23498 wrote:

That may be true someplace but it is not true in the areas of the US that I've served as a firefighter. We often find all sorts of bogus work during the investigation of a fire but unless that work is the cause of the fire we don't even report it unless it rises to the level of a clear and present danger. The principal involved here is that the nature of the insurance contract is what is called a "contract of utmost good faith." Both parties to the contract have an obligation to reveal to the other anything that can effect the likelihood of a loss or the ability to pay for that loss. Both sides have an additional obligation under that type of contract to scrupulously obey the law in anything that affects the contract. The idea of insuring against the consequences of your own unlawful act is considered a legal absurdity. My four semesters that covered various aspects of fire service law don't make me a lawyer and YMMV. -- Tom H
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wrote:

thanks for your excellent post.
I try to install my receptacles to the code.
i
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I was not suggesting that people should not comply with the permit/inspection system, I was just questioning the wisdom of the system as it relates to gas, water and electricity instalations and suggesting that it should be abolished as it serves no useful purpose although other Postsers have disagreed.
Anyone whose work is so bad that it causes a fire should not do the work in the first place although if their work is that shoddy then they are probably so badly mentally incapacitated that they would not be able to realise that they were unable to do the work to a safe standard.
John.
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JhnWil875 wrote:

There is an old proverb that reads in part "He who knows not and knows not he knows not is a fool shun him." In localities that that have a trained inspection force, and make it easy for a homeowner to obtain a permit, the inspection process guards against a well intentioned but unqualified home owner imperiling her/his family and neighbors. There is no system that can completely guard against a scofflaw incompetent. -- Tom H
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clipped

Those are the dorks most likely to consider their own work the best - they don't know good work, and their's is "cheaper". The number of folks with no regard for the law is amazing, as well. I'm just a housewife with a little DIY ability. I have a neighbor whom I have helped finish concrete, re-do a lock installation, pressure wash, paint, re-build door. He has worked for hire, his work is crap, and he is juvenile and impulsive. Considers himself a craftsman. He's fallen off roofs, been told to stay off ladders due to vertigo, and he still goes at it. Another neighbor worked on a live electrical line with a toddler running around the house. He got a load of new kitchen cabinets delivered and was going to leave them outdoors with rain threatening. I don't think these guys had mothers :o)

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JhnWil875 wrote:

(ROTFL) Most of those folks don't realize they are doing it all wrong.
--
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. - Mother Teresa
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JhnWil875 wrote:

In most places in the US, a homeowner can do his own home improvements, and can be issued home improvement building permits. It is unusual for a homeowner to be bothered in any way for making repairs, competent or not, except in wealthy areas or where the homeowners' association has too much authority. Where there is a permit, there is usually an inspection. The value of having an inspection varies greatly from one jurisdiction to another. There is no examination given to prove competency for a homeowner, as there is for a contractor.
Repairs that violate the building codes often catch up with the homeowner when the property is sold, or in the event of an insurance claim, making it highly advisable to strictly follow the electrical, plumbing, or other building codes. If you don't know these codes, there are some very good books for amateurs.
Repairs that affect the neighborhood, such as fence building over a certain height, or addition of a second story, will attract attention, and possibly lawsuits. Obviously, it would be foolhardy to proceed with such a project without a permit.
In some localities, the authorities patrol the area looking for obvious construction jobs, such as roof and driveway repair, and "granny unit" construction, being done without a permit. In my area, this is done to promote collection of overpriced building permit fees, and to satisfy the "no growth" constituency, as well as for enforcement of the building codes.
In short, for anything major, get a permit and discuss your project with the permit authorities. You might be required to submit a plan drawing, or at least a description. For minor stuff, like replacing plumbing fixtures and electrical equipment, you can probably just proceed, but I recommend a phone call to the permit office to discuss it.
--
Best Regards
Anthony Straight
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On Sat, 28 Feb 2004 23:52:07 GMT, Anthony Straight

Usually being the operative word. Around here some towns and cities require permits for any significant roofing you may wish to have done. None, absolutely none of these municipalities inspect the work for which they have required a permit. That begins to seem like bribery to me.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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But I believe that some municipalities will up the assessed value (and therefore the property taxes as well) if significant improvements are made.
MB
On 02/28/04 07:39 pm John Willis put fingers to keyboard and launched the following message into cyberspace:

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On Sat, 28 Feb 2004 21:05:00 -0500, Minnie Bannister

Be that as it may, but if a city is going to require a contractor to obtain a permit in the course of his work, then they ought to be required to have enough inspectors on hand to perform appropriate inspections. The main reason to require a permit in the first place is to maintain a certain standard in the work performed. (The real reason, as we all know, has to do with money...) If there is no need for an inspection then there ought to be no need for a permit in the first place.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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And if you have increased the property value significantly, you should have this done. When we bought this particular one home, we put several thousand into it, and being a contractor, and believing in the permit system this county uses, we hoped that we would get a significant tax increase...and thus, property value increase. We did. We sold and loved it. The home we are in now....same thing. Value more than doubled. I have no problem with the system, and of course, seeing the DIY screwups in the course of a day like we do...there is good reason this state will not allow a homeowner to do many things.

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