What kind of work can you do yourself?

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I realize local ordinances vary but in general is a home owner allowed to do whatever construction work is necessary as long as they meet county/city codes? Including things like electrical and plumbing?
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Generally, yes, with the exception of natural gas work, I believe. I have no licenses, but have done electrical, framing and plumbing with the blessings of inspectors and permits to show in the future when we sell.
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I had no problem with natural gas work. Permits, inspection, lots of advice from inspector, no problem.
Bob
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In my town anyone can do gas plumbing, but firms must be licensed to do water plumbing. Can't explain that, except maybe gas pressure is so much lower that almost anything is good enough; but the cost of an error seems rather higher... I "believe" that individuals do not have to be licensed to do water plumbing, but I have never specifically asked.
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The variations of what you (as an owner/builder) can and can't do are often politically motivated. Lobbying groups (especially local unions and some funded by private contractors) work very hard to keep jobs in the hands of their membership even when it infringes (IMO) on the rites of the property owners to do their own work. These reasons are often cloaked in otherwise rational reasonings like "we feel there is a need to protect the city water supply from non compliant hookups" or "an error in this type of work can effect poeple not on your property" (you'll find that at the root of many restrictions)
In reality, if you screw up and cause harm, you'll be sued or arrested for negligance and held accountable. This fear keeps most reasonable people from trying things well beyond their capability. I suppose some forms of negligence go unidentified until long after the jackass has left the scene.
WRT how much work or limitations on the extent of work, this is often based on the city's desire to control growth whether that be expansion or gentrification. A city's income is largely based on these types of zoning descisions as they specifically determine the permit costs and the impact on the tax assessmsnt for each property permitted.
As you can imagine, anything so political would be highly regionalized.
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Around here a homeowner can purchase one or two permits a year...after that they must use a licensed bonded and insured...but more importantly a tax paying business to do the work.
Permits are not about getting a job well done...they are about collecting taxes.....and the reason a city or county government restricts homeowners from doing a lot of work is that it pisses off the licensed contractors who pay taxes on their business license each year....Ive seen inspectors breeze thru jobs so fast they could miss major mistakes in workmanship but not all are like that.
Wholesale only is the same way....some wholesale houses will tell a homeowner they wont sell to them because of insurance and liability issues but the real issue is that it knocks contractors, the wholesalers customers, out of work and also the contractors dont want homeowners finding out that the switch the contractor sells you for 40.00 only costs 3.00....
~:>
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Sorry to hear you have those problems where you live. Where I live it is not like that. I am sure a few people think it is, but from my personal experience it is about getting the job done safely first and right second with no other hidden agendas.
--
Joseph Meehan

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wrote:

The same is true in my locality. There is no listed limit on permits and the inspections are detailed enough to catch most problems. I had to redo some electrical wiring details, after an inspection. They were just matters of opinion, rather than violations of code, but I want to be able to tell anyone to whom I sell this house that all of the work has been inspected and approved. Peace of mind about safety and reliability are also factors in wanting a good inspection, and they do that well.
Luc
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"Permits are not about getting a job well done...they are about collecting taxes.....and the reason a city or county government restricts homeowners from doing a lot of work is that it pisses off the
licensed contractors who pay taxes on their business license each year....Ive seen inspectors breeze thru jobs so fast they could miss major mistakes in workmanship but not all are like that."
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snipped-for-privacy@msn.com says...

While permits in many places are tied to taxes, that's not the only reason they exist. Where I live, getting a permit means that an independent safety inspector will check the work to ensure it complies with all appropriate codes. I view the permit as a way of getting a neutral third party, knowledgeable about safety codes, to check the work and make sure it's done safely and properly.
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Aaron wrote:

Most anything. It depends locally of course. Around here the limits come up quickly when it comes to multi-family dwellings however.
--
Joseph Meehan

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In this little town, you can do the work required on your own house with no permits. To work on someone else's house, you must be a licensed plumber, electrician, etc.
--
Larrys25
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Do they simply not enforce the law, or is there really no requirement for a permit? I thought permits were always required. The rural county I have a cottage in lets stores sell illegal fireworks, but still requires permits.
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On Mon, 27 Feb 2006 21:49:41 GMT, Toller wrote:

I built my own house and the only inspection was on how the breaker box was connected to the meter. Zero inspections after that.
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In my town, only the Owner or a licensed contractor (acting on behalf of the owner) can get a permit. So if your some guy who wants to do work, the owner has to pull the permit and hire you as a second step (and you don't need a license for that, its buyer beware). Without a contractors license to file a complaint against or property to lean, there is simply no recourse for a city to sanction a third party.
Case in point. My boss sold a tree to a contractor (tall palm). Contractor lied and did not (actually could not) get a permit to remove (told my boss he worked out a deal with city). Showed up while he was at work and dug up the tree. Neighbor called the city and they blockaded the truck until he came home. Ultimately, city and cop released the truck even though owner said he did not authorize. Bottom line, since he accepted payment, it was not a theft and he was responsible as the property owner for not obtaining the permit. The rest is s civil case between the contractor and the owner, city is done when it collects its fine (up to value of tree plus 3X permit cost, price not decided yet, could be $10k). I hear the tree moved to San Diego for $14k.
Moral of that story, the owner is ultimately responsible for all permits, regardless of who obtains it.
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wrote:

In this case, iiuc -- let me know if I got it wrong -- the owner wanted to sell the tree, but needed a permit to do so.
The neibhbor liked the tree, and wanted to stop the sale.
In practice, could the owner have gotten a permit if he had requested one? Could the neighbor have stopped it? How much would the permit have cost? (Y + 3X = approx. 10K, but how much is Y and how much is X?)

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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Owner was approached by contractor and convinced to sell (greed). Most cities require a permit to remove any tree over so many inches in diameter for any reason. In this case the original application was rejected because it would offset the city's desire to have many trees (Saratoga CA - kinda ritzy in the hills). Contractor said he worked out a deal to put different trees in another location in the city but he lied. Owners last words 'don't do anything until I see the proper paperwork" Obviously were ignored.
Apparently this "contractor' has done this all over the state and is known by his actions. I don't know if the owner checked his licensce but at one point he called the company he thought he worked for and they disavowed any relation to him bla bla.

Neighborhood code vigilante. Known to call whenever any contractor van pulls onto the road. (stinkin control freak). This is not the first time in that neighborhood. owner not sure who it is.

Cost of the permit is not too much and would have been absorbed by the contractor but it needs approval by city engineer (or whomever hugs the trees in that city)
He has a citation for an appearance before whatever city board reviews this stuff in a few weeks. I'm interested to see how it turns out, they may have mercy in the end. Unfortunately he already blew the $1k talking to a layer about the situation.
Personally I send all solicitors packing, no matter what they sell. I only buy from deals I initiate.
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wrote:

Very interesting story.

Well, in this case a guy thought he was playing by the rules and he still got hurt, but the guy who called is probably a good thing for the neighborhood. What good is a ritzy n'hood if it doesn't have trees. One of the ways to keep targeted middle-class n'hoods from becoming crowded near-slums is to call every time one sees a plumbing truck. Landlords start putting in extra little bathrooms and kitchenetttes and walls and doors, and illegally put 2 families in apartments or houses that were meant for one. Sometimes 3 in big apartments, and 4 or more families in big houses.
Stopping this was a major tactic by the Hyde Park - Kenwood Community Council, or its predecessor, in the 1950's and 60's. They are still very nice n'hoods but wouldn't have been if some landlords had had their way.

Makes good sense. I"ve gotten spam email for something I actually wanted. But I make sure I buy it somewhere else. And the one time I bought a magazine from a young door to door saleman, I never got it. The next one who came, I gave hell. Called him a thief. He pretended not to know.
Thanks.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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You can do any kind of work you want to on your home. You just need to do it in accordance with local codes for such things as electrical, plumbing, gas, etc. Someone who knows has to look at it and make sure it isn't going to kill someone or be a biohazard. As for carpet, cabinets, drapes, etc, you can put in the most hideous colors and crappy jobs known to man, and you won't be penalized for it like you would for an electrical or plumbing mistake.
Something you can do is pick brains. If you have a friend, relative, in-law, etc. who will tell you what code is and help you to do it to that standard, you can save big bucks and still have it done right.
Codes vary. I recently woke up to a leaking hot water heater. $350 and four hours later, I was lighting the pilot light on a new one. I have heard here that some communities require a licensed contractor to change a hot water heater. That is probably why I don't live in one of those communities. People stated that they paid $1,000 for a hot water heater replacement, up to code, earthquake straps and all. Even if you live in an area where there are earthquakes only every few hundred years. Point is, on some jobs, you can do it yourself if you know how, codes allow it, and no one cares. If you call a repair guy you better provide your own KY jelly.
Knowing the difference in all these things can save you some big bucks, and you will end up with the same quality work and materials. Or better.
Steve
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I see everyone saying around here. What state are you guys in? I would image the guys going thru the most hassels live in the NorthEast while people with an easier time are in the South or Western states.

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