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Old 05-08-2011, 12:25 AM   #1
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Someone asked me if I can help to see if an old lady can get her house rewired, because it probably is wire and knob.
He is going to repaint her house, so will have all the fixtures off and he actually is scared to touch the wiring, even though he has installed wiring under supervision in the past.
I am not PE (consider becoming one later this year for volunteering with Habitat for Humanity but that is another subject)
He asked if it was possible (as I have heard about, but can't find) that
it is legal for a homeowner to replace wiring in his own property.
Now I have some questions, such as - building code and NEC have changed, so the wiring will likely need to be adapted for that reason alone.
In addition, it may be better to add some outlets and discard all the old
(two prong) ones.
I am not sure if it is allowed to run romex through attic and walls or that it
all must be conduit these days. I remember that conduit was only required
for exposed wiring.
I heard that the service panel was already rewired at some point, but I
still have to see what condition the house is. It is an old Californian house, I doubt it is more than 1200 sqft and 2 bedroom. So probably a few days work.

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Old 05-08-2011, 12:34 AM   #2
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


talk to your local planning dept.

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Old 05-08-2011, 04:07 AM   #3
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


If you doing this for your house that is not a issue if the local inspection officals allow it but to have someone come over for hire to rewire or someone come over for volenteer or donation their labour or both labour or materals that have to be done by licesened electrician.

Check with your local office for latest details on that

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Old 05-08-2011, 07:21 AM   #4
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


I am in SoCal. I pull owner-builder permit and can do my own electric work. For extensive work in main breaker box, especially if involving the service coming in - I get an electrician to do that portion of the work. I do most everything else - running cables, lighting, outlets, subpanels, etc.

Conduit is typically not needed if not exposed.

Talk to your building department. Get a good book on wiring and electric - I like ones with lots of illustrations. And the folks here are a hugely helpful and knowledgable resource - use the search feature as someone has likely had the same question/situation previously.

Sounds like what you are contenplating to undertake could be a sizeable endeavor. I would give careful consideration if you really want to take this on. Good luck.
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Old 05-08-2011, 07:44 AM   #5
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


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Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
I am in SoCal. I pull owner-builder permit and can do my own electric work. For extensive work in main breaker box, especially if involving the service coming in - I get an electrician to do that portion of the work. I do most everything else - running cables, lighting, outlets, subpanels, etc.
.
the problem is; OP is not an owner or even known to the owner. It is a contractor (painting) and his buddy (the OP) wanting to rewire the house for a customer of the painter.

Unless this is 100% volunteer work, I am certain it is not legal without a licensed electrician. Depending how your area deals with this, if it is all volunteer work and the homeowner pulls the permit, it might be legal. They need to speak with the building department to determine the legality of their exact situation.
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:13 AM   #6
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


It's got to be said. But OP, if you and your friend do this for the nice little old lady it exposes all of you to an incredible amount of liability risk. You acknowledge that both you and your friend are not experienced in electrical work - some of the questions you are asking are pretty basic. If you make an error that results in injury or damage the homeowner could sue you. If you or your friend get injured while working on the old electrical system who is going to cover your injuries?

I admire your desire to help out one of our senior citizens. Until you get a lot more education under your belt - and determine if you can legally do the work - You would be better off trying to find a licensed electrician who is willing to work with you and pull the permits.

Good luck!
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Old 05-08-2011, 09:30 AM   #7
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
the problem is; OP is not an owner or even known to the owner. It is a contractor (painting) and his buddy (the OP) wanting to rewire the house for a customer of the painter.

Unless this is 100% volunteer work, I am certain it is not legal without a licensed electrician. Depending how your area deals with this, if it is all volunteer work and the homeowner pulls the permit, it might be legal. They need to speak with the building department to determine the legality of their exact situation.
Agreed the OP should check with the building department if the senario is ok/legal. The question posed by the OP was if a homeowner in CA can do the work - the OP's senario is not exactly that.

Furthmore, the question of liabilities that was raised is a very valid point to be well considered.
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Old 05-08-2011, 01:16 PM   #8
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


The question is if a homeowner in California can rewire his house. The answer is yes if he lives in the house. When he will sell the house or when he will rent the house, the city officials come and want to see the permit.
If there is no permit, then he can not sell the house nor rent it because the insurance will not cover it anymore. I live in South Calif. and I have done it, but in the long run, it is better to start by getting a permit and have a document by a licensed electrician.
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:34 PM   #9
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


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Originally Posted by Gabriel24 View Post
The question is if a homeowner in California can rewire his house. The answer is yes if he lives in the house. When he will sell the house or when he will rent the house, the city officials come and want to see the permit.
If there is no permit, then he can not sell the house nor rent it because the insurance will not cover it anymore. I live in South Calif. and I have done it, but in the long run, it is better to start by getting a permit and have a document by a licensed electrician.
but the question was a red herring since the homeowner is not one of the people planning on rewiring the house.
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Old 05-08-2011, 02:51 PM   #10
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
but the question was a red herring since the homeowner is not one of the people planning on rewiring the house.
I thought communism was the red herring.
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Old 05-08-2011, 05:05 PM   #11
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
the problem is; OP is not an owner or even known to the owner. It is a contractor (painting) and his buddy (the OP) wanting to rewire the house for a customer of the painter.

Unless this is 100% volunteer work, I am certain it is not legal without a licensed electrician. Depending how your area deals with this, if it is all volunteer work and the homeowner pulls the permit, it might be legal. They need to speak with the building department to determine the legality of their exact situation.

I'm pretty sure it isn't legal anyways even being volunteer work, your still rewiring a home without a license. i'm not sure about cali but NH has HUGE ramifications for performing electrical work on property that isn't your own. I don't want to sound like an ass or anything but like what Leah Frances said the OP is asking extreemly basic questions regarding electrical wiring in a home. This is not a DIY project imho, please if it looks like it may be an issue tell the painter to hire a professional for this one, it's not worth digging a deep hole here. This old wiring needs extreme care, especially if it's aluminum.
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Old 05-08-2011, 10:23 PM   #12
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Thanks for all the warnings and suggestions.
Indeed I ask a few basic questions, that is where I need to start, as I am not a PE and do not have recent experience with wiring a house. I have seen many house wirings up close and even helped (volunteered) in putting in the outlets, fixtures and switches in some houses post-Katrina, but there was a licensed electrician to sign off, after I populated and wired the service panel and hooked up all the wiring, that another volunteer already put in the wall, to the proper outlets & switches. BTW, I have MsEE as background but recently mainly done electronic designs. I can draw and read a schematic, but have not done a design of a house according any recent NEC, that is why I registered here, as well as the fact that I am not from CA. I lived here 5 years. Originally I am from Europe and my current house is in India. I will heed the advice about (absence of) permits and will contact the house owner to discuss about owner-builder permit or her desire to keep/sell the house, then advise to talk to authorities accordingly.
Again thanks for the advice!
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Old 05-08-2011, 11:22 PM   #13
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
BTW, I have MsEE as background but recently mainly done electronic designs
then you are definitely not qualified to wire a house. Engineers do not think in the same dimension as an electrician.

I think you need to think a bit more about this and realize you just are not qualified to rewire a house, regardless of whether the owner pulled a permit or not. If you screw it up and the house burns down, there will be somebody looking for you whether it be the police or the insurance company would depend on exactly what happened in the fire.
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Old 05-09-2011, 12:43 AM   #14
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
Engineers do not think in the same dimension as an electrician.
Hi nap.
Agreed, but that does not mean that I can't understand an electrician or even do that work. I got no remarks after wiring up some houses post-Katrina from the licensed electrician inspecting them. That is why I said in my original post that I plan to get my PE to become licensed. I understand that I will need to learn some things and understand the recent changes in NEC before I can make a design for a house.
But wiring a house or inspecting work and signing off against an existing design should be no problem. I may be a volunteer, but I am not stupid,
I know where my limitations are and where I need input because my knowledge is lacking. That is why I registered here and ask questions.
Thanks for the guidance.
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:05 AM   #15
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Can homeowner (or friend) rewire in California?


Quote:
=cvandewater;644317]Hi nap.
Agreed, but that does not mean that I can't understand an electrician or even do that work
. My apologies on the first comment. It was meant as humor. I often joke about the relationship between the engineers and field guys. It seems they just don't see things from the same perspective and it makes for some interesting conversations.




Quote:
I got no remarks after wiring up some houses post-Katrina from the licensed electrician inspecting them.
yes but that is a world of difference that being in charge of the work, making your own decision, and being able to abide by the code.


Quote:
But wiring a house or inspecting work and signing off against an existing design should be no problem.
this is the engineer in you speaking. There is a huge difference between reading the code, even understanding the code, and putting that into a practical application and this isn't even addressing the work itself which is something that isn't even controlled by code but simply having learned how to do the work itself.

Quote:
I may be a volunteer, but I am not stupid,
I didn't say you were.

Quote:
I know where my limitations are and where I need input because my knowledge is lacking. That is why I registered here and ask questions.
Thanks for the guidance.
Ok, from what I see:

1. you are not properly licensed to be able to do this work
2. your friend is not properly licensed to do this work

those things together mean you should not even consider doing this kind of work in any business setting. If you are helping a friend work on his house; fine but you are not allowed, legally, to do any of this work on any situation that you would be doing this work in any sort of business relationship.

Then, we come to what you are actually qualified to do.

First, we have this:
Quote:
Now I have some questions, such as - building code and NEC have changed, so the wiring will likely need to be adapted for that reason alone.
this shows your lack of knowledge of the code. The NEC does not require knob and tube wiring to be replaced simply because it is in there. It is allowed to remain wherever it is existing and in good condition. If in the course of performing electrical work you come across K&T, if you are not doing anything to that circuit, it does not have to be replaced or altered.

Quote:
In addition, it may be better to add some outlets and discard all the old
(two prong) ones
.As a matter of course, an existing wiring system is allowed to remain as installed. Depending on why you are doing work, you may or may not have to add outlets. As well, you don't just change 2 prong outlets to 3 prong. There is important changes to the circuit that is required when you change to 3 prong outlets.

Quote:
I am not sure if it is allowed to run romex through attic and walls or that it
all must be conduit these days. I remember that conduit was only required
for exposed wiring.
This shows blatant ignorance of the codes. The codes aren't something you pick up overnight. There are many requirements within the code and if you are not aware of something this major, the chances of not knowing of some less addressed issues is not just possible but probable. It takes years to learn the nuances within the code. Heck, most people have trouble just trying to read the code and find simple answers without some serious time using the code.

Quote:
It is an old Californian house, I doubt it is more than 1200 sqft and 2 bedroom. So probably a few days work.
and this really shows your lack of understanding of the requirements of the work. Best of luck trying to completely wire a 1200 sq ft home with the work being performed by a painter and an engineer that helped at a few houses trying to learn how to be an electrician in a few days. It isn't happening, at least with having a decent end product. Sorry but it just isn't happening.



So, regardless of your level of intelligence or what you might be training for or what other electrical work you might have helped with; you are not qualified to do this work and attempting it, beyond the legal issues, would be a disservice to anybody allowing you to do the work.

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