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Old 01-16-2008, 10:55 AM   #1
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


A question on Massachusetts electrical code... Can a homeowner perform electrical work (and pull a permit) in their single family owner occupied home?

I see some MA town websites saying all electrical work must be performed by a licensed electrician. I see other MA town websites that say that a homeowner can perform work... as long as the homeowner is working on his/her house and it is a single family primary residence.

Anyone know the truth?

Thanks...

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Old 01-16-2008, 10:58 AM   #2
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Only way to know for sure is to check with your local authorities.

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Old 01-16-2008, 11:41 AM   #3
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Agreed- LOCAL authorities dictate what is allowed- state rules would not apply in most cases for electrical work to a residence.
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Old 01-16-2008, 12:21 PM   #4
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


I actually called the State of MA Electrical Board... and the receptionist said that a homeowner can do work on their own home. This just seems so contrary to what a majority of the town websites say... so I am looking to get some opinions from people with MA knowledge.

I am wondering if the state allows homeowners to do electrical work... but the towns dont want homeowners to do it.
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Old 01-16-2008, 01:01 PM   #5
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Not only does the state does allow homeowners to do there own work, they also don't need to pull permits.
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Last edited by Clutchcargo; 01-16-2008 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 01-16-2008, 01:56 PM   #6
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


ClutchCargo... you wrote...

The state does in fact not only allow homeowners to do there own work, they also don't need to pull permits.

I assume you you mean...

The state does in fact NOW only allow homeowners to do there own work, they also don't need to pull permits.

Do you know where this is documented?

Thanks...
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:13 PM   #7
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Quote:
Originally Posted by dpd512 View Post
I actually called the State of MA Electrical Board... and the receptionist said that a homeowner can do work on their own home. This just seems so contrary to what a majority of the town websites say
The state DOES allow homeowners to do their own electrical work (unlike plumbing), but some towns (who can make their own code modifications) do NOT allow it. So you need to check with your town.
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Originally Posted by Clutchcargo View Post
The state does in fact not only allow homeowners to do there own work, they also don't need to pull permits.
I can't see how this could be true. A licensed electrician needs to get a permit and pass inspections, but a homeowner to install a new panel and rewire an entire house without the CEO even knowing about it? That can't be true.

In the town where I lived, (lawrence) my understanding was that you could pull your own permits for electric work.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:22 PM   #8
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Each town is different. Generally, if a professional electrician needs to pull a permit and get inspections, a homeowner allowed to do his own work must also pull a permit and get inspections for the same scope of work.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:42 PM   #9
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


I went to the building office to pull permits for electrical. The inspector said he doesn't give homeowners permits but if I could get the state electrical inspector to say it's OK, then he would give me a permit. I think he expected me to drop it but I did check with the state electrical inspector. He said flat out, "homeowners don't need to pull permits [for electrical.]" I went back to the building office and told him who I talked to and he called someone to confirm. He came back and said, "I guess you don't have any use for me then." The truth is I wanted to pull a permit and get inspected.
Towns may have their own ordinances but generally in Massachusetts, homeowners can do their own electrical work.

http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/143-3l.htm
The key words to look for are "for hire."
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:53 PM   #10
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Each town is different. Generally, if a professional electrician needs to pull a permit and get inspections, a homeowner allowed to do his own work must also pull a permit and get inspections for the same scope of work.

I believe the law is written to protect the homeowner from unlicensed electricians.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:56 PM   #11
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Absolutely the state of MA allows you to do your own electrical work BUT requires a permit for almsot everything. I'm surprised they don't require one for shutting off a breaker or repairing holes in walls with spackle. You do have to make sure your city allows it, that state is very strict. The one thing you can't do is plumbing, as mentioned. That has to do with many streets & houses of that state have 2 drain pipes they connect to in the street... one ends up dumping into a river another a treatment plant. You attach your gutters to the one that dumps into the river, and your bathrooms etc. to the one that goes to the treatment plant. However, many people "added" a bathroom and attached the drainage to the wrong line which dumped their human waste & soaps into the rivers which the EPA has been having a field day with penalty fees to that state. MA has been spending lots of money trying to locate these houses plumbed into the wrong lines. You also have people tying their gutters into the treatment plant line, causing treatment for water which wasn't used. Wasn't just homeowners, builders were also making the mistake but now, no plumbing allowed in that state by the homeowner plumbing in that state has turned into an environmental fiasco. I remember the days in that state the old mills bathrooms "extended" some feet over the rivers. When you wanted to go to the bathroom you could look through the opening of the toilet to see the river some 20 or so feet below. I used to hold going to the bathroom when I was a tiny one, and visit my father at the mill and then excitedly tell him I had to go. I'd yell torpedo away as I watched it drop some many feet into the river and be taken. Ah... the good old days.

Check your city if they allow it, the state does. It goes City codes 1st, State codes 2nd, Federal last for order of priorities. If your city says you can't but your state says you can... you have to follow what your city says. If Federal says you can, but your state says you can't you have to listen to your state. Federal sets the minimums, state can only be more strict, and city more stricter than either of the above.

*EDIT* ClutchCargo posted was interesting saying you can do it without permits. It doesn't sound like the two departments are talking to each other, or confused about what it is the task. You need a permit whenever adding or modifying a circuit which, practically everything modifies or adds so needs a permit. Though, I didn't get one when I added an outlet on the other side of my vanity tying it into the GFCI outlet already there. I'm guilty.

Last edited by Piedmont; 01-16-2008 at 04:23 PM.
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Old 01-16-2008, 04:10 PM   #12
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Piedmont View Post
*EDIT* ClutchCargo posted was interesting saying you can do it without permits. It doesn't sound like the two departments are talking to each other, or confused about what it is the task. You need a permit whenever adding or modifying a circuit which, practically everything modifies or adds so needs a permit. Though, I didn't get one when I added an outlet on the other side of my vanity tying it into the GFCI outlet already there. I'm guilty.
Like you said it's up to the town, but there is nothing in the state law that says that homeowners are required to pull permits for electrical.
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Old 10-16-2008, 07:38 PM   #13
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Anyone please that can provide correct info it would be appreciated.

I have applied for an electrical permit as a home owner single family owner occupant, ok no prob there. Now I go to install smoke and co detectors and the fire capt is saying under fire code only a licensed electrician can do the electrical work. basically we're talking one of the simplest branch circuits far less complex then most household wiring in general. So does anyone know for a fact weather I can or can't install my own smoke and co system in my own home especially if the elctric inspector has said I can do my own work. The fire capt seems to be of the impression there is some fire code MA law prohibiting me doing the work and is rather vague and generalising. Please someone any insight would really be appreciated as the building is large and the cost of hiring someone to run what I am more then capable of doing and have done in the past would run into the thousands hiring a licensed person. I would need to site some specific code data for the cptian to budge.

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Old 10-16-2008, 09:23 PM   #14
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


I'd suggest calling your town's building official and asking him. The local municipality or county adopts the code and makes the permitting requirements.

For the record, as a codes official, it is my opinion that jurisdictional rules prohibiting people from doing their own work are ridiculous and counterproductive. The intent should be to ensure that the work is done safely, and causing people to circumvent the permit/inspection process is nothing short of screwy thinking. Just because someone is licensed isn't a guarantee that they are good at what they do or consciencious, and just because they're a DIYer doesn't mean they can't do professional quality work.

Here, a homeowner can do their own work and can get a permit. In order to do work for others (as a contractor), you need a license. That keeps most of the hacks at bay.
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:53 PM   #15
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Can a homeowner perform electrical work in MA?


Most places the homeowner can do their own work as KCtermite said. Also you can have someone else do the work as long as it passes inspection. However a person the does work that requires a lic. like electrical can not make you pay. This also keeps the hacks at bay.

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