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Old 07-15-2010, 09:28 PM   #1
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


I recently bought a large, brick house in a borough of Pittsburgh, PA and gutted it to the brick. I have added framing to the exterior walls, and my friend (who is a master electrician [though out of state]) roughed in wiring to code. I am faced with the decision of either attempting to find an electrician who is willing to pull a permit and complete the wiring, or pull a permit myself.
I understand that:
  1. Finding an electrician willing to do it may be difficult
  2. I should have pulled a permit prior to performing the work and may face a fine/need to remove the wiring (though it's all still exposed [no insulation, drywall, etc)
  3. The electrical inspector will inspect the work either way
My concern is regarding liability. If the electrician does the work, I would not be liable for possible future problems. However, if I submit the permit, the inspector finds no faults and approves the work, does he/she assume liability if a problem related to the wiring occurs 10 years later? I understand that this will differ by region, but I was curious if anyone had any input. As an aside, I don't have any reason to believe that there are any problems with the wiring plan, connections, etc.

Thanks as always!

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Old 07-15-2010, 11:45 PM   #2
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


Unless your electrician or the inspector were grossly negligent in their work, they wouldn't be liable 10 years down the line. An electrical inspector checks to see if the job is wired to code, they do not test any connections or provide a warranty of the installation. Any warranty would be provided by the electrical contractor or electrician.

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Old 07-16-2010, 12:23 AM   #3
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Thank you for your input; it's the way I was leaning. He used the proper breakers (20s, 15s, GFCI, Arc Fault) as required. There are ample circuits so that load isn't an issue, and receptacles are spaced appropriately. The kitchen and bath are addressed properly. Unless a rodent gnaws a wire, someone manages to nail into a wire with an inappropriately long nail, or overloads a circuit through their own fault, I can't see how my friend's work can be blamed.
I'll pull the permit and hope that they don't grill me about my electrical knowledge.

Thanks!
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:09 AM   #4
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


I would pull the permit as if the job had not started yet. They don't know that the rough wiring is installed. You can then call for a rough inspection before the drywall is installed. I don't see how it makes any difference when the wiring work was actually done as long as the inpections were done as required - before the wiring is coverd with drywall and insulation.
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Last edited by joed; 07-16-2010 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:11 AM   #5
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


http://www.constructionweblinks.com/...homeowners.htm
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:49 PM   #6
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


In california, they make you sign a owner-builder agreement/disclosure. One of the items listed is:

8. I understand as an Owner-Builder if I sell the property for which this permit is issued, I may be held liable for any
financial or personal injuries sustained by any subsequent owner(s) that result from any latent construction defects in the
workmanship or materials.
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Old 07-20-2010, 11:08 PM   #7
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But California is Crazy!!!! I saw a Service ticket that said if you sign to have work don and then do not allow the contractor to do the work... They can take your house!!!!
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Old 07-21-2010, 06:04 AM   #8
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


Quote:
Originally Posted by Docwhitley View Post
But California is Crazy!!!!
Post of the day!
And....Understatement of the year!
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:39 PM   #9
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hah, yeah i know.

And you wonder why so many people here chose to do things without permits, because owner-builders are at risk of being sued.
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Old 07-21-2010, 10:11 PM   #10
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


Don't confuse liability with warranty issues. When you sell the house, there may be a liability issue if you sell a defective property (i.e. the wiring was done wrong), but you are going to have that liability whether or not you did the work yourself or hired a licensed electrician.

If you hired a licensed electrician to do the work, they might warranty the work, although commonly this is not done. The electrician would be legally liable for the work they did, however even then when you sell the house you remain liable to the new owner for latent defects. At best, if you sold the house and it burned down due to a latent defect in the wiring, you could claim against the electrician who wired it, who of course would claim against the supplier of the wiring and breakers etc., who would claim that it was not wired correctly, etc. This is America, you can't escape liability. As for the inspector, they assume ZERO liability for anything. Even if they miss an obvious defect, good luck shifting liability to them, not gonna happen.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:43 PM   #11
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


whats the point of inspection if inspectors are not liable for anything? maybe not financially liable, but they have a responsibility to look for things done properly, and if they fail (within reason) why shouldn't there be consequences against them?

Its the same thing with prepurchase inspection. The inspector in that case flat out says they are not responsible for anything at all, and the report will only cover what can be seen. That leaves a lot of unknowns for a home buyer. So what's the point? The house could be falling apart and an inspector can tell you that's everythings ok if he wanted to, and will be free from responsibility.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:55 PM   #12
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


I agree that it makes no sense from the homeowner's perspective that the inspector has no liability.

On the other hand, from the inspector's point of view, he/she inspects up to say 720 houses a year (3/day, 5 days per week, 48 weeks of the year). If they make a single mistake on any house and they are liable for damages then they are very likely bankrupt for a single mistake. Alternatively, they could carry insurance to protect themselves from their mistakes and based on the probability of them making a mistake and the potential cost of the mistake I would expect that insurance would be very expensive. So they would have to pass that cost off into their inspections and all of a sudden their inspection costs are 10 times greater. Given that the inspections are ten times the cost, people would have inspections way less often and all of the sudden it is just simply not financially viable to be an inspector.

In a nutshell, homeowners want cheap inspections, which translates to inspections being unable to assume any liability.
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Old 08-01-2010, 03:31 PM   #13
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DIY Electrical. Permit, Inspection, Liability Concerns


Thanks again for everyone's replies. Certainly this gives me pause for concern. J.V. posted a link regarding an injury/negligence case resulting in a $1.3 million judgement against the homeowner ['s son].
It would seem that if you were plumb a new bathroom (and get a permit) that a future owner could sue you for damages if your work were to later leak and ruin their ceiling/appliances below....or sue if you've sold a house with roof that had been unknowingly leaking.

It seems that all anyone can really do is disclose as much information as possible when selling a home. I bought mine "as-is" as a foreclosure.
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Old 08-01-2010, 04:21 PM   #14
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this is why im loving retirement!

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