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Old 10-07-2017, 12:04 AM   #1
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Default Pulling permits

I understand pulling permits are required for electrical work , but what about on these really small jobs.... even just changing a blown GFCI or a failed breaker....

Sometimes the customer asks do you need a permit for this ?

How should you respond without incriminating yourself, I couldn’t imagine having to do permit paperwork for some of these 10 minute service calls


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Old 10-07-2017, 12:09 AM   #2
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Permitting requirements are local. It's up to each bldg dept to say what they want a permit for. Most bldg departments put it in their fee schedule because permit fees are commonly based on valuation.

Many places say up to $500 or $1,000 in maintenance and repairs of lawfully installed construction does not need a permit. All new (added) work needs a permit. Any work which requires POCO disconnect & reconnect requires a permit (to trigger the reconnect inspection).

I can't imagine any bldg department wanting a licensed electrician to pull a permit to replace a receptacle.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:23 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by WronGun View Post
I understand pulling permits are required for electrical work , but what about on these really small jobs.... even just changing a blown GFCI or a failed breaker....

Sometimes the customer asks do you need a permit for this ?

How should you respond without incriminating yourself, I couldn’t imagine having to do permit paperwork for some of these 10 minute service calls


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We are lucky that in our state we have something called "minor labels".

It's a special permit only for contractors to do work on up to 2 ckts 30 amps or less.

Costs $14 and bought in a book of 10. All info is entered online and when a book of 10 is complete the state pulls 1 at random to inspect. If it passes the other 9 pass too.

Works slick. Don't know if other states have these or not...?

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Old 10-07-2017, 12:34 AM   #4
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For small stuff I just tell them permits are $110 and need two hours at our service rate for meeting the inspector, along with them being home or leaving a key out, and let them decide. The fine here goes on the homeowner, not the contractor, so who cares if I get caught and they declined one.

The lady downtown would laugh at me for calling a permit for a breaker and the inspector would just get back in the truck after asking what we are looking at.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:54 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by MikeFL View Post
Permitting requirements are local. It's up to each bldg dept to say what they want a permit for. Most bldg departments put it in their fee schedule because permit fees are commonly based on valuation.

Many places say up to $500 or $1,000 in maintenance and repairs of lawfully installed construction does not need a permit. All new (added) work needs a permit. Any work which requires POCO disconnect & reconnect requires a permit (to trigger the reconnect inspection).

I can't imagine any bldg department wanting a licensed electrician to pull a permit to replace a receptacle.
It's a very hard lesson for a homeowner when they have to cut walls open for electrical inspections but an architect can sign off on a concealed wall.
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Old 10-07-2017, 04:39 AM   #6
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Here in Washington we have a book of permit stickers that are called class b labels. We can use them for small jobs and up to a 20amp 120v new circuit. Anything larger requires a full permit. But the labels are about 10 bucks each. They have to be validated but it's quick and easy.


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Old 10-07-2017, 05:44 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by WronGun View Post
I understand pulling permits are required for electrical work , but what about on these really small jobs.... even just changing a blown GFCI or a failed breaker....

Sometimes the customer asks do you need a permit for this ?

[ My AHJ does not require permits for repairs -- one for one replacements. Once this is brought up, the discussion ends. ]

How should you respond without incriminating yourself, I couldn’t imagine having to do permit paperwork for some of these 10 minute service calls

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That is a rule that's generally observed, I hope.

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Old 10-07-2017, 06:52 AM   #8
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My standard reply was that permits are required for everything except device and light fixture replacements and other maintenance, but it's a waste of time and money to get them and will cost them more because of the extra time involved.
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Old 10-07-2017, 08:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WronGun View Post
I understand pulling permits are required for electrical work , but what about on these really small jobs.... even just changing a blown GFCI or a failed breaker....

Sometimes the customer asks do you need a permit for this ?

How should you respond without incriminating yourself, I couldn’t imagine having to do permit paperwork for some of these 10 minute service calls


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Hasn't failed me yet:

Them: "Do we need a permit for this?"

Me: "If you ask the building department they will say yes, but I have never had a customer want to pull a permit for a job like this. I would never tell a customer not to pull a permit, and I will pull one any time they want. But most people don't want to pay the extra and have the town snooping around here. Pulling a permit is going to increase the cost of the job considerably. If it was something like a service upgrade, hot tub, or standby generator it would benefit you to pull a permit. But this type of work we are doing here won't make any difference."

Often times I don't even have to go that far, they say "Ok, no permit" halfway thru.

Remember, this is another thing that depends on the area. Where I live, people are a bit more cynical, many people are already paying $10K, some $20K or more per year in taxes to the town. The last thing they want to do is pay more, and have the town come in and find a way to make more money off of them.
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Old 10-07-2017, 08:57 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Glock23gp View Post
We are lucky that in our state we have something called "minor labels".

It's a special permit only for contractors to do work on up to 2 ckts 30 amps or less.

Costs $14 and bought in a book of 10. All info is entered online and when a book of 10 is complete the state pulls 1 at random to inspect. If it passes the other 9 pass too.

Works slick. Don't know if other states have these or not...?

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You must be in Oregon, right?
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Old 10-07-2017, 08:58 AM   #11
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Again I ask - why does the government need to be involved?
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Old 10-07-2017, 11:24 AM   #12
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You must be in Oregon, right?
Correct

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Old 10-07-2017, 11:29 AM   #13
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Again I ask - why does the government need to be involved?
How else are they going to get the money to help all the people sitting on welfare and are too lazy to work and "need" assistance....?

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Old 10-07-2017, 11:31 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by WronGun View Post
I understand pulling permits are required for electrical work , but what about on these really small jobs.... even just changing a blown GFCI or a failed breaker....

Sometimes the customer asks do you need a permit for this ?

How should you respond without incriminating yourself, I couldn’t imagine having to do permit paperwork for some of these 10 minute service calls


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Ask your local AHJ for assistance.
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Old 10-07-2017, 11:42 AM   #15
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Per OP.
Speaking for my state...which is the only place I work.
The Residential Code of Ohio has a clause referring maintenance.

The residence has to be kept up to code the year the house was built
and "certificates of plan approval" (Note: the word "permit" does not
exist in our state code) is not required for maintenance. Your example
would fall under this category.
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Old 10-10-2017, 07:44 PM   #16
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Permits are to protect "the public" against shoddy work. So on new construction. After that the "owner" is responsible for maintaining a property or hiring someone to do it. When it goes from maintenance to construction again such as significant modifications, a permit is required. But explain that to industrial plants which are most of my customers. An industrial plant is effectively under almost constant modification and they never pull permits. Even in the very socialist New Jersey the local Code department manager and I had this discussion. His problem was he was concerned about being leaned on by the state. So we agreed I would pull permits in anything visible from the road and the occasional office project just as an invite for him to visit. He basically told me flat out he knew nothing about three phase, never mind medium voltage or controls and MCCs. So after that I'd pick some trivial project and invite him over for coffee and donuts ("inspection") about once a year. He'd charge us some trivial fee, give me some paper to file with the project, and everyone was happy. Italian politics at its finest. Half the time he'd come over with some goofy thing a neighbor did and just wanted to pick my brain on how to handle it. Only "finding" he ever found is a generator transfer switch had only a CE Listing on it. It was simple to resolve. UL sticker didn't get put on this one...they basically shipped us the wrong box. And I got an education on the differences in NRTLs and why CE will never be accepted in the U.S.

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Old 10-10-2017, 07:49 PM   #17
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Permits are to protect "the public" against shoddy work.
Yeah, in theory that's what they are. The reality is they are a revenue stream for local governments, and they rarely, if ever, actually protect the public. The process is so corrupt in my area that I have zero confidence in it. It should be torn down and abolished.
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Old 10-10-2017, 08:54 PM   #18
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Yeah, in theory that's what they are. The reality is they are a revenue stream for local governments, and they rarely, if ever, actually protect the public. The process is so corrupt in my area that I have zero confidence in it. It should be torn down and abolished.
You can't honestly believe that a couple hundred dollars for somebody that needs weeks of training a year, plus a paycheck, plus benefits, comes even close to covering the Code departments costs. And yes anything involving government often involves politics.

I can spot shoddy work a mile away. For me as a field service guy, its a survival instinct. I'm sure so can the Code inspectors.. But also my idea of what matters vs. trivial crap is different based on my experience. For instance industrial plants like to just skin out the ends and leave the other 25 feet of cable laying in the bottom of the panel. Not only is it a Code violation and makes it so much harder and more dangerous to troubleshoot later but it has no value except laziness. And yeah I've heard the "extra argument". That's in the Code. Its 8", not 8 feet. I've also seen pulling cables too close together, drip loop issues, lack of seals on boxes, the problems off too good a seal and stainless boxes in sunlight, never mind the nightmare scenarios in medium voltage of tracking damage. Some of these are Code violations, some not. My perspective is very different from an inspector. So I'm not impressed with inspectors either but I know I come at it from a very different background. I'm the maintenance guy, not the new construction guy.

Like everybody inspectors have their favorites for whatever reason whether its taking a crew for granted because they do excellent work (or have the best line of crap), the best donuts and coffee they "share" with the inspector or because the inspector knows a buddy personally, or because you get to know a contractor that you see literally multiple times a week. And there are always the biggest political donors that probably get under the skin of the inspectors knowing they are "required" to pass the inspections no matter how bad the workmanship. I have the same issues...I definitely have my favorite clients as well as the ones that really irritate me because of political reasons. I try to do my best work though in spite of that. So do the inspectors. I'd also agree that an inspector is usually going to look to see if you out every screw in the cover but probably walk right past the fact that there are 20 hots and only 10 neutrals in a panel, or the fact that blue smurf tube is basically not meant to do anything beyond hiding the wiring from view. But as I said...the guy probably has to do a half dozen inspections per day and probably isn't given two hours to look at every possible Code issue, and might not have been the best in the business...let's face it if the inspector was, he'd still be in private industry making more money. When I don't have time for in depth inspections I only catch the highlights too.

That's assuming someone isn't downright dishonest. You wouldn't believe the corporate level wine and dine stuff that goes on. Things like when a customer says "I can't buy your product this year because my wife didn't get her cruise to Tahiti so I've got to spend all my time listening to her instead of focussing on the business." But even if the inspector is completely uncorrupted, it can still give the appearance of corruption just because of what I just said. So then we all go to the parts counters and we all talk and well you pretty quickly get a pretty ugly view of what goes on just listening to guys griping when they think nobody is looking.

So I wouldn't say the process is perfect by any means, far from it. But if you've seen what homeowners or industrial mechanics doing electrical work looks like, never mind guys that work without a license or inspections if any kind, it kind of keeps some of that in check. I'd say the driver license tests are obviously a joke too but by and large it does catch some extreme cases.

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