Can I Do My Own Electrical Work In BC? This is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get asked. You might be very surprised once you have read below to find out the answer. Although most of it makes sense to us, then we are award-winning Electricians in Nanaimo.
You, like many in British Columbia, might be shocked (nice pun) to learn that you cannot perform electrical work in your own homes unless they have the proper permit. In Nanaimo, even small projects, like replacing light fixtures, updating electrical outlets, and connecting permanently installed appliances require a permit.
We are extremely experienced as Electricians performing electrical work in BC, and we are required to obtain permits for many projects, big and small. However, as licensed Electricians in Nanaimo we can carry out a handful of specific tasks without requiring a permit (unlike homeowners), the larger projects still require a permit. Fortunately, experienced electricians take care of these permit requirements behind the scenes, on behalf of their clients.
BC’s Electrical Safety Regulation
The next hurdle to carrying out your own electrical work is BC’s Electrical Safety Regulations, which change frequently. Even with a permit, homeowners do not have free reign over their electrical projects. In BC, Section 17 of the Electrical Safety Regulation within the Safety Standards Act spells out exactly what a homeowner can and cannot do when it comes to electrical projects in their homes.
Homeowners cannot perform electrical work if the current exceeds 200 amps or the voltage exceeds 150 volts to the ground in single-phase power. They also cannot perform electrical work if the home supplies power to another owned or occupied property. This actually happens more than you would think, depending on how your home was built and if any additional properties have since been built.
In addition, all electrical work performed by homeowners may be inspected. Homeowners are required to request an inspection from a safety officer after their work is completed, but before the wires are concealed or connected to a power source. The safety officer will then decide whether they need to inspect the work. Many homeowners bypass this step, but when it comes to sell their home, a inspection certificate might be one of the subjects or picked up by a home inspection.
You are now at a point where you still want to carry out your own electrical work and are secure in the knowledge that you are complying with the BC Electrical Safety Regulations.
How To Obtain A Permit
If you decide to perform electrical work in your own home within BC, you will need to obtain a permit from Technical Safety BC. You can apply for this permit online. In some locations, such as Victoria, the local municipality will issue permits instead.
The exact cost for this permit will depend on the project and can range from approximately $100 to over $1,000. Fortunately, the cost of the inspection is already included in the permit fees. You will only have to pay for an inspection if your work does not comply with the Canadian Electrical Code and needs to be re-inspected.
There are 5 steps to the permitting process:
- Apply and pay for the permit
- Receive approval for the project
- Submit a declaration form after every project phase or 180 days (whichever comes first)
- Submit the Electrical Homeowner Inspection Request within 180 days of the permit being issued
- Complete the final inspection
The inspection may be completed in person or remotely, at the discretion of the safety officer. A remote inspection may require photos, video, phone calls, emails, and live video calls. You will need to work with the inspection officer to determine what is required for the inspection and it is your responsibility to fulfil those requirements. If you were the safety officer and you came across two permits, one from an electrical contractor and one from an inexperienced homeowner, which would potentially get more detailed attention?
Why Do I Need A Permit?
The process of obtaining a permit can be a hassle and some homeowners will ignore permitting requirements (not wise if you ever want to sell your home). While this is tempting, it’s also extremely irresponsible. The permitting process has been developed to enforce the Canadian Electrical Code, and the Canadian Electrical Code exists for one reason: to keep you safe and everyone else safe.
When the Canadian Electrical Code is ignored, one of two things can happen:
It sounds dramatic, but the entire Canadian Electrical Code was developed to prevent these two things from happening. Fires and electrocution are a common and very real hazard when well-meaning homeowners pursue electrical products without having a thorough and proper understanding of the Electrical Code.
The permitting process helps enforce the Canadian Electrical Code and holds homeowners accountable for their own projects. Safety officers can identify hazards and correct mistakes before they become dangerous, keeping everyone safe.
While permitting is inconvenient, it is necessary. It keeps you and your family safe, while also protecting the greater community, and potentially protects the financial investment you made with your property.
Would it be much easier and less hassle to hire an Electrician instead?
If you don’t want to go through the hassle and rigmarole of getting a permit and organizing safety inspections, we don’t blame you! Instead, you can hire a qualified electrician in British Columbia to perform the work on your behalf. Electricians will take care of the permitting and ensure your electrical projects are up to code.
I hope you found this article useful, remember we offer free load calculations before carrying out any work.