Thursday, December 29, 2011

Electrical Work

Planning on changing or upgrading the electrical work in your home?

When do I need a Permit?
Electrical permits are needed when installing or altering electrical service, wiring, or circuits in existing buildings. Examples include but are not limited to:
  • Installing a new or temporary service
  • Modifying existing service or circuits
  • Relocating an electric water heater, furnace, or other electrical appliance
  • An electrical plan may also need to be reviewed

Electrical permits are NOT required in the following cases:
  • Appliance replacement without modification to electrical circuits, such as dishwashers
  • Appliances connected to outlets with a plug
  • Repair or replacement of motors, transformers, appliances, recessed or other light fixtures, switches, or control devices of the same type and rating in the same location
  • Taping joints
  • Removal of electrical wiring

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Load Bearing Wall?

Simple projects do not require permits, but what about cutting a hole in the wall to make a pass through to the kitchen or living room or to change the existing space? That depends.

Can you be sure that the area you are planning to cut has no wires running through it? Slicing through your own phone, internet, or power cords sure would make your face red and be inconvenient!

Also, is the wall load bearing? What's a load bearing wall, anyhow? We asked the Natural Handyman, who had much to say on load bearing walls, and why doing anything to them is going to give rise to the need for a permit.

Look at the structure of the house and ask the following questions:
  1. Is there a significant load above, such a built-up (multi-board) carrying beam or another wall? Is there a full floor above it, or just an empty attic?
  2. If you can view the joists in the attic, is the wall parallel or perpendicular to them? Generally, load bearing walls are perpendicular to the joists they support. If two separate floor joists or ceiling joists intersect over a wall, that wall should be considered load bearing.
  3. Is it an outside wall? You should consider all outside walls load bearing. If the house has been remodeled, a former outside wall could now be an inside wall. Examine the foundation to find these "stealth" outside walls.
  4. Look at the beams and posts in the basement. In multi-floor dwellings, posts and beams in the basement indicate bearing walls above them, even up two floors. Be aware that these multi-floor bearing walls may not be directly above each other.
  5. In complex, large homes, the basement can be a jungle of carrying beams and posts, crisscrossed and interlocked. Careful inspection is necessary to determine how this maze of beams supports the house, and its effect on the walls above.
If you have any doubts about the strength or loading status of the wall, GET PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE! You may even be able to get your local town building inspector to stop by and take a look around!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thinking of skipping the permit?

What happens if you don't get a permit?

If a permit, when needed, is not obtained before construction, you have violated city codes and regulations; you'll be subject to fines and penalties. You'll be required to obtain permits for the work and it must pass inspection, or you'll have to return the structure or site to its original condition.

Remember... construction codes were created for safety reasons. Work built without a permit can be unsafe, no matter how good it looks.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Using a Contractor

From last week's blog, you learned that many things around your home require a permit. If you hare having a contractor do the work, we suggest you contact them prior to work beginning with a few permitting questions. A knowledgable contractor will have the answers for you, and will see you as an informed consumer for asking.

We and Florida Impact recommends you ask the following:
  • Will all the work be done with a permit?
  • How much does the contractor charge for permitting?
  • Is that cost inclusive of the city/county permits or is there an additional charge?
  • Verify that the name of the contractor you hired is the same as the contractor named on the permit. Generally, the paperwork needs to be left near the work being done and you can check there.
  • When the installation is completed, will the contractor will schedule the final permit inspection with the city?