Are you planning any home renovations that involve new lighting or wiring?
It can be tempting to try to save a few dollars by doing the work yourself or hiring someone who is a general handy worker rather than a qualified electrician, but if your project involves electrical work, there is no such thing as a small electrical mistake.
That’s one of the messages Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority wants to get across to homeowners. The Safety Authority, responsible for improving electrical safety in Ontario, is conducting a spring campaign to raise awareness of the importance of hiring a licensed electrical contractor for projects that involve electrical work.
As the Safety Authority says on its website, “electrical work is inherently risky and ESA recommends hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do the work.”
We all like to save money on renovations, and if you are doing a minor project like painting a room or putting up new drywall, it’s great if you feel comfortable doing the work or have an experienced friend who can help. If the project doesn’t end up looking quite as good as it might if a professional had done it, it’s not the end of the world, as long as you’re happy with the work.
But when a project involves electrical work, mistakes can be costly, illegal and dangerous, and could cause you problems with your insurance company if there are any accidents. As the Safety Authority says, electrical fires account for an average of more than 390 fires in Ontario homes each year.
As the Authority also points out in its campaign, when renovation projects are undertaken in a home, the owners are required by law to have a proper permit. Any work must comply with Ontario’s Electrical Safety Code. The Safety Authority must inspect the work and confirm that it meets safety requirements. A survey conducted for the ESA in 2014 revealed that the majority of Ontario residents surveyed were not aware of these requirements.
The Safety Authority quotes Nancy Hanna, the organization’s director of engineering, on the issue: “With a few specific exceptions, virtually all electrical work requires an electrical permit from ESA within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts. This is a requirement under the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and is designed to identify and address mistakes that breach the Code and could lead to electrical shock or fire down the road.”
As Hanna says, projects that homeowners initially think are fairly simple and something they can do themselves often turn out to be more complicated than they had expected.
“If the electrical work isn’t done correctly and to Code, you may just end up calling in a professional anyway to redo it. This could end up costing more money in the long run.”
Hanna adds: “Replacing or making modifications to your electrical panel is a job that requires a high level of expertise that should not be taken on by the average homeowner. Hiring a licensed electrical contractor will ensure the job’s done right, and ensure the safety of your home and family.”
The ESA says hiring a licensed contractor will ensure that everything is done correctly.
A licensed contractor will know which type of work requires an electrical permit, and will know how to do the work so that it meets Ontario’s Electrical Safety Code. A licensed contractor will also arrange to have the work reviewed by ESA inspectors.
The ESA says homeowners should then keep a copy of the certificate of inspection, for insurance purposes. As the ESA explains, “some insurance companies may increase premiums or potentially even deny insurance claims if there is evidence that electrical work was done without an electrical permit or inspection.”
The ESA also points out another major reason for hiring someone who is authorized to do the work: “if you hire an unlicensed electrician and they get hurt on the job, you’re responsible.”
For information on the risks of electrical work and who is allowed to do electrical work in the home, you can visit www.electricalsmarts.ca. The site also has a tool to help you find a licensed electrical contractor in your area. Click on the “Find one near you Tab.”
For more information on permit requirements, you can also contact the ESA at 1-877-372-7233.
And if you’re interested in selling or buying a home, I have three decades of experience as a Realtor in the Ottawa market, and I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me through my website, at www.nancybenson.com, or through my office, at 613-788-2556.