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Question DetailsAsked on 5/4/2017

Who would I talk to about retroactive electrical questions

I took down a wall, and had electricians move electricity and ground existing outlets without permits. Whom would be the best person to discuss options for getting retroactive permits?

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2 Answers


Depends a LOT on your local building department and the specific electrical inspector - some can be understanding, some take great measures to be pains in the behind because you bypassed their permit process (especially if they think you did it on purpose), some make significant money on penalties (typically 1-3 times the original permit cost) so are sticklers.

Whether the work is visible or already covered up makes a difference too - or you might end up footing some bill for drywall repair and repainting after it has to be torn into for the inspector to view it. I have seen jobs like this where he is willing to view the naturally exposed areas for staple spacing and routing and general workmanship and such, and just view outlets and light boxes and such for the wiring connections quality. I have also seen inspectors who required every foot of the unpermitted runs to be exposed to inspection by cutting slots in the finished drywall - more common in the big cities and east coast in my experience but sometimes you hear about that in small or low population towns or counties where the building inspector (especially if there is only one) puts on his emperor hat.

I would talk to an electrician (maybe or maybe not the ones who did the work) - for what sounds like quite minor work, couple of usually easy solutions without risking too much - more or less in order I would consider them:

0) check if that type work had to be permitted - does not in all areas, especially if just rerouting circuits and not doing any work in the distributiuon/breaker panel

1) if permits were required, go back to the contractor and have them get them - you might pay the permit fee to keep it non-adversarial or you could hard-nose it and demand they foot the bill since they blew it initially, and go after their bond to get the job finished (permitted and approved in accordance with code) if they refuse

2) get another electrician and have him pull a permit and inspect the work, fix anything he is not willing to stand behind, and marshal it through inspection, if he is willing to do that - course more expensive

3) call from a phone that is not yours and ask to talk to a permit supervisor about your situation (without giving your name) and ask how much it is likely to hurt to get a retroactive permit and inspection - especially if your electrician were not licensed or should have gotten permit but did not to save money, so you can play the injured party

4) not by the book, but for apparently minor relocation, most people would not permit it, and it would never be discovered that it wasnot to code. Not only do most building departments keep detailed permit records at all, those that do usually discard them a couple of years after the work is done, and for a residential job would almost certainly not have drawings of the actual wiring changes anyway - either for a rework like this or for the original house wiring. Course, if you live in a hardnosed (especially east coast NYC or Boston or such) area, it might pop up - but highly unlikely to be detected unless a home inspector pops it up as substandard work in a pre-sale inspection.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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