Learn about getting codes and permits when you tackle plumbing and electrical work by yourself. Get tips on finishing the project by hiring a plumber and electrician to make sure you are up to code, and are not a potential fire hazard.
LESLIE: Scott in Virginia is looking to best work on his project himself and is looking into how to get codes and permits. Scott, what are you working on?
SCOTT: Hi. Bought a house a couple of years ago and have a partially finished basement. Some of the studding was up and a little bit of the wiring was done. And I’m kind of wanting to know how much of this can I do myself and if I do it myself, how do I look up the codes to make sure I’m doing things to code? And do I need permits for this type work? And of course, it’ll be, you know, putting wall up, some electrical and some plumbing.
TOM: Well, I’ll tell you. You definitely do need, technically, permits to do electrical and plumbing work in your house. And that’s going to vary from state to state. But in the Virginia area, pretty much you definitely do need to have a permit. If you do the work yourself and get your own permit, you’re allowed to do that. You don’t necessarily have to hire a plumber or electrician.
LESLIE: But do you need to bring in a professional at the end to approve all of the work that was done?
TOM: No, you have to have it approved by the local code inspector. So, if you’re doing the work yourself, you’re allowed to do your own electrical and plumbing work. It just has to be up to code.
Now, your question is how do I know what current code is. Well, you need to get a copy of the code books, which I’m sure would be available at the local library. But as to the actual job that you’re tackling, Scott, now you say it includes some plumbing. Let me start there. Why does it include plumbing? Do you have to add a bathroom?
SCOTT: Yeah. There is a roughed-in … I mean to say roughed-in bathroom. When they built the house they had the pipes and all ready to go to put a bathroom in there (inaudible).
TOM: And the wiring was partially started as well?
SCOTT: Yes, but I imagine that was done by somebody without a permit.
TOM: In this particular situation, since you’ve got everything half started, I think that the easiest way to get you to completion is for you to consider hiring both a plumber and electrician just to complete these mechanicals. Because A, you don’t know if the first guy did it right to begin with. You could be like tacking onto his problems if he didn’t do it right or if she didn’t do it right. B – you know, it’s got potentially major implications if you do it wrong; in terms of, you know, dangerous electrical wiring.
And you want to get that stuff done as quickly as possible because the rest of this, frankly, is pretty easy to do. You know, if you’ve to put up a stud wall, put up some drywall, you know, put in some flooring …
LESLIE: And that’s all easily doable; whereas electrical and plumbing work might be most complicated.
TOM: Yeah, that seems to be the biggest challenge in this project, Scott. So you might want to get some help just with that and do the rest yourself.
Alright, Scott, well good luck with that project.
SCOTT: Thanks. Great show.
TOM: Thank you. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Need some help with your basement project? Maybe your kitchen project? Maybe your bath project? Maybe your garage project? Call us right now. 1-888-666-3974.