Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

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Old 03-30-2005, 07:01 PM   #1
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Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Hey guys, just wanted to get some opinions. I own a home repair/remodeling business, and I was thinking of adding SOME....MINOR...electrical and plumbing repairs to my list of services. Such as replacing fixtures, switches, receptacles, faucets, toilets, etc.

Question is, what do you think would be considered "too much" without a license? I would think the things I named above would be considered ok to do.

For the record I'm in IL, and I know I'll have to check with a lawyer in my area to make sure, just wondering if anyone else does this, or has any thoughts on the matter (aside from "you're stealing work from licensed professionals"...heard that already). Also, in case anyone wonders, in IL a homeowner is allowed to do their own plb. and elec. work. I guess I could advertise ASSISTANCE doing this WITH the homeowner, but I'd rather see what's legal, if anything, before I decide exactly what I'm going to do.
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Old 03-30-2005, 07:19 PM   #2
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Where I work, they are much more forgiving with plumbing than electrical. The inspectors kind of ignore the replacement of anything that the average homeowner could do theirselves but don't get caught gluing or sweating anything. They are quite a bit stiffer on the elect. which is why I keep a licensed electrician on staff. Check with your building dept.


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Old 03-30-2005, 07:31 PM   #3
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

If it's legal, it would still be a good idea to get a good electrician to at least show you how to do the basic tasks that you have mentioned. You owe it to your customers; there is a lot at stake.

I used to hire an electrician to sub for me. I worked as a laborer and gopher for him on the jobs, and I became a pretty good amateur electrician over a period of years by doing this. The biggest lesson that I got from doing this is that I am NOT an electrician, and that I'm never going to BE an electrician. Except for the most basic tasks, I call a pro. It's too easy to make a mistake, and the stakes are very high.

Last edited by wasdifferent; 03-30-2005 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 03-30-2005, 07:57 PM   #4
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

although a lot of inspectors dont look too close at changed devices or fixtures or the such ,the legal part may be what gets you in trouble even the simple things that the homeowner can buy at home depot or wherever if you look closely at the instructions (no one reads them thats probobly why no one see it) it clearly states "to be installed by a qualified electrician".

not to try and deter you but you could be opening a can of worms for yourself

on another point if you dont know what trouble signs to look for you may not see a potential hazard that could be avoided or safety issue needing to be addressed.

just some food for thought , because that sh*t can kill and im sure that the price of a qualified installer may make those nights sleeping go a whole lot easier.

by the way when i say qualified that too is a tough one, ive repaired some work that was suppose to have been installed by a licensed electrician and thought his license must have come from the sally struthers school .
find someone you can trust and if he is straight up he wont try to buy a condo on the little work needed to change out devices and fixtures
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Old 03-30-2005, 07:59 PM   #5
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

his license must have come from the sally struthers school
"in 20 years you will regret more what you did not do than what you did"
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Old 03-30-2005, 08:08 PM   #6
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

I'm not sure what a lawyer is going to do for you? Like Teetor said call the building dept for specific guidelines as to what can and can't be done without a license. They are the bottom line, not a lawyers interpretation. In my county as a homeowner I can do everything, all phases of electrical and plumbing as long as I pull a homeowner's permit. After years of working on my own properties I can do all the basic plumbing and electrical work, but when I do a job for a customer I can't touch that work and have to have a licensed sub. Big difference between what you can do and what you can do according to building and zoning.
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Old 03-31-2005, 12:18 AM   #7
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

qoute: If it's legal, it would still be a good idea to get a good electrician to at least show you how to do the basic tasks that you have mentioned. You owe it to your customers; there is a lot at stake. :endquote

Thanks MikeSewell, and I agree with you, I owe it to my customers to do it right, and know how to do it EXACTLY right. I have learned alot about wiring and plumbing, have used it many times in my own homes, and feel confident about sleeping at night, when and if i do any of said work for a customer.

After I wrote that earlier, I thought that the BD would probably be a better source than a lawyer...especially where I live

Thanks guys, I'll check with them and I feel good that anything that's legal for any joe blow to do, I can handle.
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Old 04-15-2005, 04:58 AM   #8
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

You know why I dont do painting, drywall, roofing, siding,flooring,or windows?

Because, I spent the better part of my life doing plumbing and heating.

Today we have to spend 3 years in the field and have at least 300 hours of classes before we can even think of getting a ticket.

Stick to the stuff you do well, and leave the things that you "dabble in" to the people who have the experance to do it right.

In my state you cannot do any aspect of plumbing repairs, however that does not stop HD from selling products to home owners, many do there own.

Just dont get caught.

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Old 04-16-2005, 01:27 PM   #9
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

I'm in Illinois and don't touch plumbing without a licensed plumber. In some villages the homeowner can do it, not me.

As far as electrical, I'm not certain but I think you could handle low voltage without a license. Beyond that maybe fixture and switch replacement. If it gets into moving conduit though - you're in the realm of licensing.

As Steve the Foreman would say, "Forgive him Lord, for he doesn't know what he's doing."
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Old 04-16-2005, 09:24 PM   #10
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

That's basically what I was asking about. New fixtures, switches, etc. Not at all interested in new circuits, wire pulls, or any other major work. I figure these things(fixtures, etc.) would be more of a hassle to a licensed sparky than anything else. At any rate, I'll find out for my town/service area, and go with that. I think I'll even shy away from the "I'll assist YOU in doing YOUR OWN elec. and plmb. work" that could be open for debate who did what and who decided what, if it ever came down to liability.
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Old 04-16-2005, 09:51 PM   #11
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

If you call the building dept they will require the max. Go to your states website for contractors or state board of contractors. There will be an explanation of do & donts.
The best thing so as not to have to worry is to get the home owner to get the permit. This will allow you to do most repairs as they will still have to be inspected by the building official.
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Old 04-16-2005, 10:10 PM   #12
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Mike S. said it better than I can but I will attempt it anyway.

The more I learn about electricity the more I dont want to mess with it!

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Old 04-17-2005, 04:18 AM   #13
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Thank you. You are a wise man.

My electrician has been in the business for probably about 45 years or so. He can tell you what brand of circuit breakers were recalled in 1974, what brand of switches were re-designed in 1981, what brand of fixtures had loose connections in 1993 etc, etc, etc... These issues are a matter of life and death for my customers.

Years ago when I was young and foolish enough to take on small electrical jobs, I had two houses BURN TO THE GROUND before I even showed up to start the jobs that were already scheduled. Wanna talk about a wake-up call...

Unless you live, eat, drink, and sleep electrical, you shouldn't mess with it. This is NOT a trade for weekend warriors. You can read all of the books that you want, but sooner or later you will get blind-sided by some crazy little detail that you didn't even think of as an ingredient. Every experienced electrician has a long list of horror stories about these little things that wouldn't dawn on anyone but a real pro.

I'm here to tell you that a good electrician is a wonderful asset, and is well worth the money. I gladly pay it.
Best regards,

Last edited by wasdifferent; 04-17-2005 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 04-17-2005, 02:08 PM   #14
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

I have mentioned it before, but will say it again. I only use union or union trained sparkys on my projects. Prolly has to do with the fact my Dad was a fireman and in those days, electrical problems were the cause of most home fires. But then Ben Franklin came along with his ideas, but I still use Union guys in the area 'only'.
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Old 08-10-2006, 02:01 PM   #15
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Doesn't bother me ...
Like the man says, find out if the locals will hang you or not.
I guess my standard would be ... "will my insurance company cover it?"
warmest regards
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Old 08-10-2006, 05:21 PM   #16
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Food for thought. Building codes are written for a reason. So are plumbing and electrical codes.

Apprentice plumbers in states that regulate plumbing to require a licence, go to school 3-5 years, and have to prove 3-5 years of OJT as well.

Ask yourself, why is this?

A home in bedroom community near Little Rock, Arkansas was remodeled seven years ago, to the tune of 1.7M.

Six years ago, the homeowners went on vacation to Europe for a month. While they were gone, a washing machine hose developed a leak and the water completely destroyed the entire house in the estimated 3-4 weeks the hose was leaking.

The first floor was 8 inches shorter from the bowed lumber supporting the second floor and the roof system. The neighbors just thought the sprinkler system was running too much and keeping the street gutter wet. That is until the stone applied to the front of this house started popping off from the buckled walls.

Homeowners sued everyone involved in the remodel, and so did their insurance company. Turned out the homeowner had installed the new washer hoses with his brother-in-law's help. They managed to oval the steel nut that threaded onto the hot water spigot.

His brother-in-law was a handyman with only 100K liability coverage for general non-plumbing, non-electrical work. He got hung out to dry.

The hose washer didn't seat properly and that was the cause of the leak.
"My clients’ wishes are the center of my attention." -- David Guido, a contractor in Woodstock, N.Y.
New York Times, July 20, 2006
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Old 08-24-2006, 02:00 PM   #17
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Re: Non-Licensed Elec. & Plumbing

Let me tell you a little true story There was a h o here in ma that called an electrian to add a few outlets in her living room. Electrian comes out looks at job and by code must fix any violations in immediated area gives her a price too high h o says no thanks she calls a handyman to install outlets (without lic)

House catches fire a week later ,cause was improper outlet installation but thats not the end of the story the H o was able to get out of the house when fire started But her two kids ages 3 and 6 months died the handy man is in jail (involuntary man) So by trying to save a 100 bucks or so she killed her kids

Moral of story every man to his own trade


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