Do it yourself Electricity?

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Posted by: from Toronto
1/21/2013 at 12:08:08 PM

So, in our basement husband is wiring some new outlets and adding some wall sconces. He is running the wire and doing the work at the outlets, but, we plan to have someone else wire to our Electrical panel. We have a friend who is a certified Electrician and is willing to do it? Although, is a Contractor-works for a company.

So, can we do this and then just bring an ESA Inspector to sign off? Do we need a permit?

Also, most of our outlets in our house are not grounded? But, the wires are there? Is there any reason they would have been installed this way? How would we tell if the wires are to the panel and if it is an easy fix?



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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:07:04 PM

Hi Mellisa:

With the number of questions that you have, it is best to let you friend do the wiring and he can handle all of the necessary paperwork if required.


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R. from R2 Renovations in Ottawa
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:07:33 PM

Hi Melissa,

In Ontario, homeowners can do their own electrical work. But must follow the regulations set out by the ESA.

Yes you must get a permit through ESA. Your electrician friend can do some of the work but ultimately you will be responsible for the permit and inspection process.

Have your electrician friend check the grounding, he should easily be able to give you an answer.



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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:18:36 PM

Hi Melissa

When it comes to electrical, home owners are allowed to pull permits and should always pull permits for electrical.

Esa will require the number of items they will be inspecting and will require an inspection when the roughing is done and one inspection when the work is completed to ensure you that everythingnis wired correctly.

As for plugs, they must always be connected to the ground wire.

Have your electrician friend double check everything before calling for inspections.

Any questions please feel free to contact me and I can put you in touch with my electrician also.



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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:20:45 PM

Hi Melissa,

Your friend needs to be a liecenced electrical contractor in order for him to pull the permit. Under the electrical rules in Ontario you must be a liecenced electrical contractor able to pull permits with ESA.

Your friend can not charge you for the work he does at your place. It should be done by a properly liecenced contractor. You can call ESA for more details. I wouldn't take any chances.

This is your home right?


Alternative electrical systems inc.

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Steve from Bath Revival in Oshawa
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:22:30 PM

Thanks for the question,

I can't quite understand about your friend, but only two types of people can do electrical work in your house, not even a licensed electrician. Only a master electrician or the homeowner can do work (pull permits). The ESA does random inspections on master electricians and they inspect every homeowner.

A home owner can do the work and a permit is only $100-200. The ESA inspectors are great. They are really helpful. Also you should get a permit because your house insurance won't cover unpermited work. They can check the wire because it is dated. Just go to the ESA website or call to get a permit.

Now with the legal stuff out of the way. If you can wire the rest of the basement you should be able to wire into the breaker box just make sure you don't over load your new circuits. Also if you have a bedroom in the area you will need a special type of circuit breaker (arc protector).

Are you sure your house is not grounded. How do you know? The only wiring that is not grounded is the old knob and tube found in houses that are almost 100 years old. If it is not grounded and it is the three wire cables you should really figure out why.

All live wires go to the panel. You can tell if it is alive by using an electrical tester. They are inexpensive and look like a pen with a plastic end.


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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:25:09 PM

Actually I tend to disagree. A "permit" must be pulled and that can only be done by the homeowner or an electrical contractor. If your friend is not an electrical contractor he cannot get the permit. Even as an electrician, your friend cannot do the work, he must be an electrical contractor.

Your insurance company will likely want a copy of the inspection report when it is complete also. I have found that the building inspectors, ESA, Ministry of Labour, etc are much more connected then they used to be. By not following the process, you may be putting your project and your friend's career at risk.



John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:26:59 PM

If you go through the city and obtain a permit for this work, the city inspector will probably insist that all work a) be completed by a certified electrician and b) that everything he/she has to inspect is completed to code. If the rest of your wiring is not up to date the inspector will probably insist that anything he/she sees be completed to code.

Could open up a big can of worms.

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 1:30:07 PM

My post does not quite make sense as it is out of order. I was responding to the first two replies.



John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 2:07:25 PM

Hi Melissa,

I was reading your post and felt I should give some of my 2cents.

First off - the contractor is the guy that owns the company and who employs the electricians that come to your project to do the work. The owner or FSR are the ones that pull the permits and sign off on the work. He takes the responsibility of the project. Your electrician friend - if he can't pull a permit for you, he's not your friend - he's a short cut to get you into problems.

YOU NEED A PERMIT - to do any new alterations to your electrical system in your home. Many people look at permits as a tax or useless bureaucratic red tape. They are there for your safety just like when you buy car insurance. You can drive without insurance - but why would you take that chance.

You can pull your own permit if you are the home owner. DO IT. The permit involves a couple separate sets of eyes to make sure the electrical system is safe and correct. If you want an eye opener, do a little search of fires in your city with electrical as the cause.

As for the bond at the outlets. This is not so major if the system is bonded correctly. If the bond wire is connected to the device box and there is a metal strap from the bond screw to the screw hole that the receptacle screws into, then technically the plug is bonded. For receptacles, the bond wire should extend to the bond screw on the receptacle. If this doesn't make sense, call out your electrician to explain how this works. A simple electrical meter will tell you if the wire returns to the panel.

Every fix is easy... its the money that's attached to the fix that is difficult.

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 2:08:17 PM

I agree whit Steve in the GTA. I no for a fact you have to be a master electrician to pull a permit or the home owner can but they must do everything them selfs, no one else can touch it.

A licensed electrician cant pull a permit any more just ran into that scenario last week. Client got the permits and wanted us to wire. We were doing other work in the house, asked the inspector he said the name(s) on the permit are the only ones allowed to do the work.

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 2:33:19 PM

I am originally from Germany and I must say some of the regulations here in Canada doesn't make any sense to me at all.

►"...In Ontario, homeowners can do their own electrical work. But must follow the regulations set out by the ESA..."

► "...but only two types of people can do electrical work in your house, not even a licensed electrician. Only a master electrician or the homeowner can do work..."

► "...Even as an electrician, your friend cannot do the work, he must be an electrical contractor..."

► "...A homeowner can do the work and a permit is only $100-200..."

If electrical work is not performed according the electrical standards it could be dangerous for the people who "use" it thereafter. That means only somebody who knows all about these standards and regulations is able to do perform such work properly. How can a homeowner (who has most likely no or at least less knowledge than an electrician) be allowed to do it while a certified electrician is not allowed to do it ??? That's pretty stupid in my opinion.

The rules in Germany make way more sense to me. ONLY certified electricians and certified gas installers are allowed to do such installations and ALL contractors in Germany are master installers with a Master Degree in his/her field. An electrician who works for in a company is also certified do do such work, however thereafter a master installer has to check his work to make sure it is safe and done by code. And NOBODY else is allowed to do any kind of work where you need special education.

You can tile YOUR bathroom by yourself as well as installing all water lines in YOUR HOUSE because it is thereafter only YOUR problem when your shower leaks thereafter or YOUR house is flooded. And nobody will be seriously harmed when your tiles fall of the wall. Your insurance company will also not pay for the damage when YOU did the work wrong and this is but this is also only YOUR problem.

For all public and commercial installations and if it is not your property, all work must be done by certified contractors and installers.

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Melissa in Toronto
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 4:02:33 PM

Thanks for the replies...just let me ask something for clarification.

We re following code on the per advice from our friend(s).

Obviously we are doing our own running of cable and wiring of the outlets to save money. Do you think it is feasible that I could hire an electrical contractor to do the inspect of our roughed in work and do the final wiring to the panel? They could then pull the permit and have the ESA inspector sign off..correct?

Would an electrical contractor take this kind of job, or do they want to start from scratch?


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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 4:58:49 PM


It varies province to province but in general, if you do the work, the permit should be applied, by you, before any work is started,

The application asks a few questions to ensure that you have a basic understanding of what you are doing. Things like proper wire size, number of outlets per circuit, GFI plugs, etc., should be known before you start the project. Once done, an inspector simply inspects your work. In Alberta, my inspector is also available for questions should I run into a question I can't answer.

As it was already mentioned, you can do your own work, but there are restrictions as to who else can help unless they are licensed electricians.

As to the grounding, every plug should be grounded. Pick up a book on wiring at your local Home Depot or similar store and it can provide some very useful information and some titp as well as explaining some of the rational.

Basic wiring isn't difficult, just follow the rules. It is all done with safety in mind. Have fun.

Regards from the west.


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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 5:44:51 PM

Hi Melissa,

There are certainly many people who seem to see the wiring jobs differently, some right, some not.

As an electrical contractor I would certainly recommend hiring a contractor to come in and atleast finish the job for you with a permit that we would apply for ourselves. (Or any other willing to take the job).

ESA would charge you about $200 to come out and go over it for you, they will NOT wire anything for you and will point you in the safe direction for your home or the home of the next owner.

Code changes often as new practices are put into place.

ARC FAULTS for bed rooms must be used and wired properly to function correctly. A journeyman electrician or apprentice could wire your home, but only a Master WITH his contractors license can get a permit. A home owner can wire the home as well and get a permit from ESA to satisfy your insurance company. A journeyman who wires a home without a permit can be fined for doing so, yes it is a rule, and even though it makes more sense to have an electrician to do the wiring than a home owner, it is still not allowed. but that is ESA's rule.

I would take take the job on under a few circumstances and apply for the permit, providing all my curiosities have been satisfied.

Everything must be CSA or UL (c) stamped, wiring around heating ducts must be insulated, no more than 12 devices to be on a circuit run, staples must be installed within 12" of boxes and only 1 wire under each!! Wires cannot touch metal areas (beams or studs) without insulation.

So many code rules, too many to list.

You've already saved lots on the install, you might as well spend a few hundred more to get a contractor who can finish it up properly.

Note: all wired areas must be visible and open to access for the inspection.

Electrical fires burn hundreds of homes annually from DIY mistakes, saving money on wiring is not one short cut I would chose.

Kind regards,

Electrilight Ltd.

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 9:09:09 PM

You need a permit when you do any electrical. My recommendation to you would be to contact ESA. They will give you all the info you need. They will need to inspect the roughing first.

Don't take a risk. Get a permit and get a master electrician. Your safety is important.

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Melissa in Toronto
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 10:22:54 PM

Had a certified ESA electrician take a look tonight. He recommended that because we, the homeowners, have done the rough in..we need to arrange the ESA to come and inspect the rough in. He said then IF there are issues they will give us a deficiency list. We can then go through him(Master electrician) to finalize install and get final sign off.

He did question something about our rough in. We are adding 7sconces..5 on one dimmer and 2 on another. The plan was to put all sconces via a junction box on one breaker.

We are also adding 5 new outlets on another breaker.

My question, is there any issue with using the junction box and if so, how would you wire all 7 sconces and two dimmer switches to one breaker? He said to use one of the sconce fixtures as the junction box.


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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time1/21/2013 at 10:41:30 PM

Hi Melissa

Robert from Electrilight makes the most sense, I have used him in the past, good guy.

Best of luck



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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 11:56:53 PM

Hi Melissa,

Anytime you do any electrical work like you are describing, you need a permit. A homeowner can take out there own permit at city hall.

Generally I would never recommend a homeowner with no experience to fo there own electrical, as it common that you may end up with even more problems.

Overall it is worth the money to hire a professional to do it for you, then you will not have to worry about future problems.

Good Luck!

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Date/Time1/22/2013 at 8:10:13 PM

Hi Melissa

First of all, just to clarify - the rules are not the same in different parts of the country or other countries. It is important for you to follow the rules for the province that you are in, which is Ontario.

Bertram, on the surface I agree with your perspective. As a certified electrician by the province I am not able to 'pull a permit' or do electrical work unless I worked for an Electrical Contractor (EC). As a Master Electrician (which technically may not even be an electrician) I still cannot 'pull a permit'. I have to be an EC and registered with the ECRA. When this legislation came into effect the general consensus was that the Ontario government did not want to legislate what a person can do in their own home, only what someone else can do to it. This came into effect in 2007 and the ESA are working with other officials to ensure compliance. It gets even worse if you own a rental property, you can't do anything in it.

Melissa, it appears that you have started the work already and your questions leads one to demonstrate why you need a person with the knowledge that you require. Be wary of the DIY sites. Many are based on USA codes and they do not apply to Canada, let alone Ontario. As far as your previous question, I have been asked to do this a number of times and I always say no thank-you. As an electrical contractor I have to take responsibility for the work that is being done under the 'permit', so I am not prepared to take that risk. At best what I have done is let a homeowner 'help' and I don't mind at all educating the homeowner. You may not be aware, but all defects are recorded and are accredited to the electrical contractor and it stays on their record. This information is important as each EC must maintain a low defect ratio <4% as found on this website .

If you find an EC that is willing to do this for you, you will be lucky. Generally there is enough work out there that they are not willing to take the 'risk'. This really has nothing to do with their quality of workmanship or their abilities; it is just about what level of risk they are comfortable with. I am just waiting for the day that someone burns their house down and blames the 'helpful electrician' or their 'buddy the electrician'.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Mark in Lindsay
Date/Time7/24/2014 at 7:37:12 PM

Another vote for call a licensed Electrical Contractor. As many of the LEC on here have already pointed out, a master electrician or licensed electrician cannot take an electrical permit out. It has to be a Licensed Electrical Contractor, or the homeowner of a single family dwelling ( which means if its a rental until, the owner cannot pull a permit).

If you have started the project, and have done all the branch wiring, call ESA for the rough in inspection, and then call a EC if you want them to finish it.

We have the same opinion as John, we will not do any work on a job where the permit is pulled by the owner as we cannot by ESA regulations.

Listen to the EC's that have posted, they know best.

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Date/Time1/31/2017 at 5:23:38 PM

Hi Melissa:

Electricity is something, unless you are qualified, should not be handled by a novice. everyday, there are issues with wiring that sometimes result in death. Trained certified professionals are the only ones that should be wiring. That is how they make their living, and although saving a few dollars seems important, your life is far more valuable.

They have gone through a lot of training and are held accountable for their actions. Let the responsible ones do the safety related jobs.


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