Is minimum $78 + HST for mandatory electrical inspection for one light too high?

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Posted by: from Toronto
4/20/2015 at 11:07:29 AM

A licensed electrical contractor must pass a mandatory inspections every time he installs a light fixture or a switch. It is expensive, minimum $78 + HST. And I have to pay it on top of the cost of work.

I think $88 HST incl. charge for a 3 to 7 minute long inspector's visit is too much. What to you think?

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Date/Time4/20/2015 at 12:49:43 PM

I don't think it is. ESA inspector gets paid by the hour like everyone else and there's the cost for the car he drives and time spent in traffic to come back and forth and more. So even if inspecting just a fixture and spending 5 min on site there's more behind it like in every business.

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Brandon from Flux Electrical in Baddeck
Date/Time4/20/2015 at 1:18:21 PM

It is only necessary to call NSP to pull a permit and book an inspection if the electrician is working on more than two circuits up to 30A.

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Pete in Toronto
Date/Time4/20/2015 at 1:31:42 PM

@ Alban

What about customers?

$88 mandatory inspection fee goes on top of the cost of work.

People simply refuse to pay a total of $160 or $250 for installing a single outlet or installing a couple of light fixtures.

Do you know many electrical contractors who really pull a permit and make customers pay $88 inspection fee on top of the cost of one plug installation?

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Cory from Vancity Electric in Surrey
Date/Time4/20/2015 at 2:40:37 PM

Sounds on the low side to me. Once you break out all of the costs, that contractor basically won't be making any money taking on this job at that price.

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time4/20/2015 at 4:19:09 PM

There is so much behind the ESA and their workings, you'd all be sleeping by the end of the lesson. Fact is, the ESA helps keep the hazard risks lower by throwing the permit book around. There is a lot more they can do, and I must say that yes their fees are certainly way over the top on some accounts such as this: Imagine worst case - Toronto island airport inspection on Sunday, Xmas, after midnight, bill could be as high as $1000 depending on what it is, possibly more!! The inspectors are not millionaires, nor is ESA not-for-profit (as they claim to be), everyone needs to make a profit otherwise they'd be out of business, but they employ a lot of people doing a lot of good for this province.

The trouble is all the underground workers not pulling permits and doing horrible dangerous work that started all this permit thing in 1999, when the gov't awarded the ESA the right to organize the contractors and inspect all work, by everyone.

As an ESA Electrical contractor, we must pull permits on 90-95% of our work. and yes it is a farce at times as I have been called in to inspect an inspectors work and the failure to point out a few hazards he overlooked, but more than overlooked as they were in plain sight, and nonetheless could have been fatal had it been left un-repaired, so no one is perfect nor is their system, but fact is, it is there to keep our wooden structures and people within those structures somewhat protected from a "non-inspecting" province.

ESA - good, ESA high fees - bad, ESA call center wait times - awful but it is growing and being used more and more all the time. Luckily ESA contractors can file online 24/7 making it better for us to book 20-30 permits a month, but I have had clients tell me they were on hold so long, they hung and decided against permits. Some complain as well about the "4 hour window" of booking a 3-5 minute visit and having to take the day off work to do so... But remember, safety is not free and yes I believe 100% that they are helping clean up the shotty work and even fining and putting some of those behind bars for illegally representing an electrical contractor. We study and work hard to maintain safe electrical systems, and pay many fees annually to have the right to work legally, which is your choice to hire a professional or a handyman to wire and repair your electrical systems. Easy choice I'd say.

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Date/Time4/20/2015 at 5:55:42 PM

@Pete - Your statement is not 100% correct. There is not a requirement for a separate inspection for such things. If you are changing out 'like for like' items, fixtures, receptacles, switches, etc an electrical inspection is not required.

Is the price high? It is about perspective. It is not like the ESA inspector is personally making $88.00 per hour. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that is being done, just not to get the inspector to the door, but to make electrical practices safe in all of Ontario. Their site is full of educational information, product recalls, legal information and other helpful advice.

I have considered over the years applying for the ACP program with ESA, but when discussing with clients, they like the fact that an inspector actually visits the site and completes the inspection. For me it is a 'selling feature' and I promote the notion that an independent set of eyes will inspect my work.

Is the system flawed? Perhaps; I have applied for numerous permits over the years and there have been a few hiccups, but it gets sorted out very easily.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Pete in Toronto
Date/Time4/20/2015 at 7:40:08 PM


Please re-read my initial post. It uses "install" and does not use "change" or "changing".

So I would insists that my statement is 100% correct.


What about customers?

$88 mandatory inspection fee goes on top of the cost of work.

People simply refuse to pay a total of $160 or $250 for installing a single outlet or installing a couple of light fixtures.


We do mostly simple residential work. As soon as customers hears about extra $88 for mandatory inspection fee for a couple of light fixture installation, he/she hangs up the phone, 90% of them!

My question is, where do those customers go? (hint - to other contractors who do not charge the inspection fee or to handymen)

We are not against inspections, we are against unnecessary, weird and crazy ones.

Why do I have to obtain 3 licenses, years of hands-on experience, pay tens of thousands of dollars (or earn less) over 7 or more years of studying, apprenticeship, exams, etc. and then pay $88 inspection fee for a single light or outlet installation?


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James from Odd Job James in Scarborough
Date/Time4/26/2015 at 11:31:54 AM

As with everything in life, there are costs associated. Electrical inspections are basically an insurance policy. $88 to ensure your house doesn't burn down is a bargain.

Nobody likes parting with their money, but if you want professional work done, it is not cheap.

A professional tradesman or inspector (usually tradesmen near the end of their career) have earned the right to charge an appropriate sum of money. There are costs associated beyond the "hourly wage". If we as tradespeople allowed our customers to charge what they feel is appropriate, nobody would be in business long.

You always have a choice in hiring people to do work on your home. Pros cost more, because they have the experience to do the job properly. If you want to save money, feel free to hire someone cheaper, but don't complain when you get ripped off or the job isn't done right. 99% of the time the cheaper guy makes the same money as the expensive guy - he either cuts corners or uses sub-standard materials and installation practices.

In today's world a lot of people seem to think they are worth $30+ an hour with no tools or experience, but expect a guy with 15+ years experience and $30,000 worth of tools to work on their home for $15/hour.

The ESA provides a valuable service and there is a fee attached to that. If you really don't want to pay it, there are plenty of hacks around that will skip that process for you, but your insurance policy may not pay if they can prove uninspected, improper electrical work was the cause. $500,000+ to rebuild and replace is far worse in my opinion, and thats if you survive the fire..

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