This is a question about the ability of doing remodeling on one's own, compared to hiring licensed contractors.

I realize some remodeling/repairs require permits from your local township/city to be "legal" upgrades that are registered for benefits of resale and taxation.

Examples (and not sure if this includes a full list) would be adding/removing walls, replacing roof and/or shingles (permits for this is required in Flint, MI), electrical outlets (possibly needing to submit new electrical blueprints); I would assume that plumbing wouldn't need any town/city permits.

Also it is my understanding that only jobs requiring permits actually need any type of inspection. Is this correct/wrong? But the biggest question that I have for this is it possible to pull a permit for say electrical work, do the work yourself (making sure to follow all NEC regulations), and then have it inspected to be qualified to the town/city? As well as inspections of such type are done by certified masters of that field or is that a different certification to be an inspector?

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    Get the word from the horse's mouth: go to your City Hall and ask. Guaranteed to get the right answer too. – Kris Jul 16 '17 at 0:37
  • Makes sense, I guess I thought it would be more universal on what needs to be permitted and if inspections validate the work done for the city hall permit. – Edward Jul 16 '17 at 0:43
  • I agree with @Kris. Get it from the horse's mouth. These are legal issues, and you don't want to assume or guess. – SDsolar Jul 16 '17 at 7:45
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    Permit vs. who does the work are two different questions. Generally, permits are required for anything that involves risk of harm to people (that covers a lot of territory). If it requires a permit, it generally requires an inspection, although they sometimes make special arrangements with contractors they know who know what they're doing, like letting them send in pictures. The inspection is done by the permitting office but if a licensed engineer is involved, they will normally accept their inspection. (cont'd) – fixer1234 Jul 16 '17 at 14:43
  • Generally, you can do the work yourself if you follow code, but there's a lot of code to know and you need the skills. If you aren't experienced at it and do a poor quality job, you may live with ongoing problems and may scare off buyers at sale time. – fixer1234 Jul 16 '17 at 14:44

It seems your question has two issues: 1) Can a homeowner work on their house and what can they do? and 2) Are permits / inspections required on all work by the homeowner?

First, what the home owner can work on: A home owner can work on all facets of construction, including plumbing, electrical, structural, etc. whether they are licensed or not.

Second, what needs a Permit and Inspections: The Code is divided into two sections: 1) Maintenance, and 2) Construction, repair, improvements, renovation, etc. So, painting, replacing cabinets, replacing carpet, etc. is maintenance and do NOT require a Building Permit or an inspection. For construction, improvements, etc. a Building Permit and inspections are required. Usually the governing factor for this is if there is "structural" work, not, as you say, "for upgrading for resale." However, each jurisdiction (City, County, etc.) has there own interpretation of this. (For instance, where I live, a Permit is not required for installing a new roof (it's considered maintenance), but in a neighboring town, they do require a permit, (its considered construction).) So, I agree with Kris, contact your local Building Department.

HOWEVER, all plumbing and electrical requires the appropriate Permit. This is due to what the call, "Health and welfare of the community ." They don't want you contaminating the neighborhood or burning it down.

By the way, inspections come with the permit. That is to say, when you pay for the permit, certain inspections are required and you are required to notify them you're ready for their inspection. (Inspections are great, because for those of us that don't know quite how to dye things, especially plumbing and electrical, they'll tell us when we screwed up.)

This is ONLY for residential structures. All others, (i.e.: commercial, industrial, governmental, multi-family, etc.) is different and the owner of the building cannot work on the building, unless they are licensed by the State. AND all structures over 4,000 square feet require an architect's or engineer's stamp.

  • Its definitely helps to understand there is still a difference of maintenance vs construction and it can still have varying standards based on locale. Interesting to know multi-family is difference, since I was thinking of a project to turn an old warehouse into a Super Bed & Breakfast. I do wonder about what can be grandfathered in, like its my understanding to furnish a basement all bedrooms have to have escape windows; and yet you can leave a storm drain emptying into a sewage outlet. – Edward Jul 16 '17 at 17:10
  • To be sure, for those interested like in fixer1234 comment, I have done most all aspects of building, knowing the difference between hack jobs and quality work. I was raised with residential framing by my father, ceramic tiling by an uncle, electrical I understand from AC/DC classes (while at school for computer science) learning some of the NEC about single raceways and 2 separate circuits for kitchens, having helped raise poll-barns and redo shingles, learned plumbing from a retired pro working at Home Depot and its 1" to every 8' for drainage, – Edward Jul 16 '17 at 17:10
  • @Edward Yes, all existing construction is "Grandfathered", except for two items: 1) smoke alarms, and 2) non-tempered glass. The Building inspector can make you upgrade those two items...otherwise you're "Grandfathered". Also, if you change occupancies, (i.e.: change a barn (agricultural) into a bed and breakfast (R-1 residential - lodging), then all Code items must be brought up to current code standards. – Lee Sam Jul 16 '17 at 17:53
  • From comments on this site some states do not allow a home owner to do everything and some "maintenance" repairs do require permits. – Ed Beal Jul 16 '17 at 21:54
  • @EdBeal Hmmm...I disagree. I don't know about other countries, but here in the States, a home owner can do ALL maintenance and Construction or remodel projects on single family residences, including plumbing and electrical, EXCEPT for ANY work in condos (multi-family). (One obscure exception is a home office, but most jurisdictions don't recognize that distinction.) – Lee Sam Jul 16 '17 at 22:13

It depends where you live if you need a contractor or DIY in my state Oregon and several others I have lived a home owner or close family member can do everything. Non load bearing walls usually do not require permits but any change to load bearing walls, new electrical circuits usually do require permits, in 1 state I lived a permit was required for changes to the plumbing and replacing the roofing. Checking your local requirements is the first step if you post your location I am sure we can find a more complete answer.

  • I updated apart with location in it. So do Inspections satisfy DIY's, the same as with licensed contractors, permited work? – Edward Jul 15 '17 at 23:43

I like the structure of Lee Sam's answer... but as Ed says, it depends on where you are. In my state of Massachusetts, it is NOT legal for me, as a homeowner, to do plumbing. period. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but an inspector would not sign off on it. One must be careful and there are consequences. A discussion outside the scope of this board.

  • This is more a comment than any type of answer. But yes lots of people do work and if it required permits a buyer could end up finding out later they have to have something redone. Which had happened a few times even in the house flip TV shows. – Edward Jul 17 '17 at 14:10

You need to call your local building code / permitting office and ask. Permitting is done on a city / county / state level, while licensing is done at a state level. Codes (like the NEC) tend to be nationwide, but are adopted on a city / county / state level. The state could adopt one version, a county adopt a more stringent version, and a city an even more stringent version.

Because of this, it is impossible to give a definite answer as to what's allowed, because it depends on what city you live in. Some places will issue permits to the homeowner, but some will only issue them to the person doing the work. Some allow the homeowner to do the work, while others require a licensed contractor. The most general aspect may be that if it requires a permit, the permit generally comes with an inspection, but I'm hesitant to even say that. The only way to know is to call your local jurisdiction and ask.

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