I work for a small nonprofit. We have a building with a large empty 2nd floor (old warehouse). We'd like to subdivide it into offices, meeting space, etc. but we can't afford to hire a professional. So we're trying to decide whether volunteers would be capable of this (under the supervision of a volunteer professional contractor). We'd still have a professional do the electric and plumbing. Our city requires things to meet the ICC building code. Would the type of work necessary to build walls, floors, doors, etc. be possible for a bunch of handy volunteers (teenagers and their parents)? Or does this work require too much technical skill and training?

  • Is the building required by law to have fire sprinklers? That's another big contractor-required facet of the job... – ThreePhaseEel Mar 14 '18 at 22:28
  • Yes, that's already been done. The major renovations are complete. We just couldn't afford to finish the 2nd floor. – StepByStep Mar 15 '18 at 1:36
  • Is the finish ceiling for the 2nd floor already in place, then? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 15 '18 at 3:16
  • Do you have the ICC code book ? If you have a contractor supervising - than you could utilize that person to ensure you did build to code. The big thing is fire rating and where you are located. – Ken Mar 15 '18 at 3:39
  • legality aside, most of the work (nailing, sanding, painting, etc) can be done by noobs with a brief intro. – dandavis Mar 15 '18 at 3:57

You can also do the electrical. Much of it anyway.

Commercial electrical usually is required to be in conduit, and usually, there's a civil requirement that commercial work be done under the supervision of a real electrician.

You don't need to be an electrician to plan circuits, figure out routes and rough wire lengths, develop a wiring plan and get him to check it over.

You don't need to be an electrician to have all the right parts in all the right places.

EMT conduit is pretty straightforward to lay. You don't need to be an electrician to lay conduit, since you're not putting any wires into it.

You also don't need to be an electrician to pre-fish a pulling string through each segment of conduit.

Now the electrician attaches the wires to the pulling string, and that usually tedious job is in his rearview.

Another thing you don't need an electrician for is buying supplies, particularly 11-13 colors of wire. Electricians are inclined to use a rainbow of colors if they have them, and they always have white, black, green and red. Buying other colors - brown orange yellow pink blue violet gray (lots of gray) and white-with-red-stripe and white-with-blue-stripe, will allow him to more easily color-code his work for easier maintenance later.

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    My state allows a home owner to do electrical but commercial or industrial electrical requires a license. This includes rental residences as these are classified as commercial. – Ed Beal Mar 16 '18 at 15:08


Especially if you have a professional contractor supervising the work. And it is limited to putting up interior walls and pre-hung doors (these are a bit more sensitive).

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