My local municipality has informed me that while I can do some permitted electrical work myself (outlets and wiring), I am prohibited from doing any work inside of service panel (installing a breaker), and for that I need to hire a licensed electrician. When I asked for the specific code that required this, he said he didn't know but that it was in one of the ICC 2021 codes (IBC or IRC) that are available online.

Try as I might, I can't find anything in those tomes (IRC and IBC) that prohibit a homeowner from doing their own work in the service panel. I suspect it is just a local code and that he misspoke in referring me to the I-Codes.

Does anyone know if there is any reference in the ICC codes prohibiting a homeowner from doing any work inside of the service panel? Failing that, in municipalities that do prohibit homeowners from working inside of the service panel, how far is one typically allowed to go (can you connect the conduit but not run the wire, can you connect the conduit and run the wire but not install it to the breaker)?

I do realize that is a location-specific question, but I am just trying to get a better understanding of things until hell freezes over and I can get a hold of someone with some more knowledge at my local planning department.

My location is Fort Worth, Texas USA.

  • Without a location, the answer is going to be "some places have those rules, some don't". With a location, we may be able to tell you what you can or can't do. Aug 4 at 22:06
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    @crip659 The general codes aren't going to say "must be an electrician" because labor-related terms vary widely between jurisdictions. Aug 4 at 22:27
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    You're probably going to just have to sit down with a copy of the local municipal codes and start reading for yourself. After you've made an honest research effort you can return to the planning department and apply for your permit. If they actually do decline it then explain that you've done your own search, found nothing that your permit would violate, and press them to point to chapter and verse.
    – Greg Hill
    Aug 4 at 23:12
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    Yeah, that language usually means "I don't want you to because I don't feel like you're competent to do the work". You can get all testy about that if you want, but I would urge you to err on the side of assuming them correct, and revisit what you think you know to avoid Dunning-Kruger effect. Knowledge is power. Or in this case, provides safe access to power. Aug 5 at 0:39
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    I replaced my entire main panel myself, and Minneapolis has no local requirements, just straight NEC. So you either have a municipal restriction or the guy is BSing you. Aug 5 at 16:36


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