Suppose you're one of those DIY handyguys or gals, and you decide you're going to do some work on your house. First you install some new sinks and shower fixtures. Next, you rip up the old vinyl and lay down some lovely marble tile. Lastly, you do a little unpermitted electrical work and upgrade your main panel. You look around your house and spot puddles in the bathroom -- you know you did the plumbing wrong. You look down and spot cracked grout and loose tiles -- you know you didn't install the tile correctly. Lastly, you flip a light switch, and the lights come on like magic. At least you did the electrical work right, right? The truth is, when you screw up plumbing, you know right away because there's water on the floor. If you screw up electrical work on the other hand, the lights may still come on when you hit the switch, but who knows what's going on behind the walls? You may not know you have bad electrical work in your home until there's a fire, and by then it's too late. Shoddy electrical work is downright dangerous, and potentially deadly. In Ontario, a man is facing jail time for doing electrical work without a licence, and Mike Holmes thinks this is a great thing. It's the first time an offender has been given this kind of sentence for this kind of offence, and Mike feels it send the right kind of message to would-be crooks out there lying to unsuspecting homeowners. Bottom line: permits are not expensive, and they're an important safeguard to make sure the work is done right. Make sure you hire the right people and that all work done on your home is permitted appropriately.
From the National Post:
Mike Holmes: Finally, someone gets zapped for fraudulent electrical workA man in Ontario is facing 30 days in jail because he was doing electrical work without the proper licence. According to the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), this is the first time in Ontario anyone has been given a jail sentence for an offence like this. What do I think? I think it’s about time.
This guy was also found guilty of using a fake certificate, failing to get inspections and leaving unsafe electrical conditions at four homes. Not to mention, he was a repeat offender. As part of his sentencing, he was placed on two years’ probation.
I wager there are dozens more people out there doing the same thing. The problem is, you fine them, they pay the fine, and because they’re making more money than the fine costs, they move on and do it again.
The media has been abuzz with this story. Is the sentence too severe? Did he deserve this? Some people are saying the problem is the system — permits are too expensive.
Let me tell you something — permits aren’t that expensive.
An electrical permit on a small job is about $30. We recently did a big job on a house that required just over $6,000 in electrical work. The electrical permit was $130. For $6,000 in electrical work, $130 to check that it’s safe and up to code is OK in my books.
Is jail time too severe? Absolutely not, because it sends the message loud and clear: We’re not taking this anymore. This has to stop now.
Wiring is not a hobby. If you screw up the electrical, that’s a fire waiting to happen.
Just because the lights turn on doesn’t mean they’re safe. How many of us have ignored flickering lights, which are red flags for dangerous electrical situations and potential fire?
Too many homeowners think it’s OK to hire someone on the side, pay them cash, not pull any permits or get an inspection, and then seal up the work behind drywall. The thinking is that if there is a problem, insurance will take care of it. But let me fill you in on a little secret: Insurance companies are getting fed up.
They will investigate and bring in as many people as needed to figure out why they should give a homeowner hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair their home. If they find out you didn’t follow the rules and hired the wrong person just to save a few bucks, you won’t see a cent.
Always hire licensed professionals. Unfortunately in this case, the homeowners thought they did.
Every province has its own regulations for contractors and trades — and some are controlled at the municipal level. But the bottom line is that whoever is in charge — province or city — has to take a clear stand on what can and can’t be done, and if it means sending people to jail, they should do it. Unsafe work that puts families at risk is unacceptable.
It’s time we see more authorities take these kinds of measures to stop these crooks, because that’s what they are. They’re not contractors. These are people that go out there with one purpose: To screw over anyone they can in order to make money. To me, that’s criminal.
It’s a serious problem, and I’m happy to see people finally smartening up and not letting them get away with it.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.