Department of State Codes Division Southern Tier Regional Office Newsletter

Electrical Permits and Inspections

19 NYCRR 1203 contains the following words: Building permits shall be required for work which must conform to the Uniform Code. This means that building permits are required for electrical work. This includes service changes and upgrades. Recently, I have had several questions regarding electrical inspections - poor electrical inspections. In one case, 100 amp wire was used on a 200 amp service. In another instance, a new 60 amp service was installed in a home. Both of these instances are code violations. The first case speaks for itself. The answer I got was that since the house did not have electric heat, they would never use more than 100 amps. In the second case, the residential code requires a minimum service of 100 amps.

In both of these case, the code official did not know about the replacement services. They do not require building permits or electrical permits for electrical work. 1203 requires permits. And hopefully, your local law, requires permits for electrical work.

A few months ago, I gave a presentation to CEOs, electrical inspections, and utility people as a seminar in Rochester. There were several "frequently asked question" as part of the presentation. Here are a few:

1) Who Enforces the Electrical Portion of the Code

the answer is - The Code Official. Even though most CEOs use a third party electrical inspection agency, the code official is responsible for inspections and has the liability if something is wrong. RE3303.2 of the residential Code states: New electrical work and parts of existing systems affected by new work or alterations shall be inspected by the code enforcement official to ensure compliance with the requirements of Chapter R33 through Chapter R42.

2) What is the procedure if the Electrical Inspector finds a violation and the contractor, electrician or homeowner refuses to correct and requests another agency to inspect?

First, as is covered in question 3, below, the electrical inspector is working for the code enforcement official. If the electrical inspector believes that there is a violation that will not be corrected, then he or she should report it to the code official. Only the code official has the authority to order a remedy. This accomplishes two things, first, the code official is aware of the violation. Since the code official is relying on the third party agency for inspections, the CEO will probably not know about the violation unless it is reported to him or her. Second, if the CEO does not know that the work has been inspected and another agency arrives on the scene and passed the inferior work, it does a disservice to both the code enforcement official and the original agency. The violation will stay in place, and if damaged is a result, the municipality could face legal liability.

3) How does the Code Enforcement officer evaluate and approve an Electrical Inspector?

Since most electrical inspections, with the exception of services that have been shut off for an extended period of time, are the result of work that requires a building permit, the code official is responsible for inspections. Since most code official rely on third party inspectors for electrical work, the CEO must choose an electrical inspector very carefully. Even with a third party inspector, the CEO and thus the municipality that they work, retains liability. Every electrical inspector that does work in a municipality must be approved by the code official. The CEO should approve the individual inspector and not the agency. Every agency, at some time or another, has had poor quality inspectors. The CEO should carefully check credentials. Certifications from the International Association of Electrical Inspector or the ICC to name two such types of certification. Ask other code officials about their work. Check for insurance and make sure that, if a mistake is made, the municipality is covered. Remember, the code official is responsible.

4) Are utility regulations enforceable by the electrical inspector/ code official.

The answer is yes. RR104.1 of the Residential Code states: Connection of service utilities. Connections from a utility, source of energy, fuel or power to any building or system which is regulated by this code shall be made in accordance with the regulations of the public utility or other authority having jurisdiction.