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Electrician Versus Handyman
July 15, 2015
When called in to make a repair, our electricians frequently hear the following comment, “but the handyman said he could do it.” This tells us that homeowners may not be aware of some very important information. Electrical (like Plumbing and Gas Fitting) is a Red Seal Accredited trade. This means that all electrical installations, repairs and renovations are provincially regulated and must follow national Code standards for every installation. This is for the safety and protection of the public.
The Electrical Code has very specific guide lines for every electrical application. These guidelines are there because past experience and evidence has shown that following very specific installation procedures reduces the risk of fire, and therefore reduces the incidents of personal injury and loss.
The risk of fire and injury increases when:
Incorrect procedures, techniques and/or products are used for electrical installations or repairs.
Load calculations are not factored into the electrical installation.
Questionable work is not inspected and corrected by a trained professional electrician.
Aging electrical systems are not evaluated and serviced regularly.
Electrical work is not done by an experienced electrician who is knowledgeable in the most recent Electrical Code requirements.
A Handyman is an individual who provides minor renovations and maintenance repair services that do not fall under the responsibility of a nationally recognized and regulated trade, such as electrical, plumbing or gas installation, to name a few. The handyman’s work is not regulated which means that no formal training is required. The work is done without a permit so therefore there is no accountability for quality, correctness or safety as the work is not inspected. Generally, there is no performance insurance policy protection so the customer/homeowner must assume 100% of the responsibility and risk for the work completed. It is illegal for a handyman to work on the electrical system in your home or business.
A Licensed Electrician must successfully complete 4 levels of apprenticeship training to earn the title of certified journeyman electrician. This apprenticeship includes four-10 week sessions of in-school academic training, with practical assessments and written exams for each level, plus a minimum of 6000 hours of supervised work based training and experience. This education usually takes 4 to 5 years to complete.
But a conscientious journeyman electrician knows that his education is not over with the completion of those hours or that final exam. He must also stay current on newer techniques, safer products and the most recent Code updates which may change every three years. He knows that, even though most of his work may be hidden by drywall, brick or stucco, the safety of the building and its’ occupants depends on his knowledge and expertise.
Since the BC Safety Authority demands this level of knowledge, skill and experience to make changes to an electrical system, homeowners are wise to expect the same.
An Electrical Contractor is licensed by the BC Safety Authority to provide electrical services to the public by employing licensed journeymen electricians and apprentices to do the work. An electrical contractor must carry the proper licensing, insurance policies and bonds to protect the customer. Only the electrical contractor (not a handyman or an electrician) can purchase the required electrical permit for the electrical work in your home or business. This work is monitored and inspected by the BC Safety Authority to ensure it meets the stringent requirements of the current National Electrical Code.
An electrical contractor must also remain current on all Workers Compensation (WCB) dues to ensure his electricians and apprentices are covered by this insurance policy, otherwise the homeowner will be considered the employer and be held responsible for any injuries on their property. A reputable contractor will maintain an electrical bond in accordance with the B.C. Safety Standards Act and also carry a generous insurance policy. These provisions are there to protect the customer in the event of a problem with the work or services provided.
Entrusting any part of the electrical system to a handyman, just because he may be familiar with construction, is like allowing the janitor to remove your appendix just because he works in the hospital.
If you live in a single detached residence, it is illegal for anyone other than a licensed electrical contractor, to provide and charge you for most electrical renovations, installations and repairs.
If you live in a multi family living complex such as a condo, apartment building, duplex or your home has a rental suite, all electrical work must be done by a licensed electrical contractor.
Your property or homeowner’s insurance policy may be affected should there be a claim as a result of electrical work done by an unqualified person.
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