What should I know about permits and codes?
Before you start any electrical installation, you should check to see if a permit is required. Most of the time, the governmental body that requires a permit is the city that you live in. However, townships and county governments frequently require permits if you do not live in a city.
Not getting the required permit can come back to haunt you. Frequently, the permit fee is doubled or tripled if you are caught doing work without a permit. The lack of a permit could be caught many years after the work is completed such as when you try to sell your house.
Permit requirements vary considerably from place to place. Some areas require a permit for all new work, others require a permit only if a certain dollar value will be exceeded. Generally, maintenance type electrical work does not require a permit if the work is limited to minor repair or replacement of existing defective or worn out equipment such as switches, receptacles & light fixtures.
The National Electrical Code is almost always the code that will be enforced. Ask your local inspector (also known as the Authority Having Jurisdiction) which edition is being used (probably one of the following- 1999, 2002, 2005). Some areas modify the code to suit local conditions, so you should also ask if the AHJ has any legally adopted additions or deletions to the code.
On the message boards, most of the code replies given are based on the NEC. Sometimes, the replies are based on local code amendments or practices but that may not be made clear in the post. Once in awhile, there may be a disagreement about the meaning of the NEC is and how it is applied to a particular situation. When this happens, consult your AHJ to find out what the interpretation in your area is.
When in doubt, dont guess, ask your inspector about code requirements. It is best to ask before starting the work in order to avoid removing noncompliant work. Preparation is everything, so do your homework here, talk to the AHJ and join the numerous folks who have successfully passed inspection after visiting this site.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this topic.
Be sure to check out the main FAQ page for more information about codes, permits, and inspections.