Whether you are building a new home or having permitted electrical work performed on your existing home are you aware if the licensed Electrician you are using is performing the work to the currently required Electrical Codes/standards?
Are you aware that the licensed Electrician that is wiring your new home or performing wiring on your existing home is required to follow specific Electrical Codes/standards for that work? Electricians in the State of Texas are licensed by The Texas Department Of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). TDLR is responsible for creating the rules that licensed Electricians must follow and enforcing the State laws that govern an Electricians license and activities. Along with the Laws and Rules that govern licensed Electricians you can find on this site a search function to verify that an Electrician actually has a valid license.
But what about this Electrical Codes/standards that Electricians are required to follow? I recently had need to verify electrical requirements for a new home inspection in an unincorporated part of the County and who better to ask than TDLR. After a lengthy communication with a Senior Enforcement Official at TDLR my eyes were opened to a new dimension of the problem with new home builds and existing home electrical work. During these communications the Enforcement Official provided specific direction to the laws that apply here. These can also be found on the TDLR site.
Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1305 (Electrical Licensing Law)
SUBCHAPTER C. POWERS AND DUTIES
Sec. 1305.101. General Powers and Duties.
- (a) The executive director or commission, as appropriate, shall:
(2) after publication of the National Electrical Code by the National Fire Protection Association every three years, adopt the revised National Electrical Code as the electrical code for the state.
The powers and duties of TDLR places a responsibility that they adopt the latest version of the National Electrical Code (NEC) after it has been published. The latest version of the NEC (NFPA 70) is the 2017 version. You can view this for free at the NFPA WEB site.
Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 73 (TAC)
73.53. Responsibilities of All Persons Performing Electrical Work.
All persons must perform non-exempt electrical work, non-exempt electrical sign work, non-exempt journeyman lineman work, or non-exempt residential appliance installation work in compliance with applicable codes and ordinances. The department will interpret applicable codes and ordinances for purposes of enforcement of the Act.
73.100. Technical Requirements.
Effective September 15, 2017, the department adopts the National Electrical Code, 2017 Edition as it existed on August 24, 2016, as adopted by the National Fire Protection Association, Inc.
Notice the last sentence of section 73.53 above. According to the Senior Enforcement Official at TDLR the applicable codes for ALL electrical work in the State of Texas is the NFPA 70, 2017 version as defined by Section 73.100 above.
So what is this “new dimension of the problem with new home builds and existing home electrical work” that I mentioned? Well it is unfortunate that many City Building Inspection Departments simply refuse to advance to the latest and safest version of the NEC. There are some that are as far back as 10 years and still using the 2008 version of the NEC. What that means is you the new home buyer or the existing home owner may not be receiving electrical work in conformance with the latest safety standards available when the Cities are not performing inspections based on the 2017 NEC.
But wait, how can that be if the State of Texas dictates the 2017 NEC be used as the standard? Again unfortunately TDLR has no control over what Cities do and certainly no control over what Builders choose to do. TDLR can only control licensed Electricians and any Electrician not performing their work to the level of the 2017 NEC is in violation of their own license laws/rules according to the Senior Enforcement Official at TDLR.
So how do you control the situation to make sure you are receiving the latest and safest electrical installation work? If you are a homeowner that is hiring a licensed Electrician, and you should only hire a licensed Electrician, make sure that your contract for the work specifies that the Electrician will follow the latest State mandated electrical code which is the 2017 NEC. Any Electrician that refuses such a simple request for your safety is one you may well want to pass on and go find one that will!
If you are building a new home you should closely check your contract to determine if it states what electrical code will be used. Be very careful if it states nothing or that the builder will be using the codes in effect as dictated by the local City Building Inspections Department (or similar language). Look at the Building Inspections Department WEB site as generally all will list the building codes they will inspect by. If the City is not using the latest 2017 NEC you should discuss this with the Builder to ensure they will have their licensed Electricians performing all work to the 2017 NEC and obtain that assurance in writing.
If you are in an unincorporated area there are generally no Building Inspections Department oversight at all. At this point neither the Builder or the licensed Electrician has a choice and must use the 2017 NEC as dictated by the laws and rules for electrical work in Texas.
When an Electrician bids a job the 2017 NEC changes might make it slightly more expensive to perform over previous NEC versions. It is the Electrician that is responsible for handling that aspect with the Builder or home owner. There is possible money to be shaved off of bids by using an older version of the NEC and obviously that translates to a lower bid and possible acceptance over an Electrician who properly bids a job at a higher cost but based on the newest and safest NEC requirements.
Another very interesting point in my communications with the Senior Enforcement Official at TDLR is their concern over Electricians that are not following the latest 2017 NEC. As told to me TDLR will accept your complaints against any licensed Electrician that is not following the 2017 NEC. TDLR does have an online complaint system and it does accept anonymous complaints. You can also use this system to report people performing electrical work without an Electricians license. Also on their site is a search function that you can view all of the enforcement actions or narrow it to just a specific Electrician. I was literally blown away when I ran an open search for Electrician violations! The veracity of TDLR’s enforcement actions is very impressive!
So to paraphrase a famous Forestry Service saying “Only you can prevent improper and illegal electrical work”! Good luck with your new home build or electrical work on an existing home and do make sure you are getting what you are suppose to.
PS Inspection & Property Services LLC is a full service home inspection and light commercial inspection company servicing the entire Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas metroplex as well as all areas around them. If you are located outside of these areas I can still help service your needs so call to see how. I strive for the satisfaction of my clients in everything I do. The services offerings include:
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