British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

April 19, 2010 09:00 ET

British Columbia Safety Authority: Thinking of Renovations? Think Safety!

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) - Warmer weather means the perfect time to start planning those upgrades and additions you've been considering for your home.

But if those renovations include gas or electricity, you'll want to protect your investment – and your family – by ensuring work is done by a licensed contractor and with the necessary permits.

"We've all heard stories about renovations that went horribly wrong," said Paula Barrett, director of Safety Services for the BC Safety Authority. "That's why it is so important that homeowners take the time to ensure their contractor is not only qualified to do the work, but also licensed by the BCSA and has taken out the necessary permits before work starts."

Take the case of a 48-unit townhouse complex in Richmond that was replacing wood-burning fireplaces with electrical ones. The strata council had hired workers to do the job. While work was being done, one of the homeowners felt uneasy with what she saw. 

"One of the workers was welding while another was at the electrical panel resetting the power as it kept going off. So I asked them if they knew what they were doing. One of them said he did but that their employer did not give them good machines to work with. That made me think that there was something wrong," said the homeowner.

She was also told by strata council that a permit had not been taken out since it wasn't necessary.

The homeowner contacted the Safety Authority and an electrical safety officer visited the site.

The safety officer found unpermitted electrical work being done by an unqualified individual and the work was not in accordance to the Canadian electrical code. The safety officer immediately stopped the work and, together with the homeowner, convinced the strata council to hire a licensed contractor.

Barrett noted that homeowners can do some types of regulated work themselves if they have the required knowledge and skills, but they must also take out a permit.

"The permit is more than a legal requirement," she explained. "Because the BCSA inspects all work done by homeowners, we can advise them if their work is done safely and to required codes."

Regulated work that requires a permit issued by the Safety Authority includes the following:

  • Extending or modifying electrical wiring
  • Extending or modifying gas piping
  • Installation or replacement of the following:
    • gas fireplaces,
    • water heaters,
    • furnaces,
    • ranges
    • cook tops 

To download a checklist to guide you in hiring the right contractor, go to http://www.thinkpermit.ca/hiring-guide/checklist.

To download safety tips and information on home renovations, visit the BCSA's website at www.safetyauthority.ca and click on Safety Information – Safety Tips. Additional information on permits and a list of licensed contractors is available by clicking on the Homeowner icon. Or, contact the Safety Authority toll free at 1-866-566-7233.

At the British Columbia Safety Authority, we keep people safe by mandating the safe installation and use of technical equipment. As the province's delegated authority, we administer safety standards and enforce compliance. We also issue permits and licences, educate, and conduct onsite inspections in high-risk situations. We continuously advance the standards of safe practices in BC.

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