British Columbia Safety Authority

British Columbia Safety Authority

February 21, 2011 09:00 ET

BC Safety Authority: Permits for Peace of Mind

NEW WESTMINSTER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 21, 2011) - If your home or business renovations include work with gas or electricity, you'll want to protect your investment – and your family – by ensuring the work is done by a licensed contractor and with all of the necessary permits. Permits are more than a legal requirement; they can save money and even lives.

The BC Home and Garden Show is coming to Vancouver on March 2 and the BC Safety Authority (BCSA) is encouraging home renovators to drop by the BCSA's booth for safety and permit information, and to speak with experts.

Last year, when a Comox couple hired a local handyman to do some electrical work, the price was right but they had no idea what kind of risks were involved. After the handyman's attempt at wiring their new home office, Cathy and Roy Feness noticed wires hanging from their ceiling that "looked suspicious." This prompted them to seek a second opinion, which is when they discovered the dangers of shoddy electrical work.

According to Cathy, "When the (BC Safety Authority) safety officer saw the wiring, he was appalled. It was immediately deemed a fire hazard. He said it was completely unsafe. At that point my husband and I were in shock and when our children heard our home was a fire hazard, they were terrified to go to sleep in their beds at night for fear our house might burn down. It was an awful feeling."

A qualified, Safety Authority-licensed electrician has now refinished all of the electrical work to a high standard in the Feness' home.

"Our recommendation to any homeowner thinking about renovations is to pay the money and hire a qualified professional with proper permits. We feel safe again now," says Cathy. "The job ended up costing us more so we should have gone this route in the first place and saved ourselves a lot of time and money."

In a similar story, intuition saved a Parksville resident's home from potential disaster. Heather Bouman called the Safety Authority because she, "didn't feel safe about the work that was done" in her home.

She was shocked to discover the contractor she hired to do renovations was not a licensed electrician and also did not get the necessary permits for the job after she had specifically instructed the contractor to do everything by the book. 

A BCSA safety officer found the wiring in Heather's home was a potential fire hazard and she had to spend nearly an additional $4,000 to hire a BCSA-licensed electrician to re-do everything.

"I was in disbelief when I found out I could have lost my home due to unsafe electrical work. It felt like I was living in a death trap," says Heather. "I was numb – absolutely numb. I told my husband and we looked at each other, and he was absolutely numb too." Heather now encourages others to thoroughly research contractors, "use the BCSA website to make sure the contractor is qualified and licensed."

The Safety Authority offers these tips for homeowners who will be hiring contractors for gas or electrical work:

  • Confirm the contractor is licensed by the BCSA and ask to see their licence.
  • Get all the project information in writing before the work starts.
  • Get permits for all the work being done.
  • Have the contractor provide references, warranties and submit a written quote declaring the total cost and timeline. 

The Safety Authority advises the public that just because someone tells you they are qualified to do electrical work, it does not mean they are certified, licensed or qualified to complete the work safely and to code. For more information on the Safety Authority, visit www.safetyauthority.ca.

Additional information on home renovations, permits and a list of licensed contractors is available at www.thinkpermit.ca. Or, please contact the BC Safety Authority toll free at 1-866-566-7233.

The British Columbia Safety Authority keeps people safe by mandating the safe installation and use of technical equipment. BCSA also issues permits and licences, educates, and conducts on-site inspections in high-risk situations.

Sign up to receive an email alert when BC Safety Authority news is released. Go to http://www.safetyauthority.ca/user/register.

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