Is It OK To Do A DIY Electrical Project?

November 1, 2023

Is it legal to do your own electrical work on your house?

Yes. It’s legal to do much of your own electrical work. But you need to know your local code to determine whether you need a permit or not. You should also be familiar with and adhere to the National Electrical Code.

Typically, the local code for electrical permits will list the type of work it’s legal to do without a permit. If the project you’d like to do isn’t listed, you need to obtain a permit before you do the work. 

If you’re planning an electrical project in Washington State, here’s a good place to begin

And here’s the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ document on Electrical Permit Basics for the State of Washington, including a list of when a permit is not required.

Is There Anything I Need To Do Once My DIY Electrical Project Is Complete?

Yes. According to L&I document above, “You must request inspection prior to covering any electrical work, no later than 3 business days after completing the work or 1 business day after any part of the installation has been energized, whichever occurs first. Failure to request an inspection may result in civil penalties.”

Find out more about inspections here.

When Should You Hire An Electrician Instead Of Embarking On A DIY Electrical Project?

It’s one thing if you’re putting in a single set of fuses. It’s quite another if you need to install a new electrical panel. 

Know The Limits Of Your Expertise

If you know how to do most of the job, it’s a sign that you need to hire an electrician. As this article points out, “Even if you know 92 percent of electrical work, it’s the other 8 percent that can hurt you.”

Electricians are professionals who know how to do the job safely, efficiently, and effectively. If you try to learn to do a complicated on the fly and on your own, you’ll probably make mistakes. And mistakes, when they involve electric currents, can be costly or even harmful. 

Be Honest With Yourself 

You should also know your level of tolerance for the work and be able to level with yourself about your true ability to get it done. 

Electrical work can be complicated and dangerous. If you have limits on your time or stressful situations in your life that could interfere with your ability to get the job done and do it well, hire an electrician.

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