Do you need to use a licensed electrician/plumber etc.?

4 Replies

Is a landlord required to use a licensed tradesman when doing work in your unit.   I'm thinking of smaller handyman type jobs like changing a switch, replacing hoses on a washing machine etc.

Is there any potential for liability if something goes wrong and a non licensed person did the work?

I don't know NY laws, but usually it is not necessary to use a licensed person to do minor handyman work. 

There is always the potential for liability whether using a licensed contractor or not.

in most localities:

License required for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical.

In my area I can repace receptacles, lights, plumbing fixtures. No breaker boxes, no HVAC.

I do make repairs to my plumbing - PEX, and fix some drains under the cabinets. 

HVAC and electrical is the most important to use licensed. Can be dangerous if done wrong. Plumbing, not so much, not likely to drown someone.

There's a significant difference between changing a washing machine hose and replacing a light switch, or doing other electrical work. There are lots of highly skilled folks who do excellent electrical work but who aren't licensed. In most jurisdictions where there are licensing codes, you can work on your own house but you can't hire out to do it. In lots of other places, no license is required whatsoever. In the case of the switch, the proper use of wire nuts, wrapping the wire the right way around the screws on the switch, proper polarity (yes, even for AC), and knowing when and where to use weather protected components are all important safety considerations. This isn't to say your handyman isn't qualified or skilled, but it's worth verifying his or her skill set by asking a few questions. Find out where they get materials and supplies and call the supplier for a reference. Trade suppliers other than the big box stores can tell you a lot about their customers.

 A friend of mine recently fell victim to a house fire.  The background story is, they had an in wall A/C unit which wasn't working.  The electrician came out and soldered some wires to repair it.  He dripped some solder into the wall which causes the insulation to smolder.  He left and the house started on fire.  His insurance company is paying for everything, because the electrician came from a licensed company.  The insurance company is going after the electricians company to repay which isn't the homeowners concern.  Not sure if it would have played out that way if my friend had not used a licensed electrician.  

That being said, for routine stuff I do it or I hire an unlicensed person that I know can do it.  It's a risk and I'm willing to take because I know the people and trust them.  Serious problems, I'm playing it safe and paying the sucker charge for a licensed person.

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