Neighbor offered me to get electric from his house. what should I do

15 Replies

Thank you in advance for reading. I have a not strictly “black-and-white” question, i.e. I know what the correct answer would be but yet still want your opinion on this.

I just got a property and am doing some updates before renting it out. Admittedly I was trying to go cheap. I had my contractor working on it without pulling a permit. The cable outside of the house was damaged so we have no electric. And as you would predict, a neighbor came over. He actually offered me to get a line from his house to get electric. But the question is should I take the offer? And if yes, how much should I pay him? 

You are going to have to fix this issue anyway before you get tenants so why not just make the repair now?

If he is offering so "readily" I would be worried about "strings".  If there are no strings and you can save some money up front - go for it. In this day and age it is unusual to get something for nothing...

Just keep in mind that if there is an electrical issue, something happens and your tenants get injured or die, you could be facing some serious consequences...

If you can't afford to pull the required permits for your electrical, plumbing, HVAC and structural work (and do the work right), you probably should find a better deal.

In my opinion, it's not worth risking losing everything just to avoid pulling a permit...

I couldn't agree with @J Scott more.  It's simply not worth the risk and liability.  Renovating houses without pulling the property permits is a recipe for disaster.  The few dollars that you're going to save on the front end could end up costing you a whole lot more on the back end.

When the inspector comes by to tag your meter for the electric company to turn on the power- then you will get hit with doing work without permits and possible penalties. You can go Cheap- just dont go stupid. 

I've borrowed power from the neighbor plenty of times.  Anywhere from buying them lunch or slipping them a $20 for an afternoon to $50 for a week or two so I could do some things before I got the power on.  

Under no circumstances would I move anyone in on the neighbor's power.  What happens if they get in a fight and now you have a tenant with no power and you cant fix the problem?  Or they rack up a huge bill and the neighbor wants you to pay because teh tenant wont?  How long has the electric been out?  If it's been over 12 months, they'll require an inspection before they turn it on anyway, and they'll know you did the work without a permit...you just cant really skimp out on the electric stuff, which is a good thing.  You do that stuff wrong and you can do some real damage.

I buy homes in poor condition.  Once neighbors find out I am there to rehab the eyesore they have been stuck with for the last 10 years or so, they offer me access to tools, their electricity while big repairs are going on and power is out...I even had one neighbor feed my crew lunch because of the transformation that took place over 3 days.

That said, I always have work done correctly and by licensed personnel.  If a neighbor wants to be nice and share his electricity for a few days to save you the expense of running  a generator and him the annoyance of listening to it, then I say go for it.  Just ask him what he would charge in advance of agreeing to accept his offer. 

Thanks for all the replies! And sorry I wasn’t clear at the beginning. I will have to pull electric permit. But I was trying to save for HVAC and plumbing permits so I wanted to get those done before we have electric inspection. 

I would fix the electrical issue ASAP   If you would like to use your neighbors electric for tools until the power comes back on I'd understand that.  I have done similar things on the job where I had to borrow a neighbors outlet but there is no way I'd leave a bad electrical wire in the ground a second longer than it needs to be.  Also (at least in PA) it is free to have your yard marked for underground utilities before you dig... pretty sure most people could afford that.

I don't think borrowing electricity from the neighbor for some light work is a problem. Don't over stay your welcome. However the issue here is not pulling permits. When the inspector walks through and makes you rip out all your work and re do it you'll realize the permits would have been a heck of a lot cheaper... 

@Greg Behan  @Ryan Dossey

 That's exactly what I was tying to do. To use electricity from the neighbor for some tools. Did you pay the neighbor? How much is appropriate? 

I'm a general contractor so I've done a couple different things...  If I'm only using it for a couple minutes I offer to grab lunch or something, over the course of a (small) project I'll give them a $20.   I even went over and hung a few pictures for a lady once since she didn't want to take my money just for using her outlet...

Is this just for you fixing the house?

Eventually you will have to repair this issue and connect power for your tenant?

Why you don't want to go with a license electrician? I would recommend you to use a license electrician and pass all the required inspections before having people living on that house. You will be going cheap for the long run (not just the initial investment).

Some electrical companies in Central Florida require you to pull permits and pass inspections before they connect you power. Check with them first. You may be doing the work with an unlicensed guy and may need to get an electrician anyways.

First off, ask them how you can repay them.

I agree with @Chris Simmons .  High probability your neighbors wants you to get rid of the problem house and eye sore.  Make sure your neighbor doesn't end up in the hole helping you out.  Slip them some money, beer, pizza..something to keep them happy.

Another option is to buy/rent a generator.

If it's in the initial stage of demo(borrowed water and electric).  I bought a gift card or lunch.  I always introduce myself to the neighbors and give them my contact information.  Recently a neighbor invited me to  attend the opening of a new police station in the area.  I worked on that rehab across the street a year ago.

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