My pro career was all in industrial and commercial wiring (hospitals, schools, prisons, power plants, factories) and though I was licensed to pull the permits and even had passed the BOCA inspectors exams for plan review and residential and light commercial, I loathe residential work and only do it for myself or for people I really really like or with whom I have reciprocal favor debt.
I’ll pitch in especially when I determine that their wiring is so bad it risks their safety. Already went through helping a friend who lost nearly everything when her rental house burned down Though in that case I am pretty sure it was a lightning strike (rather than the dicey wiring) that burned through to a closet where she had a gallon of Coleman fuel stored – once that heated up that’s all she wrote – lucky they were at work when it happened, though one of their cats freaked out when the firemen arrived and ran back in and got some serious burns (kitty survived after a month at the vet but lost the top half of both ears and had burn scars on her paws.)
In fact I tend to use a lot of “commercial” type materials and installation methods on my own homes including oversized steel junction boxes for devices and splices and metal conduit in exposed attic and basement spaces.
A main reason for detesting residential work (besides it all being buried in walls and ceilings I have to patch later) is having to deal with the nightmare wiring hidden inside of them inflicted by “self-taught” homeowners and not-so-handymen, even supposed “electricians” who must have flunked trade school.
When I relocated for 8 years to West Michigan I bought a charming 1906 house in Grand Rapids that had been so horribly “re-muddled” by prior owners without a clue that I ripped out all the wiring and re-did it while living in it. It was a balloon framed wood house so once I opened the lathe and plaster walls (many heavily damaged anyway from years of leaky roofs) it was a piece of cake to run Romex and even conduit from the basement all the way to the attic. What I found in those walls was chilling, a mix of old knob and tube (some stripped bare of insulation by rodents) mixed with scraps of Romex and even 16 gauge lamp cord, all twisted together in open splices inside the wall cavities, some of which connections were “insulated” with wraps of masking tape or even Band-Aids!! There are no baffles or fire blocks in a balloon framed house (no longer legal to build) so any fire will spread through the whole structure in minutes, if not seconds. I did add fire blocking where I could within the open walls but I still banned smoking or candles in the place the whole time I lived there.
From what I could determine, the prior “craftsmen” who worked on the wiring had just randomly connected wires until something was energized and that was “good enough”. I got zapped a few times when a stray extension from some nearby circuit turned out to have a hot lead on something I thought I had traced and locked out. Got really paranoid about triple checking – wore my Wiggy on my hip whenever I was going to touch anything. Mind you that this was a house where somebody had bonded the service panel to the gas lines! Apparently could not tell black iron gas pipe from galvanized water lines. Though I replaced all the latter with copper anyway.
I was blessed with a licensed contractor boyfriend during that 3 years of renovation who taught me what I needed to know about plumbing, ductwork, framing, drywall, trim and demo. I gutted and totally reconfigured and rebuilt the main bath wholly by myself, carved out a second floor powder room above it from a larger room (BF helped with that) and completely built that out and did the same with the kitchen, also solo except for subbing out the counter tops. BF ripped 3 layers (yes, 3) of shingles off the house and installed three operable skylights for me and a new roof.
I blame the DIY and HGTV programming for making the average Dick and Jane (or everybody’s stoner brother in law) think they can remodel their own house by watching those shows and a few YouTube videos. I do admit I enjoyed that cringeworthy “Renovation Realities” half hour show they ran for a while where they just documented various clueless amateurs attempting to demo and remodel their entire kitchens or baths in one weekend (when they can barely drive a nail).
IN truth, the main reason I let my electrical license slide (besides that the annual renewal jumped from $25 to over $300) was that it gives me a perfect excuse to not do work for people who find out my background and want me to fix their electrical issues. No license means no permits and no insurance, sorry folks…