Contractor Vs Owner Builder

Ir3th0283

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Feb 14, 2024
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When a resident comes in to apply for a residential interior remodel and all trades are involved; electrical, plumbing and mechanical, and the owner builder, who is the applicant, selects the option that he/she will be acting as the contractor, should certified electrician, plumber, and mechanical be required for their remodel?
 
Location
Yuma, Arizona, United States
In these parts a homeowner can do everything as long as they fill out the appropriate paperwork and plans reflect the work being done. We advise to use a license, bonded, and insured contractor but technically they can pull the permit and do al the work.
 
When a resident applies for a residential interior remodel involving electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work and also acts as contractor, he still needs to comply with local building codes. In other words, he still need to hire certified professionals for each tasks. For instance, he has to hire a certified electrician for electrical work, or a certified plumber for plumbing work. This requirement is there to meet safety standards and passes necessary inspections.
 
It can vary according to jurisdiction. In the majority of jurisdictions, hiring a certified MEP contractor is mandatory for such projects in order to ensure compliance with local building codes. Even if the owner-builder chooses to be the contractor, they still need to subcontract a certified professional. It's essential to consult with the local building department to confirm specific regulations to ensure full compliance with the law.
 
I'd personally hire a contractor for any jobs like this. For one, I'm not very good with construction myself, so I'd need someone with that knowledge on the job instead of me. If I had the knowledge I would consider doing the work myself and pull the required permits. I'd also try to come up with plans as well.

I've known people who have worked in construction, and oftentimes they do the work themselves. But of course they also make sure to pull required permits before doing any work.
 
I'd personally hire a contractor for any jobs like this. For one, I'm not very good with construction myself, so I'd need someone with that knowledge on the job instead of me. If I had the knowledge I would consider doing the work myself and pull the required permits. I'd also try to come up with plans as well.

I've known people who have worked in construction, and oftentimes they do the work themselves. But of course they also make sure to pull required permits before doing any work.

My understanding is that a homeowner acting as owner-builder isn't necessarily doing all the work physically themselves, though they certainly could be. I believe the owner-builder designation just means there's not a contractor on the hook for the permit and subject to Contractor's License Law and that the homeowner is taking on all liability. That's my understanding for California anyway.

I was acting as owner-builder when I recently obtained a permit for my laundry room remodel (as discussed over in this thread). In doing so, the City required I fill out the attached form and certify that one the following statements applied to me:

I, as owner of the property, or my employees with wages as their sole compensation, will do the work, and the structure is not intended or offered for sale (Sec. 7044, Business and Professionals Code. The Contractor's License Law does not apply to an owner of property who builds or improves thereon and who does such work himself or through his own employees, provided that such improvements are not intended or offered for sale. If, however, the building or improvement is sold within one year of completion, the owner-builder will have the burden of proving that he did not build or improve for the purpose of sale).

Or...

I, as owner of the property, am exclusively contracting with licensed contractors to construct the project (Sec. 7044, Business and Professions Code. The Contractor's License Law does not apply to an owner of property who builds or improves thereon, and who contracts for such projects with a contractor(s) license pursuant to the Contractor's License Law).

In my case, option #2 applied but I could have certified as owner-builder under #1 if I'd planned on doing all the work myself. I can definitely understand @Ir3th0283's point about requiring the homeowner and/or their employees to be licensed/certified to perform electrical, plumbing and mechanical work if the homeowner wants to be permitted under #1. That would certainly seem safer than the status quo.
 
My understanding is that a homeowner acting as owner-builder isn't necessarily doing all the work physically themselves, though they certainly could be. I believe the owner-builder designation just means there's not a contractor on the hook for the permit and subject to Contractor's License Law and that the homeowner is taking on all liability. That's my understanding for California anyway.

I was acting as owner-builder when I recently obtained a permit for my laundry room remodel (as discussed over in this thread). In doing so, the City required I fill out the attached form and certify that one the following statements applied to me:



Or...



In my case, option #2 applied but I could have certified as owner-builder under #1 if I'd planned on doing all the work myself. I can definitely understand @Ir3th0283's point about requiring the homeowner and/or their employees to be licensed/certified to perform electrical, plumbing and mechanical work if the homeowner wants to be permitted under #1. That would certainly seem safer than the status quo.
Ah okay, that makes sense.

And yeah, I figure small jobs can often be done without the need for a permit or hiring a contractor to do it. I personally would always go for a paid professional, simply because I don't like doing the work and I'm afraid I'll mess it up haha. But if someone has the knowledge and it's not major work, I wouldn't bat an eye if someone like the homeowner did all the work themselves.
 
From my understanding, liability is a big factor in deciding whether to obtain a permit via owner builder or contractor. If someone were to somehow become injured, or even die, due to poor construction or not reaching safety standards and the permit was obtained via owner-builder, the home owner will be liable for such damages. This unforeseen circumstance could be extremely costly for the home owner.
 
In our jurisdiction in Florida, we allow the homeowner to act as contractor even for the subcontractors. However, they have to sign the owner builder disclosure form which states the risks that the homeowner is assuming when they pull the permit.
 
We also allow homeowners to act as the GC. They can do all the work themselves or sub out the parts they choose. If they sub out to other contractors they must supply us with that contractors certifications and license numbers for our state. We also have a disclosure form that removes all liability from our jurisdiction and puts it on the homeowner.
 
We recently made a form for owner/builders(mainly for new sfd or manufactured homes). This has helped a lot, and explains to the owner what it means/references code.
 

Attachments

A homeowner can do any work to their property that they would like even if it involves MEP's or they have the option to sub out the MEP portion. We also have a subcontractor confirmation form which any sub has to sign confirming they are doing that work as well as an Owner-Builder Disclosure Statement which references stat law that they must own and occupy the home to perform the work or they could be facing misdemeanor charges from the state.
 

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