Use Homeowner As Helper To Rewire Home

Ravenvalor

Senior Member
Hello,
A homeowner whom I have done work for in the past would like for me to rewire his home and he would like to help. North Carolina law states that a helper must be a 'bona fide' employee which seems to mean he must be on the payroll and of course insured (the last time that I looked up the definition according to state law). Has anyone on this forum ever put a customer on the payroll in order to have them help you on a job? Are there any legal land mines to look out for? Any liability risks?

Thanks for the help.
 

masterinbama

Senior Member
Hello,
A homeowner whom I have done work for in the past would like for me to rewire his home and he would like to help. North Carolina law states that a helper must be a 'bona fide' employee which seems to mean he must be on the payroll and of course insured (the last time that I looked up the definition according to state law). Has anyone on this forum ever put a customer on the payroll in order to have them help you on a job? Are there any legal land mines to look out for? Any liability risks?

Thanks for the help.
Can the homeowner pull his own permit and then hire you as a consultant?

Sent from my moto e using Tapatalk
 
Last edited:

Joe.B

Senior Member
Location
Arcata Ca
Occupation
Building Inspector
Yeah, what they said, and if you do let them help you charge them an hourly rate for that service. Let me be clear, what I am saying add an extra hourly rate to the bill instead of reducing the bill. They "want to help" but really they want to pay less money and get free education on top of it.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I can think of a few reasons this is not a great idea.

I wouldn't want to teach a customer to not need me.

Manual labor, like digging or trash removal, sure.
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
I wonder if a chef would be open to the customer preping the food for him?

Roger
 

whofrankw

Member
Location
milford nj
Why would there be an issue? Is he a friend, a random guy that called you? IMO, he's no different than a helper. If you are somewhat worried then charge a little more and if he gets hurt put him on payroll and use insurance, but that would be the most EXTREME case. If you're doing residential work then I wouldn't worry much but if you're him making climb in a manhole then I would think different. I'm assuming you are either low on man power or he is your friend and either or I wouldn't worry too much. If you are giving him a proposal then you have to throw on a couple hours. Idk the situation but this is my two cents.
 

Buck Parrish

Senior Member
Location
NC & IN
I have had customers want to save money and ask to help. I tell them with a smile , I'd have to charge extra.
It's just not a good idea. I would not do it. I wouldn't even think of a reason why I should not do it. Just say " No "
You have the perfect excuse NC states clearly you have to be a W-2 employee. It's just not worth it.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
Some guys just want to be involved in the construction of their own place. I get that. But it takes time to show him what to do. I've told people that I charge more if they help.

I told one guy that I have a habit of yelling at my help and calling them stupid. He decided he didn't want to help after all 😁
 

Fred B

Senior Member
Location
Upstate, NY
Occupation
Electrician
I know, show the homeowner who wants to help some of those scary OSHA safety videos showing the hazards of electrical work when it goes wrong, that should solve any desire of a homeowner wanting to help.
Here homeowners can do their own electrical. So I will sometimes use that technique to discourage that, and to get them to hire an electrician even if it's not me. Seen too many shoddy DIY wiring, overloading (here's a box let's use that wire), splices and no boxes, etc.
 

Dsg319

Senior Member
Location
West Virginia
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
I know, show the homeowner who wants to help some of those scary OSHA safety videos showing the hazards of electrical work when it goes wrong, that should solve any desire of a homeowner wanting to help.
Here homeowners can do their own electrical. So I will sometimes use that technique to discourage that, and to get them to hire an electrician even if it's not me. Seen too many shoddy DIY wiring, overloading (here's a box let's use that wire), splices and no boxes, etc.
West Virginia is same way on single family dwellings. As long as your service equipment passes POCO inspection, your dog can ruff the house in :p.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
It's hard to know what you mean by helper. If it's someone that cleans up at night and diggs trenches for you I don't think I would have a big problem with it. If he wants to wire stuff I would just tell him you're not interested. You're going to end up being responsible for this job regardless of who does the actual work
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
It's hard to know what you mean by helper. If it's someone that cleans up at night and diggs trenches for you I don't think I would have a big problem with it. If he wants to wire stuff I would just tell him you're not interested. You're going to end up being responsible for this job regardless of who does the actual work
I had a panel change out done in my last home, and I knew the electrician. I helped with the grunt work, lugging cable and helping him set the panel, tacking up some NM for an additional circuit. However, he did all the terminations.

I can empathize with an HO looking to save a buck. My project was about 3 hours of work, and the sparky would have done it all himself, but IIRC he did give me a bit of a break for lending a hand.

On the other hand, if an HO got injured while acting as a helper, even if he just tripped down the basement stairs carrying a box of connectors, I'd hate to be the EC when the insurance company started asking questions. It's probably wise to pass.
 

Nuber

State Certified Practitioner of Electrical Arts
Location
Colorado
Occupation
Master Electrician
Hello,
A homeowner whom I have done work for in the past would like for me to rewire his home and he would like to help. North Carolina law states that a helper must be a 'bona fide' employee which seems to mean he must be on the payroll and of course insured (the last time that I looked up the definition according to state law). Has anyone on this forum ever put a customer on the payroll in order to have them help you on a job? Are there any legal land mines to look out for? Any liability risks?

Thanks for the help.
I would never temp hire a one project employee who was not in the trade.
  1. The overhead cost of running payroll and complying with safety training is not worth it for one project.
  2. The potential liability if the guy/gal runs a staple through their hand, smashes a finger with a hammer, breaks a wrist with the hole hawg. Good lord I fear for you if you try this. I see nothing but a lawsuit waiting to happen.
  3. MASSIVE inefficiency on the project - green apprentices are bad enough for productivity let alone having the person paying your salary be your apprentice.
How we handle this - customers can do whatever work they want to before we show up. We only do time and material from that point forward and fix all of their stuff before inspection. Once we show up, no more wiring is done by the homeowner. We pull the permit and treat the project as if it is our own work. However we make it clear in the proposal that there is no warranty on materials that we did not provide and install.

This method is also legal here (for me) - what the homeowner does before we get there is on them.
 
I did help the plumber who was re-piping the house- kept the coffee on all morning and helped dig the trench in the front yard. And once we had water pressure (long story*) didn't demand that he stay even later Friday to totally finish- come back Monday, I'll be fine. We both were.

*lots of failing galv pipe, use a hose to bypass some of it for the weekend
 

winnie

Senior Member
Location
Springfield, MA, USA
Occupation
Electric motor research
He cut out wall coverings and cleaned up. That saved him more than helping.
As someone who DIYs many things, I think this is the most sensible approach.

Either with a non professional or with someone in a different profession you have to have a well defined boundary between 'your work' and 'their work'.

An old house re-wire has lots of non electrical work, opening walls, patching the holes, etc. If the HO does all of the grunt space prep beforehand, and all of the cleanup after inspection, and you do the actual wiring work, that would mean they are not paying an electrician to do plaster work, and you don't have to worry about them being involved in the electrical work.

-Jon
 
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