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Biggest roadblock

jlehnert

Active Member
I'll start the ball rolling with a question (and answer).

What is/was your biggest roadblock getting into the business?

In my case it's PAPERWORK! Licensing, insurance, zoning, etc. Every person/department I talked to gave me a different answer, usually contradictory. A (partial) list of items;
Business license
Contractors license
Low voltage installers license
Security installers license if a burg/fire alarm is part of the automation system (also supersedes the LV license)
In one jurisdiction they want an electricians license just to replace switches. (this one also would supercede the LV license)
Proof of insurance
Zoning variance to operate a business out of the home
Establishment of legal business name.

And I thought getting the customers would be the hardest part!

/RANT
The one that burns me the most is the substitution of the electricians license for the LV license. Knowing high voltage does NOT mean that the person knows how to install a structured wiring system. The worst installs I've seen have been done by electricians. I would say that less than 50% of the electrician installs I've seen are acceptable, and only 2-3 that would meet my own standards. If the electrician has taken the time to learn how to do a SW job correctly, then things are okay. However, a lot of them seem to figure a wire is a wire is a wire. /rant off
 

AutomatedOutlet

Senior Member
I think you're probably right. Another thing for people to keep in mind is that the rules vary greatly based on where you are working.

In Texas, there is no such thing a a LV license (don't think so at least). Replacing switches does not require an electricians license. For alarm systems (or monitored surveillance systems), you do need an alarm installers license.

As a rule, if you are going to do any installations of anything, I would carry some liability insurance. No matter how good you are, there are some people out there that like to sue.....
 

theAberdeenKid

Active Member
I think the biggest roadblock I come across is the customer thinking that this is some sort of 'geek thing'. Everyone that comes to our house loves the lighting as well as the 'automation tricks' but everyone thinks it's just that, neat tricks. When I try to explain to them what the benefits can be their eyes just glaze over and they say that’s nice.
 

JohnBullard

Active Member
Many of you know that I am an Insurance Agent by profession. I second the liability insurance comment, and all of the licenses and permits, etc.

One of our Claims Adjusters knowing of my HA hobby, sent me a email about a claim that another company denied (she saw it in one of the insurance trade mags)

The situation was that a friend (who was a HA geek, like many of us) of the homeowner agreed to come over and install some home automation, light switches etc. for paid compensation. Approx a year later, the house caught fire, well over $100K in damage.

Since the fire seemed to have been electrical in nature, and since the last wiring work was done by a PAID unlicensed person, the insurance company (not the one I work for) denied the claim, citing numerous local laws and ordinances that were violated by the homeowner and the friend he paid to do the work.

It was never proven by the insurance company that the wiring done by the friend was the cause of the fire, just he was the last person to touch the wiring, and accept pay for it.

The homeowner is now having to sue his friend in an attempt to recover his damages.

The moral in my opinion, unless you are a professional with all the licenses, insurance etc, and a friend wants you to help automate his house, only accept "a few beers" for compensation!
 

Rupp

Senior Member
jlehner,
How do you get an electricians license? I thought you had to be an electricians apprentice for a while to get this license?
 

jlehnert

Active Member
I thought you had to be an electricians apprentice for a while to get this license?

You do, I haven't, so I don't have one.

In the one jurisdiction that wants an electrician for everything, I get an electrician as a sub-contractor. All the other jurisdictions allow you to replace switches and receptacles if you have the general contractors license. In new construction, I just spend an hour going over my requirements with whomever the electrician is, and then just give him the switches, etc, to install as he does the rest of the electrical system.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Since the fire seemed to have been electrical in nature, and since the last wiring work was done by a PAID unlicensed person, the insurance company (not the one I work for) denied the claim, citing numerous local laws and ordinances that were violated by the homeowner and the friend he paid to do the work.

It was never proven by the insurance company that the wiring done by the friend was the cause of the fire, just he was the last person to touch the wiring, and accept pay for it.

Sorry for bringing up a very old thread:

So what are we saying the outcome would have been if the friend had done if for free, or the homeowner himself?
 

JohnBullard

Active Member
Mike,


"PROBABLY" would have been covered, no questions asked, just as if you changed a light switch or outlet yourself.

Notice I said "Probably". That means it could depend on the insurance appraiser or adjuster, depending on the questions they ask the homeowner. After all, they work for the insurance company, and their job is to help the insurance company keep their money, or pay the smallest claim possible.

I wouldn't recommend bragging to the adjuster about the HA setup, or trying to argue that each switch cost $50 plus each, instead of 99 cents.

That would really start them asking lots of questions.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
So if our house burns down we can not claim the $5000 worth of HA switches and gadgets some of us have installed?
 

Squintz

Senior Member
jlehnert,

If I recall you are from the same area I am from. Im in harford county maryland. I am trying to get my feet wet in the business also. I have made a lot of progress on the electrician license issue. If you want to chat more about this then send me an e-mail through cocoontech and we can brain storm. There are some work arounds for this stuff but its not cheap or easy. But they are available.
 

Squintz

Senior Member
In maryland if your house burn down do to an electrical problem and YOU and Un-licenced home owner was the last one to touch any part of the electrical system whether or not it was the cause of the problem, your isurance company has the right not to pay you a dime.

I took steps to avoid this. I contacted the board of master electricians in my county and got them to make a licence that allows me to replace switches and outlets only and only in my county. I still have to go take the test but its pretty much a done deal. This will cover all the work I do in my own house and any work I do in other peoples homes in my county.

My next step once I get my feet on the ground is to go to Baltimore and Cecil county and see if they will match the license. Its not a quick solution but it seems to be working.

But the bottom line is that some places wont give you a dime if your house burns down as a result of an electrical fire and you were the last to touch it.
 

JohnBullard

Active Member
It will vary by state, and by insurance company, and the type of policy you have with a particular company.

In most states, an insurance company may have 3 or more different types (tiers or levels) of homeowners policies they sell, with different items covered in each of the policies.

Quite possibly, the company may pay the claim, then subrogate back to the person (or firm) that did the last "paid" electrical work, in order to recover their payout.

Rupp, in my case, based on what I know, if my house burned down due to an electrical fire, yes, I would list my computers on the claim, but I wouldn't dare mention the "special" switches or outlets that I had installed, or that I had ever touched the wiring. No need to raise or wave red flags at them, in my opinion.

Squintz, if you have the license to do the work, then by all means get the liability insurance to cover the work you do. :p
 
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