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What You Need to Know

Planning a renovation? Updating the kitchen or bathroom? Adding new lighting? If your project involves new electrical wiring or devices, or repairing/replacing old ones, you need to know your obligations under Ontario law.

Don’t let your home improvement dream become a nightmare.  Follow the law and do it right.

  1. Follow the Ontario Electrical Safety Code
  2. Take out a permit
  3. Get it inspected
  4. Hire only Licensed Electrical Contractors

The Ontario Electrical Safety Code

Electrical installation, repair and replacement work needs to be done in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.  The Code specifies how electrical work must be done.  The Code is updated every three years to address emerging technology and improvements in safety practices. Always refer to the current edition of the Code.  Purchase a Code book.  

To confirm whether the Code applies to the work you're planning, call 1-877-372-7233.

Permits and Fees

Most electrical work requires a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority.  An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) needs to be taken out before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts.

Permits must be taken out by the party who is doing the work. If you’re doing the electrical work, you need to take out the permit. If you hire someone, they must take out the permit (see who is permitted to do electrical work in your home). Do not take out a permit on behalf of a contractor or anyone else.

Electrical permits are not the same as a building permit. If you have a building permit, it doesn’t mean you have an electrical permit. The fee for an electrical permit varies according to the type of work being done. To confirm permit requirements and to get your permit, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).

There are two ways that homeowners or occupants* of a home can apply for a permit:

  1. Download the applicable Application for Inspection form.
  2. Contact our Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) to speak with a Customer Service Representative.

*An occupant is: 1) someone living in a residence or using premises, as a tenant or owner. 2) a person who takes possession of property which has no known owner, intending to gain ownership.

Inspections

Arrangements for an inspection must be made as soon as possible after completion of the electrical installation. Request a Request for Inspection to schedule an inspection for an existing permit. However, to avoid waiting for a call back to book your inspection date, you can call the Customer Service Centre directly at 1-877-ESA-SAFE.

ESA's expert Inspectors will review the electrical work, sometimes at multiple stages if it's complicated. If the work isn't done in compliance with the Code, he or she will issue a defect notice which outlines what corrections must be made.

Once the inspection is complete, whoever took out the permit receives an ESA certificate of inspection.  If your contractor took out the permit, request a copy of the certificate for your records. You can also call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233) for a copy.

Licensed Electrical Contractors

If you are hiring someone to do electrical work in your home, they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor.* Learn more about how Licensed Electrical Contractors help keep you and your family safe, and how they can save you time and money. 

General handymen and other service providers cannot do electrical work in residences unless they hold a Licence. If you hire a general contractor, confirm that the electrical work will be done by a licensed subcontractor.

A Licensed Electrical Contractor is required to display their ESA/ECRA licence number. Ask to see it.

 acceptable licence examples

You can find a Licensed Electrical Contractor or confirm that your contractor holds a valid licence here.

 

 *The exceptions are: maintenance, service and repair work on equipment when done by an employer or agent of the manufacturer of that equipment; work done on a farm by an owner, operator or employee;  work on refrigeration and air conditioning units by qualified Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic; work done on elevators and escalators by a person authorized by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority; work done on electrical equipment that plugs into an electrical source if the work being done is maintenance, service or repair of the equipment that does not include extending or altering the equipment or installing, extending, altering or repairing any electrical wiring connected to the equipment.