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.
- Follow the Ontario Electrical Safety Code
- Hire only a Licensed Electrical Contractor
- Take out a Permit/Application for Inspection
- Submit a Request for Inspection
- Obtain a Certificate of Inspection
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 few 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, you can call ESA’s Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).
If you are hiring someone to do electrical work in your home, they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor. General handymen and other service providers cannot do electrical work in residences unless they hold an ECRA/ESA 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 ECRA/ESA licence number. Ask to see it.
Virtually all 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. As the homeowner, if you’re doing the electrical work, you need to take out the permit. If you’ve hired a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do the work, they’re required to take out a permit, and they’ll also take care of the inspection process for you as well as calculate permit fees (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.
If you’re doing your own electrical work:
To confirm permit requirements and to get your permit, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233). The fee for an electrical permit varies according to the type of work being done.
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:
- someone living in a residence or using premises, as a tenant or owner.
- a person who takes possession of property which has no known owner, intending to gain ownership.
If you’ve hired a Licensed Electrical Contractor, they are required to apply for a permit and take care of the inspection process for the work that is being done. If you’re doing the electrical work yourself, you must make arrangements for an inspection as soon as possible after completion of the electrical installation. Submit a Request for Inspection to schedule a review by ESA of the work for an existing permit. 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 (372-7233).
The inspection and/or review process by an ESA Inspector may vary depending on the project. An installation may require an inspection at multiple stages if it's complicated. And if the work isn't done in compliance with the Code, the Inspector will issue a defect notice which outlines what corrections must be made.
Every electrical installation (i.e. building, property and/or service) shall be clearly identified with its Civic/Fire Identification number and/or Lot Number to match the identification provided on the notification.
Learn more about inspections:
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. It’s an important document for insurance purposes, resale and peace of mind.
A Certificate of Inspection is issued to the permit holder once the electrical work has passed inspection, to confirm the electrical work for that permit is in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
Certain types of electrical wiring work are non-regulatory services offered by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA). More information about these services...