If I’m not a licensed electrician but I do the work as a handyman who is hired to do what the homeowner is capable of doing, is that legal?

I had a job that required me to hang several chandeliers, light fixtures, and wire up two receptacles that already had the wire there. This is technically something the homeowner can do, am I right? And if that’s the case, the homeowner hired me as a handyman, or general laborer, and NOT as an electrician. Even though I am a commercial, residential and industrial electrician on my primary job, is this considered legal? All taxes aside (I do my own taxes), when the homeowner gives me a deposit, and she decides to back out, am I obligated to return the deposit? Or would I write a contract for future jobs that states that he/she does not get a refund for the deposit? 

She screwed me over and threatened to take me to court over the deposit if I did not refund her. I also didn’t have a contract, and I used Square to send her the invoice of which she paid by debit card, and in the description I stated that the deposit was to DO the aforementioned work, So if I hadn’t written anything out in the description, could she legally win in court if she requested the money back? She backed out because my buddy who does framing, quoted her a little high, and she thought it was unreasonable and dishonest of him so she told me “Because of this, you lost a job. Tell your friend, we’re not going to hire you to do this job, we don’t want to associate with people who do that in our home”

I refunded her, but lost money in material and gas. I got scared of the court thing she threatened. 

5 Answers

Relevance
  • 5 months ago

    The former owner of my place had rewired his house by himself. Everything went onto two circuits, we were blowing lightbulbs every week because of it. We had to have a licensed electrician come in and fix the wiring.

    • Nuff Sed
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      So, your answer is: yes, but why risk it?

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 5 months ago

    If you are accepting deposits for electrical work without being an electrician..

    She was right to threaten you with court proceedings...you are operating like a shady contractor (without a license) and I didnt here anything about a contract.  

    Homeowners can make changes to their own home...no big deal.  Hiring someone else to make changes to their home comes with a lot more red tape...

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 5 months ago

    If you are working as a handyman it would be wise for you to look up your state's laws for electrical licensing.

    Many states have a licensing exception for "like in kind" replacements. Meaning you can replace a light fixture with another light fixture (or other like-for-like replacements) without an electrician's license.

    Generally as long as the new item is functionally similar and only requires attaching to to the existing wires in an existing electrical box you are within the guidelines of this exception.

    If you have to run new wires, splice into wires or daisy chain off another electrical connection or replace a breaker in the panel then you must sub-contract that portion of the work to a licensed electrician.

    As a handyman you are most likely considered a general contractor and you are probably *supposed* to have a license, liability insurance, and a liability bond.

    Furthermore, you should consult an attorney for wording to put on invoices for non-refundable deposits. And be more clear with future customers that deposits are not refunded if they back out and that you do not schedule work or being purchasing materials until the deposit is paid.

    • Nuff Sed
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      A "general contractor" usually refers to a person responsible for "construction". Handyman repairs are not "construction".  State laws on such things vary.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • 5 months ago

    In most jurisdictions you must be a licensed electrician to do electrical work.  If you have to refund all her money I suggest you do it.  Otherwise she could report for working without a license.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • 5 months ago

    Depends on the area. Here the licensing kicks in at $500 bucks. Doesn't matter if they can do it. It will be a hell of a lawsuit if anything goes wrong though. And you would lose.

    • Nuff Sed
      Lv 7
      4 months agoReport

      "If anything goes wrong" there will be plenty of blame to go around. In my state the owner is responsible for code violations, even if they delegate construction to others.

    • Commenter avatarLog in to reply to the answers
Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.