Homeowner's Hunch Reveals Unsafe Electrical Work
Intuition saved Heather Bouman’s home from potential disaster.
The Parksville, B.C., resident was shocked to discover the contractor she hired to do renovations was not a licensed contractor and also did not get the necessary permits for the job.
“I phoned the BC Safety Authority and told them I didn’t feel safe about the work that was done,” said Bouman, who specifically instructed the contractor to do everything by the book. “Throughout this whole process, subconsciously, I was thinking something was not right.”
Her suspicions were confirmed when a BC Safety Authority (BCSA) electrical safety officer gave failing grades for all of the work. Bouman spent nearly an additional $4,000 to hire a BCSA-licensed contractor to re-do everything.
The original contractor worked on a few different places in the house, but the most dangerous area was the kitchen. Bouman said the contractor unsafely spliced together wires creating a fire hazard.
Other problems were electrical outlets that sporadically stopped working and electrical wires left lying on the ground under the house.
Bouman’s insurance company said it would have gone after the contractor if the house had caught fire due to faulty electrical wiring, but that was of little comfort to her.
The Parksville resident was in disbelief when she found out she could have lost her home due to unsafe electrical work. She said it felt like living in a “death trap.”
"I was numb – absolutely numb. I told my husband and we looked at each other, and he was absolutely numb too."
Bouman encourages others to do their homework thoroughly when researching contractors, and to use the BCSA website to make sure the contractor is qualified and licensed.
The BC Safety Authority offers these tips for homeowners who will be hiring contractors for gas or electrical work:
- Confirm the contractor is licensed by the BCSA – ask to see their licence.
- Get all the project information in writing before the work starts.
- Get permits for all the work being done.
- Have the contractor provide references, warranties and submit a written quote declaring the total cost and timeline.
- Have work inspected by the BCSA when it is finished.
“The BC Safety Authority is incredibly helpful – full of information and very good to deal with,” said Bouman. “If I were to do any more renovations, I would not go any other way but to include BCSA safety officers in every step.”