Virtual Conversation | 2021 Re-Wire Policy Conference, Dec 15, 2021 Register
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WA house flippers required to use pro electricians

Property flippers are required to use certified electricians when doing wiring improvements to homes or commercial buildings which they sell within a year of purchase, according to a new Washington state law that takes effect on July 25. 

The bill, SB 5267, was passed during the 2021 Legislative session. Wayne Molesworth, chief electrical inspector for the Department of Labor and Industries, said this in a press release: 

“This law is designed to protect home buyers from shoddy electrical wiring. We have many examples of unsafe wiring performed by property flippers that resulted in new owners having to hire electrical contractors to make repairs, sometimes at a significant cost.”

Labor and Industries inspectors reported at least 600 instances in the past year dealing with electrical wiring problems at flipped properties, the press release states. In one case in Bellevue, a homeowner was required to pay roughly $4,100 to bring the house up to code. 

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle) was the prime sponsor of the bill. During an April 14 signing ceremony, she talked about her own purchase of a flipped home that had faulty wiring. 

“We were unaware that faulty electrical work performed by someone flipping the property had electrified our roof, and when accessing our roof to help with repairs, a friend was seriously injured – and could have been killed – upon contact,” Saldaña said at the ceremony.

The bill focuses on owners of homes or businesses which flip the property by making repairs then selling it for a profit within 12 months. It will not affect longtime property owners wanting to repair their own properties. Generally, property owners are exempt from electrical licensing and certification requirements under state law, the press release states. 

The electrical contractor or certified electrician doing the work on flipped properties must buy an electrical permit from the Department of Labor and Industries. Doing electrical work without being a licensed electrical contractor carries a $1,000 fine for first offenses. The new law also covers telecommunications work involving installation of cable and phone jacks, and internet connections.

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