Times Change And Now It's Time For A Change

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Something that I try and keep in mind as a Connecticut home inspector is that houses and the ways of building them have changed over the years. What was perfectly acceptable or perhaps never thought to be a problem, say 50 years ago, is today no longer a suitable method of construction.

One particular area of the home that probably has under gone and continues to experience the most change is the electrical service. During a training seminar not too long ago the instructor asked if anyone knew how many changes had been made to the newest edition of the electric code. Try and wrap your mind around this number;

Over 5000.

To me it's incomprehensible how so many changes can occur in three years. Further how is anyone supposed to learn and know all those changes? Seems like a pretty daunting task to say the least.

service wires near a windowSo it's a good thing that as a home inspector in Connecticut it's not my job to know or enforce the electric code. Yet there is plenty to know electrically within the context of my inspections.

Take for example this electric service where it attaches to the house from the street. It has been there by my best guess around 50 years.  And yet it is wrong by present standards because the wires are too close to the window.

This sort of presents for me a dilemma as an inspector. First off I know that this is an unsafe condition as I said by current standards, but it has been that way for 50 odd years. Quite probably that was thought to be perfectly fine when it was done.

frayed wireSo how do I report this to the client? In reality the seller should not be obligated to change the service, but the buyer needs to know it's a potential problem.

In this instance I have a simple and easy way out. The service wire is also 50 odd years old. It's frayed and in terrible condition and will need to be changed. When a new service wire is installed the electrician will have to locate the new wire based on the current standards.

The times they are a changin'.

 

 

James Quarello
2010 SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Rainmaker
455,517
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

James - That's pretty scary, especially the unprotected entrance cable.  Glad they don't allow that today. But then, we once thought knob and tube was a good idea. 

Sep 12, 2010 09:57 AM #1
Rainmaker
179,891
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Whatever you have to do to protect your client is ok (well as long as it is legal).  Your doing what needs for the sake of client is the most important part of the job.

Sep 12, 2010 11:32 AM #2
Ambassador
2,553,396
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Jim, that service by the window was wrong when they originally put it up, regardless of code. Knowing how to report the problem without compromising or embarrassing someone is the trick. Well done

Sep 12, 2010 11:40 AM #3
Ambassador
1,333,480
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, you treat these things pretty much the way I do---there is usually a way to word it that works for everyone.

@John---they actually do still allow these exposed service wires---not many do it though.

Sep 12, 2010 02:29 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,244,485
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

This might be something you want to consult Nutsy on. He pretty much wrote the Buell boiler-plate template.

Sep 12, 2010 03:42 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,840,205
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have said for years that nobody knows the NEC Code.  Or the complete ANYTHING Code.  We inspectors simply have to disclaim liability for it all.

Sep 13, 2010 01:02 AM #6
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

John, Knob & tube was all there was for a while, but the point is we continue to evolve and in so doing increase our knowledge.

Jack, Yep, we are there as the buyers advocate.

Ed, Yes it's a fine we inspectors have to walk.

Charlie, I think being fair to all parties should always be a consideration.

Steve, I would guess Charlie has done an extensive rewrite.

Jay, Who could possibly know even one code book let alone several.

Sep 13, 2010 01:16 AM #7
Rainmaker
320,510
Carra & Shae Riley
Brokers Guild Cherry Creek Ltd - Westminster, CO
Helping people Transition at all ages!

James......It is mind boggling to see how many changes have occurred over the years.  As an inspector I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to keep up with them.

Sep 13, 2010 06:45 AM #8
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Carra, Keeping up with all the information is a good part of this job.

Sep 14, 2010 12:53 AM #9
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

James

I am certified on all the codes.

I am required to know ALL of them and the changes.

And as far as the residential changes I do know them. Why?

One I have and do read the codes. Second I am required to attend state mandated classes.

Sep 16, 2010 10:41 AM #10
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

PS

The installation was and is still code compliant.

Read the exception under 230.9(A) in the 2008 NEC.

Report the frayed wires. Do not play electrical inspector.

Sep 16, 2010 11:12 AM #11
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, I understand your supposed to know the codes, if that is your job, but knowing every single code from each book seems super human in my mind. Unlike Ohio CT licenses home inspectors so we are required to attend continuing ed. In addition I am an ASHI certified inspector. In order for me to maintain my yearly membership I must attend twice the amount of continuing ed that my State mandates.

The funny thing about codes is they hardly cover every aspect of every component in the home. Many components are deferred to the manufactures specs. It has been my experience this where the local inspectors do not tread.

As to your reference to the NEC exception, it is for directly over a window or opening. The drip loop is next to the window and well within three feet, so in my mind it violates the standard.

Sep 17, 2010 12:45 AM #12
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

The 'standard' is the code.

Now do you cite code or do you report on 'safety' issues.

If safety what is the safety issue in your example?

I know that you and others want to protect your clients but once you go from reporting safety hazards to citing code you are a lawsuit waiting to happen. I act mean not to insult you but to make you think about what you are saying.

You do not have to say XXX.XX(A)(7) of the code to be citing code.

Understand me? 

Sep 17, 2010 02:01 AM #13
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, Like every home inspector I know, I have a basic knowledge of the codes. Do I actually cite code, no.

"You do not have to say XXX.XX(A)(7) of the code to be citing code"

Yes, I understand and I do not agree with that statement.

Remember it is not what you say, but how you say it. I know you want to be helpful, but your messages would be better received if you were a little more tactful.

Understand?

Sep 18, 2010 12:15 AM #15
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Rainmaker
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James Quarello

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