Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Some changes to your home are best left to professionals

UglyWhen looking to purchase a home, part of the fun is imagining putting your personal touches on the house. Like changing out that hideous lime green carpet for a much nicer shade of fuschia. No question, home improvement is an extremely individual form of expression. 

Seeing decorating train wrecks or just plain dated motifs is part of the usual landscape for a home inspector. Occasionally these glaring style faux pas are mentioned during the buyers initial conversation with me on the phone. I politely point out that "ugly" has no impact what so ever on the job I am there to perform. 

Well that's not entirely true. Ugly to me, the home inspector, has different connotation. I tend to admire good or exceptional workmanship. I'm certain a client or two has wondered about my over enthusiastic raving regarding the "beautiful" electric panel or new boiler's plumbing. As it's been said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Unaltered panelWhat I find offensive to my sense of style are unprofessional alterations to the home's equipment. For example the electric service panel. 

From my experience, most people tend to shy away from getting their hands into or around electrical components. Especially the service panels. I believe most people understand and have the good sense to know that messing around with electricity can get them killed or at the very least start a fire. 

Most people.

There are those rare individuals who seem to believe that they possess the skills and great knowledge along with their access to YouTube to perform electrical tasks that a licensed electrician has spent years to learn. Or more to the point, knows better than to attempt. 

Altered panelLooking at a two family house recently, I found the usual identical electric panels. Well not entirely identical. Being that this was an older house, the panels themselves were small by today's standards, having few places to install breakers. 

So what's a person to do when there is no room in the panel for a range circuit?  

Make custom alterations of course. 

I'm guessing the homeowner or a handy friend or Uncle, take your pick, made the decision to cut the panel cover and insert a double pole breaker where none is allowed. I will say the cut was rather neat. 

Logic should say, if the cover, the panel does not have a designated space for a breaker, then forcibly installing one is not permitted. 

Some homeowner's go a bit too far in making customized changes.

Posted by

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

 ASHI Certified Inspector

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Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Good advcie for home owners. Thanks for the reminder.

Apr 15, 2015 09:27 PM #1
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning James. This is incredible. My New Jersey contractor always told me not to _uck with electric, and that was simply thinking about changing a light switch to a dimmer.

Apr 15, 2015 09:32 PM #2
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Good thing they had a you as a home inspector first, who knows what could have happened.

Apr 15, 2015 09:35 PM #3
John McCormack, CRS
Albuquerque Homes Realty - Albuquerque, NM
Honesty, Integrity, Results, Experienced. HIRE Me!

Good Thursday morning James Loftis -

One thing I will not fool around with is electrical items.  I can install a new outlet but anything more intense I call our go to electrician.  

Apr 15, 2015 09:38 PM #4
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, You do not like Yankee ingenuity? I am with you though especially when it comes to the electrical service.

Apr 16, 2015 12:05 AM #5
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

You Tube and DIY... I shutter at the thought! At least he didn't run wires out of the box and leave the breakers You gotta have a healthy respect for electricity... this guy did not!!

Apr 16, 2015 12:56 AM #6
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Jim this is the one part of inspections - electrical - that I've seen to many home owner do it yourself changes and that is scary.  Hire a licensed electrician!  I like the way you see beauty in your inspections!

Apr 16, 2015 01:28 AM #7
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty

No way would I ever think of messing with the electrical panel of a home myself. Installing some ceiling fans or new wall outlets, ok. Fooling around with the electrical panel? Never!

Apr 16, 2015 01:46 AM #8
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jim common sense should dictate many things, but unfortunately it does not, and you "can't fix stupid"

Apr 16, 2015 08:14 AM #9
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Wow, I bet that guy got an A in metal shop class!  No room?  No problem!

Maybe he cut it with a laser beam!  Now THAT'S something we didn't have in metal shop!

Apr 17, 2015 07:54 PM #10
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Gita, You're welcome. It seems it bears repeating.

Shelia, I like your contractors very precise advice :) 

David, Believe me, the buyer was thankful. The entire process has not been going well for this young man.

John, I respect anyone who knows that they don't know, what they don't know and calls the person who does know. You know? :)

Don, There is more ingenuity in this job than I care to see sometimes :)

Fred, For sure. Completely ignored the obvious. 

Anna, Thanks. I really can not understand why some people think they can install electrical components. 

Nicole, You are very wise.

George, Ain't that the truth!

Jay, How about the water jet metal cutters. That's pretty incredible. 

Apr 17, 2015 09:47 PM #11
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