Home Inspection Overkill

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with Hoty Enterprises, Inc. 417305

One of my listings was recently inspected by a home inspector from a city an hour away from the community the home is located in.  I never met the man or heard of him and did not know what my sellers were in for.  The buyer for the home lives 2 1/2 hrs. away and didn't know the inspector either, but he was recommended by her agent.  Why this particualr inspector?  The buyer's agent tells me he trusts him over anyone else because he is the only inspector used by the inspector's city government to inspect properties.  Hmm...an inspector for a government entity, now things are becoming much clearer.

The home inspection resulted in a list of repairs to be completed by the seller, most of which were rejected by the seller, but the most interesting was a request for electrical repairs.  The home is 62 years old with a partially finished basement.  The inspector determined that all the wiring in the basement that ran underneath the floor joists needed to rerouted through the floor joists.  As in drill holes through the floor joists, disconnect the wiring from the breaker box and reroute.  This is the building code of today, but we're not doing remodeling, we're not rewiring the house, this a home inspection of current conditions so the buyer can be informed of any serious defects before purchasing the home.  Is this a defect because it wasn't building code in 1947?  Was this overkill or what?  He also insisted that the microwave that was plugged into a surge protector to....I know this is unbelievable, but....to protect it....must be unplugged from the surge protector and plugged directly into the wall.  Amazing!

What's your opinion?  Was this inspector stepping beyond the bounds of the purpose behind a home inspection?

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Rainmaker
208,110
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

Hi, Jamie

I always thought situations like the basement wiring were "grandfathered" in due to the age. Sounds a little overboard to me...

Is the deal still together?

Mar 04, 2009 03:20 AM #1
Rainer
5,990
Melissa Cochran
Hunt-Miller Insurance Agency - Macon, GA

Hi Jamie,

I agree with Peggy and am also curious as to whether the deal held up to that scrutiny.

Mar 04, 2009 03:23 AM #2
Rainer
194,151
Jeff Payne
The Payne Group at Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Panama City Real Estate

In Florida, the home does not have to be brought up to code unless there is a defect that needs repaired.

I recently had a home inspector note that the refrigerator should have the food removed and the grass needed cut!

Mar 04, 2009 03:24 AM #3
Rainer
145,166
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Thanks for your responses! 

Yes, Peggy, it should be grandfathered.  I spoke with two local home inspectors that made the comments "ridiculous" and "that's nuts" and both said they would never put such an item on a home inspection report as a repair item.

Lucky for the sellers, one of their relatives is a retired electrician and he attempted to rememdy as much as he could but not all wires could be re-routed.  The buyers agent will be inspecting the repairs today and bringing an electrician with him to see if the repairs meet code.  I'll keep you posted on whether we keep it together or not!

Mar 04, 2009 03:36 AM #4
Rainer
145,166
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Jeff, UNBELIEVABLE! Maybe the home inspector had a side job of lawn mowing and thought he could drum up some business for himself!!!

Mar 04, 2009 03:43 AM #5
Ambassador
1,339,163
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jamie, are we talking about wiring in the basement that was original to 1947?  Wires having to go through the joists has been around a LONG time----some exeptions exist for some kinds of wiring like in flex conduit and rigid conduit and the old BX type armored cable.  Certainly any kind of more modern wiring done post construction would most certainly not be allowed to be strung along the bottom of the joists.  Was the surge protector in a "strip type" plug in adaptor?  If so, it should be plugged into its own receptacle if it is a built-in type.  They really shouldn't be plugged into extension cords. 

Mar 04, 2009 03:49 AM #6
Rainmaker
637,664
Associate Broker Falmouth MA Cape Cod Heath Coker
http://www.CapeGroup.com & http://www.REindex.com - Falmouth, MA
Heath Coker Robert Paul Properties Falmouth MA

I just had one wherethe inspector stated "code" issues.  When I asked if it was actually code or his preference, he said preference.

Mar 04, 2009 04:02 AM #7
Rainer
145,166
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Charles:

     Thanks for your feedback!

    The wires I saw were mostly all white "romex" type wiring.  Obviously, I'm a realor not an electrician, so this is not my expertise but since the current owners did not do any rewiring in the 9 yrs. they owned the home, I can only assume it is original,  My own home, built in 1996 has wiring that is attached along the bottom of the floor joists, and yes it was wired by a licensed electrician. My point is, although it may not be "code" is it really a repair item to put back on the seller or simply a note that current code would require stringing the wiring through the floor joists should the buyer ever decide to rewire?

    Also, I didn't mention that the house is selling for 16% less than the seller's purchase price 9 yrs. ago and well under market value even in today's economy.  The seller is bringing money to the table to pay off the mortgage. Pretty gutsy to be asking for such time consuming repairs that may not really be a "defect".

    The microwave was not built in, just sitting on an open shelf and the only thing plugged into the surge protector....no extension cords.

 

Mar 04, 2009 04:46 AM #8
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jamie, if it is white I can almost guarantee that it should be run through holes in the joists.  If you had an a "licensed electrician" do that in the last 30 years it would not likely have been done to "code" regardless of his license:)  Now if they ran a board across the joists and attached the wires to the board----that would likely be ok.  For me I would be looking to language this in a way that would NOT be a deal killer---because there is no way it should be.  Just have it repaired when the licensed electrical contractor is at the home for some other reason and certainly prior to any finishing off of the basement space.

Mar 04, 2009 06:09 AM #9
Rainer
25,398
Rick Bunzel
Pacific Crest Inspections - Anacortes, WA

Charles,

I have to disagree for two reasons. 1) this is an unfinished space and I see romex run on the surface of joists even in contemporary construction. Codecheck confirms this is OK  I looked to see if I could find the diagram I was looking at online but it couldn't be found 2) As you know every building department's code requirements are different. We are fortunate in Washington that electrical falls under the DOl but in other areas it varies year to year and town to town. We are not code inspectors....

 

Jamie,

Some inspectors feel empowered and give 110% to protect their "clients". This creates some challenges in responding to the inspection however what I would recommend is to call one of your favorite home inspector and ask them to review the issues stated. I have done this on occasion and created a response letter for the seller. You can also do this with the actual tradespeople as a licensed electrician's opinion trumps a home inspectors opinion.  If anything it helps level the negotiating field.

 

//Rick


Rick Bunzel, CRI
Pacific Crest Inspections

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WWW.PacCrestInspections.com
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Toll Free 866-618-7764

 

Mar 05, 2009 02:41 AM #10
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Rick, unless wires are #8 or bigger they have to go through bored holes or be on runner boards when perpendicular to the joists.  I am guessing that Jamie was referring to regular romex #12 or #14.  This would be so for any jurisdiction that uses the NEC, and has been so for a long time.  Wires run across the bottom of joists in basement spaces is evidence that the work has not been done by a licensed electrician----or a very lazy one and/or work done without permits.

Mar 05, 2009 03:04 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,248,360
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jamie,

Charlie is right about code unless you are talking about heavy duty cables. Code check confirms what Charlie says, not what Rick says.

Regarding non-metallic sheathed cables, below is a quote from Code Check. This is from the IRC and the National Electric Code:

IRC 3702.4; NRC 334.15C

#8/3 or #6/2 Ok to string under basement joists. All smaller cables require bored holes or running boards in a basement.

I learned a long time ago that, arguing rules and codes with Charlie is a pretty sure way to lose an argument. That said, we are not code inspectors and while I would mention that the wires were on the joists, I would certainly not recommend that any major repairs be done. I would just mention it so I did not look like a fool or sloppy when a knowledgable electrician tells the people the same thing sometime down the road.

 

Mar 05, 2009 03:28 PM #12
Rainer
145,166
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Thanks, Steve!

You're comment supports my original thought.  It may be code but it shouldn't be told to the buyers that it's a crucial repair item before purchasing the home.  In this case, I think the inspector lost sight of the purpose of the home inspection for a buyer.  I'm sure it's important when inspecting buildings for a city government, but he almost killed this transaction. 

Mar 06, 2009 12:41 AM #13
Rainer
25,398
Rick Bunzel
Pacific Crest Inspections - Anacortes, WA

Charles,

I stand corrected on my Codecheck reference. Originally I was looking at the  diagram and not the details. Now  I see the "greater than sign" next to the 8/3 cable. code check

In the home inspection business its all about the details!

//Rick

 

 

Mar 08, 2009 06:05 AM #14
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

No problem Rick----I learn something new every day----sometimes multiple times per day:)

Mar 08, 2009 06:09 AM #15
Rainmaker
861,575
Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind
KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate - Tucson, AZ
Broker/Owner

HELLO JAMIE!  I'm with you - a little over-kill.  I recently sold a home that is nearly 50 years old. The inspector did the same thing with the electric citing that it is not code-complainant IF the Buyer decided to install an AC unit.  If!  Please do keep us posted as to how this goes!  --Gabrielle

Apr 29, 2009 07:39 AM #16
Rainer
145,166
Jamie King
Hoty Enterprises, Inc. - Huron, OH
Sandusky, OH

Gabrielle:

Thanks for your comment.  This transaction closed, but not before the buyers father, an electrician, went in and spent a whole day rewiring multiple items.  Never again!  I'm diggin in my heels next time.

Apr 29, 2009 09:07 AM #17
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Rainer
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Jamie King

Sandusky, OH
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