35 Amp service?

Ran across this in a condo conversion. The panel (such as it is) and main disconnect(s) were located in the basement and supplied a one bedroom (with living room. den and kitchen) condo. The two breakers were 1 15 amp and 1 20 amp only.

Called it out as insufficient service for the unit. ‘Developer’ said it was code. Explained to client that he would not be able to serve his fridge, disposer, microwave, ‘kegger’ mini fridge, large screen TV, computer, stereo, 2 (count 'em) window A/C units and all the other stuff in his unit with only one 15 amp branch and one 20 amp branch.



Dwelling units require one bathroom 20, two kitchen 20s and a 20 for a laundry if one is not provided as a common element, along with the 3va per square foot of general lighting load. If there are no other fixed in place pieces of equipment that is all that would be required. The bedrooms have been required to be on AFCI since the 99 code (applied in 2002). Your condo is at least 3 circuits short.

No fair, I’m on dial-up… You posted before I could even get the reply page to load.

lol…I tell you…Mr. Decker loves that " It’s Code "…lol…I concur with Mr. Fretwell…:slight_smile:

Lol… 'ol Buddy Paul, lol… The place, which the owner inheretedfrom his dead parents about a year ago and is ‘converting;’ to condos…lol .lol…

The City of Chicago is going along with this and this conversion passed code. Some grandfathering provision.

There are codes and there are code lol…lol…etc.

That’s what makes your job different than a code inspector. You can point out dumb design decisions. You are just trying to help a buyer figure out if a home is for him and anticipate things that will make them crazy later.
Living with 4200 watts is like living off a small generator

Spoken like a true Floridian :mrgreen:

Sorry Greg, I just couldn’t help myself :wink:



Thanks, Greg.

I have been ‘disagreeing’ with local code officials since I started in this profession.

  1. Codes are LOCAL. They are voted yea or nae by local politicians that know absolutlely nothing about any of the technical issues that they vote on.
  2. Their votes are not determined by what is good or bad, right or wrong, proper or improper. They are voting (in most cases) based upon what will keep them in office. When you attempt to explain the reasons and technical decisions behind your report, their eyes just glaze over ane the just wait until you stop to get a breath and, politely, shoo you out of their offices. This is usually ‘public opinion’, otherwise known as what their various political advisors tell them will get them the most votes.
  3. The various national associations (NEC, ICC, IRC, etc) largely base their ‘opinions’ on what is technically feasable and doable, always with an eye on what is the most safe for the public (again, in most cases. After all, they are only human as well). But, at least, national standards are uniform and have more input and thought behind them. But, we must remember, it usually takes 2-3 years for the new national standards to be ‘adopted’ by the local AHJs. How many people are killed or injured while this process works its way along?
  4. Let’s not forget (at least around here) the Unions. Their sole purpose is to serve their members. This means making the most work for their members, at the highest possible price (wages) and having the union leaders keep their (usually better paid than the members) salarys. Therefore, if they can find a way of doing things that increases their membership’s wages, it is good (no mater the objective benefits).
  5. We (home inspectors) work for, get paid by and (in most states) are legally bound to serve our clients. This means calling out and explaining the call out and the reasons for the call out (primarilly saftety, secondarily, expense) of the defects and issues and stupid mistakes we find. We serve our clients!

Just my opinion.

You’re the Inspector, the Developer isn’t; call 'em like you see 'em… which is what you did.

The good news is that you can tell the Developer that “the right side is up”. :slight_smile:

“Your condo is at least 3 circuits short.”


On what do you base this?

He needs 2 small appliance circuits and a bathroom circuit, that is already 2 20s short. If the total square footage of the apartment is more than 600 s/ft 15a will not handle it so you need yet another circuit. That makes 3.

I assume the condo conversion was just a paper change that did not kick off an electrical permit/inspection so this just slid by. The condo I bought in Florida was the same way but the electrical wasn’t this bad. It did have a buttload of tandem breakers in the panel to serve the load (no singles at all). I always said I was going to swap it out but I never did. It is someone else’s problem now.


You are using new construction codes for your example.

I agree with you as far as not liking this but is it wrong?

Unfortunately no.

Will is not a code inspector but he can certainly use codes as a guideline for his “livability” opinions.

One must not assume that code (local) is right or wrong. It is merely the adopted laws of the AHJ. Some local codes are 4 to 10 years behind the national standards (at least around here).

I use national constuction standards (as our state law requires) when dealing with matters of safety or property value. I make no final decisions or have any ability to require (as to the AHJs), but I am legally liable for my reports, call outs and findings (both under state law and by the, much looser standards of whatever trial lawyers in civil suits may be able to concoct in the way of law suits. Local AHJs (at least around here) are not.

Thus, HIs have responsability without authority (beyond our own ethics and our ability to have our clients trust us), and the local AHJs have authority without any responsibility.

Hope this helps.


“as our state law requires”

That is my point. You have a reference and that is what is needed.

Thank you.

Sorry if I misunderstood.

My frame of reference, FYI.

City of Chicago inspectors do not issue a final certificate of occupancy.

The Reason. They don’t want to accept the liability.

I have seen many homes and a few 24 -45 unit new condos that are just full of flaws (no, absolutely no, fireblocking, large electrical raceways that are flooded with water, roofs, less than 4 months old that have significant water underneath the covering, brand new houses (4,400 - 6,200 SF) with totally rotted sill plates because the builder installed a planter against the front wall with the weep wicks 3-5 inches beneath the soil, 6 - 10 OSB roof decking pieces totally black and crumbling (with cedar shake roofs, few gosh sakes!!) because 3 2nd floor bathrooms and the 2nd floor laundry are vented directly to the attic, cat 3 attic furnaces that draw their air directly from the attic which has blown in cellulose insulation, etc).

And, in all cases, the AHJ didn’t catch it, refuses to require the builder to fix it and totally disclaims any liability for it.

Just ain’t right.