ESA wiring repair costs - who's responsible?

Hi everybody,

I reside in Ottawa. I recently bought an older home (87 yrs) - a semi-detached. Before buying it, I had a general inspection done and the previous owner, a construction contractor by trade, had a report stating that the wiring met the minimal code standards.

After I bought it, I soon found out via an ESA inspection that the wiring was complete “crap”. It will now cost between $6000 - $9000 to fix. Is there a way that I can make the previous owner cover those costs.

Being a construction contractor, he should have known better. Moreover, he was erecting a wall in the basement for me and he did the wiring for that himself. That accounted for quite a few defects right there!

Thanks so much!


Did you have a home inspection by a qualified home inspector or a general inspection by a GC or other trade person? You mention you have a report indicating “wiring met the minimal code standards”.

Minimal code on a 87 year old home sounds suspect. Besides any new construction work should have involved a permit, especially a wall with wiring - an electrical permit.

Since you have already signed on the dotted line, an Attorney is your only legal option, assuming you have already reached out to the previous owner.

This an example of you should have hired a certified home inspector yourself

87 Yrs old $6000.00 - $9000.00 sounds like K & T. Never mind the contractor, your insurance company may not cover you! The only hommie that wouldn’t catch that is well …he didn’t come from here. I am thinking no inspection …caveat emptor!

I believe the Electrician could be blowing smoke when he mentioned the upgrade pricing. I’d love to see pics…

You have had three opinions, one from your “general inspection”, one from the previous owner and finally, the ESA inspection. Only one of the three described the wiring as “crap”.

So, why do you believe the ESA inspector’s opinion but not the opinion of your inspector? What, specifically, constitute’s “crap”?

You obviously had an opportunity to do due diligence but did not. Now, you want someone else to pay for your mistake. I don’t understand why you think someone else should pay for anything. Am I missing something?

I suggest you learn from this experience and hire a qualified home inspector the next time you buy a house.

At this point you need a lawyer.

A construction contractor by trade knows very little about Home Inspection.
Live and learn because you made a wrong choice!!!

Hi everybody,

Thanks so much for all the advice! I can see that the overall consensus is that I made the mistake in only having a General Home inspection and not an ESA one. You are right. Live and learn. I obviously won’t make the same mistake next time around. To be honest, I had never even heard of ESA prior to last month! There’s so much more to home ownership than meets the eye!

I have consulted with my attorney and will abide by his advice. I am also reporting the previous owner to ESA for doing the wiring on my wall (and other projects) without being certified.

Thanks again everyone!


ESA only does electrical . I think you might want to consider using an Experienced Home Inspector as we do far more then just the electrical .

When the CERTIFIED Home Inspector does say call such and such, you take his advice. This includes the Inspection by ESA as Roy is stating.

I grew up in a contractor’s family and took over the family business, which I operated until about 25 years ago. We built hundreds of houses and when I decided to be a Home Inspector, I figured I knew pretty well all I needed.

I soon found out how little I actually knew about how all the systems were inter-related and how they all performed over time and what could go wrong. I soon took a few good courses, mentored with three great inspectors and studied hard. I’ve been at it 20 years now, and just for fun I looked up one of my reports from the first year. I was flabergasted by how minimal and inadequate it was.

There is no question that a construction background is valuable, but courses with proctored exams and field training with a good mentor are essential. It’s also very important to take as much upgrading and review training as possible each year, and iNACHI is great for that.

Buying a house today without a proper inspection is not wise.

On the ESA topic, I have found that they often only do a quick, spot inspection, but don’t go into nearly as much details as we do. (not all the time) Kevin is right that we should recommend them, because at that point they will look at issues we raise, but they often won’t look inside panels, etc.

Bill Mullen

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Thanks Bill how true I too had over 35 years of Construction ( I am an Electrician )
I was lucky to have my son who is a good Home Inspector .
I mentored with him for over year and did about 60 inspections with him and a couple of others.
Even then when I like you looked back at some of my original reports with my son WOW! did he find many places for me to improve on .
I do think if the newbies got more mentored field training far fewer would leave this industry .
I too mentored and three who did many inspections with me are doing very well at the industry .
Those who did very few are not doing home inspections .

I am now retired and sold my business .

Rob - give me a call or an e-mail, I have an avenue you can try to pursue that many people including inspectors and lawyers are not aware of. I would be glad to share it with you.

Allan Spisak

I would love to hear this too! Or is it a secret?:smiley:

Gee that is unfortunate you choose to come to the NACI site and not share the information that you feel is very important .

I would be very surprised to hear Allan has any info that would change this inspection results.
That home owner is out of luck.
Caveat Emptor.
He can’t go back on the seller as he already purchased on information and unless there was fraud on part of seller he is still out of luck.
Don’t know what Spisak is thinking. There is no recourse.

There are 3 types of misrepresentation.

Innocent misrepresentation - A statement made that is untrue, but honestly believed to be true.

Fraudulant misrepresentation - A statement made with the knowledge of its falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.

Negligent misrepresentation - A statement made by a person in a position of trust that another person relies on and is found to be untrue.

The second 2 may result in damages being awarded.

Unfortunatley legal costs to persue something like this can often add up to the amount in question…

The only another avenue I can think of is through a guy named “Knuckles” but I really don’t approve of his methods :wink:

To all who read these posts, I dont come here everyday so my responses may be a bit slow to your questions. I asked Rob to contact me direct to see if he was legitimate and I do have a very interesting avenue he and other buyerr can pursue should they find work done by the seller that was done without a permit.

Ready to learn something new …

Most title insurers include a policy rider for “building compliance” coverage, which basically means that if you buy a property that was renovated without proper permits, and if the changes were not in compliance with current building code regulations, the title insurer will compensate you for the cost of correcting any issues. Most people aren’t aware of this clause, and it is currently under review by the insurers because about half of the claims made under this portion of the coverage are for amounts of $100,000 or more.

Rob should call his title insurance company to see if they would cover the work done before his purchase that was done without a permit.

You are welcome,

Allan Spisak
Vice Chair PHPIC

PS we are having a free educational seminar next week for all home inspectors.
I will post it once details are confirmed.