I have a bit of a radon pickle that I’ve been puzzling on for a couple weeks now. One of my very good customers purchased a large estate home a few months ago, and I’ve been working in it off and on for months now getting things the way they want them. When they purchased the home, they had a home inspection, which revealed radon to the extent that a radon mitigation system was recommended.
This customer, being both wealthy and concerned about health, contacted several radon mitigation contractors about having a system installed. I can assure you that price was not an object, but the home was quite complex and complicated in construction. In the end, only one radon mitigation contractor offered a price, and was contracted to do the job.
This radon contractor is also a local home inspector from another association. He completed the work, and third party clearance testing confirmed that the system is functioning as intended. Here’s my gripe… he also did the electrical work related to the radon fans. This work was done in a town where both electrical licensing is required and where permits are required. I have confirmed that neither was in place for this work, and the work contains at least 7 electrical code violations, varying from major to minor.
As a home inspector, what would you recommend I do regarding this installation?
Marc I run into this often myself. Plumbers get permits for water heaters, and fail to do stuff like connect the equipment grounding conductor per manufactures instruction. “Heck what is that green screw for anyway?”
I find myself just correcting at no charge, since I don’t get backing from local code inspectors (BTW, I am a Pa licensed Residential Electrical Inspector, but that’s meaningless compared to the AHJ title). Better to save a life, than say, “I told you so.” Talk to your client, and help him/her. If you want to push it, then a set of photos sent to the local enforcement agencies, and to the state DEP/Radon devision, might help the contractor upgrade their skills.
I’ve got to tell you that he left his entire quote and contract on the job, stuck in behind the manometer for the system. His contract was quite detailed, so it really gripes me that he did the electrical himself. I had a letter to him prepared, complete with pictures, that was less than nice. I didn’t send it. He only charged 1800 bucks for what is perhaps the most ellaborate radon mitigation system I’ve ever seen in person. He could have easily charged 4x that amount and even hired an electrician to do the electrical work if he wanted to. He really left some big-time money on the table.
I think I do want to push it. Since you’re from PA, could you hook me up with a link or an address to the concerned parties at the DEP? They may or may not be concerned, because the sytem does do the job it is supposed to do. Just electrical code violations, is all. I have to admit that I was surprised to see 3rd party clearance testing results. That’s something I seldom see, save for commercial work.
As for code violations, the client has recourse. There is an implied warranty with all things you buy. He paid for a proper installation, you can give him an estimate for the repair, and he needs to contact the company for fixing things. If they don’t, the estimate(a second might be great too), should be enough to pursue this in smalls claims court.
Tom <not a lawyer, just a person regularly screwed by companies. >
That would be pretty awesome, in a sick sort of way. He probably is listed, however. I will check.
Are home inspectors generally permitted to operate business such as radon mitigation as long as it’s not a home they inspected? I suppose that depends on the rules of the association, maybe? This guy had the ASHI logo on his stuff.
I checked the DEP list, and neither his name or company name appears on the list, and the address for none of the listed folks matches either his home or business address. There are other licensed people in his town, so he might be “working under” someone else’s license, although only his personal name and business name appears on the signed contract. The plot thickens…
Just call the guy on the phone and have a talk with with him. Tell him what you saw wrong, ask him if he is prepared to fix it with a certified Electrician or whom ever, I would give him the first right or refusal to fix the problem, heck hes done the best radon mitigation you’ve ever seen so stop there and see what he can do.
Depending on how he reacts, make your next move off his move.
Then tell him that if he is going to continue to do the work then he should have the proper contractors in place. If not I have no choice but to forward the findings to the proper authority.
No offense to you, but the Pa requirements I follow are very stringent. I have to provide notice to my clients about Pa requirements and give contact information for the Radon Division, and my license information. This is so they can verify I am current. Your client should have that information already if it was legit. In-fact during my last audit, they wanted that sheet of paper so they could review it, even after it was approved for my license.
No doubt. All I can say is that I couldn’t find him, his company, or his partner on the list. All of the paperwork related to this install is with the manometer, and no signs of any licensing info that I remember.
Realistically, this really is none of my business. If the customer is satisfied with the result, I’m not their personal police. They really didn’t hire me in that capacity. They hired me for a certain scope of work, and I am not duty bound to point anything additional out to them (although I often do). It’s just a gripe of mine at the moment. I’d like to see all guys who do work without licensing and permits, assuming they’ve done the work for pay, to burn for eternity. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but that’s just how much it gets under my skin.
Start by giving the guy the benefit of the doubt. Give him a call and tell him (nonconfrontationally) what you found.
Maybe ask him to come back to the home with you for you to show him what was wrong and why, as you correct them for him.
Who knows that little bit of free advise might be the start of a professional relationship with him that could be lucrative to both of you. He might decide that he’d be better off subbing you out for for the electrical portions of future projects.
I love how helpful you are to us here at NACHI. This just seems like an opportunity for you to apply that helpfulness, and maybe get a source of referrals in the future.
I’m not sure I can invite anyone into somebody else’s home, but I may at least call.
I think this guy has a 99% chance of knowing he broke the law regarding licensing and permits on the electrical portion. I say that because PA licenses electricians on a local level. This guy’s home base is in a town that is famous for being very strict on this matter, and the town he did the work in is equally as famous for such strictness. All it would take is one simple phonecall for me to get him a 500 dollar fine (and up to 30 days in jail, which never happens) on that account alone. Simple to prove, since his paperwork was all left there, right down to the MapQuest map he printed out for the drive there.
(Chris Duphily, Level II Infrared Thermographer #8355)
Tom’s given you all the information you need to get the ball rolling if you so choose. Please keep us informed on how this plays out. Very interesting
Considering all that is generally involved in the electrical part of a mitigation system, the guy has no business even *using *electricity if he has several violations just installing the wiring to a radon fan.
I’d be happy to enumerate a couple of them off the top of my head…
The line to the radon fan was tapped off an existing ungrounded circuit in the nearest handy junction box in the basement*]The UF cable used was only stripped and in the box about 3".]The “disconnect” for the radon fan was a snap switch in the basement, but the radon fan was on the exterior of the home.]There was no disconnect within sight of the actual radon fan*]The particular radon fan used was not listed for a wet location*]The UF cable was exposed right on grade outdoors without additional mechanical protection.*]The UF cable had an improper support interval
I’m still taking care of this situation, so I’ll post the outcome in the end.