No GFCI on pre 1996 home

I"m just starting out as an inpector and trying to get clear on the difference between needing a Repair or needing to be Upgraded. I was on a mock inspect the other day on an older home and there were no GFCI receptacles or AFCI at the service panel. Since this is an older home I put it down at a recommended upgrade but since it is a safety issue, should I write it up as a repair?

Is it a safety issue? Says who?

First off home inspectors do not “require” anything.

That is a decision between the buyer and the seller.

You simply do not have any authority to “require”

One of the beauties of home inspecting is you are paid for your opinion.

You can recommend anything but in the end it is up to your client to renegotiate his deal if he wants your recommendations dealt with. He may choose to do them himself or live with them the way they are.

Your job is to give informed opinions and the rational for them.

That said, I recommend the installation of GFCIs were ever they currently should be.

After you do your job, the decision is in your clients hand.

A repair is something that is not functioning as intended.

An upgrade is a change. I never use the term upgrade.

I do recommend things that would result in increased safety but even that has limitations.

There are a number of different inspectors that inspect homes.

Municipal “code” inspectors, they typically inspect during construction and also during remodeling (depending on local regs.). These inspectors have a certain amount of power in that they can halt progress on a project for code/safety violations.

FHA and VA inspectors, they inspect homes where the home is being purchased under one of their loan programs. They can hold up the loan/sale if certain standards aren’t met, such as handrails on stairs.

Home inspectors are there to report on the condition of the home at that day and time. We can make recommendations but as Mike points out we can’t and shouldn’t “require” anything.
I recommend all the time for GFCI/AFCIs to be added and smoke detectors etc. and handrails and anti tip brackets and yadda, yadda, yadda…

Anyway, hope that helps!

GFI protection was required for some areas back in the 80’s. Does this area have any building codes?

Building code enforcement varies widely.

Not the home inspectors job.

You can give an opinion but I would not refer to it as something that is “needed”, “needing to be upgraded” or as in need of “repair”.

Keep in mind, we are NOT code inspectors. It is completely irrelevant what the code was in 1992. You cannot possibly be in expert in every code and how it was being enforced over a period of 200 or so years.

During any future upgrading of the electrical system or for added safety, we recommend installing GFCI and AFCI outlets in all appropriate areas to further reduce shock and/or short hazards. Exterior outlets should be weather-protected types. Appliances with three prong plugs need to use a grounded outlet for proper safety.

Michael Larson had a good post for you …

I’m a code certified inspector. Here is one of my comments.

What about AFCI ?

What relevance is that? In +20 years anyone with a screw driver could have swapped out breakers and receptacle’s.

My point was that even in years pre-dating that house that gfi protection would have been required. I was asking if the area had any sort of code enforcement or was it whatever goes. Those requirements could have been in place 20 years prior to construction.

I was not going to what if something to death.

You stated there were NO GFCI breakers in the service panel.
The requirement is for GFCI protection. The requirement does not state what device must be utilized to achieve the protection.