I wanted to ask other inspectors opinions on reporting on electrical issues.
Just recently I had 2 homes with numerous electrical issues.
Example. FPE main, old 60 amp fuse sub with over fusing. Attic wiring was a mess & I could only get to 1/2 of the attic. Older exterior mast, 60 amp meter base & frayed insulation at the SEC. No GFCI, K&T, open ground, reverse polarity & more.
My client received 2 estimates & the price varied from $1600 to $4200.
According to the realtor & my client the electricians went exactly by my report. One of the electricians went back as he did not estimate the exterior. The realtor & client were confused on such a large discrepancy on the estimates.
So my question is how specific are you on your report?
You really have to look at the scope of work to figure out how they got to the number. The 1600 guy is probably just fixing the listed problems where the 4200 guy is actually doing some additional upgrades.
… or he is just making a lot more money on the job
How detailed I am, depends on what I find. For example if the only problem is a single reverse polarity outlet, I’m very specific as to it’s location, define it as a minor defect and reccomend that it be repaired. And it would be acceptable for an electrician to use my comment as an estimate for that.
On the other hand, if I find numerous issues as you did, I would call it out - more or less as your paragraph above is written. It would be a list of issues (and limitations), with a recommendation for an electrician to fully evaluate and give an estimate of repair costs. I would even include an comment on the lines of “Because of the extent and volume of the defects found, it is conceivable that there are other latent defects not apparent in a non-invasive visual examination. Therefore I reccomend that the entire electrical system be re-evaluated by a qualified electrical contractor for full repair recommendation and estimate of repair costs.” BTW if the electrician is using my report to do the estimate, I wouldn’t give them the time of day. They need to LOOK at the system and do the estimate on their own.
If it’s a single issue, I call it as being wrong and reccomend repair. If it’s more of a “system” issue, as you have described, I call it out for a specialist to look at it.
As an analogy, your General Practitioner can tell you that you need a tetanus shot. He shouldn’t tell you, that you need a heart transplant. If he suspects that, he should send you to a cardiologist for his evaluation. Neither should he be telling the cardiologist how to do that transplant.
I would absolutely stay away from making a definitive list of recommendations - unless you are a licensed electrician or P.E. and are making recommendations in that capacity. You are sure to miss some things in such a mess and would not want the buyer coming back to you to ask why.
This is actually not a very fair stance. MOST sellers are simply looking to sell their house. When a HI comes in and writes up half the house the seller will logically only do what is asked.
I’m actually not sure when this whole business started that someone who sells a house is REQUIRED to make every repair and upgrade. And yes guys, folks think that if it is in your report it IS required. That’s just a real world fact.
If a seller gets a report and hires me to fix any “issues”, it is only logical that I am asked to do just what is in the report. If that report states to check every wire in the house then I’ll do that. Just don’t expect me to do that voluntarily and for free.
Had an occasion to do an inspection on an old farm house in a very remote / rural community. The electrical system in the house had been added on so many times and by someone who did not know their butt from apple butter about electrical wiring. It was a nightmare and a death trap. The list of electrical discrepancies were about 3 pages long. I did get detailed but I felt in this case it was very well appropriate to recommend a full electrical evaluation by a licensed “lectrician” as they say here. There were too many areas of concern that were not accessible and too many glaring life threatening errors, there was just no telling what was lurking within walls and cavities. The listing agent had a conniption fit and called me to ream me out ( to no avail). Her comments were, “That is going to raise so many red flags.” To which I told her “I sure hope so!” The buyer was a young woman with a quiver full of small kids and bless her heart appeared to perhaps be brain dead. Nice girl but completely clueless on any subject and dangerously close to being in a coma. She was a prime candidate for being taking for a “Trip to Abilene”. I guess what I am trying to say is; do what you have to, to convey to your customer what the problems in the house are. Something as “minor” as a Reversed Polarity could actually kill someone. Plug a lamp into an outlet with Rev. Pol and if they touch the metal socket while turning it on they could be electrocuted. Suddenly it “aint” so minor no more.
I write the report of what I see and find.
It is not my decesion whether they buy the home or not .
It is not my decesion if the seller or the purchaser does or does not fix the concerns.
.I do not know if the person who is buying the home intends to strip it and do a complete fix push it over or just fix the problems.
If they use it as a bargaining tool or not .It has no bearing on my report.
I fully understand why there was such a price discrepancy. When an electrician is presented with the electrical portion of a home inspector’s report, it is generally accompanied with oral instructions from the present or future homeowner. These oral instructions may limit the work to the items on the list only, or may be more general like “look the place over, and don’t forget the things on this list”. Every electrician that was bidding the work may not have gotten the same set of accompanying oral instructions. Some electricians (like me) bid work like this twice. One copy will be just what you asked to have done. Another copy will include the work that could be done to bring the whole place up to modern standards. Some electricians automaticly bid work like this to a higher standard than was originally asked for. This is a perfectly valid business model for those guys, but I suspect it prices them out of a lot of work.
You just run around doing extra work you weren’t hired to do. If a customer hires me to fix a light switch, and I see the main service cable has the sheath falling off it, and the meter pan is full of rust holes, all I can do is tell them about it. I just can’t fix it and bill them for it. Similarly, if a customer hires me to fix things on a home inspectors list, without additional instruction, I can’t just fix other things I see wrong too. I can certainly point them out, and even bid that work, but they aren’t obligated to hire me to fix it, and I don’t feel especially bound to fix it either if they hired me for certain particular tasks only. I’m not a Superman hero or the Electrical Police. If electricians felt compelled to fix every violation in sight, that would make for some really long days, and they’re not obligated to do that anyhow.
I didn’t say anything was free but you have to walk away knowing you are doing a safe job and if that prices you out of the job the sleep is worth it. When my wife was in the HVAC business she used to say “sometimes you just have to say no”. Sometimes they are just not willing to pay for a good job.
Let someone without a conscience sell them they will regret.
Let’s not forget how this works. The HI is working most of the time for the buyer and what he reports the seller must fix.
Now I am sure that the buyer would like to have the home completely rewired with a year’s warranty but it is the seller that is paying the bill for the electrical work and all he wants to pay for is what the HI has reported.
There is a long thread here about voltage drop, something that I have had to followed behind the HI report. The seller always ask if this is something that is required and the answer is, NO. Now do you think that the seller is going to pay an electrical contractor by the hour to go box to box checking every joint if it is not a code requirement?
On the same note I have checked behind the HI and fixed his listed faults and reported even worse faults to the seller. I have yet to have the seller say, “just fix it.” Instead they say fix what has been reported and that is all I am going to pay for. No I am not going to go and tell the buyer that I found these faults either unless it is a life safety issue and then I would only report it to the building inspections department when I called in for the inspection and let them handle the problem.