Telling Seller about Defects

Got a call from a seller a while ago, who was angry because I didn’t point out a defect to him even though he took off work that day to be there for the inspection.
I explained the report is the client’s, and I can’t ethically discuss my findings with anyone other than the client without his permission.

As I thought about it though, it occured to me that this particular defect was a potential life safety issue (neutral and ground on same buss in sub-panel), and perhaps something like that should be brought to the Seller’s immediate attention.

I realize fire hazards, missing railings on 10 foot high decks, gas leaks, etc. should be brought to immeditate attention, but is the non-separation of the neutral and ground significant, or imminent enough?

Maybe this question should be in “Electrical Inspections”.

Read the entire post…

Thanks Larry. I actually knew the reasons why, I guess the the answer to my question is I definitely would have been within Ethics and Standards Codes to disclose this info immediately to the seller.

Also, going back to that thread, you replied if there is a disconnect between meter and main panel, then the main panel is a sub, and they should be isolated? I ask because I moved my meter several years ago, and since the meter was no longer adjacent to my breaker panel, the power company required I install a disconnect. I didn’t think about it being a sub panel at the time.

Yes. Neutrals and grounds should not connect (bond) at any point downstream from the service disconnect.

The neutral conductor can only connect to the equipment grounding system at the first means of disconnect.

I disagree…

Potential hazard… yes.
Imminent danger… NO!

How long has the wiring been this way? The homeowner/seller has lived there how long already? He’s still alive, isn’t he?

Belongs in the report, but doesn’t deserve ‘freaking out’ over status!


That’s what I’m looking for Jeffrey, and I agree. The seller is the one who said I should have told him when I found it.

And the house where I moved the meter, was in 1993, about 5 houses ago. I don’t think anyone has died there either, but since it was me who moved the meter, I’d hate to hear about it on the news!

In Illinois we are required to disclose potential safety hazards to sellers. Of course, being in the great state of Illinois they give us absolutely no guidance on what that really means.

I handle hazards like this based on the number of factors it would take for it to produce an injury. If multiple factors have to line up like a perfect storm for the owner to be injured then it is not something I disclose to them. If the only thing needed for the homeowner to be injured is their contact with that hazard or usage of that component then I immediately report it to them.

Yeah, that’s the part I wasn’t sure of. It wouldn’t take multiple factors, in fact, only one, like a neutral failure. But the likelihood of that is pretty low, so probably not something to freak out over, kinda like what Jeffrey said, which is basically why I didn’t mention it to him that day.

A similar situation a couple weeks ago where a light switch was dangling by the wire and not in a box, just one strand of electrical tape around the connection screws. In this case, the seller had moved out of state, and the house was vacant. I just took a big sheet of paper and wrote “DANGER-EXPOSED LIVE WIRING” and attached it to the wire at the switch.

“Never Surprised-Always Amazed” :roll: