Were these really electricians?

I called out a subpanel in a garage, because the neutral and grounds were not separated. The realtor mentioned that the electrician said it was no big deal, and left it. I mentioned that there were outlets with open grounds, and the seller said they called 2 licensed electricians that had no idea what I was talking about. I mentioned that they should have GFCI outlets in the kitchen bath’s and garage and they installed one in every outlet in those rooms. I called their attention to Double tapped circuit breakers and the electrician says that they do it all the time, it’s no big deal. What gives?

It’s a technical term, you were ‘blown off’.

I get it too. I’ve had many heated discussions with actual licensed electricians, and when they say, “Where does it say I can’t do that”, and I pull out the NEC, they cry “no fair, no one uses the code.”

IMHO, you did your job, you documented faults, and when something goes wrong, the odds are they will NOT have the electricians professional options in writing, but they will have yours. Which means you are more likely to be sued, so stick to doing your job right.


Do you see where the problem is, maybe?

You might refer them to an electrician and tell them that Uncle Jack and Uncle Steve do not qualify.

One way to shut them up, tell the client to get the electricians professional option in writing, to keep a record with their home inspection report (which also is in writing). Should anything later happen, they have a paper trail. I have a funny feeling, the “electricians” will be mum, and someone will rise with creditability.


Tom is 100% right. Tell them to get it in writing from these guys on their company letterhead, and then ask the client for a copy for your records as well.

All that “he said, she said” garbage is just that. It’s garbage.

Realtors have a saying, “Buyers are liars”. What that means is that you can’t take what people say at face value. Not necessarily that people are actually unethical and liars (although that’s sometimes it), but often people are wrong, don’t get the whole story, or are miss-informed. And if the “electrician” who is doing the evaluation is the same “electrician” who messed up in the first place, then what else would you expect…

I demand this in my report. Get it documented, on the contractor’s letterhear, in writing with the contractors license number and insurance certification.

Then, if something happens, the contractor just bought the liability.

I request this be done by the client’s lawyer (if they are using one for the closing) or broker.

A few times, problems came up afterwards. I asked if they had gotton the contractor’s written opinion. When informed that they had not, I just tell them, well, why should I be held liable for things that your lawyer or agend didn’t follow up on, even after I called them out.

Hope this helps;

WOW two people agreed with me? Must be the 07-07-07 thing!

Two things:
Bill do you have some good standard verbiage for us to see/use?
Second, where are my greenies!!! :stuck_out_tongue:


-The Greenie Nazi :mrgreen:

This is exaclty what I always recommend when someone wants to debunk my fiinding. “Put it in writting on letter head with a signature that its ok” Everytime this issue is fixed the way I recommend it to be. :smiley: For some reson no one wants to sign a simple paper any more?? :roll: :mrgreen:

Thats three that agree with you now Tom!

I went and got me a lottery ticket! :smiley:

I have had many times where a contractor (HVAC, electrician, plumber, “roofer”, GC) have called me (after getting a copy of the report) to criticize my statements and try to ‘educate’ me to their way of doing things.

Every time, I listen to them and let them speak. Then I ask them:

  1. Did you do your work according to “best practices” (No, we did it to code and local practice. No one does “best practice”. or What do you mean by “best practice”.)
  2. Were you the lowest quoter? (Yeah, that’s the only way you get work. You cut corners, you know how it is.)
  3. Will you put your opinion in writing, on your letterhead with your license number and insurance certification? (What’s letterhead? What license? What is an insurance certification? Hell no. The job is already done and I don’t give no warranties).

Funny how most home inspectors are held to a higher standard of practice and liability than most tradesmen, ain’t it? :mrgreen:

Thanks, you guys helped me out. Going through this now, and Uncle Jack and Uncle Steve are not going to sign anything.
Thanks again
By the way how do you give greenies?

As an electrical contractor I have been called to verify the report of Home Inspectors.

When I check what the Home Inspector has called out I refer to the date of installation and whether the item questioned complied with the electrical code at that time.

If the item in question is in compliance with the code at the time of installation I make this statement to the person that hired me for the consultation. I don’t have a problem making the statement in writing on letterhead. By making the statement I am not assuming any liability or implying warranties at all.

A good example would be GFCI devices. When was GFCI required?
1975 for bathrooms, 1987 for kitchens within 6’ of the sink, 1996 all kitchen counters, not just those within 6’ of the sink but these requirements may have been adopted later in your area.

We all know, and it is a good thing, that most Home Inspectors will call out any of these areas if they don’t see GFCI protection. On the other hand when I am called it is my job to inform my employer that if the installation was made prior to the requirement date there is nothing in NC law that requires them to be changed now.

The same is true with some of the items mentioned in the original post. 250.32 allows for a detached garage to have the neutral and equipment grounding conductors bonded.
It is possible to install receptacles in compliance with 406.3(D) that will show an open ground with plug in testers.
Some manufactures of breakers such as Square D allows their breakers to be double tapped.

It is very possible that the electricians were giving correct information to these people.

Click on the yellow star in the right corner. Go from there.

Just a word to Mr. Whitt:

Just because something was installed according to code at the time of installation is not , in my opinion, justification for not making safety upgrades.

GFCIs became required for a reason, not just because someone invented it and wanted to sell lots of em.

I call out lots of things that are safety related that have nothing to do with code.

BTW doing something to “code” is not bragging IMHO

Just my $.02


I think what Mike is trying to explain is the legal aspects of what is code, and the differences of an electricain’s responsibility and an HI’s responsibility.

There is definitely a difference between the two types of industries.
We, in the electrical industry cannot force someone to install something if it is not code, even if it will be a safer installation.

HIs on the otherhand can have a different impact on installations for safety, as the sale or financing of a large $ figure stems on your report, and some will not quible with a small installation fee for the difference of time and money involved in their sale/financing.

Not to start a fight, just for information.

Your quote shows the different levels and standards that home inspectors are held to (in some states, like mine, by law). We are reauired to call out problems based upon safety (according to CURRENT standards), not upon mere local codes.

And if you document that a GFCIs were ‘not required’ (grandfathered) and some one gets seriously shocked, you can bet your fram that you do have liability and will get sued.

Different jobs, different standards, different liability.

And, just because is thing is ‘not required by law’ does not mean it is safe.

Hope this helps;

Whoa, Whoa up Gentlemen,

Mr. Wilcox in the original post was asking why the electrician would make statements that what he had called out was wrong.

In my reply I was sure to make this statement,

I was just explaining to Mr. Wilcox why an electrician would sometimes contradict the Home Inspectors opinion.

Remember gentlemen that in most cases the HI is working for the buyer and the electrician is working for the seller. Once each has made their report it is in the hands of the buyer and seller to hash out the issues. Both of us have done what we were hired to do.

As a side note: when I am called out in such cases I always point that to replace the devices for GFCI protection would be the safe thing.

I would maintain that if this is a detached garage referenced in the original post, not seperating the neutrals and grounds can still be 100% legal and safe at this very day.