Background information: Since the National Electric Code is updated every 3 years, wiring done in the past may have satisfied the code in effect at that time but not the current code. New work done today needs to meet the current code. However, there is no requirement to redo past work to meet current specifications.
This is a choice for the homeowner who wants to make the home safer and more up to date.
General Information: When buying a home, the home inspection is very important. A large investment needs qualified, professional help. A good realtor is step one. A good lawyer and title search comes next. Evaluating the physical house is also key. It would be a foolish mistake to buy without getting an inspection by a qualified inspector. However, there are 2 basic issues to remember:
1.) Inspectors are generalists. They can give an overview of what they can see and offer opinions based on their experience. Usually, they are on target but sometimes they are wrong. They can miss items, misjudge the seriousness or underestimate the cost to fix the problem. When in doubt, talk to an experienced specialist, eg. Plumber, electrician, roofer, etc.
2.) How did you learn of the inspector? Remember that the inspector is balancing 2 issues. If the inspector is too strict, rigid and pessimistic, he may not get a referral next time. If he is too casual and optimistic, he may miss items and end up being sued. It's not an easy job.
Although it would be nice to hire several experts instead of a generalist, it isn't practical at the outset. Get the overall inspection first. But if there are any flags raised, consider hiring an specialist to evaluate the house.
What are the most common problems we get calls for? "Doubled tapped" wires on breakers, ungrounded or reverse wired outlets, Federal Pacific - Stab Lok panels, and extension cords (temporary wiring) for permanent equipment such as garage door openers, lights, etc. Except for the Federal Pacific panel issue, these are smaller items to correct. If you want to make a good impression on a potential buyer, have these problems addressed before you get an inspection.
Buying a house?
- Has the house been remodeled and upgraded? Who did it and what were their qualifications?
- Is the work sloppy and amateurish? When done by a unqualified homeowner or unqualified professional, the work can be dangerous and expensive to correct. (Of course, everyone says their work is good. Have you ever heard anyone say their work is not any good!)
- You may want to live in this house but you should be making an informed decision knowing its potential hazards and costs.
Selling a house?
- Go through your house ahead of time and look for improper items that you've lived with over the years. What do you think the buyer and home inspector will think when they see it?
- Your realtor can be helpful in sharing experience garnered over the years of how people react. Taking care of problems before hand is easier, cheaper and less stressful than waiting until the last minute.