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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    Default Are upgrades required

    I have lots of questions so hopefully I don't get in trouble as I am not spamming the group.

    I have a evaluation report from a house that we are selling. The house is in Denver county. It is 85+ years old. Some updates were done on the house to make it sellable. MOST things were cosmetic such as tile, carpet and paint. Plumbing was redone. Nothing was done to the electrical with the exception of maybe a new faceplate or two. Lighting fixtures were replaced, but not added.

    Is 220 required in houses? Where would i look up code for my area? They want 220 in the house when there is already a gas stove installed (and working brand new) and there could be a gas dryer. I'll buy a dryer it would be cheaper than adding the 220 in the panel.

    House is wired with 50 amps. Is this required to sell?
    Last edited by Capellam44; 05-09-2012 at 10:32 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,108

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    Who handed you this "evaluation report"? an inspector from the buyer's mortgage co? is the sale of the house subject to these improvements?

    Anyway, if you feel that upgrading the electrical is a way to save a sale, or to make the home more marketable, think about it.
    Depending on the size of your house and other factors, you will be looking at a $15K investment or more.

    1. In most cities, simple remodeling doesn't require an entire electrical upgrade. Additions require you to meet today's codes, for the additions only. However, at 85 years old with a small panel, a complete upgrade is a smart investment.

    2. If you run your stove and dryer on gas, you don't need 220 for those two.

    3. True, 50 AMP panel is too small for today electrical needs.

    If I were in your shoes, this upgrade would have been underway already.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    Quote Originally Posted by Capellam44 View Post
    I have lots of questions so hopefully I don't get in trouble as I am not spamming the group.

    I have a evaluation report from a house that we are selling. The house is in Denver county. It is 85+ years old. Some updates were done on the house to make it sellable. MOST things were cosmetic such as tile, carpet and paint. Plumbing was redone. Nothing was done to the electrical with the exception of maybe a new faceplate or two. Lighting fixtures were replaced, but not added.

    1 Our report states that the electrical system needs to be inspected by a professional electrician and the entire thing needs to be replaced. (a small fortune). I am wondering if this is true. Was electrical required to be updated with the remodel of the house?

    2 The report further states that there is no room for 220 AMP in the panel. This is true. They state that the stove and dryer must be gas because of this. The house originally had a gas stove (and still does) and dryer. Is this mandatory to have 220 as well?

    3 Stating 50 amps is what is provided in the panel. The claim is that 50 amps is insufficient for today's home and should have been upgraded at remodel. Again no one touched the electrical box.

    I think that's it for electrical
    As far as the NEC (National Electrical Code) goes:

    1) Any additions to a circuit have to be brought up to current Code. Unless you added devices (switches, receptacles, wire etc.) You should be fine, as-is.

    2) Typically, if it was done legally and passed inspection in the past it is still good today. The calendar can't make you a criminal. But, the local "Authority Having Jurisdiction" (AHJ) such as a city, county etc. has the ability to modify the NEC
    anyway they feel like, but it must be done legally and recorded.

    3) The calculations to determine how big a service for a building needs to be take into account all loads. If you have gas appliances, wood heat etc. the service can be smaller than "normal". Some jurisdictions only allow 100A or larger services on new connections.

    4) As DJ said it would make a sale easier and both he and I would do it, but IMO the inspector either saw something he did not report or he overstated the problem.

    5) If I was the prospective buyer I would rather you not tinker with the electrical and give me a lower price. Then I would rewire it myself exactly how I wanted it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    As long as you own the house, no law can make you upgrade, but when you sell, that is a different story. You will need to find out if it is required for a sale. Upgrading the service is not hard or expensive, its just a new panel. You will have 220v circuits, but without wires going to outlets or junction boxes, they will just be there for future upgrades. It's the installation of the new wiring and outlets that is going to be expensive.

    But there is another consideration, homeowners insurance. The buyer will need to get insurance and some insurance companies are hesitant to issue policies to houses with old wiring, especially if it is knob and tube. They prefer that all the wiring be replaced with modern Romex. They don't like the older wiring with the impregnated cotton insulation either. They also like properly grounded three prong outlets with some type of GFCI protection on bathroom and kitchen circuits.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,561

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    Also be warned that in some jurisdictions upgrading the service can cause a requirement to update wiring.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    623

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    Very true Jack, around here they make us install AFCI breakers (if they would have been required on a new house) if we change out a panel that had standard breakers. The wiring going away is called "existing" and can stay "as-is".

    Even on a service upgrades violations, further in the building, that pose an "imminent danger" have to be corrected.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    1,381

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    The semi retired electrician brings up an important point that I want to expand on. You may have wiring that you do not "legally" have to upgrade, that is it is grandfathered, it does not make it less hazardous. Even if it is not an "imminent hazard", it could still someday cause damage to the building and/or danger to people. If you want to insure that someone, someday, won't come after you with some form of litigation, you should consider doing the upgrades. Peace of mind does have value.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,371

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    As a contractor I love money pits like this. They are great for business.

    Not so good for the owner. The next owner can decide for themselves what they want to do with it. Some folks want to remodel, others don't touch a thing as the house was cheaper than the one down the block.

    Since you are fixin to sell this house you'll be pricing it so the new buyer will be able to replace the entire system at their discretion. I wouldn't touch a thing myself before the sale, as you have no idea what type of remodeling the new owner has in mind.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,109

    Default Re: Are upgrades required

    As a seller all that you are required to do is meet the law as it applies in your area, so you need to see if selling without an upgrade is legal where you are.

    Yes, there may be insurability or financing issues, especially with the PMI carrier. The bank which does the financing usually has an agreement with their PMI company to do inspections, and those requirements might be tighter than the legal minimum. Another bank or mortgage firm may or may not have lower standards. These are actually the buyer's problem, not yours, but they may have an adverse affect on a potential sale, so they are worth your consideration.

    Knowing exactly what you might want to upgrade is the only way to assess that cost. If you are unwilling to upgrade even though you are legal, you might have to lower the price to reflect the work which will need to be done to close the deal, and it will certainly delay that closing.

    Were this me, if the existing wiring was three conductor (Hot, neutral, and ground) romex I would upgrade the panel and have the utility company upgrade the service lead-in if that were also needed. If it's two conductor wiring without a ground an entire rewire would be called for- simply adding a ground wire would cost nearly as much even if that were enough- and I'd leave that to the buyer even if I had to drop the price to reflect the needed work so long as I could make the sale that way.

    Generally when you can it's better as the seller to leave any headaches to the buyer so long as you will still be marketable at whatever is a fair price with those headaches known. Make only the upgrades you have to to sell since the long-term benefits from them will not be yours, but the buyers. As a buyer the reverse is true. This is a more complicated subject than just wiring but if that alone will clinch a sale, it (and everything else) is worth considering based on it's benefit to you.

    Phil
    Last edited by Mastercarpentry; 05-26-2012 at 01:43 PM.

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