Prospective property needs electrical work?


Old 03-14-05, 07:02 AM
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Prospective property needs electrical work?

I'm in the market to buy my first home/condo. I found one over the weekend, but it needs some work. The electrical is particularly interesting. The bedroom ceiling fans were not wired through the ceiling, but instead used an extension cord and were plugged into the wall outlet. The adjoining halls, closets, and baths have overhead lighting though.

The downstairs rooms have new modern track lighting. One of the tracks was not routed through the ceiling, but a hole was put in the wall to route the wiring.

I know absolutely nothing about electrical (though I've successfully installed a ceiling fan, and that's about it), but this seems off. Any ideas why the previous owner may have done it this way instead of going through the ceiling. I couldn't find any attic/crawl space access, but it may be from the exterior. This property is a foreclosure, so I don't want to be getting myself into a money pit. But a lot of the issues are cosmetic (mirrored kitchen ceilings!) other than this electrical oddity.

Is there any way to determine what's going on before I buy? Thanks for any suggestions!!
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Old 03-14-05, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
These are all wrong of course, but a few hundred bucks will fix it. Factor that into what you're willing to pay. Just in case this is the tip of the iceberg, you might want to have an electrician (or at least a home inspector) look for other problems.
Old 03-14-05, 08:32 AM
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Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
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I would really recommend having an electrician or an inspector look at this house first. The few problems you have mentioned aren't really that bad, BUT if the previous owner did the small things wrong imagine what he may have done with big things. A professional inspector might be able to spot something serious right away that you may not notice for years.
Old 03-14-05, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fayetteville, NY, USA
Posts: 1,052
I bought such a house once. I do not want to disparage the Walt Disney Studios, but the electrical work done in this house was a real Mickey Mouse job. The Code, in this guy's mind, was if you flip the switch and it goes on, it must be OK. This guy put single THHN conductors through a small hole, laid them on top of the attic crawl-space celulose insulation and pulled them down into another room to hook up a light fixture. No Romex, no conduit, just single conductors laying on flammable insulation under 120 year old, very dry rafters. A fire just waiting to happen. The house was mostly know & tube, whichis #14, or 15 amp, and they had replaced all the 15 amp fuses with 30's. Another fire just waiting to happen. They also ran a piece of extension cord, 16/2, from a new light fixture, down through a 1/4" hole in the floor, across a joist in a crawl space using T-50 staples, then back up through another small hole near a receptacle and plugged it in. I guess he thought it was pretty clever, since he concealed most of the cord run. I could go on all day about the ignorant and dangerous work this guy did. Extension cords, or extension cord wire, connecting permanent equipment, including lighting, is clearly not permitted by the real electrical Code. I feel as though I know the guy who did the electrical in this home you looked at. The installer was undoubtedly some combination of ignorant, uneducated, cheap and lazy. Perhaps a little nuts, too.

I paid about $250 for a home inspection, mainly because my expertise does not cover structural, roofing, pest damage, etc. I can do plumbing, gas, electrical, drywall, framing, but these guys are pretty good at hidden money-sucking problems us average homeowners wouldn't think to look at. I was aware of the electrical problems the ouse had, but I knew how to remedy them, and I got the house real cheap. I guess if I were you and I were to call a home inspection service, I would ask in particular what level of experience they have with electrical, since you already know you have issues there.


Last edited by JuiceHead; 03-14-05 at 10:23 AM.

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