Housing Code, Please Help

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  #1  
Old 06-25-07, 09:01 AM
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Housing Code, Please Help

We are selling our house and one of our code violations was that they wanted a GFCI protected outlet in our bathroom.

In our bathroom we have one single Switch that turns the light on and off... no receptacle, just the dimmer switch.

I just got off the phone with the inspector and they say I have to a switch AND a receptacle in there, and that I will need it specially installed.

My question is this... I opened it up and we have just the standard White and Black lines... I tried to install a combo GFCI/receptacle unit, but the light switch did nothing(although the receptacle bottom half worked fine plugging in anything).

How am I supposed to do this with just the white and black lines, nothing else? Thanks for any help.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 09:41 AM
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How many black? How many white? How was it previously wired? Were there more then one white wire? If two black wires were they on the switch? Is there a ground.? Is this on a shared circuit?
 
  #3  
Old 06-25-07, 09:52 AM
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Understand that simply installing any receptacle on the same circuit as the light likely would create a code violation. The buyer may or may no accept this. If I were the buyer I wouldn't.) If there is no ground wire, it would be a violation.

Likely the only legal (within code) solution is a brand new 20 amp circuit from the main panel.

As for your problem, if you have a single black and white wire then you don;t have full power at the switch, and you can't place a receptacle there without losing the switch or rewiring.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 10:26 AM
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Thanks for the replies guys, much appreciated.

I bought this the other day.

http://www.acehardwaresuperstore.com/pass--seymour-gfci-dead-front-receptacle-wsafelock-p-20839.html?ref=42

would this work out and pass code?

Ray.

1 black, 1 white. I wired it previously, it was a single dimmer switch with the black on one side and the white on the other. no ground.
 
  #5  
Old 06-25-07, 10:32 AM
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You have a switch loop at the switch. You do not have a neutral wire. You cannot put a receptacle here unless you eliminate the switch (rewiring at the light) or add new wires.

The faceless GFCI that you bought does nothing for you.

Your only code legal solution is to install a brand new circuit with new cable all the way from the panel to the bathroom (unless you by some chance have a dedicated legal circuit serving only receptacles in another bathroom.

I suggest that you either call an electrician to have a new circuit run or negotiate with the buyer. Find out exactly what they want and have it installed, or negotiate a discount on the price (most likely based on what it will cost to have this installed).
 
  #6  
Old 06-25-07, 10:49 AM
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Your house was probably built with a receptacle (likely a single one) built into the light fixture which was mounted either above the mirror above the washbasin or there were two fixtures flanking the mirror.

You could go back to this arrangement and MAYBE slip by but to meet any code in the last thirty or so years you need to do as Racraft suggests.
 
  #7  
Old 06-25-07, 10:54 AM
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Who is this "inspector"? Is it just a home inspector?
There is generally NO code requiring retroactive work be done. If it were code before it is code legal now. Meaning, maybe you are not legally bound to do anything at all.
 
  #8  
Old 06-25-07, 11:23 AM
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The inspector is the city inspector who needs to sign off before we can actually sell.

I called him twice and they said it had to be GFCI in there. I have completed all other violations(werent that many, though had to build a new shed) but this one is becoming a pain.

I don't mind that it has to be GFCI... I already installed two in the kitchen, but I dont understand why there HAS to be a receptacle in there. Why cant we just continue to have a switch. So you can't plug a hair dryer in... so what, we shouldn't be forced to put an outlet in there in my opinion. How is that a safety hazard by NOT having a receptacle in there(there is one outside in the hallway that we have used with a short extension cord).

I figured if I bought the GFCI protected switch, then everything in there is technically safe and protected.. who are they to say how many outlets we need or want or what color the wallpaper is?

There is no way I am running line for this thing... I would rather put up two battery operated lights or something... anything else... we just want to sell this place and get out of here.
 
  #9  
Old 06-25-07, 11:44 AM
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I think there has been some kind of "code" requiring a receptacle in a bathroom for at least sixty years. It was originally (I think) for an electric razor.

When the lighting fixture that had the receptacle was removed (it may have been prior to your owning the house) the violation occured and that is when the "new" code applied.

Extension cords may not be used as a substitute for required fixed wiring.

Codes are enforced for safety reasons. They are as much for your safety as for the safety of the new owners.

Sorry, but you do not have a choice in this matter, you WILL need to comply. What is unfortunate is that you will need to follow current code for this receptacle and that is quite a bit more work than if the people that originally changed the light fixture had installed the required receptacle at the same time.

The only possible out for you is by selling the home "as is" and the new owner will be required to bring the bathroom wiring up to the current code before moving in.
 
  #10  
Old 06-25-07, 11:57 AM
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You answered your own question about a "safety hazard" when you said that you have used a "short extension cord" plugged into a receptacle in the hallway. Using an extension cord on a regular basis is NOT safe, nor is a non-GFCI receptacle being used in a bathroom.

If a county inspector is making you do this then either ask him what he will accept. Perhaps he or she will grandfather you to code that would have applied when the original fixture was replaced, and allow you to add a GFCI receptacle on this same circuit. Then all you need to do is to either install a new light fixture that has it's own switch or run a a new wire for the receptacle from the fixture to the switch.

I don;t see as you have too many options, so your statement that " There is no way I am running line for this thing..." may be premature.
 
  #11  
Old 06-25-07, 12:03 PM
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So I still dont understand though.

A receptacle is required, by law and by code, to allow for an electric razor??

Wait a second, we have two bathrooms in our house.. the 2nd floor with this "problem" and then we have one on the ground floor which is smaller(sink, toilet)

That ground floor bathroom HAS NO OUTLET. There is no outlet in there, only a light and a switch for the light on the other side of the wall.

He said nothing about that. So by your theory we would technically, to be up to code, have to rewire that downstairs bathroom for an outlet??

Still makes no sense to me that an outlet receptacle HAS to be in there... I'm totally missing the part where its safer with it there then with it not. Seems to me a convenience issue rather then a safety issue. yeah, I agree, using an extension cord is not an ideal situation, but I don't see a receptacle as a necessity to make a bathroom work.
 
  #12  
Old 06-25-07, 12:06 PM
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Where on earth do you live that a "city inspector" has to approve your house before you can sell it??
 
  #13  
Old 06-25-07, 12:15 PM
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Whether or not it makes sense to you is irrelavant. It is a law and it has been a code requirement for a long, long time.

Your ground floor "bathroom" is only a "half-bath" and probably does not come under the same code requirements.

You still have a choice; you can install the required receptacle or you can not sell the house. It seems like a no brainer to me.
 
  #14  
Old 06-25-07, 12:18 PM
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Well, technically I suppose we can sell it... but it would be sold "as is" and the new home owners would have to sign an agreement to bring everything up to code before they could move in.

Isn't that typical?

On the phone I was told that we can do everything, people come look at it, agree on a price, but nothing could be signed unless either we brought it up to code or they new home owners did before they moved in.

Would the city be liable for signing off on a residential property with code violations(fire, electrical, structural)?

I know I see really run down houses sold all the time but I just assumed it was being bought with the new people having to get it up to code.
 
  #15  
Old 06-25-07, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by furd View Post
Whether or not it makes sense to you is irrelavant. It is a law and it has been a code requirement for a long, long time.

Your ground floor "bathroom" is only a "half-bath" and probably does not come under the same code requirements.

You still have a choice; you can install the required receptacle or you can not sell the house. It seems like a no brainer to me.

I'm going to put in that faceless GFCI protected switch and see if he signs off. And the law is retarded, to force someone to make it possible to install an "electric razor". Forcing someone to do that, particularly on a house which was built 70 years ago and not wired for such a thing. Now its gonna cost me A TON of money to do this because I dont have the expertise..
 
  #16  
Old 06-25-07, 12:27 PM
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Current code requires a receptacle on a 20 amp circuit in every bathroom, not just full ones, but half bath's as well. Not only electric razors, but also curling irons, hair dryers, and many other things get plugged in inside a modern bathroom. Maybe not at your house, but at most of them something is routinely plugged in. There are specific rules regarding the 20 amp circuit, that I'm sure you don't care about, and that's fine, but suffice it to say that current code involves more than it sounds like you are being asked to do.

Has the bathroom been remodeled? An extensive enough remodel would have required the bathroom being brought up to the code in effect at the time of the remodel. Maybe a permit was issued for a bathroom remodel but an inspection never done. Maybe you inadvertently admitted that the bathroom was remodeled. Maybe the inspector can tell it was remodeled. Maybe it's just a local law where you live that when a house is old any full bathrooms need a receptacle.

Bottom line. If a receptacle is required and you can't sell the house without one then you don't have a choice. You may not like it, but you will do it, or you won't sell the house. However, if there are other alternatives (such as I have suggested) then you may be able to get by with less than current code would require. You won';t get anywhere arguing with us. Even if you did convince us that you should not have to do this, we don't count. Only the inspector does.

Don;t waste your time with that faceless GFCI. It will not work as a switch with the wiring you have. You don't have a neutral wire, and it needs one.
 
  #17  
Old 06-25-07, 12:29 PM
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I don't know where you live and even if I did I don't know the real estate laws in that area.

I sold my previous house and my mother's house "as is" for precisely the reasons that neither house conformed to current code or the code in existance at the time it was built. This was several years ago and while I was required (by real estate law) to list any "defects" in the house I was not required to fix these defects as long as I sold it as is.

I know that people who buy houses often do not mind getting a house that needs some minor (and sometimes major) repairs before moving in. I also know that there are a whole lot of people that would run away from any house that is listed as is.

If you really do not want to add the receptacle and IF you are allowed to sell as is then I think that would be the easiest course of action. Understand that you will be automatically removing a number of buyers from considering the house and you may have to accept a price lower than what the house would have sold for without the deficiency.
 
  #18  
Old 06-25-07, 12:32 PM
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One comment: Even if you don't sell a house "as is" you usually have to list any known defects or significant issues. What is meant by that varies from state to state. Your realtor or your attorney can help you with what is meant by "significant".
 
  #19  
Old 06-25-07, 12:32 PM
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Regarding the remodel.

I have lived here 20 years, nothing changed other then the wallpaper pretty much. Certainly nothing major.

Do you guys have any best guess as to how much something like this would typically cost?

Again, its on the 2nd floor, panel is in the basement.

Thanks for your input.
 
  #20  
Old 06-25-07, 12:42 PM
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There are many variables that effect price.

How accessible is the panel in the basement? Is the basement finished, are the walls open, etc.

Is there a path near the water pipes that a wire could be run up? Often there is a clear shot up the wall with the water pipes and/or the drain pipe from the basement.

Is there an open attic or crawl space above the bathroom?

A good electrician can often find a route for a cable and make minimum holes in walls and ceiling (perhaps none).

The parts are inexpensive, but labor may be as much as $75 per hour or more.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 06:59 PM
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Labor in OC California is 105/hr 1 hr minimum at 149 for the first hour...out here, sounds like it is probably a 1500-2k job for a dedicated.
 
  #22  
Old 06-25-07, 07:11 PM
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$1500 to $2000 for one circuit to a bathroom? You're smoking something.
 
  #23  
Old 06-25-07, 08:30 PM
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keep in mind this is in cali
 
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Old 06-25-07, 08:39 PM
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That's almost 14 hrs to install one small circuit at $149/hr.

The OP might want a different electrician! :-)
 
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Old 06-25-07, 09:08 PM
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I am having a difficult time believing that this house was lived in for some time and the homeowner did not have enough pride of ownership to upgrade the bathroom to have a GFI outlet. I just ran a 20 amp circuit to each of my baths because they were on one 15 amp circuit. I wanted it to be safe for my family and for the next family when I sell it or die. I love my home an improve it and keep it in repair. If I were to sell my home I would make a bunch of money and if I had not improved it and made it safe I would step up and make these improvements.
 
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Old 06-25-07, 09:31 PM
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haha mark, that hourly rate doesn't include material, permits, or anything else...just to tell you a price of one item out here...FPE 30 amp double pole, 315.45
 
  #27  
Old 06-26-07, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by mackmack View Post
Well, technically I suppose we can sell it... but it would be sold "as is" and the new home owners would have to sign an agreement to bring everything up to code before they could move in.

Isn't that typical?

On the phone I was told that we can do everything, people come look at it, agree on a price, but nothing could be signed unless either we brought it up to code or they new home owners did before they moved in.

Would the city be liable for signing off on a residential property with code violations(fire, electrical, structural)?

I know I see really run down houses sold all the time but I just assumed it was being bought with the new people having to get it up to code.
That is absolutely NOT typical. I've owned houses in 9 or 10 states and have never heard of such a thing. Even in California, when I sold my father's house last year to settle his estate, I didn't have to fix any of the code violations and the buyers moved right in. The only thing is was required to do was strap the water heater.
 
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Old 06-26-07, 07:38 AM
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Hey guys,I quit reading about 2/3 through so if somebody already said this; sorry.

Near where I live, two cities, Mishawaka, Indiana and South Bend, Indiana (home of the University of Notre Dame) whenver a house is sold it MUST be brought up to current code. The city will not allow the sale to go through (at least as an occupiable house) unless it is.

No if, ands, or buts.
 
  #29  
Old 06-26-07, 07:59 AM
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Okay, I quit reading this thread even earlier than you did, but I find it hard to believe that a house must be brought up to ALL the current codes when sold. For many homes, this would be practically impossible without demolishing the home. Surely the rule must only include a subset of the codes.
 
  #30  
Old 06-26-07, 08:05 AM
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I almost bought a house in Whitehall, Pa and it is not to far from MD2LGYK's place over there in Easton and the city required an occupancy certificate. Now if MD2LGYK wants me to I can come over and put one in this weekend or have a better understanding of his needs.

The ironic thing about the occupancy certificate is that the city must come out and inspect every home that is sold but the house I purchase in the next town over did not require the inspection or certificate. Good ole Pennsylvania laws.
 
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Old 06-26-07, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
For many homes, this would be practically impossible without demolishing the home. Surely the rule must only include a subset of the codes.
Actually, as far as electrical, it is not that hard to do (not cheap, but not that hard). Rewiring to include an EGC. receps where required, minimum 100 amp service. GFCIs front and back of house and bathrooms. NO AFCI's in Indiana required. Correct qty of circuits in kitchen. That is really the bulk of it.


Plumbing; the poop has to end up outside and they have to have hot and cold running water. Even easier. (although I have heard some terrible stories about the poop NOT ending up outside. Old meter readers that used to go into the basement to read water meters have some nasty stories in their repetoire.)

Basic heating system that won;t kill you from carbon monoxide.

Building has to be structurally sound (around here I think that means it hasn't fallen over yet though. there are some houses that are very questionable to me)

The main requirements of the current codes have been around long enough that most houses meet most of the requirements already. Most of the truly old stuff has either been brought up to code by an owner in due course of owning the home or it has fallen down so no worrying about codes at that point.
 
  #32  
Old 06-26-07, 09:16 AM
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Please forgive me on my previous post. I had the wrong names in it. It should read as below:

I almost bought a house in Whitehall, Pa and it is not to far from Mackmack's place over there in Easton and the city required an occupancy certificate. Now if Mackmack wants me to I can come over and put one in this weekend or have a better understanding of his needs.

The ironic thing about the occupancy certificate is that the city must come out and inspect every home that is sold but the house I purchase in the next town over did not require the inspection or certificate. Good ole Pennsylvania laws.
 
  #33  
Old 06-26-07, 12:29 PM
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I live in Montgomery County and its funny how the laws differ from township to township. I owned a Condo in Norristown and when I went to sell it the township came out and gave me a list of things that I needed to comply with before I was able to complete the sale. However, it was things like you need a smoke detector in each bedroom and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. I know the electric wasn't up to code and they never said I had to bring it to code either. I bought a house down the road in King Of Prussia and the township had nothing to do with the sale of the house and if they did like you mention the owner would have been out a ton of money because everything was original and the house is like 60 years old. Plus there wasn't a smoke detector anywhere in the house.

You might want to try and talk to the guy in charge at the township codes office.
 
  #34  
Old 06-26-07, 03:12 PM
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I don't know about today but when I bought my present house in 1999 and sold my previous house in 2000 the two cities involved had no requirements at all. The county did require that an affadavit be submitted by the seller that the house had a working smoke detector and it further stipulated that houses built after a certain year had to have the smoke detector be line powered.

No governmental officials made any kind of on-site inspections.
 
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