GFCI and upgrade service panel


Old 02-12-11, 06:29 PM
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GFCI and upgrade service panel

I'm selling an older (built '82) house in TX. When I was last there I did the usual make ready, paint, some minor plumbing repairs and general checkout. I got a contract last week $60,000 (it's in a small market) to be sold "as is", but they did have an inspection. There are a few items that do need attention and I'm not TOTALLY opposed to paying for part of the fix.

The house has a 150 amp service panel that the inspector says NEEDS to be upgraded to 200 amp. There are no GFCI in either of the baths nor the kitchen. They are asking for AFCIs in all areas as well.

BTW, this is a 900 sq foot, stick built with central (electric) heat and A/C. I don't mind doing the GFCIs but IMO the 200 amp service is a bit off the mark.

Like I said, I dont' mind doing "some" work, despite the "as is" contract. I figured the GFCIs might cost $500 or so (does this sound like a reasonable price?) and offering them 1/2.

One reason for not just doing the work is that closing is supposed to be March 1st and I don't want to be rushed into this while I'm 1,000 miles away, which is where I live.

One thought is to tell them to pound sand, they lowballed me a bit and offset that with "as is". I'll probably be down there in early April and I could do the GFCIs myself (not licensed, but I've done those myself several times) as well as some of the other stuff. That would also put me into "prime" selling time. OTOH, I wouldn't mind unloading this pig sooner, even at a lower price as the guys that I foreclosed on hadn't paid me since last August.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Old 02-12-11, 06:48 PM
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Inspections are bargaining chips. The inspector works for the buyer, so he will press as many buttons as he thinks an unsuspecting seller will allow. The local authorities would not make you upgrade the service if it is "servicing" the dwelling properly now and is not overloaded. Doesn't sound as if it is with the size of the house. AFCI's fall under the current code book and your house is grandfathered in and no one can make you upgrade to a different code than it was built in, UNLESS you do a rewire of services throughout the house. GFCI's....practical, and I recommend you doing it, although not required in your age group. GFCI's cost about $17 each and you need one per bath and two in the kitchen if 2 circuits were used to power the countertop receptacles. Maybe not in your case. If you offered $250 for the GFCI's, it would be more than generous.
Stand your ground, and tell them to have the inspector quote regulations requiring the changes he suggests. He'll fall flat.
Old 02-13-11, 07:47 AM
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Chandler is correct that the 3rd party home inspector's report is a bargaining chip. IIRC, GFCIs were required in 1982, but only in bathrooms and outside receptacles. I don't believe the requirement in kitchens, basements and garages was in the code at that time. I wouldn't balk at adding the GFCIs in your negotiations, in fact, I might just go ahead and do it, but I would draw the line at the AFCIs and tell them NO. AFCI breakers require a dedicated neutral which you may not even have and AFCI receptacles aren't being manufactured yet. If they were available, you'd still have to install metallic conduit for the homerun to the first AFCI receptacle. Bottom line is, you'd have to pull new circuits to the bedroom outlets. On the service, considering they lowballed you using the "As Is" term, tell them you'll upgrade the service to 200 amps for an additional $1500.
Old 02-13-11, 08:23 AM
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The Texas (TREC) requires the lack of arc-faults to be listed as a defect even tho the technolgy did not exist when your house was built. Kind of like saying your Pinto does not have air bags.

What reason did the inspector list for needing the service to be upgraded? A 900 square foot house could probably get by with a 100 amp service.

The buyers are getting a used house. They should have no expectations for a 30 year old house to come with all the trappings of a new house.
Old 02-13-11, 08:47 AM
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Thanks Joe and Chandler, pcboss posted while I was posting this!

I got the report two days ago and have been thinking about whether to just bargain back or tell them to pound sand. I had no intention of upping the service panel nor adding the AFCI's, but will do the GFCIs. I doubt they'd want to up the price for the work as they'd have to go back to the bank and that would delay their closing.

If I still lived there I would have done this myself, but I also would be FSBO'ing this place. I think I'll follow your recommendations and offer $200 cash back at closing to get the GFCIs installed.

There are some bad A/C ducts (covered in that forum) that might cost another $200-$300 to replace. So that kind of puts me back to my original (instant upon reading the report and contract amendment) idea of offering them $500 cash back at closing.

An alternative is to take a week long trip down to visit our friends and former neighbors , do this stuff myself for $150 in materials. We could stay in this house as the electric and water are on and there's a stove, fridge and washer dryer in the house.

I would also do some tree removal stuff on the other house I have for sale in the same city and let the warm weather and continuing-to-improve economy take care of things.

A big balk on my part would also panic my flaky (IMO the only kind of) Realtor, which isn't a bad thing.

When this place was built it was in an unincorporated area (now a small city) so (Texas being Texas) there were no building codes.


Last edited by stewieG; 02-13-11 at 08:53 AM. Reason: terrible syntax
Old 02-14-11, 12:04 PM
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I think your offer sounds fair. The only reason the panel would come into the picture in my opinion would be if it had major flaws or damage (melted parts, corrosion, etc). A 900 sq. ft. house is perfectly fine with 100A so they're already getting a bonus 50A !

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