I had an electrician give me an estimate for fixing a bunch of items
that were found on the inspection of the house I just bought. I'm
wondering if the price given is reasonable. Here are the items from the
1. The rear door bell does not work.
2. There are several outlet covers missing in the garage that should be
3. There are some 'zip' type extension cords used for the lights in
the garage. These are very light weight and not approved for use for
lights. The cords should be removed and the lights 'hard wired' to the
4. The electrical outlet on the north garage wall has the hot & neutral
wire reversed, this should be corrected.
5. There is a 2 prong ungrounded outlet on the west garage wall.
6. The power panel for the garage is the glass fuse type, these are no
longer considered safe. Consideration should be given to replacing the
panel with a breaker type.
7. The security light on the garage has a damaged lens, consideration
should be given to replacing the lens.
8. There is an exposed wire splice near the furnace in what appears to be
the power supply wire for the kitchen range. The splice needs to be
placed inside of an approved junction box with a cover installed.
9. The 2 electrical outlets on the west dining room wall have the hot &
neutral wire reversed, this should be corrected.
10. The west electrical outlet on the south master bedroom wall has the
hot & neutral wire reversed, this should be corrected.
11. The electrical outlet on the west master bedroom wall has an open
ground, this should be corrected.
12. The electrical outlet at the master bathroom has an open ground and
does not allow the GFCI to trip, this should be corrected.
(The garage is a detached garage. It has a seperate power panel from
the house, fed off of a 40 amp circuit from the house).
The estimate to do all of these things came to $2355 (plus tax).
Yes, I know that many of these would be easy to do myself, and in fact
I probably will do those myself, but 6 and 8 are definitely beyond me,
but they included them all in the estimate, so for the sake of
determining whether the estimate is reasonable, lets assume that I do
none of the work.
So, is $2355 reasonable for this work?
In case it makes a difference, this estimate was made before I had
possession of the house. The electrician only had access to the outside
of the house, so his estimate was made off of the inspection report. I
actually didn't ask for an estimate for all this work. I had him out
there to evaluate a possible problem with the electrical feed going into
the house, but gave him a copy of the inspection report, and he sent an
estimate for doing the items listed above.
Seems OK. #6 is the real money. What you don't state is the size of the
feed to the house. If it is 100A, just replacing the panel is OK, but if
less, the feed from the street should be replaced and upgraded to a minimum
I'd ask for an estimate on those two items only, then. I'm guessing
it will be $2000+/- a few bucks.
As for the list, can't see that any except #6 (the new panel) should
be anything an even average homeowner w/ modicum of experience in
maintenance and repair should have much trouble with other than
possibly the missing grounds -- if they're missing because there's
been a three wire plug added to a two-wire circuit, depending on the
house arrangement getting a ground could be an effort. If it were
mine in that case, I'd go back to the two-prong outlets and the GFCI
to account. Putting an inline junction box in to enclose a splice
(#8) should be a 30-minute job at most -- cut the power to the range,
take the splice apart, mount a box, enter the wires and re-splice and
cover the box.
I'd consider the condition of the fuse box before jumping in to the
knee-jerk replacement. I'm unaware of fuses being considered
"unsafe", only that they're obsolete for new work and often don't have
sufficient capacity for modern house loads. But in the garage, unless
you're putting in a shop or some other new load, seems unnecessary to
upgrade to me sight unseen.
Just a question, why didn't you get the seller to fix the issues
I haven't had a chance to open the outlets and look yet, but my
suspicion is that it will just turn out that ground is not connected.
In the rooms that have the missing ground problem, there are also
outlets that are fine as far as ground goes, but have other problems
(hot and neutral swapped), so we know that whoever worked on that room
was a bit careless when it comes to connecting wires to outlets. (That
part of the house was an add-on, and my guess is there was some DIY
electrical work there).
I think the difficulty on this one for me will depend on just where this
problem is. I'm not really an agile guy, so if it is under the house,
in the crawl space, I think it would be beyond me.
That's my inclination, too. The garage, at least for a fairly long
time, will hold my car, and assorted tools (shovels, lawn mower, that
kind of thing), and minor household repair items (caulk, paint, etc),
and that's it. Some insurance companies are not happy without breakers,
but mine told me they are OK with it--they recommend breakers, but don't
require it, and don't charge more for the lack of them.
Someday, I'll want to do things that use a lot of power in the garage,
but that will be years from now, so I might just wait on the breaker box
until I'm ready for that, and then upgrade at the same time I'm
upgrading to more power for the garage. (The house has 200 amp service,
and the garage has a 220V 40 amp feed from the house, which is used for
the garage door openers, the lights, the outlets, and the well pump).
The price I got the house for, plus the cost of these electrical fixes
(if I were to do none myself, and go with the electrician who gave the
estimate), plus the cost of everything else that might need to be done
(almost all of it is very minor, things like bolts need to be tightened,
and things need caulking), even assuming that I don't do any of it, but
instead hire overpriced contractors for it all, comes out to a fair bit
less than what I, and my agents, think the market value of the place is.
Before finding this house, I looked at a lot of houses in my area. My
area is one in which Zillow has those cool 45 degree aerial photos of
each house, from four directions, so I was able to check out every place
listed and see how the house sat on its lot and in relation to the
neighbors. (That was a big factor for me--one of the main things that
finally got me off my ass and out looking for a house was to get away
from my damn downstairs neighbors in my apartment). Every place that
looked good on that and whose interior photos on the real estate sites
looked promising, I went and saw. So I think I developed a pretty good
sense of what the housing situation was like in the areas I was
interested in, in the price range I was willing to consider.
In my area, around this time of year, the housing market tends to come
out of its winter lull. Places that have been sitting on the market for
months start going, and good new places get multiple offers quickly.
The house I bought is easily the best of any houses that were on the
market at the time, even compared to houses that cost quite a bit more.
Just considering the house, not the lot, placement on the lot, and
neighborhood, it is in the top 3. Good construction. Good siding.
Good roof (2 years old). Good appliances. Good decks. Good windows.
Good hardwood floors in most of the house. Good carpets. Good cabinets
in the kitchen. Lots of good storage space. Even the things that are
fairly old (well pump and tank, water heater, heat pump) all seem to be
in excellent shape. The ongoing maintenance on this place is going to
be well under what I budgeted for.
The other two in the top three were a very nice manufactured home--its
floor plan was almost what I would have come up with had I designed my
own place, and a new community being developed in my area by Quadrant
Homes. Quadrant has one (and only one) floor plan I like, and it is
even better than what I would have come up with had I designed my own.
However, there were only three lots in the development that allowed that
floor plan, and they were among the best lots there. They were long
gone before my number came up on the interest list. The manufactured
home was eliminated because of its water supply. It had a shared well,
and the no one was able to tell me what the legal arrangements were.
All I could find out was that one of the four parties currently sharing
it (a fifth was due to be added) had informally taken over maintenance,
and no one knew what would happen if he ever moved. That situation was
just way too scary.
Add to the house itself being so nice the fact that the lot is good, the
house is placed nearly perfectly on it, the neighboring houses are well
placed, *and* it is in the same small city in which I work, and it
becomes a very attractive place. So, taking that into account, and the
fact that competition seemed to be picking up among buyers, I decided to
try to get it for the price I would be willing to pay for it "as is",
and then not draw things out over getting the seller to fix things or
adjusting the price, so that everything would go smoothly, the deal
would not fall apart, and it would go to me rather than someone else.
(And watching the listings since then bears me out on this. I'm not
seeing any good places come on. The good houses have bad locations or
lots. The good locations have crappy houses. And all the places I know
of that would have been acceptable to me, but that I didn't offer on
because I just felt I could do even better, have sold).
I did have the seller fix one thing. I was very unimpressed with the
way the electrical wires from the street to the house were routed, and I
could not even get an estimate on fixing that, as the electric company
is not interested in talking with people other than the owner. The cost
of fixing that could have ranged from close to zero (part of the problem
was someone, for some unfathomable reason, had installed a make-shift
intermediate pole, and simply taking that out and having the electric
company tighten the line had a good shot at addressing all the
problems), to several thousand dollars (if the electric company's
contractors were used to put in a new pole). So I wanted that taken
care of, and the electric company to give their approval to the result.
That was done, and both the seller and I are happy.
::snip long list of reasons::
You're better off doing the repairs yourself (personally/through hire).
Especially if there is evidence of sub-par DIY. The seller doesn't have the
motivation to do proper repairs that you do.
And that's pretty much true in the general case as well as yours.
sounds hi to me
i am guessing your gfci's have no ground not that its open they just
arent there so no it wont work properly and an inspector should know
that. but i doubt it was an electrical inspector whod did the
inspection. if under the sink your water pipe is metal you can clamp a
wire to the cold water pipe and try to run it into the gfci box and
attach it to the gfci grounding screw and they should work.
#8 fuses are safer than breakers ppl are just afraid because they look
old fuse boxes may dissapear but fuses will be here for some time.
your reversed polarity is simply swapping wires from one side to the
#6 turn off power to range undo splice noting how the wires are
buy a 4 inch square box 2 3/4 in romex connectors and a blank
plate and install it so you can run the 2 ends into box
reconnect tugg on those wires to insure a good connection (loose
connections can cause fires especially under large loads) cover with
blank reapply power your ready for dinner.
I hope you got the estimate before purchasing the house, and had the
adjusted down accordingly.
Not knowing where you are, and local labor rates, and not being able
see your place from here, the number seems way high. And ... with the
slowdown in housing construction, assuming that's impacting your area,
you should have some downward wiggle-room on price.
Most of the items seem straightforward. The one about the fuse-panel
sounds bogus. So long as you use proper fuse rating, you should have
no problem, assuming the panel and wiring are in good shape. Until,
at some convenient time you replace it with a sub-panel with breakers.
I'd not sweat the 2-wire outlets; for the bath, you could go with a
breaker at the panel, and not have to fish cable or whatever.
Of course, you're not going to have the electrician who inspected do
work, are you? It's your money.
First thing, I wouldn't put to much faith in the findings of a home
inspector. Now that you can get in, have a couple of electricians look the
place over and give you estimates, for the repairs. The fuse sub panel is
not a big deal to replace, however "S" type fuses are perfectly safe, and
legal. A couple of things can't be determined without trouble shooting, like
the doorbell system, so I would expect anyone giving an estimate would deal
with those items on a T and M basis. Overall, from where I'm sitting, the
numbers you have sound high.
Number 6 can run you $500-1000. All the other items are
do-it-yourself or hire a handyman($20 an hour). Get more estimates
and you'll save money. Important: Make sure to get proof in writing
that the worker(s) are insured, licensed and bonded. If you don't want
to do that pay someone to check this. The $2355 sounds high, but that
electrical panel is not safe it's worth it.
On Thu, 12 Apr 2007 00:36:27 -0000, Tim Smith
On Apr 12, 8:48 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Why would you get an estimate on a house you own without the
electrician even getting
inside the house to take a look? He winged it with an estimate, not
a firm quote, based
on what was contained in the inspection report. Under those
conditions, he could either
bid high to cover himself, or else bid low to get the job, then tell
you it's more involved and
will cost extra. Such an estimate is close to worthless.
Fix the simple stuff yourself. Ignore the non-issue, like the fuse
panel. If there's nothing
wrong with it other than that it's fused, I'd leave it alone. Ditto
for the cracked lens on the
security light. Unless it's some high end deal, the solution to that
is to replace the whole
thing someday when it stops working, as you generally can't buy a lens
for the basic home
ones. Then get someone in to give you a firm price on the rest.
It could, but unlikely. It's only 40A. A simple swapping out of
a 4 or 6 slot panel shouldn't cost anywhere near that much.
As another point, a missing ground will _not_ cause a GFCI to fail
to trip. It was either miswired (feeding load not line side), or
the GFCI is defective. GFCIs do NOT need grounds to operate.
It's hard to tell whether $2300 is high or low - many of the things
could take considerable time to fully rectify to current code, which
we can't tell without seeing them.
Eg: how _much_ lampwire has to be replaced? What difficulty is
there going to be in routing it to code, etc? How much trouble
is there going to be in establishing grounds? Can you just
slap a box on the range splice, or do you not have enough slack
and have to run more cable? Is it even the right wire?
It looks like the electrician guesstimated high to cover their
butts for gotchas they didn't have an opportunity to look for,
making an assumption that working in a garage will be easier
than in the finished part of a house.
But I could certainly see it ending being too low, depending
on what "holy crap, lookatthat!"'s they uncover.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
A plugin tester will need a ground in order to make unbalanced current flow
in neutral and hot. However, the integrated test button in a GFCI device
(breaker or outlet) will work regardless of whether the GFI has a ground,
because it can make unbalanced current flow by connecting the "load" hot
to the "line" neutral and leaking a bit of current or something like that.
You could make a plugin tester work if you could arrange to get the ground
pin connected to something else that's grounded (like a water pipe).
Are there any test units with a separate ground lead?
Alternately, if, say, you were trying to prove to an inspector that
an ungrounded non-GFI (but GFI-protected) outlet was in fact protected,
push the button on the GFI (wherever it is), and demonstrate that the
power on the outlet goes off.
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
And indeed, the GFCI under discussion does trip when the built-in test
button is pressed. It is just plug-in test devices that fail to set it
off, as is expected.
Oddly enough, in the other bathroom, I've got the opposite situation.
Plug-in test devices can trip that GFCI, but the built-in test button
does not trip it. Depending on just how it is pressed, it either
appears to do nothing at all, or it makes the little light on the GFCI
go out until the button is released.
I've noticed another oddity with that one. For some reason I can't even
begin to guess at, that GFCI outlet is switched. The switch, on the
wall outside the bathroom, that controls the bathroom light also
controls that outlet. So, no charging a toothbrush or shaver in that
bathroom without leaving the light on! That seems a silly design
decision to me.
I'd suspect that the GFCI is wired really oddly, something like
the line hot and load neutral are on the "line" side, "load hot" and
"line neutral" are on the "load" side. I'd pull it and check the
connections. If it's wrong, fix it. If it's right, replace the GFCI.
It was possibly an upgrade to meet code, and they didn't want to tear
walls to reroute. Or the person who designed it didn't think you'd
ever want anything running with the lights off. Maybe he didn't
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
He probably got the house on an AS IS purchase. You can't ask the seller
anything to the house in that case. It sounds reasonable to me. I got an
house recentyl, and we needed alot of electrical work. Luckily my uncle is
href="http://www.electricianhouston.com /">electrician</a>, and was able to do
most of the work at cost for equipment. It adds up fast. I think for
switches, and wiring we spent a total of $500-$600. We replaced everything
because it's an old house! But i could imagine with labor and markup
would have cost us 3-4 times as much with another electrician.
Tim Smith wrote:
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