i can tell you one thing for sure

June 4th, 2008

I Can Tell You One Thing For Sure

My brain, frankly, just hurts right now.  I’m not sure yet what exactly wrong with the electrical.  I’m not sure what has to be done to fix it.  I did find out yesterday that our electrical board is one of two brands that lost their UL certification, so that makes me oh so pleased about it.  Not.  Regardless of what we find out about our specific current problem, that gives me pause about keeping the board at all if we can help it.  Argh.

And I have decided that hiring a home inspector when we were considering buying the house was, apparently, in our case a total waste of time and money.  For I am not sure he did much of anything past come for a visit and get paid to do so.  I still love my house.  But it is trying my patience.  I’m not sure how we could have done better with a home inspector but obviously the one we picked didn’t do much.

So this post – not very useful.  I have no idea how to pick an electrical contractor.  If I ever figure it out, I will be sure to tell you all.  Many of them want to charge a trip charge just to come out and do an estimate.  I understand why, but it doesn’t please me.  But I can tell you one thing for sure.   The one my spouse called yesterday that said they could do it without a permit for one price, and if we insisted on having permits then it would be a lot more, well…

We won’t be going with that one.  ;)

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20 Responses to “I Can Tell You One Thing For Sure”

  1. Did your home inspector have insurance?

    You might call the inspector and have them come look at it.

  2. Just keep reminding yourself: “I love this house.” All homes have problems, especially if the last homeowner was less attentative when it came to repairs.

    Good call on the inspector’s insurance. Do you still have a copy of his report? We have a copy of our inspector’s report somewhere, but yours might mention something about the breaker box.

    This too shall pass! As much as we hate to spend them, this is why we have emergency funds.

    Keep up the great work!

  3. Oh! WHAT a pain in the tuchus!!!!!!!

    Good advice above: check the inspector’s report. Usually they’ll disclaim responsibility for anything that’s inside the walls, claiming if they can’t see it they can’t inspect it. But the electrical board is fully visible.

    To find an electrician:

    1. Check with friends and neighbors. Ask if they know a good electrician.
    2. Failing that, pony up a membership fee and join Angie’s list. This is a good–in many cases, excellent–source of referrals to people in the trades.
    3. Failing that, use the Yellow Pages.
    4. Before hiring, call your state Registrar of Contractors. If you have the person’s contractor number, you can get a report, often over the phone, about any complaints and how they were resolved.

    Remember that you must hire someone who is licensed and bonded. With electricity, gas, and even plain old water plumbing, this is huge.

    My sympathies. My own experience with home inspectors has been similar. That’s why now when I buy a house I have own craftsmen (as well as an official home inspector) inspect it: I pay for an electrician, a plumber, a roofer, and HVAC dude, and a carpenter to look at the joint. It’s well worth the extra cost, which amazingly enough is not much.

  4. paidtwice Says:

    June 4th, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I shall have to dig out the home inspector’s report but I walked the house with him when he inspected it, as well as read the entire report when we got it, and it had nothing about the electric box. It probably noted that it existed but there were no problems or potential problems noted with it. The only “problem” the house had on the report was a leaky faucet in the master bathroom that just needed a new washer.

  5. Here is what I did when I needed an electrician and my experience was satisfactory:

    I went to both the big box stores in town and asked who they recommended for installation of products purchased there (between the two of them, I got 3 names). Then I took the list of names (companies) and checked to see if they had any thing against them on the BBB website for my area.

    Then I called all three, made sure they were licensed and bonded, and asked for an estimate for the work I wanted done. I went with the middle estimate because I liked the guy and he did a better job of explaining his work, but the important thing was the explanation that I could understand…
    Finally, called th

  6. Argh. I feel for you.

    Please get permits. Don’t be tempted to not get permits. According to my dad, your insurance might be voided if you don’t.

  7. Yes, it is wise to make sure you get permits on something like this because of the worry on insurance. I fixed our fence and gate without a permit, but won’t let an electrician do anything without one because of the risk of fire later.

    As far as the home inspection goes, I doubt that if the breaker box is faulty (I still think this might be a stretch) that most inspectors would catch it because it would require pulling the breakers and checking them etc. Ours did a fairly good job checking the roof, foundation, and even all the plugs and noting which ones were wired backwards or weren’t grounded. There is a little plug device with lights to indicate these problems that costs $5 or so and is a good investment if yours weren’t checked. Lazy or rushed builders often put the wires on wrong which can cause problems later. It is an easy fix to swap the wires or attached the ground if it is there. If there isn’t a ground wire, that can be a big issue.

  8. Oh I feel so sorry for you! Our house is about 50 years old and the electrical is in serious need of upgrading- the box is old, there are very few grounds, the amperage is at the old standard instead of the new standard. Basically, translate into a whole lot of money to fix it. But it works, we just have to be careful not to blow the circuit too much. I hope everything works out for you. If all they do is update the board, it shouldn’t be too much. It’s when they have to run new wires that it starts to get expensive.

  9. I think buying my own place was the biggest financial mistake I ever made. I am amazed by people who want to do it – I was semi-coerced into it. Am definitely not doing it again for a long time!

    I know someone who did work off-permit. But the electrician/plumbers were all still licensed and bonded.

  10. i needed a contractor and tried to get some names from home Depot and Lowes but they wouldnt do it cause it could cause the store a liability if the contractor did something wrong. I recommend checking the BBB for people in your area like the others said. also, if you didnt buy your house too long ago, you might still be covered under Homebuyers Insurance.

  11. If something comes up like this, can you do anything to go after the home inspector? A home inspector knows that it his job to find the faults in the house. But because they are referred by realtors, I really think it is a conflict of interests. They are in a tough situation. The question is how did this problem not come up before hand?

  12. I feel your pain and I share your frustration with the process of home inspection…biggest waste of $400! Please don’t do a blog on the real cost of home ownership because I’ll just start crying…in the past 2.5 years, we’ve been nickeled and dimed to death on a newer house that wouldn’t “need anything done to it”. Yeah, right. Cosmetic concerns aside, our old house (built in 1966) needed less work than our new one (built in 1993). I don’t think my brain has stopped hurting yet!

  13. To everyone who says kill the home inspector…generally electrical systems require an electrical engineer for a complete inspection. The typical home inspector can check for bad sockets, failing lights, etc…but they are not an electrical engineer, and at least around here, the electrical system is not included in a home inspection, beyond the basic do all the outlets work.

  14. debtheaven Says:

    June 4th, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    Ask a neighbor, or somebody who worked on your home that you clicked with.

    We have a contractor we really like, he does everything but roof work and boilers / furnaces. I got our roofer from my BF at work. Nobody came up with a boiler guy so I kept ours (the local guy), despite complaining about something in the boiler for two years. Recently the contractor located a leak in the boiler / furnace, told us to get a new guy he met in. He repaired not one, but TWO leaks that we didn’t even know about. Because our boiler guy kept saying, oh, that’s normal when I complained to him for two years running.

    Turns out the new boiler / furnace guy is my EX’S boiler / furnace guy too. Small world, lol.

  15. debtheaven Says:

    June 4th, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    You’re savvy. Just do your research. It costs time but not money, but it will pay off. At some point you will have a stable of people you trust, and the resources to find another one when one moves on.

  16. Dude,

    Angieslist.com is an excellent reference for contractors. Yes, it costs a yearly fee to subscribe, but it is completely worth it. We go on there whenever we need a contractor, and all of the “A” rated contractors we’ve used have definitely deserved the “A”, if not an A+!

    I highly recommend that website.

  17. Although I have had some good luck with Angie’s List (Boston), I also hired an A rated painter who was a DISASTER. They let my dog out loose while I wasn’t home (and had no idea they had), damaged my new, very nice bedroom furniture (both with tools- i.e. dents and scratches – and by painting it!!) and damaged my hardwood floors by getting paint on them and apparently using paint thinner to remove it thereby removing the finish on the floors. I ended up locking them out with the job half done. This was 3 years ago and I still regret not taking them to small claims court.

    I let my Angie’s List subscription lapse after that.

  18. lol someone called me dude :)
    I am checking out Angie’s List now, I wasn’t really aware of it before. I’m not sure it is worth the cost for me (I enrolled this morning and paid for a membership to try it out but may not renew when the time comes) because in my area at least, most companies listed have a single review, and many of them were put together by Angie’s list themselves and not based on actual experience. At least, in my searching on there so far. I am sure it would be a good resource for an area that utilized it more.

  19. I have no advice (other than Angie’s List) but wish you well.

  20. Try calling a local Realtor you know – they usually know someone who can be trusted to do good work. Good luck! For us the benefits of owning our own home are worth the hassles!


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