A cautionary tale for homebuyers and sellers

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Men laying new hardwood flooring

Several months ago during the course of a home inspection, I approached an electrical panel box located in the basement. I noticed that hanging below the panel box, coiled on a nail, there was a large sheathed wire with a 220-volt ale cap attached to the end. Following the wire further, I discovered it was connected directly to a 40-amp breaker as a 220 circuit. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the breaker switch was in the “on” position!

The couple that owned the home was getting a divorce. The wife was still living in the house with two young children. When I brought this to her attention, she responded that she knew about the wire. Her husband didn’t want to spend the money for a transfer switch so they could hook up a generator during a power outage!
This is a prime example of how a little knowledge can be dangerous when looking for a new home. I can’t stress this enough: Don’t make assumptions about the physical condition of a home regardless of the way it appears. And don’t touch anything! You don’t know if a household is home to a Mr. or Ms. Fix-It. You also don’t know what deferred maintenance issues exist or how systems may have been compromised to get by for a few months.

This, of course, is a great reason for sellers to get a pre-sale home inspection. This way, serious issues that need immediate repair or replacement can be identified and addressed for the safety of visitors and you, the homeowner, who may not even know there is a problem.

By the way, in the case of the home inspection I described at the beginning of this article, the generator was nowhere to be found.


Stan-Garnet

Stan A. Garnet ACI, ASHI, ICC, is an ASHI-certified home inspector and an IRC Residential Combination Inspector with his company, Inspectors Associates, Inc., in Atlanta. Stan is the director of www.ConsultAHomePro.com, director of education at the We Teach House™ Institute and the developer of the See Thru-House at the Atlanta Home Show. For more information visit www.INeedAnInspector.com or e-mail [email protected]

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