Permits enough?

Asked by Confused Seller, New Jersey Tue May 24, 2011

Buyers' home inspector says spacing of outlets is not to code even though town approved my project. Permits were submitted and approved including electric. What should I do?

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12
Brian Kim, Agent, Edgewater, NJ
Tue May 24, 2011
The job of a township inspector is to know the building codes. He should be knowledgeable about what he is looking at. According to the township, your electric looked good at time of inspection. You have an approval sticker to prove it. Resales are sold in as is condition. If the buyer wants to upgrade the electric to today's code, that's up to the buyer.
2 votes
Our city inspects houses when they get listed for sale or for rent and in our case they wanted us to do those updates (electrical, railing, etc.) in order for them to give us a C of O to list it. Otherwise the buyers would have to escrow the items if they bought as is.
So our city inspects when it gets listed and WILL make the sellers do the work or list "as is". If you list as is then you will get people trying to get the price dropped right off the bat. Then the buyers get their own inspectors in who can find more things but I figure my city was pretty thorough. They gave us a long enough list which we are working on. If the buyers inspector comes up with even more that will be on the buyer as our house will be up to code, per the city in 2014 ( and not many years ago). If they want more insulation or things like that...I'm not worrying about it.
Flag Mon Nov 3, 2014
My NC Homes…, Agent, Chapel Hill, NC
Wed May 25, 2011
Sellers never have to do anything in regards to a home inspection, though the buyers may elect to terminate their contract.

In your case I would suggest replying that the outlet spacing met all applicable codes at the time the house (or addition) was built as evidenced by the permit issued and signed off on by the town. Then simply supply a copy of the signed permit and/or certificate of occupancy. Honestly your listing agent should know this. Not using an agent, then you've already started at a disadvantage.

Your problem is straightforward and easily solved. Remind the Buyer and perhaps his inspector that codes change every year and sometimes during the time a home is being built. There is no requirement to retroactively bring every structure in the country up to code. Homes simply need to meet the code at the time they were built. If you're doing an addition or modification to your existing home, then that area will be made to comply to current code, but the rest of the house is unaffected.

As an example if you're updating your kitchen on an older home you're going to be required to have GFI outlets by the sink, if your home was built 25 or more years ago, this was not a code then and your home probably doesn't have them. Nowadays all baths, kitchens and areas where the outlet may be exposed to moisture must have these (by code) but you would not be required to add them to your baths just because you were renovating your kitchen.

Good Luck.
1 vote
Actually in my city, the city inspectors are requiring we do make some updates, such as the GFI, railings (spaces between are too wide), etc. before they will supply us with a C of O. This isn't even the paid home inspectors the buyers would get. This is just the city inspector. Sure, we could sell the house as is but sellers tend to do better in our area if they offer the C of O right off the bat.
So we are doing a lot to bring our house up to code (was built in 1953). We are going to list it soon once we finish that work. Then if the buyer's inspectors come in and want a ton more changes we more than likely will leave it on the buyers to do any other work they want done as it should all be up to code. Anything their inspectors find should just be a cosmetic thing or something unnecessary.
Flag Mon Nov 3, 2014
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Tue May 31, 2011
Jeannie back - see that you are the seller - provide the documentation showing that work done to code and permits closed out to your attorney to respond to the buyer's inspection questions - should be adequate to address.

Good luck to you!
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Tue May 31, 2011
Mary is right. If permits were secured for the work done, then the township has spoken with their approval. If your inspector's opinion differs and you want to make changes based on that - then that is up to you - but do be careful that you go through the proper steps. Sounds like the seller has done that.

Best,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service
Web Reference:  http://www.feenick.com
0 votes
Mary Petti, Agent, Edison, NJ
Wed May 25, 2011
Dear seller,

This happens a lot where the seller has all proper permits and yet the buyers inspector says something otherwise. If you do in fact have the permits, the township inspection and issuance of permits that the work is to township code, supercedes the inspectors "opinion".

Just have your attorney reply to the buyers attorney you have all proper permits, (and send copies if needed). No need to stress on this. Good luck !!!
0 votes
Gerard Carney, Agent, Spring Hill, FL
Wed May 25, 2011
You just submit the permits and the approval, this is enough proof that the work is in code for the town!
The Inspector only states what he feels is the norm, but your approval supersedes his opinion since the approval is a fact not a belief
0 votes
Scott Hulen, , 64068
Wed May 25, 2011
Home inspectors have a general knowledge of the entire home but they are not experts! Call the licensed MASTER electrician who wired your home and see if it was done correctly. If it was have him write a brief letter on company letterhead stating that there is no problem and conforms to the code. If it in violation of the code he should take corrective action. The cities inspections are not a blank check in terms of was it done correctly.
Web Reference:  http://www.randshomes.com
0 votes
Laura Gianno…, Agent, Manahawkin, NJ
Wed May 25, 2011
Do you have a final inspection on your project by the costruction code official? Permits are issued, when the work is complete a final inspect is conducted.

The code inspector trumps a home inspector.
0 votes
David Paris, Agent, Hoboken, NJ
Tue May 24, 2011
I would make sure the electrical was in fact approved by the town. There should be a sticker on the electric panel, or your could just walk over to City Hall and ask them. In general outlets are required to be within 6 feet of each other as measured horizontally. There are several subjective factors such as "usable" wall space and factors are taken in based on wall size, doorways, etc.

This general rule does not apply for certain specific areas of a house such as kitchen counters, hallways, basements, etc. Plus, depending on when the work was done the code might have changed from then to now. The NEC (National Electric Code) was revised in 2005 and is a good source to check. You can search it for outlet spacing, since it is very long!

Hope this helps, and good luck with your potential new home!
0 votes
Andres Garcia, Agent, Hoboken, NJ
Tue May 24, 2011
If all the inspections have been performed by the city and you have been issued a Certificate of Occupancy that should suffice, however if the inspections are still pending that's another story. This is something your attorney should advise you on.

Andres Garcia
Sales Associate, CDPE
RE/MAX Gold Coast Realty
56 Newark Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Direct: 201 795-5200 x340
0 votes
Karina Abad, Agent, Hoboken, NJ
Tue May 24, 2011
Hi confused seller. You should ask your attorney but you might be able to simply supply your records.

Sometimes some home inspectors comment on things not being 'code' which they do not not for sure or things change.

I hope this helps you a little!
0 votes
Colin Emmons, Agent, Lincoln, NE
Tue May 24, 2011
I would opt to have an actual electrician come in and take a look at your situation.

Most home inspectors that I know in my area are not necessarily licensed electricians. Usually they are trained just enough to spot a potential problem, and to advise you when it's necessary to get a second opinion from a professional.

This may be a cost you'll have to pay for (depending on the terms of your purhcase agreement.) Small price to pay if he can certify the work and possibly get you out of paying for major work to be done.

Again, I don't sell real estate in NJ, but that's what I'd do where I live.
0 votes
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