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#126233 - 08/11/05 02:50 PM service upgrade extra's
ibatramp Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 16
Loc: bridgeville, PA, United States
my neighbor built a 30'x40' detached garage
about 80' from his house. he asked me for an estimate to wire his new garage. to make a long story short, I upgraded his house wiring from 100 amp to 200 amp to supply the garage with 100 amp sub panel. he said he has never had problems with blown fuses in the past so I did not really check his house wiring. after the job was completed he started tripping breakers in the new
200 amp panel. {my partner a licensed journeyman like myself did the upgrade while I did the sub panel and garage wiring}
in his old 100 amp panel he had 14 and 12 gauge wire on 30 amp fuses. he wants me to run new circuits for his microwave, window ac and his refrigerator free or he is going to sue me to force me to either do the work myself or pay to have it done. {he already has an estimate of 250.00} this entire job was done above board, inspected by local electrical inspector, poco job #, etc..
I have never liked this neighbor anyway and knew I should not have done this job but I needed the money. there was no signed contract but I did write a proposal and gave him a copy that spelled out the worked we did ,nothing was in the proposal about adding circuits in his house, I don't think I am responsible for the extra work, what does everybody else think? {extra work I already
did for him: install 2 garage door opener
outlets {he initially did not want them} at material cost only, relocate (4)8 foot 2 lamp
HO fixtures at no cost to him to accommodate the opener mechanisms, run cable and telephone wire to garage,{he paid for wire}
he was also responsible for all ditch digging
and covering up. {we ended up making about 35.00 per hour for the whole job}I don't do a lot of side work but I thought if I did this for him he wouldn't be such an a**hole all the time. has anybody else had problems like this? BTW, {I did explain to him after the job that his house is a lot safer now than it was but he is insistant that I did something wrong because everything worked fine before}.
Steven Stanley

#126234 - 08/11/05 03:10 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
Dnkldorf Offline

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 1091
Loc: nowhere usa

A couple things come to mind here:

1. Are you a licensed contractor in your area, and do you need to be?
2. Do you have insurance for doing this work?
3. Sounds like alot of things were wrong before you started, but...... being a licensed journeyman doesn't meen you have experience in these situations, or do you?
4. If a permit was pulled, and inspected by an inspector who wrote off on it, I am not sure how that plays out, some others here will chime in and let us know about this one.
5. Small claims courts can be tough when there is no signed contracts, for both the customer and the contracor. Both loose sometimes.

The really bad thing could be is that the money you made, may have to go to a lawyer to get you out of this.

good luck..........


#126235 - 08/11/05 03:27 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
ibatramp Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 16
Loc: bridgeville, PA, United States
I am not a licensed contractor,{for the record}
I took Block and Associates electrical journeyman's exam in 1992 in Florida,{passed with a score of 96},recieved journeyman's license in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1999,
was organized into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in 2000,{I
took their journeyman's exam,{98.5},I started off as an electrician's mate in the U.S.N.
from 1976 to 1979 {honorable discharge},been
doing residential,commercial and industrial
wiring ever since,{no I do not have ins.,
just doing a little work to feed my family
while waiting for a call from the union hall}. In this area you do not have to be a licensed contractor to do electrical work nor do you have to carry ins.

[This message has been edited by ibatramp (edited 08-11-2005).]
Steven Stanley

#126236 - 08/11/05 04:26 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
Tiger Offline

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 714
Loc: Crystal Lake, IL USA
Without a contract you're at the mercy of people like this. As soon as I see overfusing I tell people that they may have circuits trip...obviously someone overfused for a reason...the wiring is inadequate.

Good luck & even though you're heart rate is up there, stress is not as good for you as excercise.


#126237 - 08/11/05 04:40 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
Alan Belson Offline

Registered: 03/23/05
Posts: 1801
Loc: Mayenne N. France
Go for the jugular. If you don't stomp on this POS now, you'll be forever at his beck and call.
Go and see a lawyer, both of you, straight away, for a 15 minute interpretation of the law as it pertains, in this situation, where you are. A spoken agreement is a contract actually, IMO, and you have a partner to back that up and your claim that this fuse situation is not your fault- after all, you are the experts here. Admit no speck of fault on your parts, nor anything that might augment his side of the disagreement, and make no spoken or written statements to this person, even through third parties, other than through your lawyer. If he tries to speak to either of you just say "It's the hands of our lawyer, no comment." Ditto if he writes you, pass the letter over to the lawyer. I think this is blackmail and probably a criminal offence (felony?), (a demand made with menaces need not involve money ). If the lawyer agrees, file a formal complaint at your PD immediately, then get the lawyer to write him demanding reimbursement of his fees, subject to suing him for them, plus damages and costs. (It will probably not be worth actually suing him, since getting litigants to cough up is extraordinarily difficult, but he may chicken out, so it's worth a try!- also he might be doing 2-10! ). In any event, he'll be too busy sh***ing himself to worry about his poxy panel scam for some time!
In future, get liability insurance and give written contracts of agreed works with a written and detailed quotation.
Life's hard lessons don't come cheap, I'm afraid, and the world is full of bad eggs as well as nice guys.
As dnk says, good luck.

Wood work but can't!

#126238 - 08/11/05 05:04 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
This, unfortunately, is an all-to-common situation.

Simply put, there's a lot more to a service change than replacing the fuse box! I take great pains, when I see signs of over-fusing, to explain to the customer that other work is needed, and is NOT part of the service change. I explain that there may very well be problems afterwards, as our expectations have increased over the years.

Every wire that went into the fuse box needs to go on it's own breaker. I will often stub out an oversized pipe, or install a gutter, for the running of the additional circuits that will be needed.

Look at it this entire house is powered by two 15 amp circuits, with no problems. For my lifestyle, a 1940 service is perfectly adequate.
Yet, even this small house, if built today, would require at least a dozen 20 amp circuits.
2- Kitchen
1- Bath
1- Lights
1- Receptacles
1- Bedroom
1- Furnace
1- Laundry
1- Smoke alarms

The nine listed above are "required" by code. Also, the wise sparky will provide for the following:
2- for air conditioning
2- for water heater
2- for stove/oven
1- for microwave or bread maker
1- for fridge
1- for dishwasher/disposal
1- for outdoor use, Xmas lights, etc

If a designer really wanted to "build for the future," each room would have its' own circuit, there would be a "clean" circuit for computers, and there'd be plenty of extra spaces for when they turn the garage into a workshop!

We're not just talking adding circuits...we're soon adding panels.

Sorry to hear you're in this fix....but this is just the first "business" item they didn't cover in your apprentice classes.
In the future...remember that the amount of things added to the house since it was built has a powerful impact on how hard the service change is going to be.

#126239 - 08/11/05 05:16 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
growler Offline

Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 66
Loc: Marietta, Ga. 30060
I would not worry about it. Quote him a price to run the necessary circuits or let him get someone else to do it. I wouldn't spend any money on lawyers in small claims court you don't need one. The worst that could happen is that a judge could order you to make repairs. I don't think he would do that but you never know. The most important thing to do is keep your cool and never say or do anything stupid. Don't get in any arguments with the guy and don't lose your temper and say anything. It sounds as if you are in good shape. You did the work legally and you got paid. The homeowner want's more work done for free. The breakers trip but that's not unsafe. If we had to rewire a house every time we put in a service no one could afford to stay in business. If you didn't need a business license to get a permit then you don't need one. You are not operating under a company name,are you? If not you were paid as labor. You don't need a contract for that.

#126240 - 08/12/05 09:22 AM Re: service upgrade extra's
ibatramp Offline

Registered: 11/01/04
Posts: 16
Loc: bridgeville, PA, United States
Thanks for all the replys, I'm waiting for his next move. I have decided to duke it out with him {sort of speak}. I feel like I did the job cheaper {moneywise} than anybody would have simply because he is my neighbor, I will not do anymore work for this man {free or paid}. Some customers no matter what you do they are never satisfied. The sole purpose of the upgrade was to provide power for his garage. His house wiring was never discussed other than when I asked him if they have ever had a problem with fuses blowing and he said no.
Steven Stanley

#126241 - 08/12/05 07:28 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
Joey D Offline

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 263
Loc: Arlington MA U.S.
Do not give into this guy, no way no how.
The guy may think he can strong arm you into doing it. I would also tell him you will sue him if he makes any falso claims or trys to slander your name in any way.
This is a lesson learned though for you. I always tell customers that changing the panel does not fix circuit over loading in the house and that all wires will be installed with the proper rated breaker.

#126242 - 08/13/05 01:56 PM Re: service upgrade extra's
Dnkldorf Offline

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 1091
Loc: nowhere usa
Some of you amaze me.

Here is a guy with no license, no insurance,no business, doing SIDE WORK at a cut down price, and some of you are telling him to "go for the jugular", "don't give in to this guy", yet in other posts you are complaining about hackers and DIYers charging cut rate prices and giving our trade a bad name?

Look, I don't know ibatramp, for all I know he is a great and qualified electrician.

But the fact remains, he has no license, no insurance, no business,probably pays no sales tax or federal taxes, let alone any other stuff that me and all the other guys who own legit businesses in this trade do.

Take this the wrong way if you want, but I hope some of these guys do get sued.

Us legit guys work too hard and do it legally, why should these side workers be allowed to skim the system?

Tell your local to feed your family, or better yet, get a fed ID number and pay all the stuff that goes with it.


(eddited for spelling )
(editted to take out real harsh comments)

[This message has been edited by Dnkldorf (edited 08-13-2005).]

[This message has been edited by Dnkldorf (edited 08-13-2005).]

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