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#45788 12/07/04 03:53 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
I'm in a sticky situation. My father-in-law decided to try playing GC on his own new house, cutting costs by doing his own plumbing and electrical. He sent me the plans and I created electrical plans off of them for him. He's no electrician. He then took it upon himself to ignore the plans altogether and just start wiring. He called numerous times with all sorts of basic questions (i.e. 3-way switches, dedicated circuits, wire size....). Later, when we flew out to visit, I spent the only day I had free over at the house undoing what I could and making it right. There are violations galore!

He "tested" all the wiring before rough was even complete by jamming stripped romex right into an extension cord and hooking up recepts and lights before the drywall was even up, mangling his wires with repeated tests. He also seemed to think that he needed #12 everywhere in the house, and that 12/3 was "better" than 12/2 - leading to the box fill problems.

Somehow, he passed rough (probably a drive-by inspection) and managed to wall in his mess. A few violations are as follows:
1. Main panel has all romex coming in in a bundle at the top through a 3" PVC male adapter (no clamps).
2. No bonding around water heaters
3. Improper grounding of main service
4. No GFCIs in garage/basement
5. No staples in the attic - wires going willy-nilly across trusses
6. Box fill violations all over the place
7. Simple stapling rules not followed
8. No AFCIs period
9. De-rating due to long stretchs of many romex bundled together across basement

Obviously, some of these are easily-corrected, and many will not cause a fire. I'm more worried that my 2-year-old son (their grandson) will stay in this house when it's finished (going on 2.5 years so far!) and I'm worried about the stuff I didn't see when frantically trying to fix what I could in 12 hours before flying home. My problem is that I personally don't want to get involved in flunking him on final as that would really make him mad at me, but I'm also afraid that another drive-by inspection will happen and he'll pass. This house is an electrician's nightmare, and it needs a lot of work to be anywhere near code-compliant (and therefore, safe). What should I do?

[This message has been edited by echandler (edited 12-07-2004).]

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 198
echandler,- That's why they are called father-in-laws, they know everything, and you know nothing!
I go through the same B.S. as you!
All I can say is Good Luck!
Mine is a Master at cobbling!

Shoot first, apologize later.....maybe
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Well, many of the problems you list may be non-issues. In some areas you can run all the branch circuit runs into the panel as he did. Are AFCI's required under the current code adopted in the area? Is bonding around the water heater required? Derating? I thought you said he used all #12. Other issues such as improper grounding, GFI's etc are correctable.

What I would be concerned with is the improper service ground (this should also be correctable) and box fill (not easily correctable).

That said this is a DIY'er job and there is probably more that you are not seeing. Unfortunately the time to see and correct all of these problems was before the sheetrock was hung, now it's going to cost him big time.

Not to blame you but you did have an involvement here, not once but twice. You created the plans then during your visit, saw how bad things were and unsucessfully tried to clean things up. Red flags should have gone up with the calls for answers to "basic questions" and the fact that your father-in-law knows nothing about electrical work.

So now after the house is nearly completed you are concerned that the wiring is not safe? You are afraid that if you "blow the whistle" on him he is going to be mad at you? How do you think you will feel if the house burns down killing everybody? Then what happens if the law comes after you because you had an involvement?

I say do what ever you have to to get the mess cleaned up.


Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 11
What I didn't mention was that he has a psychiatric disorder called Paranoid Personality Disorder which makes it nearly-imposibble to criticize him without major repercussions. Also, he boasted and bragged to me last week that he passed his electrical in 5-minutes with "flying colors" and that he had already sheetrocked and was in the taping phase.

I thought for sure he would flunk, since there were blatant code violations (many I didn't metion in my list in the previous post). Violations like 3 12/3s in a pancake box, 3 12/3s in a standard 1-gang nailer, 12 12/3s in a 4-gang switchbox...... I'm just mad at the inspector who is also the plumbing/framing/foundation inspector for this rural IL town. A 5-minute inspection doesn't sound too thorough on a DIYer's work - maybe for an electrician the inspector has known for 10 years.

I just want to make darn sure that he doesn't pass final. I want an anonymous way that the inspector is informed that there are serious violations that need to be corrected in this house without him saying "we got a call that someone says that this house is not code-compliant." It would take him less than a second to finger me on that. Is there some standard way to report code violations anonymously where the inspector doesn't let on to the inspectee that someone "told on them?"


Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline

Five minute inspections are a fact of life.I've heard from some inspectors that have to do 15 or 20 inspections a day. When you figure in even a modest amount of travel time and the time it takes to do the paperwork, 5 minutes on site sounds about right. Add to that the "Multi-Hat" requirement, & if the smoke ain't pouring out, it probably looks like a safe job.

You've got my sympathy. Maybe you should be talking to your wife & mother-in-law instead, maybe they have some power.

Good luck


Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,457
First call should be to the inspecting agency. Second call should be to Dr Phil.

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 186
SO i hate to say it, but if you really think the insp. did not do his job call the dca on the job. Or call him on it and explain your child, their grandchild will not be permitted to stay in there home until such is corrected. BUT and i mean BUT you should have Known better and to have let this get to this point no matter what the reprocations were!!! Saftey always comes first!!!!

Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
... he has a psychiatric disorder called Paranoid Personality Disorder which makes it nearly-imposibble to criticize him without major repercussions.

Didn't know there was a name for it. Just figured they were thick headed know-it-all's and I stay far away from them for my own mental health.


Joined: May 2003
Posts: 74
Buy him an arc fault main breaker for Christmas

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 127
Buy him an arc fault main breaker for Christmas

For the panelboard, or the person?????

No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.
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