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Liability #54533 07/31/05 01:48 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
Tiger Offline OP
This might be more appropriate in the business section, but I'd like to hear from other than the business group also.

I often have jobs where I get slapped in the face by non-professional work. I recently contracted to install pool wiring. On opening the panel I noticed NM wiring with no connector. I turned the breaker off & it killed the basement. I know this model was built with an unfinished basement, and NM isn't allowed in this jurisdiction. I couldn't see a screw bonding the neutral bar to the panel, and there's a duplex for the sump (in MY work space). The back yard ext. outlet is very loose and not GFCI protected.

I write it all up on the final invoice of the pool contract, and speak about it with the owners. The conversation takes the usual "over-budget" from the pool turn & they aren't going to fix any of it yet.

To top it off, all of this showed up on a home inspection when they bought and the owner said "Take it or leave it...I'm not fixing it."

Although I run into this often, I don't always write it up. It's one of 30 jobs I don't always have time for. Am I exposing myself to any liability?


Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Re: Liability #54534 07/31/05 02:36 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
Laws of course are different in every state, it might be wise to check the local laws in your area. I would also say don't start turning a blind eye to things like that, and keep listing those things to your customers.

My personal rules are:
If I have to touch it, I fix it.
If I have to fix it, someone pays for me to fix it. (Unless it to minor to bill)
Always point things out, half the time they just say go ahead.
If its a safety or fire hazard, refuse to work on it until its fixed.

Just had a job taken over from some un-licensed hack who put up a 200a service with no ground at all, refused to work on it until it was properly grounded. (By me, or someone else, I don't care.) Slapped a temp ground on it, and got the rods ready. Got the biz end out of the way with the people paying the bill and started pounding.

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Re: Liability #54535 07/31/05 06:08 PM
Joined: Jan 2001
Posts: 1,044
Tom Offline
As stated by e57, always attempt to get the problems fixed before you do your work. If the owner refuses to make repairs, then you should document the problem in your proposal (stating you are not responsible for the following code violations, etc) or, if you're already doing some work, note the problem on the invoice you send them. At least this way, you will have some proof that you pointed theses problems out but that the customer elected to ignore your best professional advice.

Things can be so bad here in the Mountain State that once in awhile, the list of uncorrected code violations on one of my T&M invoices is longer than the material list.


Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
Re: Liability #54536 07/31/05 06:16 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
"Don't have the money...." We hear that too often. Usually from folks who do have the money for the new Beemer, IPod, or whatever.

It has to be brought home to these folks- especially where something like a pool is involved- that real dangers exist. "I'm ssorry" doesn't do much for the next of kin!

The fact is, the work wouldn't cost "so much" if it had been done right the first time! OK, so NM isn't least it could have been installed correctly.

What you have to realise is that as soon as you leave, the "cuss-tomer" is going to have his hack handyman in there playing with your stuff. THAT has got to be stopped.

Let him pay twice for the same work a couple times, and he will make sure Mr Hack doesn't "fix" it anymore.

If this is the pool with the voltage gradient you spoke of on another thread.....the hack's work just might have created it! Something like connecting a ground wire to the plumbing....

Re: Liability #54537 07/31/05 10:04 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
Tiger Offline OP
This isn't the pool with the voltage problem. As I understand it, a previous homeowner did the basement work, or had it done. I don't think they'll have a hack come in after me.

I'm going to send them a proposal for the repairs and see what happens. The last thing I told them was the basement needed to be disconnected and they needed to put fresh batteries in their smoke alarms in case the basement started a fire.

What else can I do?


Re: Liability #54538 08/03/05 11:34 AM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 55
Ray97502 Offline
Hey Dave, you've been running into some real doozies here lately. It won't help the existing crap but when a home goes on the market I think that the home inspection and appraisal should be more related. What I mean is that the inspector should be required to be comprehensive, and when conditions are identified that are in violation of codes and standards for that area then they should have to be fixed before the close of escrow. If the inspection had the force of real estate law like the appraisal does, hacks and clueless homeowners would be less likely to create the sorts of time bombs you’ve had to fix.
I recently went to look at the newly purchased older home that a friend purchased, they paid cash and to save a buck they used the owner’s inspection report, (this couple doesn’t have a lot of money, they looked for almost a year for a house they could afford. I can’t figure out why they didn’t make a loan even though they could pay it off)
I looked around and he showed me almost a dozen things that should have been caught by an inspection, only 1 or 2 were on the list. Some one had built shelving in front of the pnl and then covered that with a curtain. They had a detached that was converted into a shop with a sub pnl that was fed by 12/3. They had a W/D hook up out there, I told them to hire a plumber and bring gas to the dryer to save a bit of money in the long run.
I think that (primary residence and multi family dwelling) homes should not be sold without an inspection and necessary corrections made.

Re: Liability #54539 08/04/05 07:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,143
DougW Offline
Geez, Ray... if you started to include the cost of bringing everything to code, house sales would drop through the basement! [Linked Image]

Re: Liability #54540 08/04/05 08:46 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
"Liability" really ought to be spelled "Lie- ability" these days. The least able liar gets stuck.

One of the trade mags recently did an article on just such a job; the contractor does a service change, while, unknown to him, all sorts of things are being done in a far room. Service change completed, the poor sod powere the place up...and a fire starts. In a slum dwelling that just happened to be crammed with all sorts of expensive goodies (as claimed to the insurance company).

Was it the electricians' fault? Almost certainly not- but we're electricians, for petes' sake, not CSI! But the sparkie, had insurance- as he should- and the insurance paid out just to end the matter.

When it comes to liability, you're going to be blamed for what you do- as well as don't do. For what you see- and whay you don't. It's a game with "living rules"- so you just can't win.

The best thing is to do your best. Document. Call things as you see them. And pray.

Re: Liability #54541 08/04/05 09:32 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
e57 Offline
Electrician came during the day...
Toilet doesn't flush at night...
Electrician's fault!

Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason


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