Inspection Reports - Your Home's New Owner's Manual
- Get a Great Report !
Bad Reports Will Usually Cost You the Same as Good Ones
Here is How:
1. A bad report starts with a bad foundation
- "Minimal" sketchy information for the client to read - Cramped - No room to add important findings or information.
- Inadequate criteria for an inspector to evaluate
- The report might satisfy "minimum requirements" - Is that really what you want?
- Designed for high speed inspections...get in, get out fast, make lots of money
2. "Low content" reports are used to achieve short inspections to make more money - They are used by large firms where:
The inspector only nets a small percentage of the total payment
The balance of the money goes to the parent firm
High volume inspectors need to do 3+ inspections a day to make a decent wage - a recipe for bad inspection.
A Bad Report - Electrical:
The inspector has limited space and options to insert a few words to describe the home...the rest is checkmarks on sketchy information...then he hands you this chicken scratch and rushes off to the next job.
(Yes, this is a real report sample and it is very bad. This form is heavily used by many inspectors. Sadly, some inspectors even advertise that they use this product.)
3. A GOOD report only draws on the checklist for information...A GOOD report goes the extra step:
This is the "Electrical" chapter from an actual 2016 Vishey report. Look at how much more REAL information we provide. You should demand this performance from your inspector:
Electrical - Major Findings
Aluminum Branch Wiring - The electrical distribution in this home is done with a combination of copper and aluminum wiring. The following deficiencies were noted: 1. Copper and aluminum wires were joined in common fittings and need to be separated. 2. No preservative was found on the aluminum terminations. 3. Aluminum wiring represents a risk of fire to the home due to the chemical and thermal properties of aluminum when used with copper fittings. 4. Oxidation is observed in wire-breaker junctions. 5. Oxidation is observed in main feed connections. 6. Water is actively dripping inside box from house exterior along wiring. 7. The box has heavy rust in the bottom and twisted sets of Al-Cu wires are wet and corroding. 8. Rust is visible on the face of several breakers.
The enclosed CD-ROM contains information on this subject and addition web sites are referenced to aid in your resolving this finding. I recommend that a licensed electrician be contacted to review this electrical system and to make the necessary modifications to ensure safety. A reasonable conclusion may be that this circuit box is severely compromised and would require replacement. Estimated cost is $1500 for service box replacement plus $550 for the cleaning and preservation of all outlets, connections and switches with aluminum wiring. At this same time, all outlets within 6' of moisture should be converted to GFCI outlets. (reference photos 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 64) The cost of upgrading outlets to GFCI is estimated to be $150. Note that two GFCI outlets in the Master Bedroom are incorrectly wired and inoperative.
NOTE: The current electrical service represents a fire hazard due to the active water entry, heavy corrosion and co-joined copper and aluminum wiring. This service box is also a shock hazard due to the active water entry.
The electrical service to the home was overhead service. Power lines approaching the house were in contact with trees. Neighboring homes also had overhead electrical lines and those lines crossed this property - you can request that these lines be moved.
There is no drip loop on the main wire feed to the circuit distribution box and sealant around the entry point should be maintained to protect the home against corrosion and fire risk. Sealant around the wire entry to the outside wall is inspected and during this inspection, was sealing poorly; needing service. There is substantial evidence of past water ingress to the circuit distribution box in the form of water, heavy rust and corrosion. The design of the circuit distribution box utilizes re-settable breakers. The main (or primary) breaker panel is located in the basement.
The main circuit box was inspected with the cover removed. The main feed from the house entry was determined to be 0000 AWG Aluminum 200A in a twin circuit distribution (2 power line feeds) with a rated capacity on the main breaker of 200 amps per distribution leg. Note that the main feed is allowed to be aluminum or copper material. This main breaker is sized appropriately for the main feed (safe). Sub-panels for high-current accessories (air conditioner) was inspected and found to be serviceable.
Branch circuits were inspected to verify that only one circuit (one wire) is connected to each breaker. The branch circuits were properly wired to the breakers and each wire's gage matched the breaker rating - safe. Breaker condition was good, with no heat damage evident but rust was found on the breaker faces and aluminum oxidation at wire attachments. The wire attachments were found to be secure. (Loose connections can also cause burns on breakers and can lead to house fires). The white “return” wires were tied together as a bundle and direct contact between aluminum and copper wires in any connection is prohibited.
Branch wires should always be copper for greatest safety. Aluminum wiring (which was used in the 1960's and 1970's) is known to cause electrical fires when mixed with copper fittings and copper wires. The branch wiring in this home was observed to roughly half copper (safe) and half aluminum (unsafe). Wire insulator condition within the box was poor due to water entry and is not considered serviceable. The electrical service in this home should be reviewed by a licensed electrician for possible replacement.
Voltage at a sample location was measured as 122 volts (alternating current); this voltage level is regarded to be normal. A ground strap is intended to run from the electrical box to the plumbing. A ground strap was visually verified to be bonded to the water pipes. As time permits, electrical outlets around the house may be sampled and their test results recorded on a separate worksheet (attached) - these results were acceptable except where noted below.
There was no Ground Fault Interrupt (GFCI) circuit in the fuse box for the home (one was present for a “pool.”) For safety, you are advised to have GFCI protected circuits near all wet areas (defined typically kitchen, laundry and bath, but also including outside outlets, and any near spas etc.) Current building requirements specify all electrical outlets within 6’ of wet areas to be GFCI including outside outlets). There were no GFCI outlets to test in this home. Added GFCI outlets are advised. This should be done at the same time other electrical improvements are made.
The Vishey Home Inspection team uses a very detailed reporting system that excels far beyond "minimum requirements" and is designed to exceed your highest expectations.
If you want a GREAT REPORT, Call to make an appointment for your home's inspection.
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Answers to questions about findings in our area
A quick check on your own skills of inquiry and observation...
A summary of 100 homes and their findings
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