Thursday, October 18, 2007

When a city ordinance is not your friend

See all those wires? That's the good old knob and tube that's been the bane of my existence for quite some time now.

We knew it was there when we bought the house, but most of the modern major appliances had been put on newer circuits and the wires were 12# quality copper. Most importantly, estimates ranging from $9-14k for a total rewire made us that much more fond of those old wires.

One of the biggest factors in the high cost was the fact that interior side of the exterior walls are all concrete/mortar with sheetrock on top of that. The time and cost of mortar bits to bring all the outlets from the floor and into the wall added a lot to the cost. Not to mention the local ordinances that go so far above and beyond national code...

So we decided to upgrade the old fuse box and the service (from 100 to 200 amp) and add 2 new circuits for CH/A and be done. We'll get to the rewire when we have a little more money. And here's where all the trouble began.

Our local ordinances state that if you alter more than 50% of the wiring of a house, you are then obligated to bring the rest of the house up to code. It also says that the box and circuits for CH/A constitute 50%. I'm not sure how they justify that, considering it is neither 50% of the materials, the labor, nor the cost...But when the inspector came out, he saw that we had also taken all the plaster off of the walls of the kitchen. Plaster was crumbling off, the holes were patched with sheetrock-- it needed to come down. He decided that this was a kitchen remodel and with the exposed wires, it would have to be brought up to code...therefore exceeding the 50% rule, therefore requiring a full rewire.

The electrician tried to get us out of it by rerouting unnecessary circuits and we took our case to the board of appeals, but no such luck. So this afternoon we meet with the electrician to get our homework assignments: anything we can do to the house that will make his life easier, the job quicker, and in turn cost less money.

I imagine our weekend will largely be spent on this. Guess the porch rescreening will have to wait.


Nadja and Sean said...

Ugh. We have old knob and tube wiring too, and though ours is in great shape, we are wondering when we will have a situation like yours... Keep us posted on what you decide to do (and cost, if you are comfortable). When we finish our 3rd floor attic space, it's likely we'll need that extra power, and then what with the rest of the house? who knows.....

casacaudill said...

i hate inspectors and their bureaucratic rigamarole. we had our knob & tube redone, got a new breaker box installed in the same place our old one was at, and had lighting put in our kitchen. the inspector tried to say that all breaker boxes must be at least five feet from any other building. nevermind that our neighbors on BOTH sides of our house are just about five feet from any side. so much red tape and ridiculous rules. they finally "grandfathered" us in.