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Thread summary:

100 year old Texas home need to replace knob and tube wiring, how expensive, home inspection repairs, insurance standards, potential buyer may back out

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Old 06-18-2008, 06:26 PM
 
150 posts, read 594,319 times
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Knob and tube wiring ... how bad is it and how expensive is it to replace?
I'm the seller, and our 100-year-plus has some of it according to our buyer's (former buyer's?) inspection.
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Old 06-18-2008, 06:43 PM
 
Location: West End-Hartford
625 posts, read 1,745,033 times
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How big is your house? We had it in our 100-year-old, 3-floor home when we purchased. Our insurance company gave us 30 days after closing to have all of the accessible knob and tube removed. That meant everything in the basement, what could be accessed on the first floor from the basement, the third floor, and attic access. Everything in the walls was left because it was not accessible. The cost was approximately $4,000. Our house is 3200sqft.

Most insurance companies will not insure knob and tube now. The only one I know of that will insure and not force you to remediate within "X" days after closing is Safeco.

Hope this helps.
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Old 06-18-2008, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Southwest Pa
1,440 posts, read 3,572,846 times
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Knob and tube wiring in and of itself isn't really the problem. Let's face it, it's worked as a delivery system for decades and decades in tens of thousands of homes. But there are problems that make it a tough thing to get insurance on, if it's found.
  • The overall age of the beast itself. Seventy, eighty years or more.
  • It's almost impossible to tap into safely and not even a good idea to begin with. You can tap via a junction box but too many times I've seen people just tapping off the lines themselves. But tap off a junction and you're still adding load on the same old feed line.
  • It isn't up to standards of today and can't really handle the requirements of most households. What was designed for Pap's radio and the floor lamp doesn't appreciate all the extra load.
  • It must be able to breath, so to speak. Don't cover it up with insulation and such. It gets hot, it gets mad.
We still have some in our house, older place that we've yet to tear into the walls of. But I know almost every inch of it and handle it accordingly. The major appliances have been taken off the old lines and placed on their own circuits. Old junctions and taps have been updated or eliminated. Remember, everything you can take off the old lines and place on new lines helps the old stuff along until you can deal with a complete rewire.

You'll still have a problem getting insurance and I'm not advocating keeping the stuff if you can get rid of it. But it is most important to understand how to avoid problems. A qualified electrician will be able to provide you an estimate, probably a shocking one, but an estimate.
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Old 06-19-2008, 07:29 AM
 
Location: Dallas TX
14,299 posts, read 20,550,720 times
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It also depends where you live. I was told that all the knob and tube wiring had to be out of my house BEFORE I put it on the market.
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:36 PM
 
28,383 posts, read 67,936,355 times
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Most municipalities that have significant numbers of homes with very old infrastructure will have guidelines over what is acceptable. Generally these are also what the major underwriters of home owner's insurance will follow BY STATE -- so don't worry about California or Connecticut if you're in Louisiana
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:48 PM
 
150 posts, read 594,319 times
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Thank you everyone for the K/T info. We are in TX in an area that is historical, where it is not that uncommon. We got insurance w/o a problem, but that was 6 years ago.

So, anyway, when I posted that question, I had only heard a 'sneak preview' of our inspection report. Got the entire 10-pages of bad, bad news this morning. It seems that unbeknownst to us, we have been living in a rotting, deplorable, hazardous, deathtrap for 6 years. Here I was thinkin' I had a nice, solid (albeit very old and quirky) house (one that we have worked our a**'s off upgrading, and that we have not had any major problems with at all during these years, and that even survived the 1900 hurricane.) The "Deal Breaker" (as this inspector is nicknamed around town) clearly disagrees. So replacing K/T wiring ... yes, we will now be doing that for sure. Along with apparently many, many, many other things. Our buyer ... well no official word yet. But I'll be amazed if we still have a "buyer" tomorrow.
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:45 PM
 
Location: Knoxville
4,135 posts, read 19,732,027 times
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Smile Deal Killers

As an inspector, I have never "killed" a deal. I have, however, had a few houses commit suicide right before my eyes.

As far as K&T goes....most of the time it is not in that great of shape. While it may have served the house well for 80, 90, 100 years, it's probably a little worse for wear (kind of like 80 year old Aunt Marge that was a real looker in her days). Like others have said, insurance companies are nervous about it.

The biggest part of the cost is labor, and how big the number is depends on how hard it is going to be to run wires. Single story home on a unfinished basement would be a lot easier that a 2 story house on a crawlspace that is less than a foot high.

Depending on the size of the job, and the labor costs in your area, it might be from $1,000 to $20,000. Does the panel need to be replaced too?

We inspectors have a hard time delivering what we see and find. If we ignore something, they will sue us. If we downplay something, they will sue us. We have a huge liability at stake, trying to give an unbiased opinion on the condition of a house.

When I get up in the morning, I don't jump out of bed and shout, "I'm going to kill a couple deals today!". What I do say is: I'm going to go out there and do the best job I can, giving my clients as much information about the house they are thinking of buying, and covering myself so I don't get sued. I'm going to be honest, ethical and treat my clients like they are part of my family.

Many times when I am crawling out from under a house, I know I am about to make a bunch of people unhappy. My clients that wanted to buy the house, the sellers that wanted to sell the house, and both sets of Realtors that want to make a commission on the sale. So as I walk into the house, I know that I am about to have 4 - 6 or more people disappointed and MAD at me - just because I have bad news to tell them.

The other side of this is: 1. the is no perfect house, 2. ANYTHING can be fixed, and 3. just about anything can be worked out. Most inspectors will not answer the question, "Should I buy this house?", or tell someone NOT to buy the house. We are just giving information.

It's interesting being one of the "deal killers" in town. A lot of Realtors bash me, yet many of them call me when they or a family member is buying something. That tells me a lot about THEIR ethics.

I was having lunch with a Realtor friend, and he ran into three women from his office. They asked him to join them, but he told them he was eating with me. They all made a face when he told them my name. The funny thing is, I didn't know any of them, nor had I inspected any of their listings. They just have heard someone bashing me in their office.

Sorry for the thread drift. I hope it works out for you, and some sort of compromise can be worked out.
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:29 PM
 
Location: west coast
1,252 posts, read 2,316,700 times
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As a retired inspector, I can tell you that knob and tube wiring is considered antiquated. Chances are it may contain asbestos. Also, it's not rated for moisture standards.
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Old 06-20-2008, 02:38 AM
 
Location: northern california
380 posts, read 2,115,176 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barking Spider View Post
When I get up in the morning, I don't jump out of bed and shout, "I'm going to kill a couple deals today!". What I do say is: I'm going to go out there and do the best job I can, giving my clients as much information about the house they are thinking of buying, and covering myself so I don't get sued. I'm going to be honest, ethical and treat my clients like they are part of my family.

Many times when I am crawling out from under a house, I know I am about to make a bunch of people unhappy. My clients that wanted to buy the house, the sellers that wanted to sell the house, and both sets of Realtors that want to make a commission on the sale. So as I walk into the house, I know that I am about to have 4 - 6 or more people disappointed and MAD at me - just because I have bad news to tell them.

The other side of this is: 1. the is no perfect house, 2. ANYTHING can be fixed, and 3. just about anything can be worked out. Most inspectors will not answer the question, "Should I buy this house?", or tell someone NOT to buy the house. We are just giving information.
As a buyer whose inspection is tomorrow, I'm hoping we get someone like you. If I were a seller, I'd also want you because I know the buyers would trust what you had to say and feel confident in the final outcomes.
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:03 AM
 
150 posts, read 594,319 times
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Yes, Barking Spider, I know that it is in everyone's best interest to know the true condition of the house. And, of course, as a BUYER, I will look for the toughest inspector I can find! I really do appreciate the value of your profession. Just would have made our life much easier, as a seller, had we gotten "The Other Guy."

Yes, an apple is an apple and he was just calling it like he saw it. And the buyer DID pay him. HOWEVER, I wish he would have pointed out that some things on the report are TO BE EXPECTED in the type/age of home we have and are NOT EXCLUSIVE to our house. I wish there was a spot on the report where each thing could have been prioritized, like 1 = fix immediately. 5 = not a huge deal, fix at will. But, whatever, it is done.

Still have not heard from the potential buyer. But, we are looking ahead and have a plumber/electrician in mind ... we're gonna bring them in, give them the report, and have them go down the list fixing the relevant and/or simple items. Other things -- like our stair railing not being of correct height, openings around the railings being too wide, not having safety glass in our antique french doors, no dampers in the fireplace ... well, IMO, that's to be expected in an old house. And we won't be messing with those things.
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