Electrical panel issue in rental

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jerosen said:   MariahJ said:   ... without me being able to see it since I'm not in the area.

SO you don't live local to the property? Who runs it for you? DO you have a property manager?


We have a PM and a family member who does maintenance.

Kanosh said:   

OP's big mistake was expecting the city codes inspector to inspect the quality of the work. He even called the buildings department to complain! The building inspector's job is NOT to monitor the quality of work or the competence of the contractor or to weigh in on the best sites to place an electric meter. His job is simply to see that it is up to code. And believe me, you don't want to complain about a city buildings inspector signing off on your house. Would you prefer he had done the opposite, not sign off? Then you'd have a housing violation, be subject to fines, remediation notices, possible lien on your property, and be unable to legally rent the apartment at all until he came back, possibly months later.


The key part you are missing is that the city inspector met with the contractor at the rental house beforethe box was installed to approve of the location.

rent only to thin acrobatic people like the azn in oceans 11 who fit inside the cart and was wheeled into the vault.
make sure the new acrobatic tenant has ikea furniture that is easily disassembled to fit through the doorway and reassembled when they get it in.

sgogo said:   I agree with bobbybore and squeezer99... no reputable electrician should put a panel in that location without getting directed by the owner. You will probably be successful in getting the fire inspector to disallow it.

However... when they disallow it, you will also get a violation. This will probably require you to rectify the situation within x days or they revoke the certificate of occupancy. This means you will not be able to have tenant live there until its fixed. This is a hassle.

If you sue, will take a while... and if you fix it with some other elecrician to get it done quickly, you will have to rely on expert testimony that it was no good in the first place. Might not be worth it.

Personally, I would talk to the electrician who did the work and explain the issue... and the fact that you might have to sue, but do not want to, as long as you can come to some agreement on a reduced price to move the panel. He will most likely want to solve this without legal issues, so he may make you a deal.

Then, never ever leave anything up to the contractor in the future!

Good Luck!
SteveG
Agree. Fastest satisfactory solution is to inform the electrician that his work violated the egress code. Give him a chance to fix it, or you'll get someone else to do it and sue him for the cost. If he says no, proceed accordingly, and swiftly. It's been less than a year, so should be easy to sue him in small claims court (IANYL, and I have no idea what the statute of limitations is for something like this). Document the egress code, and the accurate measurements of what they originally did. Would be a good idea to do this now and send it to the electrician first. Good luck!

if you don't mind me asking, how much did you pay for the install?
sorry I could not answer your question

I did not read every post so maybe I missed it...but if you can not get the box moved...have you tried reversing the door? From the pic, it looks like quite a bit of usable entry is lost on the hinges. Seems to me that if it has to be lost, it can be lost behind the box that is in the way and will not be getting moved soon.

MariahJ said:   Kanosh said:   

OP's big mistake was expecting the city codes inspector to inspect the quality of the work. He even called the buildings department to complain! The building inspector's job is NOT to monitor the quality of work or the competence of the contractor or to weigh in on the best sites to place an electric meter. His job is simply to see that it is up to code. And believe me, you don't want to complain about a city buildings inspector signing off on your house. Would you prefer he had done the opposite, not sign off? Then you'd have a housing violation, be subject to fines, remediation notices, possible lien on your property, and be unable to legally rent the apartment at all until he came back, possibly months later.


The key part you are missing is that the city inspector met with the contractor at the rental house beforethe box was installed to approve of the location.


and you are missing that you should have had a rep there.

Mount a swinging panel like a door behind the electric panel . Attach the electric panel to this swinging panel .

During moving of large items , swing the whole panel
Out of the way

OP, I would contact the owner of the electrical company and talk with them.
There are two wrongs here.

You trusting them to pick a mounting location, and the location they chose.

If the owner is a reasonable man, he may relocate the panel for the cost of materials.
I would not go on the attack with codes and such, it may make him dig in and go on the defensive.

lottathought said:   I did not read every post so maybe I missed it...but if you can not get the box moved...have you tried reversing the door? From the pic, it looks like quite a bit of usable entry is lost on the hinges. Seems to me that if it has to be lost, it can be lost behind the box that is in the way and will not be getting moved soon.

Interesting. This would buy you a couple of inches OP (no pun intended).

Of course if the door/hinges will make the difference between the tenants being able to pass with furniture or not, you/someone could just pull the door off the hinges on moving day.

SUCKISSTAPLES said: Mount a swinging panel like a door behind the electric panel . Attach the electric panel to this swinging panel .

During moving of large items , swing the whole panel
Out of the way

While a great idea mechanically, I'm fairly sure this would not meet electrical code. I'm not an electrician or expert on code, by any means, but I do have some knowledge in this area and OP has 3 separate services on that panel, each probably 100 or 200 amps. I don't think they would permit those to be mounted in such a way as to allow them to move. If not explicitly forbidden by code, there's probably a requirement for the cabling to be secured to the wall every so many inches from the point of service entrance, which would prevent her from creating enough slack to allow for the panel to swing. This is just my guess. I could be wrong, but would be very surprised.

Edited to add, for my 2 cents I would recommend paying, one way or another, to have it done right, i.e. move the electrical service panel. As others have recommended, I would start by (re)approaching the previous electrician in a non-threatening way, appealing to his or her desire to provide decent service for what you both hope will be a repeat customer.

You mentioned you have family in the area, how many properties, or better yet individual housing units (rental or otherwise), do you all collectively own in the area? If it sounds like a significant number, let them know it and tell them you would like to continue using them as your go-to source for electrical work if you guys can come to a reasonable arrangement to resolve this. Only if they act like a dick, let them know you'll never use them again and will recommend that your friends and family do the same. Plus, you plan to post your experiences on Google reviews, Angie's List, whatever. Then hire someone to do it right.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Mount a swinging panel like a door behind the electric panel . Attach the electric panel to this swinging panel .

During moving of large items , swing the whole panel
Out of the way


(Points and laughs.....)


rotated (83.12kB)
Disclaimer
Should have rotated pics before posting.

tonysavealot said:   Should have rotated pics before posting.Ah, that helps!

OP - Is that brown door a storm door (spring at the top and no threshold at the bottom)? How about remove the door entirely and widen that entrance into a wide alcove? From the pictures, it is really hard to tell.

SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Mount a swinging panel like a door behind the electric panel . Attach the electric panel to this swinging panel .

During moving of large items , swing the whole panel
Out of the way



That was a joke, right? I can just see someone "swinging" a panel that has 100 AMP service (4 gauge, IIRC) out of the way. On the second attempt (maybe the first), watch the wires break and fire ensue. What a concept, OP, be sure and over-insure first, burn the place, problem solved.

dcwilbur said:    How about remove the door entirely and widen that entrance into a wide alcove? From the pictures, it is really hard to tell. Yeah, so the drifts of snow can collect and the kids can go tubing out the front entry, lol... just having a little fun.

It does look much different when the picture is rotated. I hate to tell you, but IMO this meets code as far as a fire exit. I am sure if you measure on a diagonal from the corner of the panel to the door there is 36 inches, or whatever is needed for a residential fire escape. Once the person is out of the house there is obvious room for them to keep going and escape.

Now if you had a wall along that sidewalk this would be a different story.

Can the door frame and door be moved instead (hard to tell fromthe picture)? that may be cheaper than touching that panel.

MariahJ said:   
The key part you are missing is that the city inspector met with the contractor at the rental house beforethe box was installed to approve of the location.


Mariah,
I've done a little construction. Both on the owner side and on the contractor side. Once the city approves, even if the inspector is wrong, you're kinda screwed.
You can talk to the inspector, but once the approval is signed off, there isn't much that can be done.

I havent seen the entire wall face upon which the panel is mounted to, but it might be easier to do one of the following...

1. Flip the panel to the other side of whatever junction is on the left side of it, or relocate entirely.
2. Replace/widen the doorway.

If you accepted the work sight unseen, good luck dragging him into court especially when you are not nearby (I am guessing you
are out of state). I dont know what the statute of limitations is, but you could go to small claims and get the court to order him
to fix the issue... if the trouble is worth it to you.

I do agree with others that the issue here is not necessarily electrical code, it is that of entry/egress. Whatever inspector he had out there
did not consider the issue...

I wouldnt be angry at your tenant, its not really that persons fault. But you need to decide what you want to do... you cant really have
the panel that way if you want to maximize the attractiveness/accessibility to future tenants. You are probably going to have to get
#1 or #2 done and then go after the electrician and inspector in small claims if you want the money back. Note that if you do wish to
pursue it in court, you should probably undertake option #1. Either way, it is a cost of doing rental, so its probably deductible.

Mickie3 said:   SUCKISSTAPLES said:   Mount a swinging panel like a door behind the electric panel . Attach the electric panel to this swinging panel .

During moving of large items , swing the whole panel
Out of the way



That was a joke, right? I can just see someone "swinging" a panel that has 100 AMP service (4 gauge, IIRC) out of the way. On the second attempt (maybe the first), watch the wires break and fire ensue. What a concept, OP, be sure and over-insure first, burn the place, problem solved.


And that is 4/0 cable, not the "little" (by comparison) #4 AWG wire. They're probably about as wide as your thumb and there should be at least 3 of them.

Yes, it would be quite a show if someone managed to short these out while whipping them around on a fence gate.

But people have been known to do some stupid things.

dbond79 said:   But people have been known to do some stupid things.

Yikes! I cringe just looking at that picture. Also, it looks like European plugs. 220V + water FTW!

Somehow makes me think of Eastern Europe. Wouldn't surprise me to find that they had stuck a penny in the fuse box as well - nothing like hooking the mains directly into your pool!

Perhaps they're trying to separate Hydrogen to cause an explosion and don't realize that electrolysis is only effective in DC current...

Here's the thing, you can attempt to haggle with the city about it possibly violating fire code, but in the end you may end up wasting more money that it would take you to just have a good electrician come out and fix it. Your best bet is to spend a little time looking at what a previous poster pointed out to you and attempt to pursue that avenue. Otherwise, might be best to just have another electrician or two come out and quote you on moving the meters again. At least see how much this is going to cost before you engage in a war with the city and the other electrician.

Check your code. The panel may just need to be mounted on a fixed surface. If you don't have a wall to mount it to you might be able to get a GC to drop a couple posts in the ground and build something that will meet code cheaper than modifying the existing building.

MariahJ said:   Kanosh said:   

OP's big mistake was expecting the city codes inspector to inspect the quality of the work. He even called the buildings department to complain! The building inspector's job is NOT to monitor the quality of work or the competence of the contractor or to weigh in on the best sites to place an electric meter. His job is simply to see that it is up to code. And believe me, you don't want to complain about a city buildings inspector signing off on your house. Would you prefer he had done the opposite, not sign off? Then you'd have a housing violation, be subject to fines, remediation notices, possible lien on your property, and be unable to legally rent the apartment at all until he came back, possibly months later.


The key part you are missing is that the city inspector met with the contractor at the rental house beforethe box was installed to approve of the location.


Yes, and the inspector approved of the location -- in other words, he determined that the location would not violate state electrical codes. That's all. Nothing else. The code inspector's job is NOT to figure out for you which location would be most convenient/logical/appropriate to your intended use or even to discuss these issues with the electrician. That's your job, which you obviously didn't do.

Be warned -- rental property ownership involves a series of events and issues like this. If you have no intention of returning to the property, why not sell it? Long distance ownership can be a real hassle if esp. if you don't have a great property manager in place.

Assuming the wires come into that location, you may be able to remote-mount the meters. I believe they're called transducers, don't remember though, but essentially they work like the clamp meters that check amperage flow through. The utility can put the clamps on the lines, and put compatible meters outside or somewhere that's not in the way.
This is also the way many commercial operations are, as you can't get lines feeding 600+ Amps exactly to where the meter is and then bend them around, so in this case you just have a pair of 14 gauge wires going to the meter.

You get the job done with an electrician and let him go without checking his work. What do you expect? You made a mistake and you will have to pay for it unfortunately. It may be cheaper to install a new wider door if possible. Asking another electrician to undo/redo another electrician's fault will perhaps cause you more trouble.

My neighbor had his meter box wiring short in the back and catch fire shooting fire out of the meter box. That would not be my apartment of choice. Having that kind of work done without having a competent person there to approve location is an expensive mistake, the electrician did it the easiest way for him. Start by talking peacefully with no threats and keep bugging him until he budges. Don't resort to legal until you try reasonable. Think how that pic looks to renters...your apartment is devalued.

jcharger said:   My neighbor had his meter box wiring short in the back and catch fire shooting fire out of the meter box. That would not be my apartment of choice. Having that kind of work done without having a competent person there to approve location is an expensive mistake, the electrician did it the easiest way for him. Start by talking peacefully with no threats and keep bugging him until he budges. Don't resort to legal until you try reasonable. Think how that pic looks to renters...your apartment is devalued.

You don't seriously think that the electrician is going to move it for free, do you? OP was charged for moving box to cheapest location, and should expect to pay the incremental charges, at a minimum. Its OP's fault that no rep of theirs was there to point out desired location, theirs and theirs alone. Wanting to blame someone else for your mistakes does not mean its theirs and really doubt a competent attorney would do more than chuckle if asked about this case, unless they need the cash and want the OP to pay them, in addition to another electrician's bill.

I think the op will have to pay for the work and if he threatens he will not get any help or even a price break. He can still certainly ask the electrician what he is willing to do and how much. In this world of digital cameras take a picture or expect things to go wrong without proper planning. What is the expression measure twice cut once?

stopsignhank said:   It does look much different when the picture is rotated. I hate to tell you, but IMO this meets code as far as a fire exit. I am sure if you measure on a diagonal from the corner of the panel to the door there is 36 inches, or whatever is needed for a residential fire escape. Once the person is out of the house there is obvious room for them to keep going and escape.

Now if you had a wall along that sidewalk this would be a different story.


I disagree that it is a viable egress.

I am stuck



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