What I'm Seeing Now

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Let Me Translate, Well, As Much As I Can

This is a brand new condo in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the area - Alexandria VA.  My client is a single woman, in her 60s, from the Middle East.  She works where I was born (George Washington University) and speaks English like a native.

One thing she was interested in was the electric panel box.  She needed instruction. She did not understand how to turn things on and off and what each "button thing" meant. 

I assured her it was all very easy to understand, and that I would demonstrate as we looked at the box.

She, the Realtor and myself all crowded around the electric panel box.  I realized I spoke too soon!  It is written in pencil (not recommended).  I then spent almost an hour going back and forth between the box and various places in the condo.

LET ME TRANSLATE, WELL, AS MUCH AS I CAN.

Some are obvious, like #3 and #4.

#5 - gIf n. 1 - this turned out to be one of the two kitchen circuits.  Kitchens come with at least two 20amp circuits.  Each is controlled by a GFI receptacle for shock protection.  I think this is an attempt at identifying one of those two GFI circuits.

#6 - 9 - these are clear, the disposal, range (gas), microwave, washer.

#10 - londry - this I figured out to be the bathroom.  In the bathroom is a small indent in the wall housing a stack-able washer/dryer.  It turns out everything in the bathroom that does NOT have to do with the washer/dryer, or "laundry."  This includes the GFI receptacle.

#11 - bathroom - as there is only one bathroom, I never did figure out what this did.  I even checked every branch circuit receptacle on the walls.

#12 - livin room - the living room receptacles.

#13 - ligth Reeseclic - I honestly have no idea.  I can't translate the word, or find what it turned off.  Is he trying to say "receptacle?"  If so, it turned nothing off.

#16 - waTer heaTer - the water heater is gas, so I don't know what he is indicating here.

#17 - spey pire - again, I could not translate the words, or find what it services.

#18 - gIf N. 2 - this was the second kitchen circuit!  It is GFI protected and that second one, in fact, turned off!

Now, imagine how educated my client felt after that exercise!  DO YOU THINK SHE HAD ANY BETTER IDEA OF WHAT THE PANEL BOX DOES AND WHAT THOSE "BUTTON THINGS" CONTROL?

She understood the idea, but that is not much help.  Obviously someone who understands how to label a panel box and can write and spell the real English words needs to completely redo this box!

As an aside, the supervisor stopped by and of course my client wanted to show him the mystery electric panel box.  It turned out he did not have much more of a grasp of the language than did the "electrician."

Calmly, and in his language, I began to explain that someone needs to figure out and label this box in a way that people will understand.  When they found out that I could communicate to him, they wanted me to broach the other things we found - relative to receptacle placement, plumbing traps, odd ceramic tile, a shower drain that sends all the water to a corner - well, you get it, a VARIETY of things!

IN THIS AREA, THIS IS WHERE WE ARE IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE CONGREGATION!  THIS IS WHERE WE ARE.

My recommendation:  just because someone is "licensed" in a trade, does not mean that he is competent or capable in that trade.  Electricity is too important to leave to chance.  The electric panel box is too important to leave to a lack of understanding.  This box needs to be corrected, clear and labeled in pen.  New construction should always be inspected by an independent, licensed and competent home inspector.  Imagine inheriting that panel box!


 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 24 commentsJay Markanich • September 23 2012 05:33AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay..... that's frightening..... I wonder how many electrical violations were found..... I wonder how he passed the test without a mastery of the english language....

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) about 6 years ago

Barbara - I am more bothered by this than you know.  For years I have been getting fed up, not only with incompetent and really stupid work, but that it is let go as "acceptable."  This is NOT acceptable.

I can tell you off line how these jokers pass the tests.  It is what you think it is.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay, Electricity is one that must be done right or problem could be fatal. Getting it fixed right at the beginning is the right approach.

Posted by Debbie Reynolds, Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent (Platinum Properties) about 6 years ago

That is just unacceptable.  Completely unacceptable.  I hope that they have someone competent redo the labelling.

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) about 6 years ago

Debbie - our previous home had the panel box labeled things like, "Martha's room," and "freezer."  That was easy to figure out.  This is impossible and a buyer of a new home should NOT have to figure it out.

They are going to have to call a private company Kathryn, owned and operated by someone who knows what he's doing.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

OMG...it looks like someone was drunk when they did this.  I hope they can fix this for her (and they should be required to).

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 6 years ago

Debbie - I think this was a sincere effort and the best that he could do.  This is a problem...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Good for her to try and understand....but it would seem no matter what the native language, the labels were foreign.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

Like you, we see panel boxes like this frequently.  Licensed professionals are not created equal.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) about 6 years ago

Hi Jay.  What a nigjtmare to try to figure out!  I'm glad your customer asked the question that started this investigation.  How very dangerous!

Posted by Linda Blumenthal, NYS Licenced Real Estate Salesperson, CBR (Hampton Crossing - Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - 631-466-4087) about 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

You are as confused as me on this one. LOL

It's a good thing to "clearly mark the panel box with the proper breaker designation".

If this is not done correctly, then we are shooting in the dark looking for a shooting star to emerge.

Have a great day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 6 years ago

S&D - the labels are Martian.  I need to take a couple of classes.

Sharon - that is true.  The license means different things to different people, and every profession has its incompetents.

Linda - usually the box is a very easy explanation.  Not so here!

Clint - and some of them, labeled or not, didn't do anything I could see!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

There is a need for a well labeled electrical panel, but it is so rare to have an updated, complete labeling of all the circuits. Even if the labeling was understandable and labeled, I'd test to make sure. I hate to say it but I think that remodel contractors are the worst at updated the labels. Things get added and moved within the panel but the labels are not changed.

Thanks Jay!

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) about 6 years ago

Jay, The new homes I've sold this year have been labeled very well. The pre-owned and remodeled homes have the most deficient labeling of electrical boxes. Takes a lot of work to figure out what switch works what device/outlet.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) about 6 years ago

Jay - Electrical panels are a frightening mystery to many homeowners, and proper labeling can go a long way toward solving that mystery. Unfortunately, the contractor on your job exhibited neither competence nor professionalism.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 6 years ago

Tom - on new construction inspections they don't want me fooling with breakers or even taking the cover off the box.  In this case I broke that rule.

Wayne - and it shouldn't have to!  There should be no hunting or guessing!

John - this woman's husband always took care of those things and she truly did not understand the box.  Now, later in life, it is necessary as she is alone.  This was not the best "first" box!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Morning Jay opening mouth before looking over the situation.  Glad to see things worked out well.  Enjoy the day

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 6 years ago

I don't know that James!  I left my client with the unit's managers!  Who knows if this has been rectified!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Good morning Jay and WOW!!! Thinking someone needs to brush up on there English skills before moving on. Frustrating how these people even pass the State exams.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) about 6 years ago

They pass them with help Randy.  ANOTHER thing that bothers me greatly!  If we were to move to Iceland they give you 18 months to learn the language enough to pass a written and verbal test.  If you don't pass, you don't stay!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I've seen the misspelling way too often or no labels at all, which I feel is worse. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 6 years ago

I had a box today half labeled Jim.  This box is frightening - I can't figure out very much of it, or what some of the breakers even control.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

i thenk thay hda sum spllein ishoos.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 6 years ago

Reubs - amazing isn't it?  This lady doesn't understand boxes to begin with and this is her introduction?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

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