What I'm Seeing Now


So, Is This Enough Panel Box Clearance?

So, is this enough panel box clearance?

Looking at a basement remodel, there were many things to evaluate.

The quality of the work was not impressive.  The framing was all 2x3".  The nails were undersized.  The work appeared sloppy and thoughtless.

I was told there were permits, though none were posted on the windows, as required.

And  this is just one thing.

The electric panel box precedes this remodel.

This framing is intended to enclose it.

There are rules, minimum standards, which some call "codes," which apply to the enclosure of such panel boxes.

The rules are clear.

The rules are to allow easy access.

The rules are to provide good visibility once the panel box is entered.

The rules are minimum standards.

Interestingly, the rules even come with a diagram!

The diagram is so that not only can you read the rules, but see exactly what they mean!

This works even if you don't read!

The footnotes are labeled so the written rules explain certain points in the diagram!  This is so clearances can be easily determined.  The clearances are even described in millimeters so no confusion can result as to which tape measure you use!

Easy, peasy.  Right?

Look at the photo above.

Are the rules obeyed?

The footnotes say this:

a.  refers to the equipment height, which is fine here, and precedes this remodel.

b.  says the opening should be 6'6" high.  The opening in the photo above is about 5'10". 

c.  the closet should not be for storage.  Perhaps so here.

d.  the panel board should not be in bathrooms, clothes closets, etc.  That is fine here as the panel box precedes the remodel.

e.  says the space needs artificial light.  The nearest light bulb here is 10' away, and in the ceiling, and off to the side.

So, is this enough panel box clearance?

My recommendation:  all I can do is observe and report.  All I can do is notify the homeowner.  There is nothing in my power to change anything here.  This will go where it goes.  I noticed the wondrous 2x3" framing and blocked panel box as soon as I entered the basement, and just sighed.  Another remodel, another unimpressive job.  What can I say?  SSDD - Same Stuff, Different Day.  So to speak.




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • August 22 2015 03:35AM


Good morning Jay.  So sad what some people will do and pay for.  Putting peoples life's and safety in jeopardy is not a good thing.  

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich when I read the title, I hesitated for a moment before I opened the post, and I thought about the graphic that I'd be seeing.... I could never have guessed it would look like that!!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) almost 5 years ago

Hard to believe that anyone could get a job and be doing work this sloppy. Hate to think what will be needed to ever open this panel box if the wall is put in

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC (Keller Williams Capital Properties) almost 5 years ago

Jay Markanich Clearly there is a Rube Goldberg hanging out in that home. Someone please take away that man's hammer!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) almost 5 years ago

James - and this remodel is being done to get the house more ready for sale!

Barbara - let this be a firm lesson - NEVER hesitate in opening one of my posts.

Says he, with a wink.

The wall will be put in Lise!  Part of the final problem!

S&N - I think Rube had some creativity and brains.  But yes to the hammer.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

But if they put sheet rock over it; it will be out of sight and mind!

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) almost 5 years ago

They'll try all they can to get away with anything.  Apparently with other inspectors this has passed before so they're probably not so thrilled that you stepped in.

Posted by Chris and Dick Dovorany, Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty ( Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida) almost 5 years ago

They will never get that front panel off after they put up the drywall, the opening is lower than the top set of panel screws...lol, looks like Uncle Bob dropped by to give them a hand!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 5 years ago

Jay, to this remodel job the verdict is clear,"guilty as charged"! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) almost 5 years ago

That is the key to the trick Raymond.  Drywall covers a multitude of sins.

C&D - that is true.  Not the sugar coater, I am certain to mention it!

Not only is it tight, Fred, it is difficult to handle the door once the screws are removed.  And dangerous.

Wayne - they are in this case!  Thank you, Your Honor.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Jay, I needed a laugh today. 

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) almost 5 years ago

Happy to provide one Stephen.  When I saw this I was not too happy for my client.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

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