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Forum topic by MedicKen posted 12-23-2010 04:16 PM 3249 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1615 posts in 3485 days

12-23-2010 04:16 PM

My wife and I bought a new home 6 years ago and after 6 months of construction we were ready to move in. The home is your cookie cutter tract home in a nice area of town. It is not the Taj Majal nor is it a single wide trailer with polyester curtains and the redwood deck either.

We decided that we would have the home built with contractor grade ccabinets, carpet, tile etc and live with that for a few years while the kids were young and the dogs were small. Well, the kids have grown up and left the nest and it is now time to remove some of the builder grade amenities.

The first of the upgrades is the flooring. The chocolate brown carpet is gone in favor of travertine and hardwood. After talking it over with the LOML we choose to replace the vanity and sink in the second bathroom. I removed the vanity, sink, tile and mirror. The mirror was glued and with a little persuasion and luck it came off but did damage the drywall in the process. Next I turned my attention to the crappy light fixture above the mirror. I removed the outer cover on the light bar and noticed the wiring looked funny. I did not see an electrical box in the wall behind the fixture. I figured the drywall crew covered it. The electrician mounted the bar by screwing through the light base plate into the wall studs, one thing for sure the light was not going to fall off the wall. I cut the power, removed the wire nuts and 4 drywall screws tha held the light in place. To my surprise this is what I found.

I about fell off the step stool!! The electrician did not install a box at all and during the rough in ran the wiring in the same stud bay with the water lines for the vanity!! Are you serious!! To make matters worse the wiring was run over the top of the stud to the light. They did not drill a hole in the stud for the wiring and to make problems worse when the light was installed a mounting screw pierced the romex. What a *&^#$ moron!!

While contemplating how I was going to handle this repair I took a short break and considered calling the city and builder to voice my displeasure. I thought it was better to leave well enough alone and just fix it. Fixing would require a larger hole so I set about cutting the drywall. At about half way through the cut between the studs I fit some resistance, so I stopped. Its the vent pipe for the sink, right in the middle of the bay! I finished cutting and removed the drywall and I now know why it was wired like it was. The plummer did his rough in before the electrician and ran the vent for the sink right smack in the middle of the studs. There is not enough room to mount a box. My next course of action is to move the vent and gain some room for a box. Off to the bog box store, again!!

I cut the vent and installed a new electrical box, drilled a hole through the stud and mounted a nail plate over the stud to protect the wiring. With a few short pieces of ABS and some 45’s moved the vent out of the way.

Seeing crappy work like this makes me wonder how the rest of my house is wired? I am just glad we didnt have a fire.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

16 replies so far

View TheDane's profile


5441 posts in 3686 days

#1 posted 12-23-2010 05:01 PM

MedicKen—I can sure empathize on this one.

20+ years ago, we bought a 7 year old house in Green Bay that had been the ‘builder’s model’ for a housing development. You would think that, being the ‘model’ and also the developer’s office, extra care would have been taken to do things right. Wrong!

We lived there for 6 years and were continually stumbling onto construction shortcuts and screw-ups. All of the outlets in one bedroom were wired like your fixture … the receptacles were held in the drywall with plastic anchors and drywall screws. None of the interior door casings were shimmed, and the door trim was just stapled on so when one of my daughters would throw a temper tantrum and slam a door (anybody else have teenage girls?), the door casings would literally come right out of the wall. When they installed the windows, they didn’t bother to flash or caulk a window on the north side of the lower level, so when water would sheet off the garage roof, it would run down behind the siding, which rotted out some of the framing and the window casing.

The worst one, though, was the way they installed the roofing around the chimney. This house had two fireplaces and a double chimney (no chimney covers!). A year or so after we moved in, we noticed some ceiling stains above the fireplace in the living room, so up to the rood I go, and, lo and behold, discovered the problem right away. There was gap about an inch wide around three sides of the chimney … no flashing, no caulk, no nothing! I called in a roofer (I don’t do plumbing or roofing), and when they peeled back the shingles, the sheathing was rotten and the fiberglass insulation over pretty much the whole living room was soaking wet.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View woodcrafter47's profile


352 posts in 3128 days

#2 posted 12-24-2010 01:16 AM

YIKES ,Glad you found it and fixes it correctly

-- In His service ,Richard

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4148 days

#3 posted 12-24-2010 01:20 AM

Please call your city, the builder, and maybe even a good real estate lawyer, but definitely the first two, and take the information you found to them.

Shut down shoddy building practices like this and you might very well save a life.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3020 days

#4 posted 12-24-2010 01:48 AM

I have completed my Home Inspection qualifications. Today I no longer do Inspections, partly because I see this kind of work a lot. IF I do not word my inspection results perfectly, I GET sued ! NEEDLESS to say I QUIT. I don’t think I should have to be accountable for other trades stupitidy like this !The way the building industry has gone with sub-trades after sub-trades coming in, NO ONE wants to be accountable. The Home Owner is always left holding the bag ! In your case the electrician didn’t want to MAKE the extra time to do it RIGHT. Do it quick, let the next guy cover it up !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2984 days

#5 posted 12-24-2010 02:03 AM

That must be the guy that wired my house! Running the wiring over the stud tells me someone left off the circuit for the light and this was the easiest way after the sheetrock was up.
I met a contractor that refuses to do a remodel. He stated that all you do is correct other people’s mistakes.
BTW, how did it pass the electrical inspection?

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3720 days

#6 posted 12-24-2010 02:11 AM

You’re still not right you electrical box should be on the other side of the stud completely away from the pipe even if it is a vent, a vent pipe gets humidity and does not mix with electricity.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3746 days

#7 posted 12-24-2010 04:50 AM

I feel your pain! My house’s previous owner was an electrical engineer. You would think that would mean that the electrical system was done right… WRONG! It is to the point where I am afraid to open up any more outlets or walls.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3074 days

#8 posted 12-24-2010 09:23 AM


You were lucky. I was luckier. My house was built in ‘78 and we bought it in ‘82. Fairly new house, no problem, right? About 10 years later, we deciided to remodel the family room as the girls were approaching teeny-boper stage, finished it up, they had a party to celebrate, and sudenly everyone was holering about smoke. Long story short, I ripped out drywall where we were seeing smoke, and found a wire with a nail driven through it. It had taken all that for (it was galvanized, for some reason and it had just nicked the insulation on the black wire) it to begin arcing. The stud was charred, but no further damage. Inspections are no guarantee anymore. Stay safe, everyone.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View EEngineer's profile


1103 posts in 3636 days

#9 posted 12-24-2010 03:32 PM

Yeah, Larry, Curly and Moe did a lot of work on my house, too.

My favorite story involves the shop. Just after I bought my house, I bought a used table saw to help in fixing her up. It was an old Craftsman 8” with only a 1/2 or 3/4 HP motor. While cutting larger pieces, the saw just kept bogging down. After one particularly trying session (I blew the fuse twice), I went into the basement to change the fuse and smelled smoke. I found a junction box that goes out to the garage smoking! When I tore it apart, I found wires that had been twisted together and covered with 1/2” of electrician’s tape. There was enough resistance in the connection that it damned near set the electrical tape on fire! A little cleanup and some wire nuts and I thought I had a new saw!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2803 days

#10 posted 12-24-2010 03:55 PM

Moved into our first house here in ‘77, built in 1954, so it’d had a fuse box. The previous owner got a “buddy” to help and they put in a breaker box Our first winter and I’m in my shop, just past the oil furnace and I can hear a crackling type noise.. As the
kids that had lived in tyhe place before had thrown all sorts of things down the floor vents I didn’t think too much about that..until I walked by the furnace to talk to my wife at the other end of the basement..
OOOhh.. nice pretty blue sparks and things from the BX cable where it went into the furnace AND at the junction box on the wall.
Turns out the two electrical wizzards couldn’t figure how to get the neutral wire to fit into the small breaker they left it out.. The armoured cable was live.. took a while to get a pro in, furnace shut down in minus 20 weather..
all back on with the internal temp in the house down to 34 degrees F and the furnace ran for three days non stop catching up.. Not always the contractors and trades that bite !

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View CampD's profile


1674 posts in 3509 days

#11 posted 12-24-2010 04:31 PM

90% of the time when a house is built, the lighting is an allowance item and are only decided upon and purchased after the house is sheetrocked. Now, bath lighting, especially vanities have 1000s of possible combinations and being such, no electrician I know puts a box in during rough-in, just leaving the wire coiled in the general area passes rough electrical inspection. Almost all vanity lights pass code as their own box and as long as the wire is stapled (strain relieved) with-in 12” passes code.
Now, as far as the wire over the stud, yes that is a definite code violation and as such is suppose to have a nailer (metal plate) over-it. I see this most of the time when a house has been remodeled and removing an entire wall just to add one circuit would be way to cost prohibitive. By the way, its legal as long as there is a nailer covering it.
And finally, Building codes specify that you are not to have a vent pipe and a circuit box in the same stud bay, SO, your fix, in itself is a code violation.

-- Doug...

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4110 days

#12 posted 12-24-2010 04:38 PM

We had a pantry that happened to be underneath the bathroom drain (as we found out).
Five of so years after we’d moved in we noticed some mildew in the pantry. Washed it down and shortly it was back.
The builder had screwed the supports for the shelves into the walls. Only thing is, on one of the walls (fortunately the outside wall) the screws went into the bathroom drain pipe.
After about 5 years the screws had rusted away leaving the shelf unsupported and the holes that were the source of the mildew/mold.
We tore out the walls, rerouted the drain pipe down an inside wall and made a bigger pantry.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3485 days

#13 posted 12-24-2010 04:55 PM

CampD…...I am aware of the box and vent being an issue. But tell me this, if I were to install it on the other side of the stud there are the supply lines for the vanity and toilet. I feel this is the lesser of 2 evils.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View CampD's profile


1674 posts in 3509 days

#14 posted 12-24-2010 05:01 PM

As I mentioned, a vanity light can act as its own box.

“Edit after gary’s post”
Yes, The light fixture has to have a metal back plate (box) and most (I say most, as Home Cheapo’s may not)and bath vanity lights are designed with the location that they will be installed in in mind. Wall Sconces are different item and the backer is left off to keep the cost down and in that case a pancake box is the most likely choice for mounting.

Now, back to the OP. I see in the pick that the light bar that was in place covered both stud bays and (I will blame the electrician, or who ever installed the light bar) that they could have easily accessed the light without crossing over the stud, which is the only violation.

And before you call the electrician a moron, your fix has numerous code violations!

-- Doug...

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 2853 days

#15 posted 12-24-2010 05:14 PM

Having been in new construction and remodeling, both commercial and residential, what you have found and the other LJ’s stories are only the tip of the iceberg. I find code violations all the time in new homes as well as old.
As canadianchips mentioned, even home inspections are no where near perfect. It would be impossible, from a time stand point, to be able to dismantle every fixture to check behind it. Unfortunately these poor work practices, as hazardous as they may be, are not discovered until a renovation is in progress.
As far as I know it depends on the electrical fixture being mounted on whether a box is required or not. If the fixture, such as a bar light, is enclosed then the wire can be connected inside the fixture. If it has an open back such as a sconce, then a box is required. As far as crossing over the stud, that was just plain poor planning on the fixture placement and somebody screwed up royally by crossing over the surface of that stud. Wiring passing through a framing member needs to be at least 1 1/4” from the edge of the framing.
I’m glad you did discover this poor work so it can be corrected properly and avoid a future disaster. It’s depressing when you find it but relieving when it’s repaired.
I don’t even want to get started about inspectors that don’t do their jobs….eehhhh

Edit: As CampD mentioned about the stud bay violation, this is just poor planning on the plumbers part. A good plumber would not run his vent by the center of the vanity location. They would realize a fixture may be located there. Also falls on the builder because he should be orchestrating alll of this.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

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