Home Improvement

GFCI vs physically grounded circuit.

By May 8, 2019 7 Comments

I’m under contract selling my home, and during the inspection it was discovered that my outlets were not grounded, and the buyer requested I fix this. I thought they meant to bring it up to code by installing GFCI outlets or breakers, so I agreed. It turns out that they want the entire house rewired to have the outlets physically grounded. It’s the difference between a $100 repair and a $10,000 repair, and I don’t think it’s necessary. If the more expensive option were actually required, I’d probably go ahead and do it, but I view this as a luxury.

I’ve explained this to the buyer and offered to cover $1500 of closing costs because of the misunderstanding, and because that is roughly what I expect to spend putting the house back on the market. I don’t want to cancel the sale, but I think it is unreasonable to expect me to spend 5 figures when a few hundred bucks will satisfy the NEC and local codes.


Am I being unreasonable?

The buyer’s threatening to sue if I don’t make the repairs. I’m going to cave and pay for the full grounding. So I’m out the money, and now I’m not sure if I’ll have the down payment for my new home because of the difference. Maybe I should post this in r/tifu.

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  • jehovahs_waitress says:

    What exactly have you agreed to do?

  • AmateurSparky says:

    First things first, what did the inspection note, and how did the buyer notify you they wanted it fixed? Was it put into writing anywhere, and if it’s in writing, what **exactly** does it say?

    Code-wise, you are under no obligation to provide grounded outlets. As you said GFCI is perfectly legal and acceptable per NEC.

    Regardless of code though, if they wrote that ungrounded outlets were found, and you agreed to ground them as a fix, then they could potentially come after you.

    If it’s not in writing anywhere and it was a miscommunication about grounding vs making them 3-prong, then you are by no means being unreasonable about this.

  • EntireOrchid says:

    This isn’t a code compliance issue at all, it’s a negotiation issue. You probably should not have formally agreed to a contract that you did not understand.

    Talk to your realtor or real estate attorney about what your options are.

  • drmctesticles says:

    Do you have metal electric boxes with armored cable or is it all romex and plastic boxes? If they’re metal boxes you can just ground the existing outlets to the boxes.

  • Zcrumb says:

    You may need to lawyer up. Listing agreements often have a best or reasonable offer clause. If you back out you may still have to pay the listing agent their percentage. I made a point of having it removed from my listing agreement.

  • IconOnMyWall says:

    Might be worth posting this on r/legaladvice as well. FWIW, I would have had the same understanding of ground.

  • epicConsultingThrow says:

    Are you working with a real estate agent? I would talk to them first.

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