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Topic by DannyBoy posted 09-26-2008 03:49 PM 4846 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 5414 days

09-26-2008 03:49 PM

Topic tags/keywords: living room insulation electrical parts remodeling

My wife and I just began a project to rewire the house. We are taking it in stages and one of the goals was to tear out the wall board in the living room, re-insulate, and rewire all in one project. Step one was getting an electrician to replace the old box with a new one that had more available power and breaker space. That we got done this week. The second step is to tear out the wall board in the living room which we started last night.

This is where I’m flabbergasted. My home apparently was not built by a contractor with a brain (correct me if I’m wrong here). Before I go into what I discovered behind the wall board, let me first inform you of the $7,500 that my wife and I paid to replace a sewer line that was running up hill when we moved in (and no, not just a small amount from settling).

When we busted the first set of holes in the wall, we discovered something crazy. There was NO INSULATION!!! This is the outside wall. No insulation. What the hell?

Then, I get further down the wall towards the floor and find an electrical wire (the original 2 wire with no ground; typical for this era) traveling diagonally from about four feet high through three studs down to the outlet. I’m not an expert electrician, but I would think that even in the 1960s (when the house was built) they would have been violating code with that.

So, I am very glad to be doing this work on the house, though I am very upset to find this out. Does anyone know if there is a statute of limitations on suing a builder? Not that I really think I could find out who built or that they are still in existence, but I would love to take a run at them with this!!!

~Danny Boy

View PaBull's profile


694 posts in 5480 days

09-26-2008 04:32 PM

Very sorry to hear this Danny, these contractors should not be in business!

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 5532 days

09-26-2008 09:31 PM

A quick web surf reveals that the statute of limitations for such things seems to be a few years, depending on your location. However, my impression is also that your experience isn’t all that unusual, and the contractors I’ve talked to have done nothing to reassure me. Before dealing with anyone who’ll be doing work on your house it’s good to ask ‘em a few questions about code and building practices, one that most I’ve talked to fail is “what side of the wall does the vapor barrier go on?”

And I learned that as a basic “how competent are they” question from three decades ago when I was growing up.

While we’d all like to think that building codes are making us safer, and they probably are, compared what what we expect of them the only thing they really do is provide a tool for contractors to maintain a monopoly and keep out honest competition. Further, given that almost anything will stand up for the three or four years it takes to get past the statute of limitations, as a contractor or builder there’s not really any down-side to not following code if you can get past the inspector or the inspector doesn’t know any better.

Having said that, going diagonally between studs seems horrific, but as long as the wire is secured within 12” of the box and at less than 42” intervals, and the holes through the studs are more than 1¼ from the face of the framing, that may be up to code. I’ve had some discussions with my local building inspectors that give me the complete heebie-jeebies.

And, depending on where you live I could find it completely believable that you’d have no insulation in houses built pre 1970s. Heck, I’ve been in houses in Tennessee which had radiant electric heat in the ceiling, hugely wasteful, and at best leave a thermocline at about waist level, but at some point the TVA was pitching this as a good thing.

For reference, I’m just a recent purchaser of a late 1940s cottage who’s undertaking turning it into the house we want to live in, I’m not someone who makes his living doing this stuff, and from my experience with the licensed contractors who’ve done stuff for us so far, I’m not sure that doing it all myself takes any less time (‘cause these guys really need competent supervision), and I know that I’ll do it better, so as long as I can afford the time and energy to do my own repairs and construction I will.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View Catspaw's profile


35 posts in 5516 days

09-26-2008 11:17 PM

As far as I know there is no code against running a wire at an angle. You should be able to run a wire at any direction and as stated above as long as it’s in the middle of the cavity it doesn’t make any difference. If some one ran the wire level right at the average height of where people hang pictures, would that make it unsafe ( nail through the wire?)? No. There are wires in the walls and if you drive a long enough nail in it there will be a chance you put it right through a wire.

I am no longer surprised at anything I see in what’s being built or has been built.

Every B.I. has his or her special item….the thing “they” always bust. I’ve seen them walk right by major violations and bust me or some one else on the most trivial thing you could imagine. It’s typical to call them in even though you haven’t cleaned everything up. Sometimes “they” like to “bust” you on at least something, so, you give it to them and they give you a c & c (correct and continue.)

I think DIY is like printing money. I can go out and work for what it will cost me to do something, give that money to some one else, and wonder if it’s done they way I would do it. OR I can do it myself (at my labor cost) and know it is the way it should be done.

Asking them questions doesn’t cut it. Most anybody will go on and on and tell you how good they are and how happy people are with their work. The only real way to tell is to check their references with a phone call. The clients will tell you after the bloom is off how they really liked the work.

The only thing I DON’T do is HVAC (too many special expensive tools.) So whether I do it myself or not, I know how it should be done.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View 3fingerpat's profile


86 posts in 5414 days

09-27-2008 02:05 AM

Danny, sorry but I had to laugh out loud when I read your post, and laugh as only someone who is in your position could understand. I have the same type of house, my place was built in the 30’s and I doubt if “code” was a four letter word back then. I have the same problem with no insulation at all, if you take off the siding and reach in the stud wall cavity you will be touching my interior walls. I have a posted project where I show this. I have been residing one wall at a time on my house. I add insulation, house wrap, new windows and then new siding. It is a slow process, but easier on the pocket book by doing it this way myself.
I also have the old wire post and core insualtors thru half of the house, the other half was added on back in the 70s’ and was buillt to code using a 100amp breaker panel (the 30amp fuse panel was replaced at that time), but still no ground to the original wiring.
As for poor workmanship, I don’t think my builder knew what a square was or how to use it :) So I just make the corrections as I go and laugh when I find a window that is not supported by proper jack and king studs, and maybe only one cripple stud and no header to boot. Sometime you just gotta laugh.
Just be greatful you don’t have to deal with lath and plaster!

View dennis's profile


90 posts in 5533 days

09-30-2008 02:40 AM

Hay quit picking on Idaho…Actually here in Idaho all the license means is you have liability insurance. We can still be contractors all you need is a cell phone and an attitude.

-- http://woodsongsfurniture.com

View Steve2's profile


2 posts in 5335 days

10-17-2008 09:47 AM

Wall insulation was never required – and frequently an extra option – in Calif before applicable energy codes in perhaps the 1960’s (est.). The diagonal wiring was undoubtably done by a home owner after construction when getting into the attic was too late. And, new construction would protect wires through walls with a Simpson plate but not when the sheet rock is already in place.

-- Regards, Molly

View RichinsCarpentry's profile


10 posts in 5228 days

02-01-2009 10:14 AM

Come on Dennis, The attitude is hard to get :)

-- Dion, www.richinscarpentry.com

View devans0's profile


4 posts in 4944 days

11-28-2009 01:46 PM

In the time and money that it takes to mess with getting a lawyer to sue, you could fix the job to your satisfaction. I had an old lathe and plaster house with either two post wires, or in the newer parts, asbestos sheathed two wire. I now have new grounded 20 amp wires throughout. Some of the new outlets and switches available truly are 21st century and I am getting a few in for cleaner wiring and to play with the possibilities. I am also looking at LEDs for cost effectiveness.
I did one thing to the edge of code in my area. I don’t like crawling to get to an outlet, so I have raised all outlets to 18 inches. Open access outlets are an easy bend to reach and can be reached easily, even when behind furniture. As a bonus, they are wheelchair and elderly accessible.
If I were to do it today, I would increase the wall depth to six or even eight inches and super insulate. Hmmm, now that’s an idea….

View ladykaya's profile


5 posts in 4897 days

12-30-2009 04:56 AM

All you need to do is to contact a contractors or a builders to help you renovate or remodel your house because if you do it by yourself it take a long time to finish.


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