Please Get Rid Of The Knob & Tube Wiring!

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Tampa, Florida

One of the most important revelations of a home inspection I attended yesterday was that the home, built in the 1940's, still has some live knob and tube wiring. Why was this important? Well, my client will be unable to obtain basic homeowners insurance on this home as long as this old wiring is still active. No insurance-no loan-no deal!

Knob And Tube Wiring

This wiring type was used in homes built prior to the '50's and does not include a ground wire, making it unsafe it the eyes of many insurers, including Citizens, the insurer of last resort in Florida. The cloth insulation deteriorates over time as well, making it a fire hazard.

So where do we go from here? Anytime I represent a client on the purchase of an older home, I make sure to have an inspection contingency that gives the buyer the right to cancel for any reason, based on the results of the inspections, be they a home inspection, pest (termite) inspection, structural inspection, etc. Most sellers, in this market especially, will accept such a contingency as long as the right to cancel period expires after a reasonable amount of time.

But in this case, the seller will not be able to sell the home to a buyer who needs a loan to purchase the home. Without insurance, the loan cannot be obtained and the buyer has an out, and the right to get her deposit refunded. 

So the seller has to look for a cash buyer, who would not need insurance prior to closing, or remedy the problem. So the next step is an estimate to replace the old stuff with the new stuff. We'll then ask Mr. Seller to pay for this replacement. And if the seller refuses? Then we'll most likely play the right to cancel card and walk away from the deal.

The sellers could have made things easier on themselves by getting a home inspection prior to putting the home on the market. A good inspector would have notified the seller of the problem and the seller could have made the repairs beforehand. I always suggest a pre-listing home inspection. Sure, there is some additional upfront costs, but correcting this problem in advance could go a long way in making the sales process flow much more smoothly. 

My client is a first time buyer, so this is something that immediately puts a bad taste in her mouth. The old wiring, along with some of the other old-house issues, may be enough to make her play the right to cancel card without asking for the wiring fix. We'll see.

Sellers: Consider a pre-listing home inspection. If you have active knob and tube wiring in your home, nix it before trying to find a buyer!

 

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Rainer
12,637
Lenny Gurvich
Keller Williams Realty Tampa, Florida
Thanks for all the comments gang. Ginger's take notwithstanding, if a home in Florida has active knob and tube wiring, Citizens will not insure it. Citizens is about the only option for my client on a home of this age. They are the state-run insurers of last resort. Obtaining insurance is a big problem in Florida as you may or may not know. Even if we could find insurance from another source, the inspector notes many dangers with the manner in which it was installed . 
December 01, 2006 08:14 AM
Rainer
12,637
Lenny Gurvich
Keller Williams Realty Tampa, Florida

K & T rears its ugly head once again in a bank-owned home. SOmeone had replaced all outlets and spliced in new wiring to the knob and tube in the walls! Same issue-no insurer will write coverage until the K and T is removed.

 

May 14, 2009 10:29 AM
Rainer
89,164
David Salvato
David Home Inspection Service Home Inspector San Bernardino

I have had clients that had trouble getting homeowners insurance because of knob and tube wiring.

Liberty Mutual will insure most homes with knob and tube wiring. But it's been hit an miss.

David

September 08, 2009 09:56 AM
Anonymous #21
Anonymous
Sarah Pease

We have a contract to buy a 1925 home in Florida.  Seller did not disclose knob and tube wiring, but electrical inspector said it is in 70% of the house.  Inspector said it is failing and should be replaced, at cost of $6000.  Seller refuses to fix it.  We cannot get a loan without k&t being repaired.  If seller won't fix it, and his insurance company gets wind of this, they will drop him.  He still doesn't get it.  Looks like this deal may be a no-go for us.  But he won't be able to sell it to anyone else either.bakuri

January 18, 2011 05:01 PM
Anonymous #22
Anonymous
gyrfalcon

"Personally, I live in a farmhouse built in 1754.  I think Ben Franklin was the initial electrician.  We bought the property as is, and immediately had to dump about $9000 into upgrading the electric, including getting rid of the knob and tube...."


Knob and Tube wiring is fine if it's still in good shape.  Obviously if the electrical system has functioned well for a hundered years so it's not inherently unsafe.   GFCI circuit protection can be added to knob and tube:

http://www.inspectapedia.com/electric/Knob_and_Tube_Wiring.htm



December 15, 2011 03:14 AM
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Rainer
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Lenny Gurvich

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