I've been looking to buy and have an accepted offer on a pre war condo unit in Jersey City. The place has been beautifully renovated by the current owner (downlights, new modern appliances, upscale bathrooms). However home inspection revealed that the fuse box has not been updated since the 30s, and the fuses are overrated. The building is well maintained but I think it wasn't all updated with the latest wires so getting more electricity lines to the unit would be prohibitive. The outlets in the bathrooms are gfci. However the rest are open ground which a licensed electrician said suggests that they may still be running on old wires and that there may still be knibs and tubes. Permits were obtained by the owner for the renovation and the city signed off on it, but as it is an old building, my understanding is that older setup would still be accepted as they are grandfathered.
Is this "not a big deal" and part of living in a pre war building, or would most buyers stay the hell away from it? Will insurance be more expensive than normal? How would you deal with the situation?
In my limited experience with rehabbing older condos, I have found that in older buildings, the units have fabric-insulated wires and fuse sub-panels. And, as you stated, the fuses are over-rated, i.e. they have installed fuses that are higher amps than the load the wires can take. This is a hazard!
If the seller installed a dishwasher, a dedicated line should have been run from the panel, or they may have used the line from the counter-top. They really should have updated the fuses to breakers. It would be best to consult a licensed electrician on this.
Your electrician should also determine if there is old knob-tube wiring. Do the wall switches look like this --https://goo.gl/images/1ya1SB
If it is indeed old knob-tube wiring, I would strongly suggest to re-wire the place to code, this includes re-wiring, new breakers and electric panel/sub-panels. Old knob-tube wiring brings tremendous risk to you and other residents. It would also be an issue when you go to re-sell down the road. It just is just not worth the 8-12k it would take to re-wire it to code.
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