Need opinions please!

birdwriterOctober 20, 2011

This isn't a DIY question, but I hope you guys can help. DH and I are building a new home in a new development. Builder always used conduit, all models and existing homes have conduit. We signed a contract and left earnest money. Now I find out that town just amended their building code (for the benefit of this large builder)to use Romex instead. I screamed, builder said they will upgrade if I pay for it. (Haven't broken ground yet). Contract says they can substitute material "of equal or better" quality.

I consider Romex a downgrade from conduit. What say you guys?


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I won't comment if it is better, but I will say the builder pulled a serious fast one. I would not stand for it.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 7:23PM
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Both wiring methods are code approved so I don't think you could argue that cable is of lesser "quality" and from the builder's perspective, there's a huge cost savings. It also seems reasonable that if the builder is going to benefit from those savings, you should be paying less for the home, not more. As I recall the labor to install conduit is roughly three times what it is to install cable.

My suggestion would be to try to find an amicable solution with the builder. I suppose you could hire an attorney but I would guess that whatever you paid in legal fees would quickly eat up any premium the builder wants to charge for conduit. You could sue the builder in small claims court, assuming the court would be willing to hear the case. The builder is, I presume, a corporation of some sort and would need an attorney to represent him while you could represent yourself. That might be a worthwhile threat...

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 10:39PM
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I'm confused - does the contract or other documents specify conduit? Or are you asking for something that wasn't specified and they want to charge you for the change?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 11:08AM
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It depends on what the contrast actually says in black and white on the pages, not what the builder "always used."

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 12:26PM
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Unless the contract specifically spells out a particular product, the builder is free to use whatever code approved method he likes to get to the final product.

FYI - conduit is not required in most of the country.

"It also seems reasonable that if the builder is going to benefit from those savings, you should be paying less for the home, not more."

That isn't how it works. If the code change went the other way, the builder wouldn't have been able to retroactively increase the price of homes under contract.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 9:09AM
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