I want to do some electrical work in the house I just moved into (adding a 220V branch for a home shop) and do everything 100% aboveboard, with permits and all. I know that the previous homeowner did some unpermitted work in the house, however, and it will be obvious to an inspector (e.g. installing new branches with new, bright white romex vs. the old armored cable that runs the rest of the house.) Am I inviting trouble upon myself by having the inspector in? Is he/she going to tell me that I need to rip out all the old work? Or will they just inspect the work that I propose to do? Is it basically at the whim of the inspector?

I'm in upstate NY.

  • 4
    Indicating where in the world you are may help.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 18, 2020 at 12:13
  • 4
    In my experience, they're generally just grateful that you took the trouble to go through the permitting process at all. They know that unpermitted work is just about everywhere, and creating a lot of extra work for you is just going to make you less likely to get a permit the next time around. The exception of course is something obviously very dangerous (in which case you should want to know about and redo it anyway).
    – alexw
    Jul 18, 2020 at 13:13
  • 2
    I'm in Ohio and this obviously only really applies in my city but I just recently asked my friend who is in construction about this and he said in his experience, the inspector rarely if ever has the old plans and layout that was submitted with the permitted work- so essentially if the work is to code, it doesn't even come up
    – Ron Kyle
    Jul 18, 2020 at 17:17
  • 5
    If the previous work is so bad (i.e.: dangerous) that the inspector must flag it, then you probably want that for your own family safety.
    – Kingsley
    Jul 18, 2020 at 20:28
  • An anecdote: around 20 years ago (before I had much knowledge of electrical work) we had central AC added to our house without permit. Since then, we’ve had permitted electrical work done 3 times and this has never come up with the inspectors. I believe I let the electricians know and each time was told not to worry. Of course if the inspector notices something dangerous, he will flag that but in general, they seem to look only at the new work. In fact, one of the electricians, I later found out, got around my panel being over-full by putting tandem breakers in a panel not designed for them...
    – DoxyLover
    Jul 18, 2020 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


This, of course, depends on the inspector. They will obviously inspect the work you're doing but they will be looking in your panel and can check anything that looks suspicious. I doubt they'd make you tear out anything unless it was a complete disaster and dangerous. They could make you repair previously done work if it was done incorrectly. As far as ripping all the old work out, that usually doesn't have to be done unless there's a total renovation in an area and you have really old wiring, knob and tube.

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