Why Book An Electrical Inspection before You Buy?
An electrical inspection checks the safety of wiring and accessories in your home for continued use. The electrical installation will be tested to the latest wiring regulations (BS7671). Electrical wiring may be safe but can need work before making amendments (132.16). Wiring and electrical accessories wear and age so it’s wise to inspect them. Inspecting the electrical installation for home buyers helps budget for any work necessary.
Why inspect electrics when the lender hasn’t mentioned anything?
Home buyers ask me to price up electrical work after moving home. Extra sockets, new light fittings, and electric showers to name a few. When I explain the price depends on the condition of the wiring the reply: “fine, no electrical problems”. You turn the lights on, plug something in and it works – so what’s the fuss about?
Before any amendments or alterations an electrical inspector has to check certain items as set out in BS7671 (the UK wiring regulations) – 132.16. In layman’s terms you cannot install additional wiring or accessories without the fundamentals in place. Earthing, bonding and rcd protection being fundamentals.
Purchasing a house, bungalow or apartment in South Glamorgan? You could hire me to check the electrics for you. If it does need bringing up-to-date, or full rewire wouldn’t you rather know about it before you make an offer? Electrical inspections (EICR) help find faults before making an offer.
Some buyers find electrical faults after purchasing. Disappointed their lender did not make them aware of any problems. Have you looked at what your valuation or home buyers survey checks? No mention of wiring, accessory and fuse board inspection is common.
It’s not only the cost to resolve faults. If you discover electric problems you might wish you hadn’t moved in. Some electrical repairs involve lifting floor boards and chasing out walls and a noisy, messy business. So before spending money on decoration and flooring: hire me as your electrical inspector for testing in the Cardiff and Vale area.
Problems electrical inspections should tell home buyers
✅ Age of the wiring. Cables break down over time. Insulation wears and conductors (part of the wire carrying electrical current) become exposed. Cable used in domestic properties lasts around 25-30 years. It’s not unusal to last longer but that depends on how it was installed and the load on it. Testing cable integrity using calibrated test equipment is called insulation resistance testing.
✅Poor working practice. Cable and electrical accessories are not always installed using best methods. Most wiring is hidden allowing for shoddy workmanship. Safety isn’t guaranteed because a socket outlet works. The wiring regulations electricians follow ensure circuits disconnect preventing electrocution and fire. This requires planning and installation to good working practice. Testing during and upon completion to confirm.
✅Damage and neglect. Its not uncommon to see a consumer unit covered in coats that hasn’t been tested since the day it was installed. Broken socket outlets and downlight heat marks are common observations.
✅Not up-to-date. Maybe you just want a few more socket outlets in your new home? Without main bonding and rcd protection an electrician cannot install extra sockets. All registered electricians in the Cardiff area would do the fundamentals at the same time.
What can you do before booking an inspection on a home you want to buy?
Ask the seller for documents they have for their electrical installation.
If they don’t have any installation certificates; ask them if they would be prepared to get the installation tested.
The purpose of an EICR is to:
- Check the electric installation is safe for continued use.
- Compare the installation to the current wiring regulations (18th edition).
This should help the requestor know if the installation is OK and if not, what is necessary to make it safe or up-to-date.
Compiled by electrical designers the report format isn’t very consumer friendly. Sometimes one problem is listed several times under different sections. Customers find my document useful because it helps explain problems to the sellers and what is involved to resolve them.
If the seller has a report you can always send it to me to review if you wish using the contact form below. You could also hire me to carry out testing and inspection if they haven’t already arranged one.
If its down to you to book an inspection, be warned its not a standard test like an MOT. When you take your car for a test the inspector will check the lights, brakes, seat belts, suspension etc regardless of where you take it. An electric inspection is not like that. The amount visually checked and tested depends on the inspector.
Call three electricians for three prices. Some will do an inspection based on what the customer wants to pay. It’s not uncommon to see “LIM” (for limitation) or “Not worked On” within inspection reports. Normal for commercial installations or some entries where its just not possible to check on the day – but no good to you if most entries are limitations. The more that is tested the more likely the inspector is going to find something. The more you know; the more of an idea you have about cost and disruption before making an offer.
No one wants their dream house to have electric problems, but an inspection helps budget for necessary work. If its major its better to have it done before moving in.
If you are buying a brand new home then relax; they do not need the electrics inspecting because:
They have brand new wiring and accessories ✅
The installation has been tested during and upon completion and certified ✅
No one has had chance to meddle around with anything yet✅
Assuming the house isn’t brand-new although had electrical work: ask for the certification. Minor work and electrical installation certificates will clarify what has been done, when. It may be the seller whole heartily believes no problems exist, but why take a risk? Just because an electrical item works doesn’t mean its OK for continued use.
I’ve just tested an installation near The Bay where the electrics haven’t altered since the wiring was installed twenty five years ago. Nothing unsafe found but the installation will need updating for the new kitchen.
Typical faults and recommendations noted on E.I.C.Rs
I’ve just logged in to the NICEIC portal and skimmed through the last twenty eicrs I have carried out in Cardiff properties over the last six months. I have listed the most frequent entries so you know what to look out for or at least be aware exist.
1. No rcd protection. RCDs reduce the risk of electrocution and fire. Fuses and circuit breakers do not. No rcd protection means an outdated electrical installation. If the home you want to buy doesn’t have them then you won’t be able to have any new work without replacing the consumer unit.
2. Lack of (or undersized) main bonding. Extraneous conductive parts (like gas and water pipes) need to be connected to the main earth terminal. The safety of the UK electric safety system depends on this. If this isn’t up-to-date then it will need to be done. Look for a green and yellow cable on the gas meter.
3. No earth on the lighting circuit. This isn’t something you as the home buyer can easily check. But just for your information: older wiring for lighting circuits did not carry a circuit protective conductor (earth). Historically, light fittings were wooden or plastic and did not need an earth connection. Modern light fittings need an earth connection. Because light fittings are something DIY’ers are happy to do without the help from an electrician; its common to see metallic light fittings and switches (which require an earth) with no earth connectivity. This is something that would be checked on an electrical inspection and noted as a C2 (potentially dangerous).
4. Low insulation resistance readings. On new cabling no measurable connectivity exists across the wires inside. Over time, the reading becomes measurable as insulation breaks down. Low readings can indicate worn or problematic wiring. If your seller has the inspection report take a look at the reading. Low readings can mean wiring problems. It can also mean issues with electrical items connected to the installation – like faulty immersion cylinders and outdoor lights and sockets full of water! The wiring regulations requires readings of 1 million ohms or less (usually written as 1 meg) to be investigated.
5. Bad working practice. Anyone can buy electrical items including consumer units, cabling, showers and socket outlets from DIY stores. Has your dream home had just anyone working on the electrical installation?
6. Non-working items. Outside lights, extractor fans and immersion cylinders – in-fact anything which can be lived without might be waiting for the new owner to resolve! On the subject of non-working items, one of the most devious things i saw for a home buyer was socket outlets that didn’t work. I was asked to cost electrical work for home buyers leaving a rented flat to a big, old house. Some socket outlets didn’t work. To my amazement someone had replaced the fifty year old sockets and light switches with brand new accessories. They also installed sockets with no cables coming in to them. When i took a look at the electric supply it dawned on me what had happened. Someone wanted to make it appear the electrical installation was brand new. The reality was it was fifty years old and needed a full rewire.
7. Lack of socket outlets. Its not uncommon to see one single socket outlet in rooms on outdated electrical installations. So if you are thinking its just a couple of socket outlets on your to-do list, you may need to think again!
8. Light switches on the wrong side of the door opening (where the swing of the door has been changed). Historically for privacy reasons doors opened so the person operating it would walk in to the wall rather than the room where the bed was. Some properties have the doors replaced and swing in the other direction with the switch in the now difficult to reach side.
9. Exposed live parts.
10. Mis-configured wiring. Cable should always be able to carry larger amounts of current than the overload protection it is connected to. A common issue detected when testing inside a consumer unit is a broken ring final circuit. There is always the risk of overload with this type of fault. Overload can result in the cable temperature rising meaning a fire risk.
11. No main earth. Do you live in Pentyrch, Creigiau, Bonvilston or Cowbridge? You could be responsible for your own earth connection for the installation (usually when the supply cable comes in overhead). Electrical items will still work as expected posing a risk to the user who wouldn’t know any difference. Only regular testing will confirm the main earth reading is satisfactory. An earth connection carries away fault current. If there isn’t one then items can remain live for long enough to cause harm to users or appliances and accessories.
Electrical installation condition report scoring: Satisfactory and unsatisfactory?
Any defects noted will determine the outcome. The inspector will assign a code based on the severity of the fault found. If a mortgage provider is involved they usually press the hold button if any C1 or C2 codes are noted.
Code C1: Items needing immediate attention.
Code C2: Items may pose danger in the near future.
FI: Area(s) needing Further Investigation.
Code C3: Areas of improvement and comparison with the latest regulations.
The wiring in your new home might be safe, but require additional work if:
- You are planning on modifying or installing a new kitchen.
- You would like to convert the loft in to a bedroom or office.
- You would like to replace the bathroom suite.
- You are planning on having an extension built.
- New cabling or circuits require a replacement consumer unit.
This is because the wiring regulations change over time with updated installation techniques and products to help reduce the risk of electrocution and fire. Purchasing a house in Danescourt built in 1990? The electrical system may well still be 1990 standards. Might be safe, but if you want to add a shower circuit or alter the kitchen then it might need extra work.
What happens on an electrical inspection?
A visual inspection.
Looking inside the consumer unit and socket outlets allows the inspector to check the cable and connections. The idea of sampling accessories is to build a picture of the installation. If the cable and connections are good on five items that’s a good sign. If signs of old cable or bad working practice are present, the inspector may decide to dig a little deeper. Although electricians cannot see through walls or ceilings a through visual check will paint a valuable picture.
Have you watched your vehicle service in the garage? Mechanics use a torque wrench to check wheel nuts haven’t worked loose since its last inspection. Electricians check the screws forming the connection inside your consumer unit upon inspection. Loose electric connections can start fires. For the visual inspection electricians look for age, condition, alterations and obvious problems.
Circuit protection labeling should state what is being protected. Labels can be missing and incorrect. If your tumble dryer burst in to flames you would like to see “kitchen sockets” so you could remove the power quickly. Once the circuit information has been gathered the testing process can begin.
The inspector will use calibrated test equipment to carry out a series of tests.
Dead tests (power removed from the circuit) and live testing. With all the tests complete the requester will know:
- If the earthing and bonding is satisfactory.
- If the wiring is at a level that needs further investigation.
- If the circuit protection would operate in the necessary time frame to prevent electrocution and fire.
The testing sequence
The first test confirms the main earth is functional and isn’t relying on the gas or water pipe. The second check is to confirm polarity; the live and neutral are in the correct place. The series of tests that follow will clarify the condition of the wiring inside the walls and under the floors. Test equipment can measure current leaking between conductors and circuit breakers would trip should a fault arise.
Power for the whole property will be off whilst some tests take place (known as dead testing). So your landline will work, the broadband equipment won’t. Something to bear in mind if you work from home and rely on an Internet connection. The total amount of time an electrical inspection takes will depend on:
1. The number of consumer units – some properties have two.
2. The total number of circuits.
3. The size of the property.
4. If the circuit protection labels are present and correct (working out what belongs to which circuit can take some time!).
5. The amount of the installation being tested. In a domestic setting, it is common practice to test all the circuits. In a commercial environment with lots of circuits its typical to test in groups. So group A on one inspection, group B on the next, group C on the following test. This way all circuits are being testing in rotation.
When I have completed the inspection i enter all the observations, photos and electrical readings in to the NICEIC online portal to compile the results. You will receive the sealed report in PDF format with a serial number. I also provide a laymen report explaining what (if anything) needs to make the installation safe and up-to-date. Customers have told me this is useful because the forms we use are designed for electrical contractors.
So get in touch using the form below if you want a thorough electrical inspection in the Cardiff and Vale area. I will need access to the whole property including the loft and detached garage if power is present. If the property is with an agent, they usually want the seller to email them with the name of the person who will be collecting the keys.
Any certificates available will help because:
It would highlight if something listed had become worse since the last inspection. ✅
It helps confirm the circuit layout – and if anything has altered since the last test. ✅
It confirms electrical work has been carried out by registered electricians. ✅
What does an electrical inspection cost?
My fee for an EICR for domestic properties in the Cardiff area usually falls in to two categories – £120 or £230
Both include a pdf file with NICEIC serial number and my own document explaining what has been found (if anything) and what you can do about it.