Gas/ electrical testing

(27 Posts)
Springforward Sun 07-Oct-12 00:26:44

We're buying a house. We got papers today which say that the boiler hasn't been serviced since 2009 and the electrics have never been checked (mid-80s build house). The homebuyer's survey says we should get them tested prior to exchange (vendor won't), but that they appear to be in good order. Would you get them tested before going any further? The house needs general refurbishment and we have a limited budget.

PigletJohn Sun 07-Oct-12 09:48:34

I wouldn't bother. Houses always need things doing to them. Unless there are signs of amateurish tinkering, I am going to guess that you have got one of those useless non-surveys that says things like "there appears to be a roof but it is recommended that you engage a qualified roofing specialist to advise you further."

PigletJohn Sun 07-Oct-12 09:56:58

P.s.

In most cases, a 1980's house will benefit from extra sockets and new switches and an RCD, but will be wired in PVC T&E which has a long life. The main earth bonds will be smaller than is required in a modern new build but will not be unsafe and can be easily upgraded. There may be an unsatisfactory outdoor socket.

An electrician can usually tell within ten seconds of standing on the doorstep if a house needs rewiring due to age or bad workmanship.

I bought a 80s house and didn't bother with gas and electricity survey. I asked around and people say its standard for surveyors to mention this. I reckon the house is new enough for it to be safe. And that there is no obvious rewiring, extending etc. So no chance of bad DIY.

Springforward Sun 07-Oct-12 18:29:20

Thanks both - we'll have a think.

PigletJohn, out of interest, how long does wiring last before a rewire is necessary?

PigletJohn Sun 07-Oct-12 19:52:49

PVC will last longer than you will, unless it is in contact with a hot pipe or something.

Many 1960's lighting circuits are in PVC and as good as ever, but have no earth wire, so cannot safely be used with metal switches or light fittings.

A 1970's house might need an upgrade as it will have insufficient sockets for modern expectations, maybe no cooker circuit of adequate size, might need a new circuit for an electric shower or shed, would benefit from RCD(s) or RCBOs, would benefit from larger main bonds (earth wires to water and gas pipes etc), would often benefit from new earth wire and possibly earth connection if it has a spike in the ground, might benefit from MCBs instead of fusewire, might sometimes need supplementary bonding in the bathroom. None of this is necessarily compulsory, you are not obliged to bring old houses to modern standards, otherwise we'd be putting PVC double-glazing in Hampton Court. Eventually the list of little things gets so long that it is less trouble to rewire the entire house.

Some of it is required if you are having other electrical work done in the house.

Springforward Sun 07-Oct-12 19:54:51

Brilliant - thank you smile

PigletJohn Sun 07-Oct-12 19:59:36

p.s.

but rubber insulation will usually have perished and cracked by now, sometimes the fragments fall off the wire when you touch them, or even if you don't. It has not been in general use for about 50 years. It i still found in old houses, even if they have been partly modernised since. Some householders refuse to have work done if they consider it an extravagance.

There are plenty of old houses with 1920's light switches where the cover can be unscrewed without tools to give touch access to live terminals. There are a few with old fuseboxes that can be very dangerous as they may have a fused neutral.

sherbetpips Sun 07-Oct-12 20:18:58

We didnt and regretted it. We knew we would have to replace the boiler so fair enough but the electrics where a mess and insubstantial. We had to have a whole new rcd unit fitted just to make the kitchen workable. We didn't even notice it was a gas cooker, one strip light and a microwave.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Oct-12 00:26:56

sorry to hear that sherbert

was that in an older house, or in one that had been inexpertly extended/renovated?

AlexanderS Mon 08-Oct-12 08:30:33

It cost us £140 to have an electrican do us a Periodic Inspection Report on the house we were going to buy. It showed up a lot of problems, the electrician recommended we rewire the whole house and it was a major factor in us ultimately deciding not to go ahead with the sale. I think it was money well spent. Plus do you really want to take chances with electricity?

AlexanderS Mon 08-Oct-12 08:32:02

Or gas for that matter?

PigletJohn Mon 08-Oct-12 10:12:56

What age and condition was that house, Alexander?

Springforward Mon 08-Oct-12 22:28:26

Alexander, I'd be interested to know, too.

PigletJohn, how much would a rewire cost, roughly?

PigletJohn Mon 08-Oct-12 23:29:44

a rewire costs the same as a second-hand car.

Springforward Tue 09-Oct-12 19:25:34

Ouch. I'm now glad DH wouldn't let me have any of the beautiful 1920s/ 1930s houses we saw, with ancient switches and interesting ideas on the best way to run wires about the place.

Well, I spoke to a local electrician today, and said what street we were moving to, and he said that street is usually fine but sometimes needs the distribution boards upgraded. So we're going to get a big inspection done once we've completed.

We've got this house for a good price (92.5% of an asking price about 15% below all else up for sale on the street recently) on the basis that it needs refurbishing, so I guess that's the game we're in....

AlexanderS Tue 09-Oct-12 21:37:29

Sorry, it was a house built in 1970. It still has the original electrical installation. Seller has offered to rewire it before exchange of contracts so the sale is back on!!

PigletJohn Wed 10-Oct-12 09:14:59

If it was me I would prefer to adjust the price and have it rewired after purchase.

But maybe the vendor will do a first-class job and not scrimp.

AlexanderS Wed 10-Oct-12 13:23:22

This way it gets done whilst the house is empty but before we have to start paying mortgage on it, and the seller consulted us before choosing an electrician - she suggested a local one that is ELECSA-registered and we gave our blessing for her to go ahead with them. So we're confident it'll be done properly, though of course I'd have liked to have overseen it personally.

Springforward Wed 10-Oct-12 19:43:57

Come to think of it we had a big test done here (1980 build house) about 5 years ago, and all we needed was the fuse board replaced with a breaker one instead, plus something to do with the earth bond being upgraded <technical>. So something built in the 80s can probably be upgraded rather than rewired - is that a reasonable rule of thumb, PigletJohn?

I don't know why I'm asking, this move has been such hassle I'm really not planning to do it again in the near future....

PigletJohn Wed 10-Oct-12 20:10:54

yep, 1980s house should need little more than a little modernising (see Sun 07-Oct-12 09:56:58 )

If it includes work in bathroom, kitchen or providing new circuits or consumer unit, it does have to be done by someone who is a member of a Competent Persons Scheme*. Ask him which one he is in (you can check him on their website), how long he has been a member (unless you are very charitable you will not want someone inexperienced to learn the job on your house) and is he a Domestic Installer (which is the lowest and minimum grade).

*there is an alternative method which is more trouble and expense

Springforward Wed 10-Oct-12 20:13:31

PigletJohn, you are marvellous smile

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PigletJohn Thu 11-Oct-12 17:25:41

give up, spammer.

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