What to know about electrical safety when buying a home

When you start viewing homes as a potential buyer, the electrics are unlikely to be the first thing on your mind. You might be more focused on the flow between social spaces, the size of a garden, or perhaps the main bathroom. But while the electrics are effectively invisible, taking an active interest could save you lots of money and hassle in the future.

One way to do this is to request an electrical safety check. This involves a trained electrician or engineer thoroughly inspecting your chosen property’s electrical system to make sure it’s in working order. A typical inspection will cover the fuse box, wiring, plugs, sockets, light fittings, installed electrical devices, and more.

Below, research the key benefits and things to know about electrical safety as a home buyer.

Why an electrical safety check is a must

Electrical safety checks aren’t mandatory or included in a standard home buyers survey, the collection of general checks most buyers invest in before proceeding with a purchase. But there are several reasons why you might consider one essential:

  • They can reduce the risk of nasty accidents when using faulty electrics, giving you peace of mind at a stressful time.
  • You could save money on electrical problems after you move in, either by stopping them from deteriorating or renegotiating the sale price. Rewiring a two-bed terraced house can cost upwards of £2,400, for example.
  • It might make lenders and safety insurers feel more reassured about the property you’re investing in.
  • You’ll get a more complete picture of what you’re buying before committing, allowing you to back out if a property is in too poor condition.
  • If you’re buying a property to let it out, you’re obliged to complete an electrical safety check before accepting tenants.

Key things to know about electrical safety checks

Here are some other key things to know about electrical safety checks:

  • Some home surveyors will recommend you get an electrical safety check on top of a standard survey. Some mortgage lenders will demand them, particularly for older properties.
  • Like a standard home buyers survey, once an electrical safety check is completed, you’ll receive a formal report – known as an electrical installation condition report (EICR) – summarising everything you need to know.
  • Landlords have been legally required to complete electrical safety checks since 2020.
  • New builds come with electrical installation certificates, saving the need for a new electrical safety check.

What comes next

Your EICR will tell you if any work needs to be done, allowing you to scope out your next steps. This could range from buying parts such as RS power cables and completing jobs yourself, to renegotiating with the seller or even walking away.

Crucially, you’ll have the information you need to make a decision with confidence. Will the electrics be among your priorities on your next viewing?

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