Buying your first home is always an exciting time, and with so many different things to consider it can be pretty overwhelming. Thinking about the electrics of your potential new home may be the last thing on your mind whilst you worry about whether your furniture will fit and whether you are happy with the area.
However, faulty electrics can be a serious fire hazard and could potentially lead to a serious or fatal accident. Therefore, ensuring they are safe before you move into a new home is essential. It is a good idea to ask the current homeowner for certificates to show who completed the current electrical, and when that was. If an electrician did work yet didn’t provide a certificate this is a worrying indication of the quality of their work.
Testing the electric is the only way to tell for sure that you have a problem. If you are buying a house that is more than 25 years old, it is important to check that the wiring is up-to-date before you make your purchase. This way you can get an estimate of the work your new home will require, before you make an offer on the house.
Re-wiring work can be very disruptive to the fabric of your building, so it is best to get this out of the way before any other work, such as re-decorating, is undertaken.
When is Rewiring Necessary?
If the house hasn’t been rewired in the last 25 years or so, chances are it will need to be upgraded to bring it up to current standards. You can tell whether it has been rewired recently by inspecting any exposed parts of wiring, and you can get an idea from looking at the electricity meter and fuse box. If there is an old-fashioned looking fuse box, this is a good indication the home needs rewiring.
Seven main indicators to look out for are:
1. Are the fuses rewirable? Rewirable fuses haven’t been used for years, so you can guess that if they’re used the electricals haven’t been recently updated.
2. How many socket-outlets are visible in each room of the house? Recently rewired homes tend to have more than two double sockets per room, and any visible single sockets are an indication that the installation is quite old.
3. Signs of overheating at socket outlets will suggest rewiring is necessary.
4. A fuse box with a wooden back or cast iron switches will suggest that it dates back to before the 1960s, and will need to be replaced.
5. Any round light switches, braided flex connecting ceiling roses to light fittings, black switches and sockets mounted into skirting boards may need replacing.
6. Any obvious damage to socket outlets, switches or lights are also a bad sign.
7. Finally, are there any unusual sounds or flickering lights? If the lights flicker, dim and brighten throughout the home, or make a buzzing sound, this is a sure indicator of faulty wiring.
Before going ahead with a purchase, and especially if you have any doubts about the safety of your potential new home, it is a good idea to arrange for a qualified electrician to do a survey of the property. Depending on whether you want a verbal or full written report this can cost you around $150 – $620, but if it saves you a costly mistake or injury in the long run, it’s definitely worth the money.
Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Walton Homes, who offer a range of beautiful new homes in Tamworth, Staffordshire, and the West Midlands. To find out more, visit their website.