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Electrical certificates for homeowners

Here at Harland & Voss, not a week goes by without us issuing electrical certificates to householders or potential homeowners to show that a property is safe. 

So why is there demand for these certificates when the law says you don’t actually need to have an in-date safety certificate for your own home? 

Well, they come into their own when you’re buying or selling a property.

And when you get certain types of electrical works done at your home you WILL need to get a certificate, both for your own records and those of your local authority.

So first, lets explain what we mean by an electrical certificate or, to give its full name, an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). 

This shows that a detailed check of the fixed wiring has been carried out to ensure that consumer unit and the cabling serving sockets, lighting points and other power outlets comply with current British safety standards. The test can uncover issues including the risk of electric shock or fire, whether previous electrical work has been compliant, whether cabling has become damaged or circuits are overloaded. Other items investigated are whether there is sufficient earthing at the property and whether appropriate mechanisms are in place for the circuits to shut themselves down if they detect any serious problems.

If any faults (known as “departures from safety”) are noted they will be given one of three codes:

  • C1 – the fault poses an immediate risk to safety and must be rectified straight away.
  • C2 – the fault poses a potential risk to safety and should be rectified as soon as possible.
  • C3 – the fault has arisen because of a technicality. For example, due to regulatory changes, issues that would be considered safe at the time of installation may now be deemed unsafe. Correcting C3 items is recommended but it is not obligatory.

If any C1 or C2 items are found during the test they will need to be put right before the fixed wiring at the property can be considered safe. 

Buying a property

If you’re buying a property, and the seller can’t provide an in-date electrical safety certificate, you might want to consider getting your own inspection and test carried out. Its as important as obtaining a pre-purchase survey on the property: talking of which, your surveyor will almost certainly recommend a full electrical inspection. Surveyors are trained to recognise some of the indicators of poor fixed wiring but, generally speaking, they are not qualified electricians. So they’re usually very reluctant to indicate precisely where they feel the installation may be unsafe.

Alongside pre-purchase EICRs we’ll always issue an estimate for any remedial works and we know that buyers often use these estimates to negotiate on the sale price.

Refurbishing your property

Congratulations! You’ve moved into your property at last. Or you’ve just got around to doing those refurbishment works you’ve been putting off for a while.

But if electrical works are part of the plan, you should be aware that some of them need to be notified to your local authority buildings control, and these works also need paperwork: an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC).  These include:

Having a new circuit installed; eg wiring for a new extension

Changing an existing circuit, for example, if you rewire a circuit in your kitchen

Electrical work in a part of your home where additional regulations apply, such as a bathroom

The purpose of the certificate is to leave a “paper trail” of what work was done, and which electrician was responsible for it, and whether it complies with current safety standards.  Each EIC should be filed with the local authority within 30 days of the work being completed. Uncertified electrical works could be in breach of local authority regulations and in a worst case scenario the council could require you to have the work redone or removed.

If you’re unable to track down the certificate, or you think the electrician who carried out the work never supplied one, you should contact the electrician in the first instance. The electrician may be able to complete a late EIC for the work.

Alternatively, If you cannot reach your original electrician, or they’re unable to issue an EIC, you can get a certified electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) instead. An EICR is not a substitute for the original EIC, but the EICR should reassure potential buyers. Local authorities may also accept the report in place of an EIC as evidence that the work is compliant.

Selling your property

When the time comes to move on, the knowledge that you’ve hung on to all your electrical certificates will be at least one thing off your mind. If you are selling, an electrical survey can assure prospective buyers that the house is safe, and remove potential negotiations over price. The Electrical Inspection Condition Report doesn’t have to be recent, but it should still be in-date. And this is where keeping all the certificates from any refurbishment work comes in useful. The buyers’ solicitor WILL ask for it, so please ensure you keep the documents safe, either online or on file.

If we can help you with any electrical certification please call us on 020 8451 0345.