Buying a house with old electrics

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
21 replies 11.5K views
marieidatmarieidat Forumite
51 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
I have just received the results of the homebuyers survey on what-could-be my ideal first house. The survey found that the electrics are all original 1950.

I know pretty much nothing about electricity at all. Nothing! So-- let's assume I am clueless, because I am. :) I also know very little about the house buying process and do not want to make a mistake.

A little more background about the house- it's been rented out for the last 10 years and recently completely refurbished for sale. The refurbishment was the vendor's own DIY job - shabby but serviceable. I'm really hoping he hasn't DIY'ed any electrics! I would also "think" there needed to be electric certificates/tests (like a gas certificate) in order to rent out, bit it seems not.

Having seen the survey result, I passed on the reccomendation to the vendor, that he needs to have a thorough check done by an electrician. He's refused.

Do I ask my solicitor to take up the cause and persuade him, pay for testing myself, or risk it?

If there is a full rewire required (probably after 60 years, right?) I'd like to do that while the house is vacant - but is it possible before exchange? And would the vendor pay for this work. On a 50's 3 bed end of terrace, how expensive would this be?

Many thanks for any advice,
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Replies

  • ACGACG Forumite
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    I bought my house about 8-9 months ago.
    It needed rewiring and imagine if yours hasnt been looked at in this house for 20 years your going to be getting on for it needing doing.

    The cost will depend on how many plug sockets you want/whether you want a cooker point/security lights/shower.

    I managed to get mine on the cheap because i knew the bloke and it cost me £2,500. But if you budget about £4k for it that should be enough. You will also need to get a plasterer in to fill out the gaps from where the electrician chiseled it out for the wires.

    This might cost around £200.

    you cant force the vendor to have it looked at, you have to try and negotiate and if they wont then you have an option of accepting it or not.
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  • Poppy9Poppy9 Forumite
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    If you want a survey of electrics you pay for it. The seller is selling the house as it is with no claim to the condition of the electrics.

    I bought a 1950s house 18 years ago. Had it rewired, but this was after we owned the house. Cost well over a thousand pounds plus we had to pay to have the walls replastered.
    :) ~Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.~:)
  • You want to get an NICEIC registered electrician to go round and have a look for you. This usually costs about £100 and they can then give you a quote for the work. If you ask your surveyor, they might be able to recommend you an electrician :) Then, depending on the cost, you will probably want to go back to your vendor and negotiate with them.

    For reference, we just bought a 2 bedroom flat with original 1950s electrics and it is costing us £1500 to put right. My mum had her house rewired a few years ago (3 bedroom semi) and it cost her roughly £5000, not including the cost of the plasterers & redecoration afterwards. So it's not particularly cheap!
  • Thanks so much for your help NervousHomeowner (I am a wannabe - and very nervous too), ACG and Poppy. What's the "£100 electrics check" called, please? Is that a PIR?
    I definitely want to know what I'm dealing with with the house, before I buy, but is there any danger of the electrician "writing off" the house during this check? I may not be able to get the cash for a full rewire very soon (first time buyer, buying alone) - so should I risk buying anyway?
  • edited 8 August 2013 at 8:57PM
    WerdnalWerdnal Forumite
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    edited 8 August 2013 at 8:57PM
    I believe the PIR - Periodic Installation Report, has been replaced by the EICR - Electrical Installation and Condition Report. You can ask the vendor to allow such a survey, but remember that it is still his house, so he can refuse. You also cannot start any actual work until completion, when the house is legally yours.

    The electrics may not actually be dangerous, even if they are that old, but may not be up to current specs - for instance, the old sockets which did not have an on/off switch, have been outlawed, but there is no actual obligation for householders to have them replaced, but I suspect you as a buyer would want them to be brought up to current spec at some point.

    You may also find there are far too few sockets available now we have modern "plug in" everything.

    If the installation fails, there is nothing that cannot be put right, but it will give you a good bargaining tool to re-negotiate your offer on the house, as you will want the vendor to reduce the price to cover the cost of sorting the electrics (or meet you half-way at least). This is why you have a survey - not to run away screaming if it shows you problems, but to go back around the table and talk money again. If the vendor won't budge on the price, you can point out that the next buyer will highlight the same issues and problems and likely want the same money off to compensate for it.

    If it still bothers you or the cost is prohibitive and vendor won't accept anything less, this property is not for you, so walk away!

    I negotiated £15K off the price my current home when I bought it in '93, purely on the strength of the survey results I presented to the vendor who was in cloud cuckoo land about the amount of work the place needed!
  • marieidat wrote: »
    Thanks so much for your help NervousHomeowner (I am a wannabe - and very nervous too), ACG and Poppy. What's the "£100 electrics check" called, please? Is that a PIR?
    I definitely want to know what I'm dealing with with the house, before I buy, but is there any danger of the electrician "writing off" the house during this check? I may not be able to get the cash for a full rewire very soon (first time buyer, buying alone) - so should I risk buying anyway?

    I think Werdnal is right and it is called an EICR. Basically, it is a report which will tell you what is wrong and how serious each problem is. An electrician won't 'write off' the property - everything can be fixed, but there is a possibility that you'll discover that the property needs a lot more work than you'd bargained for! The good thing is that you should also be able to talk to the electrician afterwards and they can explain everything to you in laymans terms and let you know what is urgent & dangerous and what you can fix as and when you have the funds.

    With regards to finding the money to pay for the works, you should use your solicitor to negotiate with the vendor to get a reduction in price or money to cover the works. However, be aware that you might not get them to cover the full costs of the work and you might end up going halves!
  • Okay, great. That makes a lot of sense, Werdnal. Thank you.

    So my next step is to commision an EICR from a local electrician, and hope the vendor will allow the electrician access and keys.

    I can complete, and exchange, and then look to complete the work (likely a full rewire - which may delay moving in.)

    Thanks you so much for your help. This is great. Two more questions, please -
    Is there an electrical equivalent to a "write off" for the EICR check? Could the electrics be condemned?
  • Thanks, NervousHomeOwner, we cross-posted. Getting the rewire done with the house empty is my plan A, definitely. And I'll talk to my solicitor once I've got the EICR and quotes for the neccessary work. It's good to know having the EICR done won't put me in the position of moving into a house with no power.
  • G_MG_M Forumite
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    If the wiring is 1950s, don't waste your money on an electric inspection - it will need a re-wire.

    Budget £1500 - £2000 for this.

    Whether you can get the vendors to reduce the sale price is down to negotiation.
  • I'm expecting the EICR to be my "leverage" to persuade the vendor to drop the price to cover the rewire cost though. Is that wishful thinking on my part?

    He's already disagreed with the surveyor's recommendation (to get an electrician in to test) saying it's standard wording.
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