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When Were Your Electrics Last Tested?

Monday, 15th March 2010 | by: Peter Barry

I last wrote about the New RICS Homebuyer Report on the blog back in July last year. It becomes mandatory at the end of this month after which Chartered Surveyors will no longer be permitted to produce the old style printed version.

I switched over to the new reports last week (the timing was based on when my stock of the old stationary ran out) and have been getting to grips with the changes since. One change that I think may prove to be significant relates to how we report on the electrical installation. The new report contains the following paragraph at the start of the section on Electricity:

Safety warning: You should have your electrical installations inspected and tested regularly to protect your home from damage and to avoid putting your safety at risk. Guidance published by the Institution of Electrical Engineers recommends that electrical installations should be inspected and tested at least every 10 years and when the occupiers of the property change. All electrical work carried out after 1 January 2005 should be recorded on an electrical Installation Certificate.

The new update to the relevant Practice Note issued by the RICS tells us surveyors that ‘Subsequent reporting should not contradict this’. Put the two statements together and we have a situation where an owner must provide the surveyor with an up to date certificate or have their electrics receive a ‘Condition Rating 3’ – even if there are no visible problems. Elements that receive a condition rating 3 are those with defects which are ‘serious and need to be repaired, replaced or investigated urgently’. In the case of electrics the advice will invariably be further investigation by a suitably qualified person. These are the types of follow up inspections which create arguments between buyers and sellers and slow the whole sale process down.

So you can see that having your electrics tested is probably going to become a prerequisite of putting a property on the market. I have started asking agents to request that their vendors leave a copy at the property for me when I inspect.

The new report has certainly caused a stir among surveyors and the feedback, it has to be said, has generally been negative. I discussed the practicalities of preparing the new reports with a couple of surveyors at a seminar the other day and both said that the experience of producing the first couple was enough to put them off entirely. They now no longer offer the product.

I have mixed feelings myself but we will be discussing some more of the changes here on the blog in the coming weeks. I also hope to upload a sample report to the website in the next few days.