Buying a new home is an exciting time for any family. It’s a chance to get more space, or downsize to a more manageable property. The buying process is rarely straightforward, though. You’ll need to get a survey done to make sure the property is in good condition, and the survey can reveal lots of hidden nasties.
If your surveyor has spotted suspicious electrics, he or she will probably recommend an additional electrical survey. MD Bespoke carries out many property inspections, and you’d be horrified at some of the things we find.
Old Wiring Can Be Lethal
Old wiring is a sure indicator of electrical problems and dangers. Thankfully, most older properties don’t have ancient electrics any more, but if you’re buying a house that has been neglected over the years, you may come across some relics of the past.
In general, we can tell wiring is old because it’s sheathed with rubber or fabric. Sometimes, lighting cables are plaited or braided. Both types of cable perish relatively quickly, leaving live wires exposed.
Another sign is the fuse box; if you see ceramic fuses, you should budget for a full rewire (see below).
Any old-fashioned sockets and switches are also a tell-tale sign that your new property urgently needs attention.
If you see wires running diagonally over the surface of a wall, it’s a clear sign of a DIY job gone bad. Wires should only ever run vertically or horizontally on the surface, and they should always be fixed to the wall. We always prefer to see wires hidden behind or within plaster, so this is an instant concern.
Similarly, keep your eyes peeled for sockets above your head. This is a sign that someone has wired a power plug into the lighting circuit. Taking a spur isn’t illegal, but it’s definitely unwise. You have no RCD to protect you from a shock, and plugging in a device that draws more than 3A could cause disaster.
Old Fuse Boxes
Modern consumer units look quite different to old-fashioned fuse boxes. UK Building Regulations are very clear on this: if you see big white fuses in the box, you must get a replacement fitted.
Get Our Advice
If you have any work done on your home, all of the wiring will need to be inspected by a certified electrician. More importantly, faulty wiring can cause a fire or lethal shock. Get in ahead of time and get those electrics checked. DO NOT attempt to poke around in the wiring by yourself; many dangers lurk beneath the face plates, where you can’t see them.
If you’re buying a house at the moment, and it’s more than 30 years old, your surveyor may recommend a safety inspection. Even if they don’t, it’s a good idea to commission a safety check with MD Bespoke before you move in. Some problems are concealed behind plaster; others aren’t obvious to anyone but an expert. Don’t put your family’s lives at risk.