Periodic inspections (EICR)
I undertake domestic and commercial periodic inspection & testing work and am qualified, accredited and insured to compile Electrical Installation Condition Reports. Pricing for such can be found on my pricing page. For more about what this is, what it involves and why you should be careful of who you hire for such work, read on....
Periodic condition reporting explained.
An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), formally known as a Periodic Inspection Report (PIR) before BS7671:2008 [IET Wiring Regulations] Amendment 1 was published in July 2011, is a report detailing the suitability of an existing electrical installation for continued safe operation.
Obtaining such a report on your home electrics is not currently a legal requirement, however in the case of dwellings it is recommended in BS7671 that you have your installation properly inspected at least every ten years. For offices, shops and properties being rented, an inspection up to every five years or upon a change of occupancy is recommended. Landlords are obliged to ensure the electrical installation in their property is safe, and ordering an EICR is the only recognised method for ensuring compliance. From mid-2020, it became a legal obligation for landlords in the private rented sector to have their installations passed as fit for continued use.
If you don’t have complete and valid EICR paperwork, you may be required to or want to obtain such if you plan to sell or rent your property, if you have major building work planned, if there has been a serious incident such as fire/flood damage, if previous electrical work is suspected to have been botched, if your insurance requires it or if you have purchased or rented a property where you feel the electrical installation may be old, inadequate or unsafe.
An EICR will involve the inspection and testing of all of your final circuits, your consumer unit(s), the protective devices, the suppliers' service head & earthing arrangements and the earth bonding. The report you receive will classify the overall installation as satisfactory or unsatisfactory as deemed appropriate by the inspector. Any deviations from the regulations will either be coded as C1, danger present, C2, potentially dangerous, C3, improvement recommended or FI, Further Investigation required without delay. Any C1, C2 or FI observation would result in an ‘unsatisfactory’ verdict being passed on the installation as a whole. A C3 is an advisory which requires you to make an informed decision on whether or not to act on the inspector's advice to alter or upgrade.
|Examples of coding:|
|C1||Immediate danger||Exposed live parts, wiring undersized for design current.|
|C2||Dangerous in a fault||Missing earthing for Class I equipment, incorrectly rated fuse/breaker.|
|C3||Advisory||Plastic switchgear located in sole escape route, no RCD protection on certain circuits.|
|FI||Further Investigation||Test result out of tolerance which may impair the performance of safety devices.|
A valid report is not just a few pieces of paper. The inspector who signs the report is transferring legal liability for the ongoing electrical safety of the installation onto his/her company, so in the event of an incident such as an electrical fire or shock injury, having a valid and current report will help you with any legal or insurance claims. Without it, you won't be able to prove that you kept the electrical installation suitably maintained. It is important therefore that the company undertaking the report is competent and insured. I hold City & Guilds Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications for electrical inspection and testing and I have the professional indemnity insurance to back up my results, however there are plenty of people out there passing verdict without the experience, training or insurance making the whole process one of buyer beware. It should be like booking an MOT on your car, however through ignorance, incompetence, fraudulence or those inspectors simply applying what they'd like to see as opposed to what the industry guidance permits them to tick off, the state of the industry is such that if you booked ten inspections on any given property, the observations would likely vary wildly resulting in some passing and some failing the installation. Some inspectors would be out in fifteen minutes, others would take all day. The process is largely unpoliced and massively abused.
An EICR, properly done, fully satisfies the requirements of landlords, estate agents, letting agents, banks, solicitors, mortgage lenders, loan providers, insurers, local authority building control and surveyors. Where someone refers to a 'landlord electrical safety certificate', they actually mean the EICR paperwork as no standard 'landlord safety certificate' is provided by BS7671 and any paperwork claiming to be such is meaningless if it doesn't contain the information BS7671 demands.
Previous/next inspection dates.
The date of any previous inspection, along with the date the next inspection is due, should be printed on any previous report as well as being visible on a sticker affixed at or near to your consumer unit as shown in the photograph below. If the Next Inspection date has lapsed, then you should consider having the installation re-inspected. Note that ten years for dwellings and five years for offices/shops/rental properties is the maximum period between inspections as prescribed by BS7671, however the re-inspection date is at the discretion of the inspector and may be of a shorter duration. If I believe an installation is sound, then I will pass it for the maximum period but if there are items that may need monitoring such as low insulation resistance readings, then I may issue a shorter reinspection date to ensure the condition is monitored and is not getting worse. If I put two-years on something instead of five, that doesn't necessarily mean the whole lot needs reinspecting again in 24 months, merely that whatever I didn't like the look of before is checked up on to ensure it hasn't degraded further.
An inspection label showing the date of last inspection and the date that the next inspection is due
I should also point out that if you've have had a new consumer unit installed, it should display one of these stickers on it as such work would have demanded a full inspection/testing of all final circuits, bonding arrangements and the suppliers' arrangements before installation commenced. You should also have been issued with an Electrical Installation Certificate and a Part-P Building Regulations compliance certificate. If you're missing the sticker and paperwork, then your installer has cut red tape and possibly other corners to save costs, however you are responsible for any non-compliance with electrical safety or with the building regulations which subsequently comes to light and needs to be put right. If you're lacking the paperwork then you might want to book an independent EICR to ensure the installation is safe and up to scratch. If issues are uncovered, you'll be armed with a report you can use to try and get the original installer to put things right.
Extent and limitations.
It may not be possible for the inspector to thoroughly examine every aspect of a given electrical installation. As an example, cables concealed within the fabric of the building can’t be visually inspected without knocking out walls and pulling up floors, or it may not be possible to access certain rooms or move items of fitted furniture which are in the way. Nobody's about to start knocking holes in your house or ripping out the fitted kitchen just so they can visually account for the cables. The extent and limitations of the inspection will be agreed with you and any legitimate inspector would aim to provide as comprehensive a report as practicality allows. The EICR paperwork has a section for listing any such limitations.
It may be the case that only part of your electrical installation requires inspection and testing. As an example, if you had a loft conversion but your builder disappeared or went out of business without providing you with the paperwork to cover the additions or alterations made to your electrical installation, then you may have a requirement for just that part of the installation to be looked at. It is likely Building Control will require such if they are aware of major building work having been undertaken at your property which hasn't been notified to them via a planning application or through a competent persons scheme such as NICEIC. Under such circumstances, to find out if the work is satisfactory as far as is reasonably practicable, a partial EICR could be undertaken. Similarly, if electrical work was performed by a builder, kitchen fitter, another electrician or whoever and you're concerned that it doesn't look right, then you may want a partial EICR so you have an independent assessment of the work.
Pricing and timing.
I price EICRs per circuit, therefore larger or more complicated installations naturally cost more than a smaller ones. That's the only fair way I find of doing it. Others may charge a fixed cost or a price based on the size of a property going by how many bedrooms it has. The problem with that is I've seen three-bedroom houses with just three circuits and two-bedroom flats with twelve! Your average three-bedroom 1970's semi detached has perhaps eight circuits. My current per-circuit price is given on my Pricing page and a guide for counting up the number of circuits you may have is provided here. For landlords, I also offer free PAT testing of up to ten items per property for each EICR booked.*
Pricing remains the same regardless of whether an installation passes for the maximum term or less or if it fails outright. You're not paying for a rubber-stamped sign-off, what you are paying for is not only my time to perform the inspection and to create the report, but for my taking on the legal liability for the safety of the electrical installation under my professional indemnity insurance which is why it's important for me to do it right and to be accurate.
The time it takes for me to perform an EICR depends on the size and complexity of the installation and whether one or two of us are on site, but you should allow for it taking half a day or more for an average domestic property with the installation powered down for most of the tests. To minimise disruption, you should make sure you’re ready for the power to go off, i.e. don’t have the dishwasher in mid-cycle or a Zoom meeting scheduled when I'm due to turn up. You should also clear some space around the consumer unit, especially if it is at the back of a cupboard or in the garage/cellar. It would also be helpful to unplug all appliances and move furniture so all socket outlets, isolators and light switches are accessible.
The properties that take the longest to inspect tend to be those that are a little older and where previous owners have meddled with the electrics in a piecemeal and cack-handed way as half the job is to figure out what they've done and how they've (generally) ballsed it all up. The worst property I ever inspected was one an electrical engineer had lived in for thirty years. He may have been dynamite on paper and, no doubt, his madcap alterations all worked for him, but his toolwork and attitude toward electrical safety and regulatory compliance left a list of remedials as long as your arm when it came to his son selling the house after he passed on.
Beware of scammers!
It won’t take much shopping around to find cheaper prices than mine, and some of my competitors will be advertising EICRs as low as £60 to £90. The reason my pricing is higher is because I produce a completely honest report. Those charging bargain prices will likely screw you over in one of two ways: the drive-by or the ransom demand.
In order to make their money, the 'inspector' will cram as many visits into their day as they can and spend as little time as possible on site, maybe only fifteen minutes, during which they'll undertake a cursory visual glance and not much else. Their report will contain so many limitations, omissions and/or outright fabricatrions as to render it useless. As the homeowner/landlord/agent/facilities manager, you'll still be on-the-hook for any subsequent incidents or accidents as a result of safety failings the report neglected to note because you'll have failed in your due diligence in the hiring of someone to properly undertake the inspection. Regardless of how little you may have paid for it, the report you receive is worthless to you. It tells you nothing about the installation and doesn't adequately absolve you of responsibility for safety. Those living or working with the electrical installation remain at risk from any faults a proper inspection would have uncovered. Many drive-by companies only exist for a few months before shutting up shop to shake off the legal implications of their inadequately. Those behind the scam then reopen a new business under a different name to continue their cash-in.
The ransom demand.
On this scam the inspection may or may not be more thorough, but the person undertaking it will want to make up for the loss-leader of the headline inspection price that got them through the front door, so they'll find ways to issue C1 or C2 codings to deem the installation as a failure requiring remedial work. Undertaking the 'repairs', whether they were really needed or not, is where they make their money. Once you've effectively paid someone to fail your installation, they can demand whatever they want for it to be put right. In some cases the inspector witholds the fail report, even if it's been paid for, and they say they will only issue it as passed if they are given the go-ahead to proceed with the repair work. If you think someone is trying this sort of thing on you, there's little you can do save paying another inspector for a second opinion.
It's important to remember that if you've paid for a report, that paperwork now belongs to you regardless of whether it passed or failed. You can demand it be handed over or seek a refund if it's not forthcoming. You're also under no obligation to use the inspection company to undertake any remedials, so you can show your report to other electricians to pass opinion or to quote for remedial work. You don't need to go back to whoever performed the original inspection to get any pass paperwork either. If you have a report that fails the installation for reason X, then that along with a certificate from another electrician showing reason X has subsequently been corrected can go together to form an overall pass - you'll have performed your due diligence in the eyes of the law even if you don't have a new piece of paper with SATISFACTORY stamped upon it.
A 2020 blog article of mine details what a nonsense report someone wasted £85 on looks like.
If you want to use a company who offers cheap EICRs, make it clear to them beforehand that you’ll be using another party for any remedials and don’t sign any agreement authorising them to do the work. If they know any repair work will be going to a competitor then they’ll be less likely to try and make a big thing out of minor issues. Of course, there is also the risk that an unscrupulous company may ignore issues that do need addressing if they think the remedial business is going to a rival.
This is why you’re better off just forking out for an honest report in the first place!
You must also check that the company offering to perform an EICR is registered to do such work with their competent persons accreditation scheme as that means they have been assessed as being qualified and insured for this work. You can perform a look-up on the website of any competent person scheme to see if a firm is registered for periodic inspections/condition reporting or on the Electrical Competent Persons website which now lists those accredited for 'safety reporting'. The advantage of using an accredited contractor is that if you feel your inspector isn't throwing straight dice, then you have an avenue of complaint and arbitration.
If the firm you thinking of using is not listed to perform such work, they probably aren't qualified or insured to do so. This can lead to you paying for a report which is nonsense, another example of which I came across and describe in this blog post.
What to do in the event of an unsatisfactory verdict.
A good sparky will be able to demonstrate why a C1 or C2 result has been given without using confusing jargon. Many ‘dangerous’ conditions will be visibly obvious to the client such as signs of overheating, exposed live parts, missing/broken casing, water ingress etc. Where it is not obviously visible to the client, such as a bad test reading, you should receive a full explanation of what the issue is, the likely cause and the remedial action required. You should also receive an estimate for repair and, unless you’ve signed an agreement stating otherwise, you are free to shop around and use someone else to perform any remedial work as needed. If you doubt the result, seek a second opinion or speak with the competent person scheme operator your inspector is registered with (NICEIC, ECA, Elecsa, NAPIT, Stroma etc.)
Once all repair work has been carried out, a ‘satisfactory’ report can then be issued unless you used a different company for the repairs, in which case they should issue certification for their remedials. The original report plus subsequent corrective certification clears the installation for safe, continued use, although some letting agents are too stupid to realise this and may insist on paperwork with SATISFACTORY literally stamped upon it. There may be a charge if you need the original inspector to come back and issue pass paperwork following remedial works undertaken by a third party.
Why 'unsatisfactory' may itself be unsatisfactory...
I've seen examples of incorrect coding on many reports which indicates the inspector has made a mistake or is hoping to make money on remedials. An important factor to bear in mind is that an existing installation does not have to be brought up to the latest standard of BS7671 so long as it is in good condition, is of satisfactory operation and complied with the standards of its time.
If you've been issued with an EICR which deems your installation to be unsatisfactory, then check what the inspector has failed it on. I've seen the lack of RCD protection for older indoor circuits quite commonly coded as C1 or C2 when a C3 would apply. Similarly, plastic consumer units which were permitted by the Regs until 2016 are now being coded by the rogues as C1 or C2 when they're really only a C3 if installed prior to 2016 and they're located in a dwelling's sole escape route or under wooden stairs. Also, the use of rewirable fuseboxes often sees a C1 or C2 levied when in fact they continue to provide adequate overload protection.
You don't have to take my word for it though, Electrical Safety First makes the same point in its Best Practice Guide which you can download from here (pages 15, 16 and 17). If you believe you've been unfairly issued with an unsatisfactory report or have been sold unnecessary remedial work, then you should question it directly with the contractor and, if that fails, with their competent persons scheme.
That doesn't mean someone pushing for a new up-to-date consumer unit to replace an ageing installation should be ignored, and certainly a new unit with easily resettable breakers and additional shock protection through RCD protection is always a wise investment, but if the industry guidance determines ceertain conditions should just be a recommendation, then so be it. It's up to the inspector to give you the guidance to decide whether or not to fork out for upgrades rather than their insisting upon it by classing an installation as unsatisfactory when the regulations and best practice says it is otherwise.
Booking an EICR.
If you wish to book me to perform an EICR, then do please get in touch to arrange a convenient date and time.
*PAT testing will take place on appliances that are accessible. White goods such as fridges or washing machines located under counter tops should be removed or easily removable in order for access to be gained to sockets and cabling. Where it may be deemed awkward to to extract such goods, or where it involves disassembly, risk of damage to finishes or is impractical or difficult to gain access, then PAT testing of the item will be omitted and the inabilty to perform inspection of the associated socket noted as a limitation on the report.