Periodic inspections (EICR)
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 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 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 legally ensuring compliance.
If you don’t have complete and valid EICR paperwork, you may be required/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/rented a property where you feel the electrical installation may be old, inadequate or unsafe.
An EICR will involve inspection and testing on all of your final circuits, consumer unit, protective devices, service head and earthing arrangements, and 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 or C2 observation would result in an ‘unsatisfactory’ verdict being passed on the installation as a whole.
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. It is important therefore that the company undertaking the report is competent and insured. I hold the latest City & Guilds Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications for electrical verification, inspection and testing and the professional indemnity insurance to back up my results, however there are plenty of people out there passing verdict without experience, training or insurance so it is a case of buyer beware.
An EICR fully satisfies the requirements of landlords, estate agents, letting agents, banks, solicitors, mortgage lenders, loan providers, insurers 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. Only a proper EICR is relevant when it comes to the inspection and testing of an existing electrical installation.
Previous/next inspection dates.
The date of any previous inspection, along with the date that the next inspection is due should be printed on any previous EICR/PIR paperwork 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 is the maximum period between inspections as prescribed by BS7671, however the re-inspection date is at the discretion of the inspector. As a general rule, if I believe an installation in a non-rented property is sound then I will pass it for the maximum period. In the case of garages or outbuildings, I will usually recommend a re-inspection after half the time as the installation will be subject to less favourable conditions such as higher ambient temperature swings and moisture.
An inspection label showing the date of last inspection and the date that the next inspection is due
If there is something that needs an eye kept on it, say bad test results on a particular circuit, then the reinspection date would be less than the full term. That said, I have seen less scrupulous companies pass a perfectly sound installation for as little as twelve months and this is just so they can try and sell a repeat inspection every year. Unless there is a very good reason, such as demonstrable deterioration of the installation which needs to be monitored, then it is not necessary to perform repeat inspections so regularly. I would also argue that if the installation is deteriorating that badly, it would be time to perform remedial works!
I should also point out that if you've have had a new consumer unit installed then it should display one of these stickers as such work would have demanded a full inspection/testing of all final circuits, bonding arrangements and the service head before and after installation. 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, however the extent and limitations of the inspection will be agreed with you beforehand 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. For example, if you had building work performed, 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 portion 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. A partial EICR could be performed under such circumstances to find out if the work is satisfactory. 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 to be performed in order to get an independent assessment of the work.
Pricing and timing.
Domestic EICR's are priced per circuit, therefore larger or more complicated installations naturally cost more than a smaller dwelling. The current circuit price is given on my About page, while a guide for counting up the number of circuits you may have is given here. For landlords I also offer landlords free PAT testing of up to ten items per property for each EICR booked.*
Non domestic EICR's or reports for large properties may incur higher charges to reflect the greater amount of labour involved. In such a case, please contact me for a tailored quotation.
Pricing remains the same regardless of whether an installation passes for the maximum term or less, or if it fails outright. What you are paying for is not only my time to perform the inspection ad create the report, but for me to take 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 a domestic EICR depends on the size of the installation, but you should allow for it taking at least half a day or more for a domestic property, and the installation would need to be 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 when I'm due to turn up, and also clear some space around the consumer unit, especially if it is at the back of a cupboard or suchlike. It would also be helpful to unplug all appliances and move furniture so all socket outlets and light switches are accessible.
Payment would be due on the day however you will need to allow up to 7 days for me to type up and deliver the final report.
Beware of cheap or poor imitations!
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 £80. The reason my pricing is higher is because I produce a completely honest report. Those charging lower costs will attempt to make their money back on the remedials - i.e. they will try their best to find a C1 or C2 to fail you on and then charge you an arm and a leg for whatever repair work they insist is necessary.
Needless to say, if you order a cheap EICR, it’s likely you’ll get an ‘unsatisfactory’ verdict on the report at best or pay over the odds for unnecessary work at worst.
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. NAPIT insist that their members hold level 3 test and inspect qualifications or experience, but the likes of Elecsa do not. 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.
If the firm 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, an example of which I came across and describe in this blog post.
What to do in the event of an unsatisfactory verdict.
A good sparkie 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, undersized wiring 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 sparkie is registered with (NAPIT in my case although others may be with NICEIC, ECA, Elecsa, Stroma etc.)
Once all repair work has been carried out, whoever performed the EICR should be able to re-inspect/re-test the corrected part of the installation and, if the work has been performed adequately, they can then issue a ‘satisfactory’ report. If you’ve used different companies for the reporting and repair then you’ll be charged for a revisit by the reporting company. My revisit fee is £55.
When is unsatisfactory not unsatisfactory?
I've seen examples of incorrect coding on some 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 demanded by BS7671 so long as it is in good condition, is of satisfactory operation and complied with the standards of its time.
A guide to bear in mind is that a C1 should be issued if danger is present - i.e. if live parts are exposed. A C2 should be issued if there is a potential of danger such as something being unsafe in the event of a fault developing, an example being metal light switches in use on a lighting circuit with no earth or the wrong size fusewire protecting a cable. A C3 should be issued if improvement is recommended such as if there is no RCD protection on socket outlets or a shower. Only a C1 or C2 are enough to fail the EICR. If you've been issued with an EICR which deems your installation to be unsatisfactory, check what the inspector has failed it on. I've seen the lack of RCD protection for indoor sockets quite commonly coded as C1 or C2 when a C3 would apply. 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. If you believe you've been unfairly issued with an unsatisfactory report or sold unnecessary remedial work then you should question it. The lack of RCD protection is a common way for unscrupulous sparkies to sell expensive consumer units on installations which should have been passed as satisfactory with a C3 coding, or had RCD protection fitted more cost effectively on just a portion of the installation as required. Although upgrading to an RCD protected consumer unit will improve the electrical safety of the installation, such an upgrade should be sold as an optional rather than mandatory requirement with you having a clear choice on whether or not to have the work done.
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, 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.