I have recently bought a flat which was built in 1975. The survey that was done said that I the electrics could possibly be looked at but there it still passed the survey. I had to call out an emergency electrician last week to change the light in my kitchen ceiling. He has since said that I need to have a Periodic Test done, a new fuse box fitted and an electrical outlet (that is covered up) removed. Exactly what is this Periodic test and do I have to have it done? Also my neighbours all have the same fuse box? Is it necessary to have it replaced also and how much should I expect to pay? Any quick responses would be really really appreciated!
The regulations (not law) say you should do an inspection and test every 10 years or change of occupier. With rented property this is pretty much followed but owner occupiers seem to disregard the recommendation. This could make insurance invalid but I have not heard of a case.
The inspection and test is in two parts as the name suggests and if you follow the links on protects section to Part P on page 23 I think it shows you the form that is filled in by the electrician and gives you an idea of what he has to check. Also same forms can be found on IET web site.
On the 1st of July new regulations come in and most houses will fail on code 4 once this happens so if you do have it done then you need to be quick. The problem is how well it is done. Some electricians don't check enough and others pick up on really minor faults that don't really need doing. But all faults are given a code number 1 to 4. Code 4 only means it is to a previous standard and code 1 is dangerous. Most the inspection faults you would find yourself but the testing checks the earthing system and if ring mains are still ring mains and will find many of the faults that DIY people can cause and this is why it is done on change of occupant in case some one has been playing. In theory you should have been given all the previous results so should have at least 3 copies which again in theory should be shown to person doing next test so he can see any trends. In practice I would not think the whole estate will have been tested since it was built with the exception of rented places.
The fuse box called a consumer unit today will contain one RCD but in 1975 it may not have needed any RCD fitted and by 1st July it will require at least two fitting so they will get this code 4 in any report. If you want any alterations to your electric system after 1st July then most likely an electrician would have to change the consumer unit then before he would be allowed to do the alteration so in a way it will need renewing but it is not necessary dangerous. If you do decide to change it do make sure it is to 17th Edition not to 16th Edition or you may need to change it a second time. The box costs about Â£100 but fitting can cause assorts of problems which although there did not show as faults show up so cost can go quite high as a result.
Cables buried in the wall have to follow defined routes to avoid nails screws etc. from hitting the cable with is horizontal or vertical from a socket if one removes the socket the cable will also need removing so if the socket is visible even if covered up it would not normally be removed but left there to indicate where the cables run.
Cost depend on area but one thing I will warn of is Part P. It is the house holders responsibility to ensure Part P is complied with. If the consumer unit is changed this will need Part P and either you need to inform the county council building control and pay their fee or employ an electrician who firm is a member of one of the trade groups who process the paperwork and can issue the completion certificate.
Law and recommendation are linked with Part P if your in England or Wales I would recommend you read Part P on line version is free and it will give you some in sight as to what is being done so makes people pulling wool over your eyes a little harder.
as usual Eric has covered almost everything, only thing I will add is costing for PIR.
We do lots of them for landlords & owners & have worked out a formula for quotes 'unseen'!
We charge basic Â£70 to inspect mains, earthing, bonding, test sheets, plus Â£22/circuit.
Giving a scale of rates for the customer to work out ie 4 circuits = Â£148.00
6 = Â£192.00, 8 = Â£236.00
on each circuit we inspect a % of lights, switches, skts as appropriate.
carry out insulation, earth continuity, polarity, earth fault loop, and if fitted RCD tests.
We give on the report as Eric says, catagories of non conformities as standard ie
 requires urgent attention.....(unsafe/dangerous-will leave switched off)
 requires improvement.........(not to regs, may lead to overload say)
 requires further investigation.(unable to locate circuit or broken ring)
 Does not comply with currect standard regs, (every house not wired to 17th edition after 10/17/2008!!!!!(does not imply installation unsafe)!
Whether or not you need a consumer unit change will depend upon recommendation in PIR which is main reason for investing in one, unfortunately it is one of the bit of the dreaded HIP's that was dropped or it would have been done as a matter of course by the vendor.....got it wrong again GORDON!!!