No electrical installation certificate? What you need to do before selling your home

When selling your home, you must be able to prove that any electrical installation work carried out on your home meets building regulations. If you can't, you may be committing a criminal offence.

Here's what to do:

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Have you made any alterations to the electrics in your home?

If you've had any alterations or additions made to the electrics in your property since 2005, they must meet the requirements of 'Part P of the Building Regulations', whether the work was completed professionally or by yourself.

Partial or full rewires and any additions to the electrical installations must be compliant. The legislation applies to new homes, extensions and any alterations. Your local authority has the power to force you to alter or undo the work if it does not meet Building Regulations standards.

What does the legislation state?

The legislation was introduced to ensure that homeowners are protected from the risk of injury by electricity.

Part P of the Building Regulations states: 'Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering the installations from fire or injury'.

To reduce the scope of electrical work notifiable to local building control, the regulations were revised in April 2013. These revisions mean that some electrical work is now not notifiable.

For example, if you have added a new plug socket in your kitchen, installed a new cooker or added new security lights outdoors, building control does not need to be notified unless a new circuit was installed.

However, you must notify the building control of any electrical work in your home if you:

  • Installed a new electrical circuit, whether at low voltage (typically 230 V) or extra-low voltage)
  • Replaced the fuse box
  • Altered or added to an existing circuit in a special location such as a bathroom or shower room, or swimming pool or sauna heater.

NB. In bath or shower rooms, notification is only necessary where the work is carried out within 600mm of the bath or shower.

What documentation should I have?

If the work was carried out by a registered electrician you should have received two certificates:

  • An Electrical Installation Certificate or, where applicable, a Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate that confirms the work meets BS 7671.
  • A Building Regulations Compliance Certificate to confirm the work meets the Building Regulations.

Your local building control body should also have received a copy of the documentation.

If the work was carried out after April 2013 and:

  • you used an installer who was not a registered competent person or;
  • you did the work yourself,

A registered third-party certifier should have checked the work within 5 days of the work's completion.

Subject to the work being satisfactory, the third-party certifier would have completed an Electrical Installation Condition Report and given you a copy.

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Not sure what an Electrical Installation Certificate looks like? See a sample pdf.

I do not have any documentation to prove the work met the required standards

You may not be able to demonstrate the work met the required standards if:

  • The work was carried out before the regulations were introduced in 2005 when completion certificates were not required, there will not be any documentation.
  • The work was completed more recently but not documented with the building authority.
  • You have lost the certification documents.

It is not possible to acquire a completion certificate in retrospect as building regulation officers have to be able to inspect the work from its commencement.

You may be able to obtain a copy of the certification from your local building control office (if one was issued). However, you should be cautious about contacting the local authority if you suspect that the work was not signed off.

What should I do if I don't have a completion certificate?

If you wish to sell your house but do not have the necessary documentation to prove that work has been carried out in accordance with Building Regulations, there is a solution. During the conveyancing process, your solicitor should identify the problem and propose an indemnity insurance policy.

The right indemnity insurance policy will cover any costs incurred if the local authority forced you to revert the electrical works to the previous state. The extent of cover can vary, but the policy should also cover any subsequent diminution of value in the property.

Many conveyancing solicitors routinely ask for indemnity insurance policies on behalf of the purchaser, so it is wise to look into whether you need one or not, before putting your house on the market.

IMPORTANT - What you must not do

If you or anyone else (e.g. the vendor or purchaser) approaches the local authority before a policy is taken out, the policy will likely become invalid.

Also, an indemnity policy can only be taken out 12 months after the completion of the work as local authorities have 12 months to issue a notice for lack of building regulations.

Your next step

If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a home, we can help you find an expert conveyancing solicitor.

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References

  1. IET BS761. The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2018.
  2. Building Regulations 2010, Part P - Electrical Safety. Planning Portal, 2013.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher