Buying an older property? – Three things to consider

 In Safety, Safety switches

Buying an older property? – Three things to consider

Everyone knows that a building inspection is a must when buying a property – and if you didn’t know that, you do now! However what people often forget is that although the foundations are essential to safety and managing long term costs, so too is the electrical.

If you’re buying a recently built home then these things are less of a concern, however it doesn’t hurt to be too careful and you should also think about our three key things to consider when purchasing an older home:

1.      Is the switchboard up to date?

The switchboard is the heart of the lighting and power for a home. When up to date, it acts as a gate-keeper regulating the power coming into the property and through each individual circuit within the home. As such, it is essential it’s up to date and can protect both the property and the family inside.

You will know if your switchboard is not up to date if you can see old ceramic fuses. In this case, it’s definitely an old switchboard! And if you can see switches, ensure they are not plugged into old ceramic fuses as this is still unsafe.

An up to date switchboard will have both circuit breakers and safety switches (RCD’s) or combination switches (RCBO’s) with both, protecting the circuits. You can tell if there’s a safety switch by looking for a test button on the switch. You can find out more about this here. If the property has a meter-box, it’s preferable that it has a metal enclosure. If it is a timber enclosure, ensure it’s still in good condition and not rotting.

If the property’s switchboard is not up to date, it’s not a deal breaker – you just need to budget to upgrade it if you do purchase the property.

If you are concerned about the cost associated with replacing an old switchboard, you should arrange an electrical inspection with a quote prior to purchasing.

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2.      Has the property been re-wired?

If you’re purchasing a particularly old property, hopefully with a beautiful history, you also need to check if the wiring has been updated at some point. We still come across properties on a regular basis with old cotton wiring. This type of wiring cannot be re-used in anyway and is very dangerous. As such, if you were to upgrade the switchboard and not replace the wiring, it is likely to cause those new safety switches to trip straight away.

Really old looking light switches and power-points can be an indicator of old wiring. If there are new power points and switches throughout, it’s likely the wiring has already been updated.

If the property has both old wiring and an old switchboard, this is a significant budget consideration.

Although you may choose to ignore the safety concerns that old electrical wiring and switchboards pose, these things can still trip you up in other ways. For example, if you’re planning to have air-conditioning installed once you move in, you will require an up to date switchboard before you’ll be able to have the electrical circuit installed. Or maybe you are thinking the kitchen is shy on power-points compared to what you are used to, again you will need to have safety switches installed before an electrician can legally install a new power point for you.

3.      Does the property have a flat roof?

This might sound like a strange question, however what might not have occurred to you before is that electrical installation usually requires access and space to be installed. If a property has a flat roof, it’s likely there is no roof cavity or space for additional installs to be easily added.

So you need to ask yourself – Am I likely to want or need additional lights, power points, ceiling fans etc. in the future? If the property has a flat roof these add-ons may not be possible and if it is possible, it might be significantly more expensive or require surface mounted conduit to be run on internal walls. This is also relevant for the downstairs of two story homes.

If you’re unsure or have concerns about the electrical wiring of a property you are considering purchasing, you can request copies of the certificates of electrical safety or arrange an electrical inspection. Bluegum technicians can assist by completing this inspection, letting you know of any issues and the costs associated with rectifying those issues, giving you the peace of mind you need when purchasing your new property.

Want peace of mind?

Simply call us on 1300 306 342 to arrange a pre-sale electrical safety inspection.

Chantel Gilbert

Author: Chantel Gilbert

Chantel brings her professional qualifications, entrepreneurial edge and passion for customer service together in her role as General Manger of Bluegum Electrical Solutions. She is challenging the stereotypes in the tradie industry and surprising their customers with quality and kindness.

Along the way, Chantel has bagged multiple Excellence in Customer Service Awards on behalf of Bluegum and is the proud recipient of the 2016 Young Business Person of the Year.

Whether she is on the netball court, at the gym or out bushwalking, Chantel is always thinking about the next innovative step for Bluegum and how they can continue to raise the bar and exceed their customers expectations.