Tips for Buying a House – From the Electrician’s Perspective

The purchase of a house is likely your biggest investment.   If you’re buying a house, it comes with certain guarantees and warranties, however, if you are buying an older home, then be sure to do your due diligence and ensure the asset is everything you hope it to be.   Often a home purchase is an emotional one and you can spend months (sometimes years) searching for just the right place.   It feels right, it looks wonderful, it has all the bits and pieces that you want … but don’t let emotion get in the way of some sensible investigation.


Here are some tips for buying a house


Building & Pest has a lot of exclusions

Before you sign the contract, ensure that you have your legal out.   The contract should include ‘subject to satisfactory building and pest’.  However, you may wish to add an electrical and plumbing inspection to that condition.   Why?   Well, the simple reason is that most standard ‘building and pest’ inspections are exclusive of electrical and plumbing.   This is a large component of your home and can be expensive if you have to re-do or fix things.   Also, enquire as to the level of experience the inspector has regarding pests (termites).   I had one client who had a ‘building and pest’ inspection and the inspector said there had been termites but they were gone.   My client chose to investigate further and in fact, the termites were live, present and active.  For this reason, if the building inspector is not pest savvy, you may even want to have building separate from pest, as well as the electrical and plumbing.    I know it’s extra work, and yes extra expense, but if you discover a nest of termites, major electrical issues, or serious plumbing issues, then it’s money well spent.

What to look for when it comes to electrical

Another customer asked me if there was something he could look for when buying his rental property.   If you don’t want to get in an electrician then certainly test things – turn on the air conditioner, turn on the dishwasher, taps, lights, test the garage door works.   However, this is just the tip of what an electrician would look at.   If I were buying a house (as a licensed and experienced electrician) I’d be doing far more than that.   So, for this reason, I strongly recommend you have an electrical inspection as part of your conditions to go unconditional on your contract.

What an electrician looks at

The first thing I would look at is to ensure that the switchboard is up to standard.   I would test smoke alarms and do a safety switch testing.   I’d get up in your roof and look at the cables.   I’d be looking for dodgy power points and any aspect of your electrical which is not up to code, standard or safety.   Plus of course, it needs to work.  Remember electricity can kill, it can cause fires and it is important.

Now of course, then you know what the problems (if any) are.   Your electrician can give you an estimate on the work to be done.   If the seller is serious, they will likely come to the party and rectify things before settlement OR will knock an appropriate amount of money off the contract price.   It’s not about ‘ripping’ them off, but simply ensuring you are not disadvantaged or buy yourself a property that you paid good money for, and have to then invest even more on unexpected repairs.

Buying a house can be very exciting, and yes, a little scary.   Do it with sensibility and peace of mind.   If you’d like an estimate for an electrical inspection (or any electrical work) please just give me a call on 0403 026 531.

Read The Rules on Electrical Testing and Tagging.