Gas and Electricity checks when buying an old house

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Posted 15th May 2019
Hi all.

I'm on the brink of buying my first house. It has been vacant for a month (apparently but looks believable) and the estate agent "doesn't know" if there are problems with the gas or electrics.

Both were turned off when I viewed but the photo.

Kitchen has no cooker but it did have running water.

I am wondering what the cost could be in the worst case scenario (in case the estate agents don't allow me to do that before exchanging contracts).

I'd get a better place but it's all I can afford right now.

Thankful for any help.
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Ring around to an electrician and a gas fitter for some prices.
Not sure how much you would be looking at, depends on area.
An electrician could do a visual and lgive you an idea , but would need to do some testing for all the wiring you can’t see. Hope this helps a bit
Have you done any surveys for the mortgage? surely that will have brought up any problems?

Worst case scenario, full electrical rewire and surface plastering to make good, depending on size of house your looking at quite a few thousands.

Gas, is there a wall mounted boiler, back boiler, open fire, flues or chimneys?
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If you lack money it's even more important to have proper checks that might save you money in the long run. Get all services checked, Boilers checked, damp proofing checked, roof & guttering checked if possible. This is when it pays to know people in trades but it shouldn't be a large cost.
Thanks all. it's Luton.
I've found a local electrician that can do checks for £110.I haven't done any surveys yet, it's still at offer stage but I don't want to proceed if it turns out that I have to spend £3000 on wiring so I would like to know what I'm getting into. I was told the "home buyers report" more often than not always state "check gas and electrics" so I would like to do that before spending on legal fees.

Boiler was in the bathroom (upstairs), is about 1m20 tall and about 70cm in diameter, covered in what looked like red insulator, under what looks like a water tank. There is a chimney, yes. It's a terraced house with gas fires downstairs (not sure how the upstairs rooms are heated, couldn't see any fires or radiators.
2 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, about 60 sq metres area.

Thanks again.
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 12:14

Thanks all. it's Luton.I've found a local electrician that can do checks …Thanks all. it's Luton.I've found a local electrician that can do checks for £110.I haven't done any surveys yet, it's still at offer stage but I don't want to proceed if it turns out that I have to spend £3000 on wiring so I would like to know what I'm getting into. I was told the "home buyers report" more often than not always state "check gas and electrics" so I would like to do that before spending on legal fees.Boiler was in the bathroom (upstairs), is about 1m20 tall and about 70cm in diameter, covered in what looked like red insulator, under what looks like a water tank. There is a chimney, yes. It's a terraced house with gas fires downstairs (not sure how the upstairs rooms are heated, couldn't see any fires or radiators.2 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, about 60 sq metres area.Thanks again.


Have you got and are willing to post the rightmove listing link? It might give us a better idea as to condition and age of the heating, radiators, gas fire, sockets etc
Toptrumpet15/05/2019 12:23

Have you got and are willing to post the rightmove listing link? It might …Have you got and are willing to post the rightmove listing link? It might give us a better idea as to condition and age of the heating, radiators, gas fire, sockets etc


sorry, I know you are trying to help and that's what I'm asking for but I'm not willing to have my potential address linked to my account so publicly.
Edited by: "MadeDixonsCry" 15th May 2019
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 12:26

sorry, I know you are trying to help and that's what I asking for sorry, I know you are trying to help and that's what I asking for but I'm not willing to have my potential address linked to my account so publicly.


Ok, I thought you might be reluctant in case someone else put in a bid.
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 12:14

Thanks all. it's Luton.I've found a local electrician that can do checks …Thanks all. it's Luton.I've found a local electrician that can do checks for £110.I haven't done any surveys yet, it's still at offer stage but I don't want to proceed if it turns out that I have to spend £3000 on wiring so I would like to know what I'm getting into. I was told the "home buyers report" more often than not always state "check gas and electrics" so I would like to do that before spending on legal fees.Boiler was in the bathroom (upstairs), is about 1m20 tall and about 70cm in diameter, covered in what looked like red insulator, under what looks like a water tank. There is a chimney, yes. It's a terraced house with gas fires downstairs (not sure how the upstairs rooms are heated, couldn't see any fires or radiators.2 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, about 60 sq metres area.Thanks again.


You're about to make the biggest financial commitment of your life, and you don't know if the house has heating upstairs?

I'd recommend you go for another viewing...
(in case the estate agents don't allow me to do that before exchanging contracts) - you will be able to get quotes and determine actual costs before exchange of contracts. in fact you will probably be able to get people round now if you ask the estate agent.

worse case scenario would be a full rewire for the property for electrics - you could get an indicative cost if you call a few electricians and ask how much they would charge for this as a ball park figure.

gas is harder. does it have gas central heating? and you state there is no cooker in the kitchen but is there a space for a cooker, so the owner has just taken it away?
mutley115/05/2019 12:57

does it have gas central heating? and you state there is no cooker in the …does it have gas central heating? and you state there is no cooker in the kitchen but is there a space for a cooker, so the owner has just taken it away?


I don't think there is gas central heating, I couldn't see any radiators, just the two gas fireplaces in the living rooms downstairs.

I saw an electric heater in the cupboard so maybe the owner was using that upstairs.

Yes sorry, gas cooker has been removed.
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 13:00

I don't think there is gas central heating, I couldn't see any radiators, …I don't think there is gas central heating, I couldn't see any radiators, just the two gas fireplaces in the living rooms downstairs.I saw an electric heater in the cupboard so maybe the owner was using that upstairs.Yes sorry, gas cooker has been removed.


if gas cooker has been removed then you just need to buy a new one so that is not really a huge consideration. sounds like you will need to install central heating, so you could ask for a quote to have central heating install for the gas to get a gauge of the cost. you have to make sure that there is actually gas to the property though, are you sure that the fireplaces are gas rather than solid fuel? and that the cooker is gas connected in the kitchen and not electric?

if there is no gas supply to the property it will cost a lot more to get a supply into the property if indeed this is even possible.
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 12:14

Boiler was in the bathroom (upstairs), is about 1m20 tall and about 70cm …Boiler was in the bathroom (upstairs), is about 1m20 tall and about 70cm in diameter, covered in what looked like red insulator, under what looks like a water tank.


That's the hot water cylinder - this will either be heated by a gas boiler or electric immersion heater(s).

For the electrics have a look at the consumer unit (fuse board) - if it is fitted with MCBs and RCDs then it is or recent vintage and the wiring is likely to be ok.

Best thinh to do is have another viewing and take a half decent DIYer around with you - a family member, friend or work colleague - most people like looking at empty houses so you should be able to find someone to help.
Yea I reckon few thousand of you wanna install central heating, more than likely a back boiler there, when buying a house I always figured you need a few more thousand for repairs, up date etc, is the house going cheap, check out neighbours as well,
Pricklerickle15/05/2019 16:13

Yea I reckon few thousand of you wanna install central heating, more than …Yea I reckon few thousand of you wanna install central heating, more than likely a back boiler there, when buying a house I always figured you need a few more thousand for repairs, up date etc, is the house going cheap, check out neighbours as well,


It is going for 40K less than next door, which has had a conversation and a recent renovation
Edited by: "MadeDixonsCry" 15th May 2019
MadeDixonsCry15/05/2019 16:23

It is going for 40K less than next door, which has had a conversation and …It is going for 40K less than next door, which has had a conversation and a recent renovation


So it's gonna need some work put it but if you can afford it and like it
Sounds like you need another look at property, and take a pen and paper to note down things. It is a big investment and you need to go in to it with your eyes open.
Depending upon how much you are borrowing and what the mortgage valuation comes in at could scupper your plans. What is in the kitchen apart from the sink? There could be other reasons why the electricity and gas are switched off, and not just because the house is currently vacant.
Thanks for all your responses. I'm having another viewing and am paying for a gas and electricity check to see what gremlins may be lurking.

Research has determined that a full rewire is likely to cost between £2000 and £3000, and a new boiler is at least £2000. Does anyone know if a gas safety check checks whether a boiler needs to be replaced?


Thanks again
paulj4815/05/2019 12:05

Have you done any surveys for the mortgage? surely that will have brought …Have you done any surveys for the mortgage? surely that will have brought up any problems?Worst case scenario, full electrical rewire and surface plastering to make good, depending on size of house your looking at quite a few thousands.Gas, is there a wall mounted boiler, back boiler, open fire, flues or chimneys?


Surveys don't usually include gas or electrics issues, you will need to get an electrician and gas engineer in to do a general check. They will give you an idea what needs doing and what can wait.

Just to give you a summary of my experience.

I bought a fixer upper last year. Had a full rewire as I was not happy with the state of the electrics. First, there were definitely not enough plugs in the house for a modern lifestyle. Regarding your own questions ask yourself this, even if they turn out to be safe enough when the electrician checks them out, are they in good positions and enough of them, if not get them done now. Far cheaper and easier to get a rewire done at the start in a vacant home than in a few years time after you have decorated. A full rewire is very disruptive. Most floorboards are ripped up, some will break and you will get a good idea of the state of the sub floor as well. Then there is the chasing which involves cutting into the plaster and even brick work to make channels for cables. This is the messiest work I've ever seen that wasn't construction work. It took literally months to find and hoover all the dust created by this process. I had family friends who are electricians do the work so my price was pretty decent for a 3 bed house (about £2900). Expect to pay more and of course, more plugs and larger house mean more costs on materials. We also had a new much safer consumer board put in and while I was at it I got a smart meter installed which required a new installation from my provider to the consumer board so that updated that. Smart meters get bad rap, but I mostly got the new meter for the size difference in terms of being able to box in the meter.

Gas wise we had central heating already installed. Not exactly new but in pretty good condition. I believe the previous owner didn't use the central heating much and preferred to use the gas fire places installed in the reception rooms. So as you can imagine these needed removing. I paid for a gas guy to isolate and cut off everything gas that wasn't going to be kept (basically just kept the gas for the boiler). I was then safe to pull out the gas fire places myself. Finally, I had a new gas line fitted from the gas meter to the boiler with a leg for the gas hob for the new kitchen (this cost about £200). As with the electric I got a new smart meter installed to bring that up to date. I did get quoted for a new boiler installation from British Gas which was £3,000, this seemed very high considering buying the boiler was only £1,000.

If it's an old house and you really want to make it your own expect some hard work if your finances are stretched. I'm lucky and have a builder and a window fitter in the family (with all the industry connections that go with this). New electrics will also mean, replastering, screwing floorboards down properly etc.

As a bonus here is what you could potentially be in for (just the dining room). We also fitted new windows throughout as we went (still goin). And decided on a door into the garden from the dining room instead of the small single door off the kitchen. I'm more or less at the stage where we can fit flooring (laminate) and then skirting boards/architrave

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MadeDixonsCry16/05/2019 10:09

Thanks for all your responses. I'm having another viewing and am paying …Thanks for all your responses. I'm having another viewing and am paying for a gas and electricity check to see what gremlins may be lurking. Research has determined that a full rewire is likely to cost between £2000 and £3000, and a new boiler is at least £2000. Does anyone know if a gas safety check checks whether a boiler needs to be replaced? Thanks again


A gas safety check is exactly that, a safety check to determine that no carbon monoxide is present when it’s fired up. The engineers will just make sure that it switches on ok and that the radiators are working and that it turns off ok. A few other minor checks like pressure etc, but no, they do not inspect the boiler itself for any issues that may arise or parts that might need replacing in the future.
British Gas will repair any boiler but only if the parts are readily available and unfortunately the older the boiler the harder it is to source parts.
I would say a boiler over 12-15 years old would be on a list to suggest replacement rather than repair. A gas safety check will be around £60-£80.
On a separate thought, this house is £40k cheaper than a neighbouring house for sale which has already been renovated.
I would suggest that even with a buyers premium for being able to move in straight away without the need to do any work of say 15-20k, that still means that there’s £20k of work to be spent on yours.
Toptrumpet16/05/2019 11:15

On a separate thought, this house is £40k cheaper than a neighbouring …On a separate thought, this house is £40k cheaper than a neighbouring house for sale which has already been renovated. I would suggest that even with a buyers premium for being able to move in straight away without the need to do any work of say 15-20k, that still means that there’s £20k of work to be spent on yours.


Yeah, I would say that's a safe bet (assuming there aren't major differences) E.g. the houses on my road are all the same but some are 2 bed variants with bathrooms upstairs where the third bedroom is in my property which has a bathroom as an extension downstairs. I got mine for about £10-£15K less than the three bed versions (about £160k) and I'm hoping it will be valued at £170k+, maybe even closer to £180k, since a few in the area have gone for that price. Although this is my home for awhile so I'm not too worried about turning a profit. I'd say we have easily spent £10k so far (rough figures, plastering £4k, kitchen £4k, electrics £2900 etc).
Thanks all. I've decided against it because I don't have the cash for the renovations in a worst case scenario.

Your comments have been very helpful.
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