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Old 16.12.2014, 23:52
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Electrical inspection after house purchase

This forum provides a wealth of information. Thanks everyone for contributing all the valuable information so others can benefit from your experiences. After lurking for some time, I decided to join finally

We just purchased a house. It is only 7 years old and is maintained well. We were told at the Notary that we have to get an Electrical Inspection done right after the purchase. The seller gave us the contact of the Electrician who originally did all the electrical work on the house but when contacted, he said that he is not supposed to do the inspection of his own work and in turn gave the contact of another Electrician who could do it instead. We contacted this guy and he finally came to do the inspection. The guy did the control in fine detail. We received the report a few days later and apart from some minor things he wants to be changed, he objected on the spot lights in the roof that were originally installed when the house was constructed and was compliant at the time. The concern he has raised is that the lights sit inside the roof and can heat up and start a fire in the roof since they are mounted in the roof itself which is made up of wood. Depending upon the viewpoint, either this sounds totally ridiculous or very logical. If his concern is valid, then why it was ok to mount it in the wooden roof 7 years ago and now its a fire hazard. He did provide a quote to do the change and it came out to be 8000 CHF. He expects the 10 FT of wires that run through the dimmer to the lights in the roof to be replaced by a different set of wires and Spot lights by 33 LED lights with a housing that encases it.

This sounds ridiculously expensive but maybe I am being Switzerlanded at the moment. I plan to get quotes from other Electricians but have a few questions:

1. Is it really necessary to replace the wires that run inside the roof from the switch. Sounds like a rip off.

2. If I mount the lights in a fixture which makes the bulbs to sit on a housing that is sticking outside the roof so the bulbs are far enough from the wooden areas and do not transfer heat to the wood anymore, will that be acceptable. Do I still have to replace all the wiring?

3. If I don't change the wiring and put normal bulbs instead which do not draw too much current by replacing the spot lights, could that work?

4. Can I get an Electrician from France and have him do all the work. But he may not be able to provide me a receipt. Is that a problem?

3 Can I do the work myself. I can pull the wires out and run a new set of wires myself (I know how) and change the spots with LED fixtures. Will that be a problem?

On top of that, the electrician pulled some bulbs and wires out with force and left the bulbs hanging and some of them do not work anymore and at times they come on and them start getting dimmer etc. Isn't this a reckless behavior or is it a norm here?

What are your experiences?

Thanks a lot
Stickman
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Old 17.12.2014, 00:22
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

get another electrician, it sounds like he's taking the peace. And I'd get him back to rectify his damage for free.

don't use a French one, you'll just end up in a world of pain (most likely).

do you have the compliance report from the original build?
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Old 17.12.2014, 00:33
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

Your best option is to retrofit a Fermocell casing above and around each spot (5-sided cube) in the loft cavity. 1cm thickness should suffice.

Fermocell, is a fire proof material (similar, in appearence only, to plasterboard), available from trade builders merchants, e.g. Glasson in Givisiez.

You can do this yourself, or pay for electrician/carpenter/handyman to do it .... but it shouldn't cost 8K.

Any doubts, deal directly with Group e, who should be able to provide a local representative/fitter or recommend a sub-contractor.

I should add, that this is what I had done when I renovated an old house in 2000.
It was all undertaken by the electrician at time of fitting. I can't recall exactly what the set up was, but remember there were two sets of 3 spots, each with a transformer, so low- and high-tension wiring may have been involved; each lamp was surrounded by a Fermocell casing, and the transformers were in an open, airy part of the loft.

Last edited by TiMow; 17.12.2014 at 00:52.
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Old 17.12.2014, 09:58
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

Unfortunately what passed inspection years ago doesn't pass now. We has this issue with a chimney running through our top floor. Our house is 30 years old. When I told the inspector that nothing has happened so far he said that is no guarantee that nothing will and he said we had to correct the problem. I am not one to argue with the "kaminfeger" and since there is a monopoly I cannot call anyone else.

As your house is only 7 years old I would certainly go back to the original firm who did the electrics and tell them the outcome of the inspection.

I have been told by several electricians that some inspectors are pickier than others but I would certainly want to know if what you have is dangerous. As for the mess the inspector made, he should have put everything back the way it was.
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Old 17.12.2014, 10:05
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

eeerrrrmmm

Did you use an approved electrician / inspector? only an inspector IS NOT allowed to fix any issue, you have to use another approved electrician to fix issues, this stops people trying to rip you off, eg quoting 8k to replace lights

may be different in other cantons I suppose but thats how it works here
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Old 17.12.2014, 10:18
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

This is how it worked for us

We bought the place, a while later the electricity board told us to get the place inspected and gave us a list of all approved electricians

I did a lot of work myself in the mean time

We found a guy, he came and did the inspection

Some of the work the pro's had done before we bought the place failed!! they wired up 3 phase sockets wrong and some other little bits and pieces, he also made us install fire proof boxies on the the sockets in walls (simple job, the box is about 2 chf from hornbach)

We could do the work ourselves or get someone else to do it, he was NOT ALLOWED to do the work or recommend anyone, the 3 phase stuff we got someone else to do as I won't touch that, the rest I did.

Then the original guy came back to retest what had failed before, certificate in hand we sent it to the electricity company.

8k for lights!!!! LOL the guy really is taking the piss, I'll pop over and do it for 4k
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Old 17.12.2014, 10:27
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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eeerrrrmmm

Did you use an approved electrician / inspector? only an inspector IS NOT allowed to fix any issue, you have to use another approved electrician to fix issues, this stops people trying to rip you off, eg quoting 8k to replace lights

may be different in other cantons I suppose but thats how it works here
To add to this comment, an inspector is a "super electrician" that is approved by the specific canton to do inspections of other electricians' work. This is a specific requirement when a property is sold and at intervals of X years (I think something like 15 or 20 from memory) of an existing property so you can maintain your fire insurance coverage.

As mentioned, they are the "mean SOB" or disinterested 3rd party in the story. They are there to FIND problems (no matter what the cost or who is at fault). They will not fix/repair anything they find. It just goes into their report for someone to fix before a final approval can be given.

Where things get a bit tricky is certain things were ok at the time (possibly even your specific installation 7 yrs ago - but this is not a given as it might not have been done correctly even then) but today they are no longer valid and have to be changed.

It is obvious that you need to find a solution to the spot lights that will meet the current electrical standards. It would be good to find the original inspection file when the place was originally build. Was one even done?
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Old 17.12.2014, 12:20
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

Why would you have to replace the wiring when installing LED lights? I think you are being taken for a ride in the dark blindfolded.
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Old 17.12.2014, 13:39
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

That is the most BS quote I have ever heard, just to give you an idea of real cost, I paid 12k (or less a bit) for a 120m2 apartment in Geneva it included:

- removal of old box and installing new one
- all wires replaced leading to every room
- creating special plugs in walls or places (high on walls etc)
- removing the coax cable and putting 1 in central place with 4 slave sockets in each room
- creating a small home network of cat6 cables to every room with 1 room as server/internet point
- plugging in the motorized blinds (blinds not included, another company installed the blinds but the electrician plugged them into the system)

Plus some other stuff, certification for the commune etc etc but you need to shop around, 8k to change lights on roof, he must be on drugs
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Old 17.12.2014, 13:52
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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That is the most BS quote I have ever heard, just to give you an idea of real cost, I paid 12k (or less a bit) for a 120m2 apartment in Geneva it included:

- removal of old box and installing new one
- all wires replaced leading to every room
- creating special plugs in walls or places (high on walls etc)
- removing the coax cable and putting 1 in central place with 4 slave sockets in each room
- creating a small home network of cat6 cables to every room with 1 room as server/internet point
- plugging in the motorized blinds (blinds not included, another company installed the blinds but the electrician plugged them into the system)

Plus some other stuff, certification for the commune etc etc but you need to shop around, 8k to change lights on roof, he must be on drugs
And to give you an idea of the real cost outside Switzerland, we had all electricity removed and reinstalled in our flat in Barcelona (75m2) for 2'300 eur. With an official certificate of conformity as required for insurance.
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Old 17.12.2014, 13:55
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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And to give you an idea of the real cost outside Switzerland, we had all electricity removed and reinstalled in our flat in Barcelona (75m2) for 2'300 eur. With an official certificate of conformity as required for insurance.
You got done, 3k chf for all the electrical in Spain? They must have known you live in Switzerland
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Old 17.12.2014, 14:23
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

that did include hooking it up to the train line 400m away so they'll never get an electricity bill, so not bad all in
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Old 17.12.2014, 14:28
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

I'll refrain from making any comments on the price of the wiring, but the Fire Safety rules are constantly changing (very fortunately, since you do want to have your building par with the new technologies and studies). There was, for example, some really big changes in 2011.

There will be changes for 2015.

Not to be nit picking, but it's Fermacell. Check the link for the English version. Here is their Swiss site. Please be aware there are different plates and not all are water proof or fire proof and there are different types of fire proof - relating to the time they hold during a fire - and you should use the appropriate ones for your own safety.

About the lights. Are they external? Are they internal? Is the wiring internal or hidden? If the wiring is internal - as in hidden from view in between the isolation - it could, maybe, perhaps, perhaps not, explain a higher cost since you might have to open the wooden lining and isolation.

I am not sure if hiring a French electrician will be the best idea. I would ask budgets from other electricians. I hear quite often in the forum how terribly expensive the Swiss work is, and yet, more often than not, hiring a German/French company would be more expensive than hiring local in terms of construction. You simply have to ask different companies.
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Old 17.12.2014, 14:31
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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You got done, 3k chf for all the electrical in Spain? They must have known you live in Switzerland
too true, sounds like the most expensive electrician in Spain. I've just finished the renovation of my Spanish holiday house and my electrician charged a fraction of that.
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Old 17.12.2014, 14:39
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

Concerning roof-mounted lighting, my in-laws live in Germany and they asked me to take a look at the lighting in their converted attic. They said the lights sometimes flicker for nor reason. I removed some of the wooden boarding and indeed, a cable (or rather its insulation) had started melting in one place and the adjacent wooden beam had black marks from singeing. The cable was not in a conduit but just dangling between the beams and the thermal insulation sheets of the roof. Maybe that was a fire waiting to break out, or maybe it could have gone on for years with nothing happening. You can't tell, but it pays to be on the safe side.

My father in law had wired this himself and when i told him that I considered as a minimum that he should have used a conduit, he said why, this is low voltage DC cable as it is a halogen light. I then explained to him that low voltage means high current and that the cable is thus more likely and not less to get hot, and that bigger conductor diameters rather than smaller ones are required. Even the manufacturers are shockingly cavalier on the cables they use.
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Old 17.12.2014, 16:14
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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eeerrrrmmm

Did you use an approved electrician / inspector? only an inspector IS NOT allowed to fix any issue, you have to use another approved electrician to fix issues, this stops people trying to rip you off, eg quoting 8k to replace lights

may be different in other cantons I suppose but thats how it works here
Same here- inspection and work are totally separate. You have to carry out the work requested by the official inspector (self employed, but on the list of approved inspectors for your area)- and you have to have it carried out by a qualifed Swiss electrician - who then has to send a report to the Canton to say work has been carried out, with description, etc. In our case, the inspector didn't not do his job properly and the electrician found another part of the house that had old cotton covered wiring- so had to get in touch with the Canton to explain, and carry out the work, then send report. All tickety boo now- but it all has to go through proper channels- and inspection and electrician to carry out works totally separate.
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Old 17.12.2014, 16:35
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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too true, sounds like the most expensive electrician in Spain. I've just finished the renovation of my Spanish holiday house and my electrician charged a fraction of that.
Thanks for the sympathy, maybe I have been Spanish-landed but at half of what I'd pay in France and 1/8th of what I'd pay in Geneva, I'm happy enough:-)
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Old 17.12.2014, 16:40
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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Thanks for the sympathy, maybe I have been Spanish-landed but at half of what I'd pay in France and 1/8th of what I'd pay in Geneva, I'm happy enough:-)
Could also be the Barcelona effect. Everything seems to be more expensive there, although its still very cheap when compared to Switzerland.
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Old 17.12.2014, 17:52
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

Are salaries much higher too
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Old 17.12.2014, 18:00
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Re: Electrical inspection after house purchase

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Are salaries much higher too
For the some people, yes.

But not for everybody unfortunately.
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