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Electrical Services

House Sales

A change in French law has imposed an additional requirement on house sellers. As well as the inspections for lead, asbestos and termites, the law, which took effect from January 2009, makes an electrical inspection compulsory when a property is sold. The exception is if the electrical installation has been certified compliant within the last 15 years. This would be either if the house was less than 15 years old, or if the electrical system had been replaced and certified by a CONSUEL inspection within that period.

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The diagnostique, as it is known, covers the main points of electrical safety. There are 11 sections and these are to do with the general apparatus for command and protection, the methods of differentiel protection, the earthing system, the protection against overloading, specific regulations to do with bathrooms and swimming pools, the materials which present a risk of electric shock by direct contact, apparatus which is situated in private areas and supplied from communal areas and vice versa and electrical materials that are dilapidated or inappropriate.

At the house transaction a document will be presented that explains explicitly the standard of the installation and will show immediately if there are any risks to the occupants. There will not be an obligation on the new owner to rectify the faults detected. However, if the new owner is going to be faced with a large cost to bring the property up to standard, no doubt the fact will be taken into account during the transaction.

It is estimated that 400 000 homes will be inspected each year. The inspection will cost between 100 and 200 euros and be a visual examination. The inspectors must verify six essential points: the differential protection, the resistance value and conformity of the earthing apparatus, circuit breakers, the specific electrical safety in bathrooms, the condition and conformity of sockets, switches, etc and the condition and conformity of the cabling. It should be noted that British cables, sockets, etc do not conform to the French standard. This will mean that houses which been rewired using these products will be highlighted in the report.

Among the reasons for the introduction of this obligation is the protection of house buyers. There are a large number of homes in France, where the electrical installation is in a dangerous condition. The Comité Nationale de Consommateurs last year published figures that there were around 7 million homes in France where the electrical installation presented a grave danger to the occupants and each year around 400 people are electrocuted; around 20% of which result in fatalities.

electrical inspections

The photograph above shows an example of negligent wiring. In this house we found wires connected into a consumer unit in such a manner that could have resulted in somebody getting a fatal electric shock.

 

CONSUEL

During the course of my work, I regularly deal with an organisation known as CONSUEL. The full name is the Comité National pour la Sécurité des Usagers de l'Electricité and as the name suggests the purpose is to safeguard the lives and property of people using the electrical network. During the boom of house building after the Second World War and the rapidly growing acquisition of electrical appliances, there was increasing concern about the safety of electrical installations. During the 1950s and 60s, there were many deaths and losses as a result of electrical fault fires and electrocutions. The CONSUEL was created in 1964 with the goal of improving the quality of electrical installations in homes and buildings open to the public.

To this day the CONSUEL continues in this function of verifying that new installations, conform to the wiring regulations and that the electrical installations will not put at risk the building and those people using it. It is only when the inspector is satisfied that the new installation is up to standard, will a certificate of conformity be issued. The certificate has to be presented to EDF before they will connect a definitive supply to the property. The CONSUEL is the only body that can issue the certificate and this authority is not subordinated to businesses or individuals. It is worth noting that it is not only new build houses that has to be certified, but also any building that has not previously had its own supply, e.g. barn conversions. Anyone may request an inspection, but before doing so it would always be worth having an experienced person check to make sure the installation conforms, as a re-inspection fee would be charged following a negative report.

Temporary Supply

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In France the procedure is to first apply for a temporary supply. This is usually offered as an initial 6 months contract, which can then be extended if more time is needed to complete the project.

It is not possible to apply for a permanent supply until you have obtained certification from Consuel (link). It is at this point that you may chose your power rating depending on many factors, such as your likely electrical consumption and whether it is to be a permanent residence or holiday home.

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