FACT SHEET: UNDERSTANDING FRENCH ELECTRICS
A run-down on what is in including in the Electrical House-seller’s Report and what to do if you are worried about your electrics
The regulations concerning electricity installations in French houses have completely changed over the last 10 years, going from the 19th to the 21st century in one hit (I may be exaggerating just a little, but only just).
The organisation responsible for monitoring electrical safety in France is The Observatoire National de la Sécurité Electrique (ONSE). It appears that about two-thirds of homes sold in France do not have safe electrics, and my experience here at Delamarche would confirm this. Their statistics are based on the findings of a study of 6,0000 house sales each more than 15 years old, from 2009 – 2011.
There are currently about 7,000,000 (yes you did count the noughts correctly) homes in France that are not up to current regs and are an electrical risk. The ministerial site http://www.developpement-durable.gouv.fr/La-mise-en-securite-des,13415.html points out that defective electrical installations are dangerous and lead to around 4,000 electrical accidents each year, some leading to death. It points out there are some simple principles to follow that will minimise the risks. Of the 250,000 fires each year 80,000 have poor electrics as the cause of the fire. You can read up on these on their website, but most are obvious like checking your electrical appliances regularly, turning off what you are not using, and do not overload plugs.
There are grants available to update your electrics, http://www.anah.fr/ if it is your main residence. If you are buying you may also be able to get some of your mortgage at 0% to cover the works. You’ll need to ask your bank about these.
Common problems cited in the ONSE study include:
• Absence of earthing
• Worn-out and unsuitable equipment
• Problems with fuse boxes and circuit breakers
• Lack of potential equalisation system
For example, only 17% of homes have a potential equalisation system – this avoids dangerous differences in electrical potential between different conducting materials in the building which can cause an increase in the risk of electrical shock.
Since 2009, if you are selling, it is compulsory to have an electrical house seller’s report, “Un état de l’installation intérieure électricité”. The report has a validity of 3 years. This is prepared by a “diagnostiqueur” – a professional trained in carried out all the relevant reports. (You can read more about these at http://normandyandbrittanylife.com/Diagnostiques.html )
If your home was last renovated, or built, before 1991 you are sure to need your electricity updating. Even systems installed and modified since then may fail a test. This is partly due to the changes in regulations but also because over the last 10 – 20 years we have become so much more dependent on electricity for all our domestic uses from laundry, kitchen, hi-fi to computing. I f you have had your electrics updated professionally or are about to when you have this work done make sure you ask for a “Certificat de conformité”.
ADVICE: you do not need to be a vendor to have this report done and it is a very useful start-point to understand the state of your electrics. Our agency is able to organise these reports for you. A report will cost you around 120€, depending on the size of your house. Please do not wait until you have a shock or a fire before doing anything about it.
Written by Philippa Weitz, Agent Commercial, Delamarche Immobilier
Mobile: 06 19 17 34 61 UK Mobile:+ 44 7880 501 116 Agency: 02 33 61 40 40 email@example.com