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Renew electrics or update certain parts?

Discussion in 'Electrics Outside of the UK' started by GillObrien, 9 Mar 2021.

  1. GillObrien

    GillObrien

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    Hi all

    I am posting here because I always had good advice when I lived in the UK and the forums here in France are not so helpful . Could be my French !

    I wanted a bit of advice. We are buying a house built in 1978. The electrical report came back with some anomalies, which are fairly standard here. They are:

    - there is no earth except in kitchens and bathrooms (not obligatory except on new build). You do however have to have sockets with only two holes. Most stuff you buy here has two pin plugs.
    - the consumer unit is original on all the circuits with no earth and has no low voltage fuses. The other on the circuits with earth wires is modern and conforms to new regulations.
    - certain equipotential bonds aren't the correct value (whatever that means).

    For info, circuits here are often run in false ceilings then vertically to each plug/light switch (example attached). The house has false ceilings everywhere and the wires are in the walls in sheaths. The wires are in good condition.

    We asked a couple of electricians to come and look at the work needed. And this is where I want your advice.

    - two said the whole place needs rewiring. This involves taking down and renewing the false ceilings, cutting out the walls to access the wires. This leave an enormous amount of plastering and plaster boarding that we can't afford and seems excessive to me.
    - one said that there is no need to rewire everything. We should update the consumer unit, pull an earth or new cable through the existing sheaths and just add additional plugs where we want them. He also said we could keep the ceilings and just access through holes created in them. So we have less damage. The walls are in excellent condition and there are ornate cornice etc that we would like to keep.


    Does anyone have an idea if the second scenario is plausible? Or are we likely to find that it proves impossible and we end up doing the whole thing.

    Thank you for any input. I have read so many conflicting arguments that I am very lost.

    Thanks
    Gill

    Screenshot_20210309-130300_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20210309-130347_Chrome.jpg
     
  2. ChrisEll66

    ChrisEll66

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    There isn't a correct answer - I'd get quotes and go go from there.

    Your wording - by false ceiling I assume you mean ceiling - plasterboard on beams - and the low voltage fuse means RCD? Normally you work from above with lighting circuits

    The diagnostique isn't obligatory its information only - so you don't have to do anything.

    The problem with pulling an earth through is thats fine as long as its properly wired in gaine (plastic trunking) with no hidden breakout/junction boxes - but it probably isn't - and the mess beneath floors with 1970's French wiring will be ......... Because your old board is almost certainly only switched on live - it can take forever to work out neutrals as its almost certainly wired with single cables. The other drawback is the Diagnostique looks at modern normes - come selling time your electrics will still get a long list of "faults".

    The problem with a fresh rewire is partly dependant on the electrician - but many will say new rewire - modern normes must apply and then it gets really expensive if you're paying an electrician. It's no longer just swap like for like - but new circuits and less sockets allowed on any circuit. There's raft of "specialised" circuits required under new normes (washing machine - dishwasher - boiler - freezer are all meant to be on dedicated circuits in the more recent normes - and some will want to faff around installing phone lines as well (its in the normes ......). If you're lucky you'll find a sparks who understands the work arounds.

    1978 is ancient in French wiring terms - pretty much every standard has changed and old school methods were prevalent so there's some interesting wiring at that age - its almost the worst age - looks fine on the surface is a hidden mess where you can't see.

    I completely re wired - our electrics were mainly 1980's - in context we went from 6 circuits to 24 I think it was so a complete re wire will be expensive - ideally you'd do anew but budget wins usually
     
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  4. GillObrien

    GillObrien

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    Hi there and thank you for your reply.

    Yes I meant plasterboard on a frame. I think the floors are concrete slabs because in places where there is no suspended ceiling it is solid when you knock. But I might be wrong. It has that look about it though. Thd report said something about 30amp fuses as a safety where there was no earth.

    I don't know if the wires are in gaines. I do know there are only about 4 circuits. When the house was built there were only plugs, a light on the stairs and in the bathroom and that was it. The owner added ceiling light circuits in all the rooms, a whole loft conversion, electric shutters and garage doors all onto the existing circuits.

    I am not against rewiring, it is mainly the tidy up after. Plus there are some nice ceilings that we would want to keep but the electrician wants us to pull down and replace so it is easier for him.

    I am thinking we tell him to rewire but to put everything on the surface in the areas like the utility areas (which is about 1/3 of the space), so avoid destroying the walls, then take down the ceilings in the living room so he has room to work in the most complicated room, and he just has to work with the ceilings in the bedrooms. Plus we will only replaster the main room and just do some creative decorating in the others. It would be nice to to have trailing sockets everywhere.

    We have had several quotes but they are wildly different so it is hard to know.

    Thank you anyway for your input.

    Take care
    Gill
     
  5. DIYinBerks

    DIYinBerks

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    If you are buying an old French house you will probably need to get used to mess, cutting holes in plasterboard, etc....
    Clearly the best solution (ignoring cost) is to have a complete rewire, with wiring buried in the plaster, and all before you move in;)
    However, that's not realistic for many people and in my opinion the electrician who suggested replacing the CU and running earths or new cables as needed was right on target.
    Modern French CU's are excellent, and if you have one of those put in ASAP (and tested) and maybe some updates to earthing, you will have a safe system which you can update or add to as needed.
    French wiring is very different to UK -- buy a book about it. It'll help whether or not you decide to do any of the work yourself.
    Obviously, don't take on anything you aren't confident about.
    And top tip - specify a CU with lots of spare ways - you'll need them.
     
  6. DIYnot Local

    DIYnot Local

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