Having made the decision to replace your old fuseboard, it is important to ensure that this important job is completed by a competent, registered electrician.
Think of your fuseboard as the main hub of your home- its the 'thinking center' to all of the electrical aspects in your home. If the job is carried out incorrectly, your home will be in a dangerous condition and your family is at risk from electrical harm.
Firstly, i will outline the main reasons why you may need to or want to upgrade your old fuseboard to a new 18th edition consumer unit.
You are having some other electrical work carried out and need to comply with the current regulations. Your old fuseboard is overloaded and starting to cause problems for the remainder of the installation.
Your wiring installation is in poor condition but a rewire is not viable, financially or practically.
Changing to a new 18th edition consumer unit will provide some additional protection at a fraction of the cost.
Whatever the reason, upgrading an old consumer unit to one
incorporating RCD protection ( residual current device) is a job that many people will need to consider at some point.
The above points may have been raised by another tradesperson in your home if you are having other projects undertaken.
Please DO NOT be tempted into hiring anyone who is NOT a qualified electrician to carry out electrical work in your home, even if they offer to carry out the work for a fraction of the cost because they 'know all about electrics'
It is not just the price that counts, a competent electrician will be fully qualified, part p compliant and be fully insured to do the job AND have a lengthy guarantee on the job for years to come.
If the person fitting the consumer unit is not qualified, part p registered or insured , it really is better to walk away. These people are not interested in your saftey or future well being, they are only interested in your cash!!
Yet over the years i have come across the same objections about price when quoting for a replacement consumer unit/ fuse board. They normally go as follows.....
'I can buy one myself for less than £100 in a well known DIY store, My mate works for ***** can do it for £xxxx.
Mick down the pub said if i get the board he will fit it for £50..
Please dont believe anyone who says you don't need a certificate or dis-regards the importance of certification. Not only is an electrical certificate your peace of mind that your home is safe, it is also an important document that is needed should you sell your property.
The electrician who carries out the installation should also carry out several tests on the installation before they can issue a certificate.
So having obtained a quote from your electrician, you might be wondering how they arrive at the cost.
So what is the cost?
When you ask an electrician to quote for a fuseboard, there are a number of things he will take into consideration, therefor costs will vary. You should be aware of these:
The materials involved
You can now go to a hardware store and buy a fuseboard for a reasonable amount of money, they come pre loaded with mcb's. Which may or may not be the right rating for your circuits, you will have to add the cost of meter tails, and the fact that if anything goes wrong with the unit you will need to pay to have it removed and refitted.
On the other hand your electrician will have accounted for all of the neccecary items required and if he supplies the board, it will be of good quality and if anything goes wrong with it he will replace it at no cost to you. You only pay once.
Checking earthing and bonding
Before the consumer unit is changed, the electrician will have to check that the earthing and bonding arrangements, along with your incoming cables are adequate for the installation.
The time involved in the installation
All of the circuits have to be individually tested, there is a series of predifined tests that your electrician will carry out.This forms a large part of the certificate you will recieve upon completion.
This is possibly the most important part of the installation which is often not carried out correctly by those who charge less than market value for the works.
Allowance for fault finding
A good electrician will have built in an allowance for some fault finding beacuse experience tells us that there are often minor issues which need rectifying, if this has been built in to the quote then the electrician will not need to bother you with details, but will just rectify simple faults as found.
Major faults would be notified to you and discussed seperately.
Again someone who is charging below market averages will not have factored this in and you may end up with a hefty bill on top of the origional price.
Either that or they will bodge the job to make it work in an unsafe manner.
Certification and registration
Electricians have to comply with current regulations which are forever changing, a change of consumer unit is a serios undertaking and must be registered with local building control.
The electrician must be registered with a governing body such as NAPIT
to be able to do this.
And finally we get onto profit, which is after all why any electrician is in business. A good electrician who runs a sustainable business will have a built in profit margin into his quote for the job.
This is how he stays in business and can provide a good service to his clients, he will be happy to take payment in any legal manner.
Your cheap quote electrician will not have factored in profit, he will supply a cheap quality consumer unit to make up for the smaller costs.
He is likely not registered, not insured and possibly not even qualified.
He may also only accept cash payments and you will have no comeback should anything go wrong.
When you take all of the above into consideration, you will appreciate that there is a big difference between what you can but a consumer unit for and the cost of a fully installed, fully certified and fully guaranteed unit.
You should ask yourself when you get a cheap quote ' how can he do it so cheap??
Most reputable electricians would agree that anything below £500 is too cheap and something is bieng missed.
Everyone knows that most homeowners are watching the pennies at the moment, don't let cheap prices sway your decision, look at what you are getting for your money.