The electrical installations of every home are subject to periodical inspections, defined by the Federal ordinance on low-voltage electrical installations (OIBT), and carried out by branch professionals to prevent accidents and fires which may occur as a result of obsolescence, lack of maintenance or potentially hazardous add-ons. The costs of these compulsory inspections are borne by homeowners.
How often are these inspections carried out?
These inspections take place every ten to twenty years as long as the dwelling remains with the same owner. If the property is sold, an inspection is compulsory if the last one was carried out more than five years prior to the sale (explanations hereinafter).
Who decides to carry out the inspection and how much does it cost?
The power grid operator (Romande Energie for example) takes the decision to inspect the installations and informs the homeowner in question. The latter must then contact an authorized inspector and fix a date for the inspection. The inspector is prohibited from working for the installer who normally carries out the maintenance work in the dwelling. The cost for an inspection in a standard family home depends on the size of the dwelling and amounts to 150 Swiss francs for a freehold/condo apartment and up to 500 Swiss francs for a large-sized villa.
How is an inspection carried out?
The homeowner must appoint an authorized inspector and then must upgrade to bring the installation into compliance as requested by the inspector, usually within six months. The inspection is carried out at a date fixed with the homeowner; the latter is not obliged to be present during the inspection. All electrical installations are checked – from the basic switch to the main electric panel. The inspector does not intend to condemn old installations, but only those which are found to be defective or are not compliant. Each installation component that has to be changed is listed in the report.
What are the consequences of an inspection?
Any installation defect noted in the report must be upgraded to bring the installation into compliance as quickly as possible. The homeowner will be held liable – in particular in the event of fire caused by an electrical installation defect – whenever they have not agreed for work to be carried out by an authorized installer. The cost of work may amount to several thousand Swiss francs if many defects have been identified, in particular at electric panel-level, which is an expensive item to install. If an accident occurs after the appointment has been made, but before upgrading has taken place, then the owner’s liability is clearly diminished.
Example of an inspection:
- The homeowner receives a letter from their power supplier informing them that they must carry out an inspection of their installation and must transmit the inspection report within a given timeframe.
- The homeowner contacts an inspector, who is prohibited from working for the installer who will upgrade the installation to bring it into compliance.
- The inspector carries out the checks (cost: between 150 and 500 Swiss francs), then draws up a report.
- The homeowner appoints an authorized installer to carry out the repairs specified in the report (cost: from several dozen to several thousand Swiss francs, depending on the scale of work).
- The installer informs the power supplier that the electrical installation has been brought into compliance.
Is an OIBT inspection compulsory when the property is to be sold?
The inspection is compulsory if the last inspection took place more than five years before the sale. The purchaser is responsible for checking the installation. The purchaser is, however, cautioned by the notary as regards this obligation and is informed of the dangers related to the presence of asbestos, radon and of the energy efficiency of their home (CECB, Cantonal Energy Certificate for Buildings, in the Vaud canton).
If the purchaser does not carry out the inspection, they will be held liable just as they will be held liable if they do not carry out the work to bring their installation into compliance following an inspection: in the event of a fire or accident related to the non-compliance of the installation, the insurance may work against them.
Is property value dependent on the OIBT inspection?
Only as regards the margin, as the broker Marcus Rothenbühler states. The need for work may impact the price. However, in most cases, the cost of work only represents an extremely small fraction of the property selling price. The latter is impacted by a myriad of other factors, including the location of the property, how close it is to amenities, how far it is from pollution, its charm, its practicability, etc.
Would you like more information on this topic? Have you other real estate-related questions? If so, our expert brokers are on-hand and will be delighted to answer your questions and advise you!