Do I really need a PME?

Discussion in 'Electricians' Talk' started by FrostIceGiant, Jun 21, 2021.

  1. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    We're selling our house. A few years ago, we had a light installed in our Kitchen. Our buyers solicitor has asked for an electrical safety certificate for this installation.

    An Electrician inspected the house. He said we had an "excellent Earth", and said we had passed. I paid him and he said he would write the certificate that evening and drop it off at the house.

    The next day he called to say we needed a "PME" and I needed to call the power distribution company to install it. I called them and they said "We get this a lot from electricians. You don't need a PME. Your house is old, it has copper water pipes" followed by a load of stuff I didn't understand.

    I text my electrician, but the electrician said he wouldn't sign off without one. I paid the distribution company just to get it done (we've already had to postpone our moving date) and they are coming today to install it.

    Yesterday, my neighbour sent his Dad over (he's a retired electrician). He says none of the houses on this street have a PME. He says a PME is unnecessary as I have a good earth (he tested it), and I also have an "Earth spike" - he also said he's been retired 12 years, so the rules may have changed.

    It was only £201 for the PME and the electrician is charging £100 to connect it, so its not a silly amount of money.

    I just don't like wasting money on stuff I don't need. It's bugging me. I want to give the electrician the benefit of the doubt, but I have this nagging feeling we're being cheated.
  2. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    Absolute rubbish, it sounds like you have TT earthing, so long as the earth value is good and everything is in order you certainly don't need PME.

    We still install TT installations, and if the earth fails, generally we simply put in new electrodes (spikes) to resolve the issue.

    Only once in 20 years in the trade have I ordered a PME conversion, on a small commercial premises near a cliff edge where we simply couldn't get a low enough reading despite several efforts.

    Many in the trade will argue that PME is a potentially dangerous system and one that should never have been introduced, others think it's the best thing since sliced bread.

    As to your certificate - IF - the external loop impedance (Ze) is satisfactory, and the numbers all stack up in terms of safety devices (RCD & MCBs) working, then your contractor simply cannot refuse to sign you off as satisfactory.

    I would withold payment and contact his competent person scheme (ie NICEIC or NAPIT) and complain if you don't get anywhere.
    seneca, FrostIceGiant and MGW like this.
  3. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    I'm also struggling to understand whats in it for the electrician?, if I go to a house and do an EICR unless there is something I can get paid for I don't want to go back. In order to issue the cert he will have to come back and re-run some of the tests to ensure everything is functioning as it should still.
    Are you going to get charged more? or get a certificate with a bunch of numbers that don't relate any more?
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  4. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    I agree with @Tony Goddard to install electric car charging points with PME is far harder than with TT, and PME is banned for petrol stations, caravan sites and marinas, so there is no way it is required.
  5. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    Also an EICR needs doing on change of occupant, so seems a little pointless before selling, as needs doing again when they move in. So the EICR will be done three times in a very short time, the one you have had done, the second after changing supply type, and one when new owners move in.

    An EICR is simply a report, there is an onus on the inspector not to leave the premises in a dangerous condition, but other than that he reports what he has found, if he feels the installation is dangerous he gives a code C1, or potentially dangerous a code C2, or if he thinks some thing should be done like add a RCD then code C3, if he can't test something then either code LIM or code FI if he thinks it may mean it would be a code C2 or worse if he could gain access.

    It is really simple, no report, no pay. An incorrect report is harder, as hard to prove some ones opinion is wrong.

    Once the report is issued there is no need for a second report once the items have been corrected, a minor works certificate, or installation certificate is all that is required, not the same as a MOT in that respect, even when the EICR is legally required.

    Until the new rental law on having an EICR it was not legally required, and many electricians had different ideas as to what was required, but the coding did not really matter, it was really simple very bad, bad, and not good, and getting wrong code did not matter as long as faults raised. It has never been like an MOT and often it is agreed only a percentage of sockets removed, 20% quite normal, there was some debate over inspection in the loft, seem to remember IET saying no loft lid was no excuse for not inspecting loft, there has been for years problems with terraced houses with only one house in the terrace having a loft hatch, and it has been found where loft used for growing illegal plants, some times from other peoples supply for the lights.

    But it is only a report, and in the main the house buyers survey will include enough information without having an EICR, it normally alerts if there is rubber insulated cables, or wired before 1966, and will warn buyers they need a full EICR if the wiring seems suspect.
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  6. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    what is your solicitor doing letting this go on?

    go back to the electrician and has him to provide the certificate he has been paid to provide and he initially confirmed would not identify any remedial work.

    Then explain that he has created spurious unnecessary work, delay and cost and you will hold him liable for any consequential loss if he delays further.

    When someone has been asked to carry out an EICR that is what they should do: even if the installation is dangerous you get a certificate saying so. Withholding the certificate means he has not done his job and from the looks of it doesn’t even understand TT systems. Your solicitor should have been all over this
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  7. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    Thanks @Tony Goddard and @MGW. The power distribution people came at 8am and spent an hour installing it - so its done now.

    Just waiting on electrician to visit... He promised he'd come today. We need it today as we need to move this week, else its a huge stamp duty bill. However, I will take this up with the competent person scheme.

    @Tony Goddard as for what's in it for the electrician - I don't think he's trying to rip us off as such... I just think he's incompetent. Just spoke with him now and he says his mate who is an electrician insists we have one... if you're qualified, surely you'd know - why would you bring a mate into this?

    He said "I can't sign it without a PME, it's my name on the certificate" - so maybe he's just super paranoid?
  8. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    Thanks. I mentioned it to her - and she said "just get the certificate"... I'll speak with her today. I'll also say this to the electrician when he shows up.
  9. MGW

    MGW Screwfix Select

    “qualified person” means a person competent to undertake the inspection and testing required under regulation 3(1) and any further investigative or remedial work in accordance with the electrical safety standards;

    That is rather vague, but within the trade we would say need some thing like C&G 2391 certificate to show you can do inspection and testing, but it is not notifiable work, so the person doing it does not need to be a scheme member, and it is rather open as to what qualifications he needs. As an electrician I have never written on any EICR what my education level is, I could write FdEng behind my name, but never have, in fact I had to look up when writing this to see what I would write. And to be frank nothing taught to me when taking the degree actually showed me how to inspect and test. I also have C&G 2391 along with other courses and exams done, but only thing I would need to do inspection and testing is professional indemnity insurance. I do not need to be a scheme member.
    Tony Goddard and FrostIceGiant like this.
  10. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    Yep, sounds like he is paranoid about nothing. Not unusual to have a chat over problems with mates in the trade, in fact I had a mate on the phone last night mulling over a knotty problem - but this isn't such, there is no problem, but now you have had it done you can get underway with no more hold ups.

    Things to take away for all reading this thread are:

    When selling a house, it's up to the BUYER to order any surveys and have them carried out PRIOR to exchange of contracts - as the seller, you are selling what you are selling, up to the buyer to satisfy themselves as to what they are getting into, or not. And all that, together with any negotiations coming off the back of it should be done before exchange, with 2 clear weeks between exchange and completion in which nothing much should happen except packing up to go.

    And during conveyancing always purchase "non compliance with building regs" insurance (only £75) as a default, even if you think everything is as it should be to protect against unforseen issues, ie the double glazing certificate that has vanished etc.
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  11. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    Not heard of "non compliance with building regs" insurance before - so that covers you if the buyer discovers anything in your house which is non-compliant?

    Electrician still isn't here... wonder if he's read this post!
  12. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    Basically it covers you for anything found to be non compliant that building control later insist is demolished/removed/re done, many solicitors now just do it as part of the conveyancing process.

    You could show him the post, contribute to his education - he needs to stop converting everything to PME

    Maybe he's on comission with the leccy board:)
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  13. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    its just easier to not offer any warranty as to compliance with BR - up to the purchaser to make their own inspection. No need for insurance.
  14. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    I'm livid. The Electrician has canceled on us. He's "on a big job in a laundrette" and can't visit to connect the PME or give us the certificate. I've asked the solicitor to call him. I've also sent him a link to this post. I've not named him - I won't do that... but I hope he realises his incompetence.
  15. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    This is a straightforward breach of contract and unless he had terms of business limiting liability you should pursue him for any loss you may suffer. Your solicitor should earn their money and explain this to you and him. He is clearly incompetent and the solicitor not much better!
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  16. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    I'd be interested to see if the contractor will join us in this thread and find out whats going on here. I'm genuinely interested in why he wanted to go PME, not criticising him, so heres an opportunity for him to join a good natured discussion on the job.

    Did the electricity supplier not hook up the PME earth or have they just put a main earth terminal on the neutral for your spark to connect to.

    If the electrician is reading this, come on mate, get it sorted - things go adrift from time to time, but what separates the men from the boys is how we address problems and keep our customers happy, the OP is clearly stressed with his house sale, one of the most stressful things you can do, help him out.
    FrostIceGiant likes this.
  17. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    The power distribution people installed it - but left it for him to connect. He says he's coming this evening (solicitor had a word with him) but he wants me to remove this post... I've not named him, and I won't name him (in part because it might jeopardise any legal action I take).
  18. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    that is simply unreasonable behaviour. there is no way that he ( or you) can be identified.

    make it very clear that he is in breach of contract by withholding the EICR. there seems to be a complete misunderstanding that a certificate can be issued whatever state your electrics are in. its the same as an MOT, if it fails you still get a " certificate" saying its been tested and failed and why it fails.
    Tony Goddard likes this.
  19. Tony Goddard

    Tony Goddard Screwfix Select

    As Jonathan says, he's not named, we don't even know what part of the UK you are in - so no need to edit the posts.

    Is he a young chap, wondering if he's fairly new to the trade and a touch over cautious as one can be.

    Unless he doesn't fulfill his duty, I wouldn't venture down the legal route - I for one don't want to see this country end up like the stares where everyone sues everyone else - the only winner there is the lawyers. Hopefully he will get it sorted and you can all move on.

    He needs to heed Jonathanc's advice that when you do an EICR you issue the cert whatever, you can't withold it, and you have to code faults in a ranking of severity - sounds like there was never a fault, if its earth spike with a Ze under 200 ohms, thats not a reason for any complaint.
    jonathanc likes this.
  20. FrostIceGiant

    FrostIceGiant New Member

    I don't have the appetite for sueing anyone either... just want him to do the job. He's not a young man. He's yet to arrive.

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