How Long An Electrical Safety Check Takes (And How To Make It Go Smoothly)

As an electrician, when I knock on a customer’s door to carry out an electrical safety check, or EICR as they are commonly called, one of the most common questions I am greeted with is the customer asking how long their electrical safety check is going to take?

This is entirely understandable, everyone has busy lives and the idea of being stuck in the house all day while an electrician works in there is few people’s idea of a constructive day. After a quick look at the property, I can make a pretty accurate estimation regarding how long it is all likely to take.

This article is a look at the factors an electrician is weighing up in their mind when estimating a time frame so that customers can have a better idea of what to expect before anyone pops around to have a look.

As a quick side note, if you’re wondering, how long does an EICR check take? you’re in the right place. EICR stands for Electrical Installation Condition Report which in turn is commonly referred to as an electrical safety check, the two phrases basically mean the same thing so I will use the two interchangeably throughout!

An electrician taking time to test a circuit
An electrician taking time to test a circuit

How Long Does an Electrical Safety Check Take?

An electrical safety check usually takes around 4 hours to complete for a 3 bedroom property. As well as the size of the property, factors such as the number of circuits, age and condition of the electrical installation will all have an effect on how long the safety check takes.

So that’s the answer in a nutshell. The NICEIC (which is a certification body that electricians often use) recommend 4 hours as a good amount of time to carry out a thorough check. Be cautious of any electrician offering to be, “in and out within 5 minutes,” Below is a little table to give a handy guide.

Table Demonstrating How Long an Electrical Safety Check Takes

Type of PropertyEstimated Time Frame
1 Bed Apartment3 hours
2 Bed House3.5 hours
3 Bed House4 hours
4 Bed House4.5 hours
GarageAdd around half an hour to each
Table showing estimated times to carry out an EICR for each type of property

The Time an Electrical Safety Check Takes Is Somewhat Dependent On Property Size

The size of the property being tested has an effect on how long it is all likely to take. More bedrooms mean a larger property with more circuits to test. The bigger the house the more likely there are additional buildings to test, such as garages or outhouses with power.

Contrast a 4 bedroom detached house with a 1 bedroom apartment; the number of circuits and electrical accessories that need to be tested could be double the amount in the 4-bed house.

  • Take just lighting for example. A one-bed apartment may have just one lighting circuit covering all the lights. The 4-bed house may have a circuit for downstairs lights, one for upstairs, one for outside lights, and one for the garage (making 4 lighting circuits compared to the smaller apartments one)

Although the property size plays a part in the estimation of the time it is not the full picture. A large house in good condition with easy access to equipment is going to be much smoother sailing compared with a small place that is throwing up faults and question marks left, right and centre!

Does the Number of Electricians Carrying out the Safety Check make a Difference to the Time it Takes?

There is an expression in the construction industry known as ‘flooding the job with labour.’ On construction sites when deadlines and penalty clauses are looming, we often see a swarm of electricians turn up. Whilst this helps move the job along, 10 times the electricians does not mean the job is completed 10 times faster. People usually end up getting in each other’s way a lot of the time.

The same is true when it comes to domestic work including electrical safety checks. Most qualified electricians will carry them out independently (or perhaps with an apprentice in tow) as this is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way of carrying out the work. Two qualified electricians working on the test won’t necessarily mean it gets done twice as fast.

If speed is of the essence and there’s a reason a homeowner wants extra electricians to carry out the test then it’s definitely worth having a chat with the electrician carrying out the work before they start to see what can be arranged. It will be quicker, but some efficiency is lost and the cost of the extra labour may make the work more expensive.

Double the workers rarely mean the job gets done 2 times quicker!

Is the Time an Electrical Safety Check Takes Standardised Among all Electricians?

Like all professionals (or amateurs come to think of it) the time we take to do tasks can vary quite a bit from person to person. I love taking my time when it comes to cooking whereas my partner is a bit more crash-in and out and get it done. Similar schools of thought hold true when it comes to electrical safety checks – even though the procedure for safety checks is the same.

The timescales we have discussed are a good average to give a guide but each electrician is different. I would say I am on the slower side when it comes to carrying out EICR but I like to think it is because I am being extra thorough. Other electricians may be able to do it quicker but as warned earlier, no qualified electrician will be in and out within 5 minutes and hoped to have tested it correctly.

What Are The Unpredictables that Affect How Long an Electrical Safety Check Takes?

Everything we have discussed so far is broad strokes kind of stuff as there are many unpredictable that can throw the rule book out the window. Many times I have turned up to test a house or apartment that looks simple on paper, but as soon as I have got into the testing all manor of issues start appearing and a straightforward test becomes a lot more involved and time-consuming.

Some of the unpredictable elements that can affect the time an electrical safety check takes are:

  • How easy it is to access the electrical outlets. If lots of furniture needs to be moved this has a negative effect on the time it takes to complete the report.
  • Any wiring modifications. Wiring modifications can often throw up problems that need to be investigated further.
  • Dangerous faults that require immediate fixing. Whilst a safety check is a report on the condition any code 1 faults that are found (faults where there is an immediate danger of harm) must be fixed at the time of discovery, they cannot be left for another day.

The list could extend quite long, but I hope a couple of examples give an indication that you never really know how long the safety check is going to take until you start getting into the weeds and investigating the standard of the installation.

How To Help Speed Up Your Electrical Safety Check

One of the biggest helps a homeowner can provide when it comes to making the electrical safety check go smoothly, is to ensure that the electrician has clear access to the consumer unit (fuse board) and the electrical outlets within the home. My heart always sinks when I discover a consumer unit located in a cupboard beneath the stairs with all manor of boxes and junk in front of it (not to mention the safety hazard this represents)

The second biggest help a homeowner can give (in my opinion) is to ensure there is access available to the whole of the installation. An electrician needs to be able to access all the areas where there are electrical circuits, including all the bedrooms and the attic for example. On quite a few occasions I’ve sat waiting for a grumpy teenager to get out of bed so I can test their room because the customer thought we only needed access to the consumer unit downstairs.

Final Thoughts

Overall, How long an electrical safety check takes depends on the size of the house, the access afforded and the condition of the installation as a whole. It’s worth bearing in mind that when it comes to electrical safety speed should not be the deciding factor.

When I take my car for its annual MOT I’m more interested in the mechanic doing a thorough safety check on my car rather than focusing all my energy on how long it is going to take. When it comes to an EICR on your property it’s best to accept that it may take longer than you hoped but it is far better to do a thorough job and make sure everything is safe than to rush the process and risk missing something vital.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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