DIY Electrical Works – is it Worth it, and how does Part P Affect Me?

So what’s changed?

Consider the dramatic increase over the last 10 to 15 years of electrical equipment in the home such as:

Bathrooms – low voltage lighting, electric showers, under-floor heating (popular in bathrooms with tiled floors).

Entertainment systems – computer systems, videos, televisions’, (every child’s bedroom seems to have a system nowadays).

Bedrooms – electric blankets, hair dryers, hair tongs.

Kitchens – dishwashers, tumble dryers, freezers, microwaves, blenders, sandwich makers.

Gardens – lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, pond pumps and lighting.

Is it any wonder, then, that each year on average there are 10 deaths, 750 serious injuries and 12,500 fires caused either by faulty electrical work carried out by ambitious DIY enthusiasts, “cowboy” electricians or deteriorating electrical installations?

As such, electrical work with a few minor exceptions carried out in the home is being regulated as part of the Building Regulations under Part P and is effective from the 1st of January 2005.

Failure to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations is a criminal offence and could result in the order by the local authority to remove or put right faulty workmanship and fine you up to £5000.00. It could also make it difficult to sell your property in the future.

Will anybody find out if I carry out some electrical work? I can say it was done before January 2005.

If the work involves the installation of cable you can be easily found out because since January 2005 the colours of the cores of the cable has changed. Live is now brown (previously red), neutral is now blue (previously black) and earth remains the same (green/yellow)

What is the scope of Part P?

·Dwellings

·Outbuildings, sheds, garages and greenhouses

·Garden lighting and power supplies (pond pumps etc.)

·Common areas in blocks of flats – stairways, laundries etc but not lifts

·Combined business premises and dwellings having a common supply (pubs, shops etc.)

How can I comply with Part P?

You will not need to notify the Building Control Officer to comply with Part P if you employ a contractor or an electrician who is accredited with a self certifying scheme (belongs to either the N.I.C.E.I.C, E.C.A or other accredited service scheme).

The accredited contractor or electrician will notify their accreditation service of the notifiable electrical work completed by the application of a form (normally done on the “Web”). The accreditation service will then notify the relevant Building Control Officer of all notifiable works carried out in his area (normally on a monthly basis) who will then inform you that he has the required notification.

You must receive from the contractor or electrician a Minor Works Certificate if the work entails a replacement part or an alteration of a circuit.

OR

An Electrical Installation Certificate if the works entail a complete installation in the case of a new build, a re-wire of a existing electrical installation, the addition of a new circuit, or a major alteration as in the case of replacing a fuse board.

The certificate must be sent to you within a reasonable time of the completed works – one month. The certification and any data must be kept safe, as this maybe required before any future works are carried out or will be required when you sell the property.

If you decide that you are competent or employ a person who is competent by either experience or formal qualifications and not engage an accredited contractor or electrician then you must inform the Building Control Officer before commencement of the work. The Building Control Officer will inspect the completed work.

Depending on the authority, the Building Control Officer will need a completed certificate as part of British Standard 7671 (I.E.E Regulations) and may insist upon an inspection by an accredited contractor or electrician who will supply a Periodic Inspection Report.

This will of course entail a charge for the inspection by the Building Control Officer, which, depending on the local authority can range from £50.00 for a minor notifiable job to several hundreds of pounds for a major notifiable job. If the Building Control Officer also insists upon an inspection by an accredited contractor or electrician with the supplying of a Periodic Inspection Report, this will also of course entail a charge.

In reality, most Building Control Officers are not qualified to inspect the work and as such, will try to dissuade you from carrying out the work; hence the disproportionate charges and the probable requirement of a Periodic Inspection Report. If you do carry out the work yourself and it is acceptable to your local authority, it remains to be seen whether will be acceptable when you come to sell your property.

Therefore, if you are trying to save money on the labour content of the work, it will probably be false economy.

If I do decide to carry out the work myself, can an accredited contractor or electrician certify the work for me, hence saving me the hassle and cost for the Building Control Officer?

No – An accredited contractor or electrician cannot certify work carried out by anybody else, as he cannot inspect the full extent of the wiring especially where it is hidden in the fabric of the building. The only thing he can provide is a Periodic Inspection Report – which is a formal inspection of the wiring system but does not include an inspection of wiring within the fabric of the building i.e. under floors etc. The Periodic Inspection Report is not a certificate. As such it will not comply with Part P although as above, some authorities may insist on one if you carry out the work yourself.

I want to replace a broken socket – are you saying I need to notify or employ somebody that is accredited (Government approved)?

No – for example you can replace existing accessories or replace a damaged cable with like (type and size).

The requirement of whether work is notifiable or not depends on the nature of the work and very importantly, its location. Location is important because some locations e.g. bathrooms, gardens and kitchens could have an increased shock risk!

The information below shows examples of what is notifiable and which is not. The list is not exhaustive and should the work required not fall into any of the categories below or you have any doubt I would strongly urge that you seek advice from a Building Control Officer or an accredited contractor or electrician.

You must be aware that the requirements of the Building Regulations apply to all work carried out irrespective of whether they are notifiable or not.

Areas within a kitchen, bathroom, garden or special location

NOTIFIABLE:

A complete new installation or rewiring

Installing a new circuit (eg, for socket outlets, lighting or shower)

Fitting and connecting a shower to an existing point

Replacing a fuse board

Adding a socket outlet to an existing circuit

Adding a lighting point to an existing circuit

Fitting a storage heater to an existing adjacent point

Installing a supply to a garden shed, garage or other outbuilding

Installing a lighting point or socket outlet in a garden shed, garage or other outbuilding

Installing a garden pond pump including the supply

Installing electric under floor or ceiling heating

Installing an electricity generator

NOT NOTIFIABLE:

Connecting a cooker to an existing connection unit

Replacing a damaged cable for a single circuit (cable to be the same size and type and installed as original)

Replacing a damaged accessory such as a light switch or socket outlet

Replacing a light fitting

Connecting an item of equipment to an existing adjacent connection point

Fitting a storage heater to an existing adjacent point

Replacing an immersion heater

Areas not in a kitchen, bathroom, garden or special location

NOTIFIABLE:

A complete new installation or rewiring

Installing a new circuit e.g. for socket outlets, lighting or shower

Replacing a fuse board

Installing a lighting point or socket outlet outdoors

Installing and fitting a storage heater including the circuit

Installing electric under floor or ceiling heating

Installing an electricity generator

NOT NOTIFIABLE:

Adding a socket outlet to an existing circuit

Adding a lighting point to an existing circuit

Connecting a cooker to an existing connection unit

Replacing a damaged cable for a single circuit (cable to be the same size and type and installed as original)

Replacing a damaged accessory such as a light switch or socket outlet

Replacing a light fitting

Connecting an item of equipment to an existing adjacent connection point

Fitting a storage heater to an existing adjacent point

Replacing an immersion heater