We are surrounded by electricity and it is very easy to take it for granted, but it is important to recognise the dangers inherent in electrical installations, particularly if the proper procedures and practices are not followed. The rules and regulations surrounding electrical installation activity have been tightened over recent years and it is important for the homeowner to have some grasp of what is now expected.
What is Part P?
When people refer to Part P, when talking about electrical safety standards, they are talking about Part P of Building Regulations, enacted on 1st January 2005 by the Government of the day, the intention to improve standards of electrical installation work and thereby enhance electrical safety and reduce the number of electrical accidents involving fire and electric shock. These regulations only apply to England and Wales and not the rest of the UK. These regulations bring electrical work in the domestic setting in line with other similar types of building work in the home, such as those relating to gas installation.
In practice, the law requires the majority of domestic electrical installation activity to be carried out by a fully qualified electrician who will complete the work and then provide you with an electrical safety certificate and a Compliance Certificate as evidence that the work that has been carried out fully adheres to the relevant Building Regulations. You are only able to carry out electrical work in the home yourself if you are competent enough to test that it is safely implemented. You must also ensure that your local control office is aware of the work and arrange for them to carry out an inspection.
What are the Penalties for non-Compliance?
If you do not comply with the regulations, as stated above, besides taking the risk of having installed a potentially dangerous installation, other consequences are;
- No certificate or evidence of compliance to Building Regulations. This may prove an issue when you attempt to sell your home.
- You are committing a criminal offence to carry out work which does not follow regulations and are leaving yourself open to the possibility of a £5000 (max) fine
- Your local building control office may insist that you redo the work at your own expense.
What electrical work, if any, is excluded from the Building Regulations?
Some minor works are excluded from the Building Regulations and the definition of minor includes any installation not involving the addition of a new circuit, for example adding additional electric sockets or switches to an existing circuit. However, even these minor works must comply with the wiring regulations, BS 7671.