So what is Part P?

Building regulations Part P came into effect on 1st January 2005 and concerns the safety of electrical installation work in dwellings in England and Wales. Anybody performing electrical work in the home should ensure they conform to this and to other relevant Approved Documents such as Part A (Structure), Part B (Fire Safety), Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power), etc. A full list of the Approved Documents can be found and printed here:

If performing DIY electrical work in the home then you must be mindful of the applicable regulations. While it’s not illegal to carry out any such work on your own home if you are competent to do so, you must ensure your efforts comply. Although the local council are hardly likely to go kicking down your front door at 5 o'clock in the morning to perform a surprise inspection of those new light fittings you recently bought from Homebase, you could find yourself in a spot of bother if your installation work does not follow the regulations and causes knock-on problems such as weakening of the building structure, fire damage, an increase in noise through a party wall or spiking 230V up poor old Aunt Mabel’s loofer as she sits in the bath.

Some tasks should be simple enough for the confident DIYer such as changing like for like fittings, however for those who don’t feel confident enough to be performing the requisite work a reputable company (such as mine) ought to be sought.

To notify or not to notify?

A lot of domestic electrical work doesn’t come under the scope of Part P. If you want to change a ceiling rose for a new light fitting in a bedroom then you may go right ahead, that is so long as you’re comfortable that you know what you’re doing, you know how to isolate the supply and you are careful to ensure the completed work is in a condition no less safe than before you started. Similarly, changing an old cracked socket for a new faceplate is also fine so long as you ensure it is done properly. Part P comes into play when a new circuit is being added, a new consumer unit (fuse box) is to be installed/changed, or work is in a 'special installation' which is somewhere that has an increased risk of electric shock through contact with water, i.e.  bathrooms, outdoors or, for those of us with more money, domestic saunas and swimming pools. Work in these areas is likely to come under Part P which means you need to notify the Building Control bods at your Local Authority of what you’re doing and allow them to inspect and test it before, during and after installation as they (may or may not) see fit.

Obviously this can prove expensive and time consuming, but by using a Part P registered electrical installer things are made easier as they will be able to deal with Building Control for you via a competent person scheme such as NICEIC who will regulate the work of the installer so the local council don’t have to.

The important thing to remember is that any and all electrical work performed by a professional will be accompanied by the necessary paperwork to certify it. A Minor Works Certificate will accompany small works such as replacing an existing light fitting. An Electrical Installation Certificate together with a Schedule of Inspections and Schedule of Test Results will be provided for a new circuit or a replacement consumer unit. Where work is notifiable you will also receive a notice of compliance from Building Control or from a competent person scheme operator. All this paperwork is important as it certifies the work and absolves you of responsibility should issues occur later. If you come to sell your house, this paperwork will be required for searches as without it you may have to pay to have the work verified and any non-compliance put right. Indeed, any non-compliance with the building regulations that comes to light at any time could land you in hot water and require you to put right - or face a fine or imprisonment.

In short, ensure anyone quoting you for any electrical installation/repair states in writing that they will provide the necessary certification for the work involved and make sure that certification is provided afterwards. Although there are undoubtedly some odd-job handy types out there who will do the work cheaper and leave out the red tape, you could find yourself in a jam later on if you don’t have any proof the installation is safe and compliant.

As I am Part P registered through my membership of NICEIC, you can be assured that any work I perform will be according to the regulations, certified and insured with all paperwork provided after completion. You can check to see who is registered as a Part P installer by visiting the website of the Competent Persons Register.

You may well find cheaper when shopping around, but make sure you are getting the right bang for your buck and that the work will be insured, warrantied and the important paperwork will be supplied post installation.

If in doubt, give me a call and we’ll have a friendly chat about what you need.