FAQs – Building Regulations Part P, Electrical safety in dwellings

Q1:  When did Part P come into effect?

Part P came into effect in England and Wales on 1st January 2005.

Q2:  What are the requirements of Part P?

As of 1st January 2005, it is a legal requirement for all work on fixed electrical installations in dwellings and associated buildings to comply with relevant standards.  The relevant UK standard is BS 7671:2008, ‘Requirements for electrical installations’ (The IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition).  BS 7671 covers requirements for design, installation, inspection, testing, verification and certification.

Q3:  To what types of electrical work does Part P apply?

  • In or attached to a dwelling
  • In the common parts of buildings serving one or more dwellings, but excluding power
  • supplies to lifts
  • In a building that receives its electricity from a source located within or shared with a
  • dwelling, and
  • In a garden or in or on land associate with a building where the electricity supply is from
  • a source located within or shared with a dwelling

The term dwelling includes houses, maisonettes and flats. It also applies to electrical installations in business premises that share an electricity supply with dwellings, such as shops and public houses with a flat above.

The common parts of buildings includes access areas in blocks of flats such as hallways and shared amenities in blocks of flats such as laundries and gymnasiums.

  • Part P applies to electrical installations located in outbuildings such as detached garages, sheds and greenhouses.
  • Part P applies to parts of electrical installations located on land around dwellings such as garden lighting.
  • Part P applies to electrical installations that operate at voltages not exceeding 1000 V AC.

Notifiable work includes new installations, house re-wires, and the installation of new circuits.

Notifiable work also includes additions to existing circuits in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors and in other special locations (see below).

Q4:  Will all electrical work need Building Regulations approval?

No.  In general, notification will need to be given to, or full plans deposited with, a building control body only if the work is major involving one or more complete new circuits, and is not being carried out by an electrical contractor registered with an authorised competent person self-certification scheme.

Q5:  What types of electrical work are ‘non-notifiable’?

The following types of work are non-notifiable:

  • Replacing accessories such as socket-outlets, control switches and ceiling roses
  • Replacing the cable for a single circuit only, where damaged, for example, by fire, rodent or impact (see Note 1.)
  • Re-fixing or replacing the enclosures of existing installation components (see Note 2.)
  • Providing mechanical protection to existing fixed installations (see Note 3.)
  • Installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding (see Note 4.)
  • Work that is not in a kitchen or special location and does not involve a special installation (see Note 5.) and consists of:
    • Adding lighting points (light fittings and switches) to an existing circuit (see Note 6.)
    • Adding socket-outlets and fused spurs to an existing ring or radial circuit (see Note 6.)

Notes:

  1. On condition that the replacement cable has the same current-carrying capacity, follows the same route and does not serve more than one sub-circuit through a distribution board
  2. If the circuit’s protective measures are unaffected
  3. If the circuit’s protective measures and current-carrying capacity of conductors are unaffected by increased thermal insulation
  4. Such work shall comply with other applicable legislation, such as the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations
  5. Special locations and installations are listed below
  6. Only if the existing circuit protective device is suitable and provides protection for the modified circuit, and other relevant safety provisions are satisfactory

Special locations and installations (Note 5.)

  • Locations containing a bath tub or shower basin
  • Swimming pools or paddling pools
  • Hot air saunas
  • Electric floor or ceiling heating systems
  • Garden lighting or power installations
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) power supply systems
  • Small scale generators such as microCHP units
  • Extra-low voltage lighting installations, other than pre-assembled, CE-marked lighting sets

Note:  See IEE Guidance Note 7 which gives more guidance on achieving safe installations where risks to people are greater.

Q6:  What are competent person self-certification schemes?

Electrical contractors who register with a competent person self-certification scheme will be able to self-certify compliance with the Building Regulations whenever they carry out ‘notifiable’ work.  Persons who are not registered with a self-certification scheme – including DIYers – will need to notify or submit plans to a building control body, unless the work is non-notifiable as described above.

Q7:  How many electrical self-certification schemes have been approved?

On the recommendation of BRAC (the Building Regulations Advisory Committee), the Government has approved schemes to be operated by:

  • BRE Certification Limited
  • BSI – British Standards Institution
  • ELECSA Limited
  • NAPIT Certification Ltd
  • NICEIC Certification Services Limited

These schemes are aimed at those carrying out electrical installation work as the primary activity of their business.

The following defined competence self-certification schemes, aimed at those who carry out installation work only as an adjunct to or in connection with the primary activity of their business (e.g. gas installations, plumbing, kitchen or bathroom fitting, heat installation, security systems) have also been approved:

Scheme Web Address Telephone
APHC Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (Certification) Limited www.competentpersonsscheme.co.uk 02476 470 626
CORGI Services Ltd www.trustcorgi.com 0870 401 2300
EC Certification Ltd / ELECSA www.eccertification.co.uk
www.elecsa.co.uk
0845 873 8786
0845 634 9043
NAPIT Registration Ltd
(National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers)
www.napit.org.uk 0845 543 0330
NICEIC Group Ltd www.niceic.com 0870 013 0382
OFTEC
(Oil Firing Technical Association Ltd)
www.oftec.org.uk 0845 658 5080

Q8:  What are the competency criteria for joining a Part P scheme?

The competency requirements for the Part P schemes are specified in the Electrotechnical Assessment Scheme (EAS) – further details of which can be found on this website (see Electrotechnical Assessment Scheme).

Compliance with the EAS can be achieved through a mix of experience and qualifications.  There are additional requirements, mostly of an administrative nature, including the provision of certificates and a complaints procedure.  These can be found on the ODPM website at www.odpm.gov.uk.

Q9:  What are defined competence self-certification schemes?

These are schemes aimed at contractors who do electrical work as an adjunct to their main activity – for example, kitchen and bathroom fitters and central heating installers.

Q10:  Will electrical contractors be forced to join a Competent Person Scheme?

There are three routes for those carrying out ‘notifiable’ electrical installation work in dwellings to demonstrate that they have complied with the requirements:

  1. 1.  To join a competent person self-certification scheme, which is recommended for those who regularly undertake notifiable work in domestic premises.
  2. Competent persons who only infrequently carry out work in domestic premises need not register with a competent persons self-certification scheme.  However, if they are not registered they must notify building control before carrying out the work and should meet all of the requirements of BS 7671 regarding design, installation, inspection and testing, and certification.
  3. DIY electrical work is not to be encouraged, however where a householder wishes to carry out electrical work they must notify building control before commencing work.  Building control will arrange for the work to be, inspected and tested at various stages and will charge a fee to cover any costs incurred.

There is no requirement to join a scheme.  It will be perfectly acceptable to submit building notices to the local authority.  It will be a matter for each individual electrical contracting firm to decide which of the above two routes to compliance would be best for their business.

Q11:  How will Part P apply to DIY work?

Part P will apply to all electrical work in dwellings, whether carried out by professionals or DIYers.

Some DIY work will require the submission of a building notice to the local authority and the payment of a building control fee – see Q10 item 3 above.

Some minor electrical work will not be notifiable, as explained above.  Examples include adding a lighting or power point to an existing circuit, adding a spur to an existing circuit or replacing a light fitting.

Q12:  How will compliance with Part P be enforced?

Failure to comply with the Building Regulations is a criminal offence and local authorities have the power to require the removal or alteration of work that does not comply with the requirements.

Q13:  What extra costs will be imposed on electricians?

The annual cost of joining a Competent Person Scheme should be negligible, when spread over the number of jobs undertaken during the year.

Q14:  Local authorities will require more resources to cope with the extra work – where will these come from?

There should be no additional financial implications for local authorities.  The money to pay for additional Building Control Inspectors will accrue from building control fees.

Some local authorities will employ electrical inspectors, whilst others will operate a system of call-off contracts.

CLG require that the joining and inspection fees set by the scheme operator are sufficient only to cover their costs and allow future development of the schemes.

Q15:  Many electrical faults are not caused by bad workmanship, so why bother with Part P?

In the Regulatory Impact Assessment, the Government estimated that around 30% of electrical accidents could be prevented through regulation, and that this would justify bringing electrical work in dwellings under Building Regulations control.

Q16:  Won’t Part P simply drive more work ‘underground’?

The Regulatory Impact Assessment considered the question of whether regulation would result in more unsafe work.  The Government does not consider there is any evidence that this will be the case.

Q17:  What will be the benefits of Part P?

It is expected that bringing electrical work in dwellings under building regulations control will reduce the number of deaths, injuries and fires caused by faults in electrical installations.  It is expected that nationally Part P will lead to an improvement in the competence of electrical contractors and to an improvement in the overall quality of electrical work.

We welcome your call for an initial, informal chat to discuss the above ideas or any services that you require for your residential project.

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