Domestic electrical installations are within the scope of the Building Regulations. All new domestic electrical installations, together with specific alterations and additions to current installations, will have to be inspected and comply with strict electrical safety performance standards. The standards cover the design, installation, inspection and testing of domestic electrical work and the provision of information.
The main reason for the change was the need to reduce the hazards posed by unsafe domestic electrical installations and thereby help to reduce injuries from electrical shocks and burns. It is also hoped to reduce injuries arising from fires in dwellings due to electrical components overheating or arcing.
When the time comes to sell your property, your purchaser's surveyors will ask for evidence that notifiable domestic electrical work, installed after January 2005 complies with the new Building Regulations. There will be two ways to prove compliance:
- a certificate showing that the work has been done by a competent installer who is registered under one of the Electrical Self-Certification schemes as outlined below.
- a completion certificate from the local authority saying that the installation has approval under the Building Regulations. This however, is dependent on the owner who has ordered the work, providing relevant electrical test certificates on completion of the installation from a suitable qualified electrician.
The Electrical Self-Certification Schemes
It is estimated that several million domestic electrical installations happen every year. If all of them went through the normal Building Regulations application process it would place an enormous burden on local authorities. It is essential to have a way to ensure that the work is done properly without an unreasonable increase in the administrative and financial burden on installers and property owners. The answer is a self-certification scheme for domestic electrical installations, which allows installation companies, which meet certain criteria, to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations.
The Local Authority System
Any notifiable domestic electrical installation carried out by a firm, which is not registered to self-certify as outlined above, or done as a DIY project by a householder, will need full local authority approval (Full Plan or Building Notice) under the Building Regulations. Local authorities will know of all the approved self-certified installers in their areas and will be able to identify unauthorised work very easily. You should note that you, as the house owner, are ultimately responsible for ensuring the work complies with the Building Regulations.
Generally, the Building Regulations covering domestic electrical installations will apply to all electrical work:
- within dwellings.
- within the grounds of dwellings or buildings sharing their supply with dwellings. This would include a pond pump and garden lighting systems.
- within other buildings or premises sharing their supply with dwellings. This includes sheds, garages, outbuildings, linked shops and so on.
- within the common and shared areas of flats.
However, you do not need to notify the local authority in the case of:
Work consisting of:
- replacing any socket-outlet, control switch or ceiling rose;
- replacing a damaged cable for a single circuit only;
- re-fixing or replacing enclosures of existing installation components, where the circuit protective measures are unaffected;
- providing mechanical protection to an existing fixed installation, where the circuit protective measures and current carrying capacity of conductors are unaffected by the increased thermal insulation.
Or for work which:
- is not in a kitchen, or a special location,
- does not involve work on a special installation, and
- consists of:
- adding light fittings and switches to an existing circuit;
- adding socket outlets and fused spurs to an existing ring or radial circuit; or
- installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding.
Before you sign a contract for notifiable domestic electrical installation work, be sure to ask the installer if they are able to self-certify under one of the schemes listed above. If not, either they, or you, will need to make an application to your local authority for approval under the Building Regulations and pay any relevant charges. An inspection will be required at first fix stage and also upon completion. We will ask for a relevant electrical installation certificate, signed by a competent person in accordance with Approved Document P, before we are able to provide a completion certificate for the work.
Further information is available from Building Control 01768 817817 together with application forms (Full Plan or Building Notice) and the current scale of charges.
See the Department for Communities and Local Government's leaflet on the Planning Portal's website 'Rules for electrical safety in the home.