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Electrical safety in dwellings

From 1 January 2005, the new Building Regulations, Part P, Electrical Safety in Dwellings, came into force.

Plans/Building Notices deposited after this date or plans submitted before this date that do not have full approval must comply with the requirements. Building Notices/Conditionally Approved applications submitted before the 1 January 2005, if works have made a significant commencement, do not have to comply with these requirements.

Part P introduces two new requirements for 'Electrical safety in dwellings'

  1. Reasonable provisions shall be made in the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installation. This is in order to protect persons from fire or injury.
  2. Sufficient information shall be provided so that persons wishing to operate, maintain or alter an electrical installation can do so with reasonable safety. That is, appropriate warning notices and details of the installation in the form of diagrams/schedules must be provided.

Note: Where your contract for the electrical work was entered into before 1 January 2005 and the works completed before 1 April 2005, the works do not have to comply with the new regulations.

Where the works relate to the installation of a heat-producing gas appliance, of:

  • an oil-fired combustion appliance
  • an oil storage tanks and pipes
  • a solid fuel burning combustion appliance

provided the contract for the work was entered into before 1 April 2005 and the works completed before 1 July 2005, the works do not have to comply with the new regulations.

Questions and answers on building regulations regarding electrical requirements:

What type of premises does the new part P regulations apply to?

  1. Dwelling houses and flats.
  2. Dwellings and business premises that have a common supply. For example, shop with flat over.
  3. Common access areas in blocks of flats. For example: corridors/stairs, excluding power supplies to lifts.
  4. Shared amenities to blocks of flats. For example, laundries/store areas and so on.

Part P also applies to electrical installations in gardens, in or on land associated with the above building types. This is where the electricity is from a source located within or shared with a dwelling. For example, fixed lighting and pond pumps in gardens.

Electrical installations to outbuildings, such as sheds, detached buildings and garages, and greenhouses are also covered. This is where the electricity is from a source located within or shared with a dwelling. This includes those types of buildings that are exempt from other Building Regulations requirements. See the relevant associated guidance notes and notes that follow.

How are electrical installations controlled?

Electrical installations covered by the previous answer are now defined as 'controlled services or fittings'. As a result, any alterations/new installations can constitute 'Building Work' requiring a Building Regulation application.

Why are electrical installations now controlled?

Electrical installations are responsible for a number of deaths by electrocution. They can contribute to fires where installations fail or are incorrectly installed. To reduce these injuries and deaths, the new Part P has been introduced.

What are electrical installations defined as?

Any fixed electrical cables or fixed electrical equipment located on the consumers' side of the electricity supply meter. It also includes low voltage and extra-low voltage installations.

Extra-low voltage means voltage not exceeding:

  • in relation to alternating current, 50 volts between conductors and earth; or
  • in relation to direct current, 120 volts between conductors.

Low voltage means voltage not exceeding:

  • in relation to alternating current, 1000 volts between conductors or 600 volts between conductors and earth; or
  • in relation to direct current, 1500 volts between conductors or 900 volts between conductors and earth.

What works require a building regulation application?

The scope of Part P is wide-ranging. The majority of electrical works undertaken are likely to require Building Regulation approval. This includes both new and alteration works, for example, rewires.

Periodic Inspection Report (PIR). Part P does not cover the inspection and testing of existing electrical installations. However, any work carried out to correct deficiencies in a PIR can fall within the scope of Part P.

See Appendix A for a list of works that might require a Building Regulation application. It is not a full list of all possible works. It provides an indication of such works. If in doubt, please ring Building Control.

Descriptions of minor work where no alternation is required

Work consisting of:

  1. Replacing accessories. For example, socket outlets, control switches, or ceiling roses.
  2. Replacing cables for a single circuit only, where damaged, for example, by fire, rodent or impact. Replacement cables must have the same current-carrying capacity. They must follow the same route as the existing one. They must not serve more than one sub-circuit through a distribution board.
  3. Refixing or replacing the enclosures of existing installation components, where the circuit protective measures are unaffected.
  4. Providing mechanical protection in existing fixed installations. This is where the circuit protective measures and current carrying capacity of conductors are unaffected by the increased thermal insulation.

And

  1. Work that is not in a kitchen, bathroom, or special location, or does not involve a special installation. Special locations and installations are listed below and consists of:
  2. Adding lighting points (light fittings and switches) to an existing circuit. Only if an existing circuit protective device is suitable. It must provide protection of the modified circuit. Other relevant safety provisions must be satisfied.
  3. Adding sockets outlets and fused spurs to an existing ring or radial circuit. Only if an existing circuit protective device is suitable. It must provide protection of the modified circuit. Other relevant safety provisions must be satisfied.
  4. Installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding. Work must comply with other applicable legislation. For example, Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations.

Special locations and installations mean:

Special Installations mean:

  • an electric floor
  • ceiling heating system
  • garden lighting
  • electric power installation
  • an electricity generator
  • solar photo voltaic (PV) power supply systems
  • an extra-low voltage lighting system, which is not a pre-assembled lighting set bearing the CE marking. This is referred to in regulation 9 of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994.

Special Locations mean a location within the limits of the relevant zones specified for:

  • Baths
  • Showers
  • Swimming/Paddling Pools
  • Hot Air Saunas

in the Wiring Regulations, 17th Edition, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the British Standards Institution as BS 7671.

Note: See IET Guidance Note 7. This gives more guidance on achieving safe installations, where risks to people are greater.

I am intending to build an exempt conservatory, shed, greenhouse, detached garage/building or car port. Do the electrical regulations apply? What is the implication on the building regulation exemption?

If you intend to provide electrical installations to any exempt building, which in either case receives its electricity from a source shared with or located inside a dwelling, a Building Regulations application is required for the electrical work. Refer to appropriate guidance leaflets on the rules for exempting the above works.

I am intending to do a rewire. Does this require building regulation approval?

Yes, see using competent person scheme below as an alternative.

I am intending to install a garden pond with an electric pump. Does this require building regulation approval?

Yes, if you are providing a fixed installation. See using competent person scheme below as an alternative.

I am intending to provide external lighting/garden lighting. Does this require building regulation approval?

Yes, if you are providing a fixed installation. See using competent person scheme below as an alternative.

I am intending to install new lighting or an electrical fan/additional lighting to my bathroom/en suite/shower room. Does this require building regulation approval?

As a bathroom/en suite/shower room is a special location, yes you do. See using competent person scheme below as an alternative.

I am intending to provide additional lighting and sockets in my kitchen does this require building regulation approval?

As a kitchen is a special location, yes you do. See the 'using competent person' scheme below as an alternative.

How do I make a building regulation application?

If the notifiable electrical works are associated with other Building Regulation works, for example, an extension to your house, the electrical works need to be included in the Building Regulation submission for the extension. Any plans or building notices submitted must be endorsed with appropriate notes to cover the electrical installation (see below).

Otherwise, before works commence, you can apply using either a 'Full Plans Submission', where plans are provided showing full details of the wiring installation, including wiring diagrams.

or

You can submit a Building Notice application. On receipt, Building Control will review the work complexity. For example, does it include kitchens/bathrooms? If required, we may request appropriate additional information.

Both application forms include statements regarding the electric works.

Important notes for agents:

You must make it clear to your client the implications and responsibilities of these new electrical regulations. This is to reduce the possibility of problems developing during the project's construction phase and us having to take enforcement action against the owner.

Exceptions:

An exception to the above application routes is where you employ a member of a Competent Person Self-Certification Scheme (CPS). See further details below. This allows you, provided certain procedures are followed, to avoid having to submit an application for the electrical element of the works only). Employing a 'Competent Person' under a self-certification scheme means you do not have to submit a Building Regulation application for electrical work.

What do I need to show on my plans on full submissions?

All plans should be endorsed with the following statement:

Electrical Works by a non-competent person scheme member

All wiring and electrical work will be designed, installed, inspected and tested in accordance with the requirements of BS 7671. This is the IEE 17th edition wiring guidance and Building Regulation Part P (Electrical Safety). On completion of works a copy of the installer's Electrical Installation Test Certificate compliant with BS 7671 is to be provided to the client and us.

and

Prior to covering of all wiring/cables, the installation is to be inspected by a 'Competent Person'. On completion of the work, in addition to the above certificate, an additional 'Competent Persons' Electrical Installation Test Certificate compliant with BS 7671 is to be provided to the client and us. Competent person means a member of ODPM Electrical Competent Persons Scheme.

Electrical works by a competent person scheme member

All wiring and electrical works to be:

  • designed
  • installed
  • inspected and
  • tested in accordance with the requirements of BS 7671

This is the IEE 17th edition wiring guidance and Building Regulation Part P (Electrical Safety). This must be by a member of the ODPM Competent Person Scheme.

and

The competent person is to send to us a 'Self-certification Certificate' within 30 days of the electrical works' completion. The client must receive both a copy of the 'Self-certification Certificate' and a BS 7671 Electrical Installation Test Certificate.

What do I need to show on my plans on building notice submissions?

Building Notice application forms have been amended to include a statement regarding the electrical installation. By signing the application form you are agreeing to comply with our requirements to design, installation, testing and certification in accordance with BS 7671.

(See statement to be made for full plan applications above).

On receipt of a Building Notice, Building Control will take a judgement on the work complexity. For instance, does it include kitchens and bathrooms? Where appropriate, we can request additional information to support the application. For example, a report on the existing installation suitability to carry the new loading/wiring diagrams/earthing detail.

The client and/or agent is also responsible for ensuring that the 'Competent Person's' inspections during installation and on completion are carried out. Sufficient inspections are to be made to allow the 'Competent Person' to sign an Electrical Installation Test Certificate. This must be compliant with BS 7671.

Who are competent persons?

Contractors or persons registered with one of the Part P self-certification schemes authorised by the Secretary of State. This is the Competent Persons Scheme (CPS).

It will be this person who is responsible for ensuring that the electrical works are designed, installed and tested in compliance with BS 7671.

Works carried out by competent electricians, who could be considered competent for the purposes of signing a BS 7671 electrical installation certificate, but who are not a member of a 'Competent Persons Scheme', cannot 'self-certify' their own work.

Important notes about the competent person scheme:

Please ensure you obtain evidence that your contractor is actually a competent person scheme member. To avoid having to submit a building regulation application by using the self-certification scheme, your approved competent person must provide a self-certification certificate to us, and you, not more than 30 days after the electrical works are completed.

Please ensure that the self-certification certificate is sent to us, otherwise it can leave you open to enforcement action. It will also cause you problems if you ever want to sell your property.

Current competent scheme members are:

  • The Electrical Installation Self-Assessment Scheme - A person registered by BRE Certification Limited, British Standards Institution, (ELECSA Ltd)
    Websitewww.elecsa.co.uk/
    Telephone: 020 7864 9913
    Fax: 020 7864 9910
  • National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting
    (NICEIC Certification Services Ltd) - NICEIC Approved Contractors Scheme / Domestic Installers Scheme
    Websitewww.niceic.com
    Telephone NICEIC Helpline: 020 7564 2320 or Domestic Installers Scheme 0345 543 0330
  • The National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers - (NAPIT)
    (NAPIT Certification Limited)
  • Websitewww.napit.org.uk
    Telephone: 01623 811483
  • The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA)
    Websitewww.eca.co.uk
    Telephone: 020 7313 4800

The CP Scheme is being extended to allow other specified trade association members (as listed below) to carry out limited electrical works associated with their job. This is known as 'Defined Competency Schemes. For example, Corgi registered plumbers installing electrical items as part of their plumbing installation works.

  • CITB - Construction Skills, Building Engineering Services.
  • CORGI Services Ltd.
  • Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry Ltd (OFTEC).

For more information see the competent person scheme on the GOV.UK website.

Other useful web pages/associations

Part P website: www.elecsa.co.uk

Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET): http://www.theiet.org/publishing/wiring-regulations/part-p/

The Wiring Regulations BS 7671 and amendments can be obtained from the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Michael Faraday House, Stevenage, Herts SG1 2AY (email: postmaster@theiet.org). You can also contact the British Standards Institution, Customer Services, 389 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AL (email: cservices@bsi-group.com)

What must my CPS electrical installation certificate include?

  1. Declaration that the works comply with the Building Regulations.
  2. Address of the work.
  3. A description of the work undertaken.
  4. Date the work was completed.
  5. The registered name of the contractor.
  6. Contractor's registration number.
  7. The competent person scheme operator.

What if the works undertaken by a competent persons scheme member deviates from the building regulations?

Because the Building Regulations will only allow the current edition of BS 7671 to be the standard for electrical works undertaken, any deviations from BS 7671 will mean that even a competent person scheme member will not be able to self certify the installation. Only our Building Control have the power to agree deviations from the Building Regulations. Similarly, if there are proposed to be any deviations from the other related regulations a Building Regulation application must be made to us.

What happens if my electrical contractor is not a member of a competent person scheme?

Works carried out by competent electricians, who could be considered competent for the purposes of signing a BS 7671 electrical installation certificate, but who are not a member of a Competent Person Scheme cannot "self-certify" their own work.

You will be required to submit a Building Regulation application for your electrical works. This will mean that you must arrange for a 'Competent Person Scheme' member to undertake sufficient installation inspections. This must be prior to the covering of wires and completion testing inspections in accordance with BS 7671. This is to allow the said Competent Person to sign an Electrical Installation Test Certificate compliant with BS 7671 and any defective work found will have to be corrected.

A copy of your installer's BS 7671 completion certificate (which is required in all cases) and a 'Competent Persons' Electrical Installation Test Certificate compliant with BS 7671 is to be provided to the client and us.

If your contractor fails to have the second tests/installation checks carried out, enforcement action may be taken against the householder. No completion certificates will be issued for the works. This will cause you problems when you try to sell your property.

Can I do my own electrics?

The rules do not prevent this, but you are strongly advised before you decide this route you take professional advice from a qualified electrician. Preferably a member of the Competent Persons Scheme.

Persons undertaking DIY must provide proof that work will be carried out following authoritative guidance that is BS 7671 / IET guidance and have the works inspected and tested in accordance with BS 7671 by a Competent Person Scheme member.

You will have to apply for a Building Regulation application and arrange for inspection and testing of the works (as above).

Any defective work found will have to be corrected as required.

It may be cheaper and quicker to employ a competent person as described above to do the works.

What inspections will the council make?

Where other building work is being carried out, our normal inspection process will apply.

For electrical work only applications, you or your contractor must notify us on commencement and completion of work.

Our inspection is not an electrical check, but a check to ensure other areas of the building regulations that electrical installations can have an implication on are complied with fire stopping / joist notching / sound insulation provisions / ventilation provisions/ energy conservation / Access to and use of building particularly for the disabled - (wall mounted switches/socket outlets to be located so that they are easily reachable. Preferred zones between 400mm and 1200mm above floor level) / Accessible consumer units to be fitted in a lockable cupboard or have a child-proof cover and so on.)

An exception to this is where the electrical works are carried out under a 'Competent Person Scheme'. It is this person who is responsible for ensuring that the works comply with all the Building Regulation requirements.

Our normal completion inspection will be undertaken when we are notified by the builder/owner. See notes below on what test certificates need to be provided.

What will we inspect and how much will it cost?

See our charges scheme details (separate sheets available).

What test certificates do I need to provide on works completion?

On completion of the works the following need to be provided:

Local authority building regulation applications

In all cases a copy of your installer's 'Electrical Installation Certificate compliant with BS 7671' MUST BE provided to us and the building owner.

You must arrange for a 'Competent Person Scheme' member to undertake sufficient installation inspections (prior to covering of wires) and completion testing inspections in accordance with BS 7671. Sufficient inspections are to be made to allow the 'Competent Person' to sign an Electrical Installation Test Certificate compliant with BS 7671. Any defective work found will have to be corrected as required. In all cases this certificate must also be provided to us with a copy provided to the building owner.

If your contractor fails to have the second tests/installation checks carried out and provide both BS 7671 test certificates, enforcement action may be taken against the householder. No completion certificates will be issued for the works. This will cause you problems when you try to sell your property.

Please Note: You must ensure that your installer completes all schedules to the electrical installation certificate, including details of each circuit/wiring schematic's/circuit diagrams specifications.

Competent person schemes

If using a competent person, on completion of the electrical works the person ordering the work should receive a signed 'Building Regulations Self-Certification Certificate'. This is issued under the ODPM Competent Person Scheme. A copy is to be provided to us within 30 days of the works completion by installer. Please ensure you installer does this to avoid legal action being taken against you.

The person ordering the work should also receive a duly completed Electrical Installation Certificate compliant with BS 7671. It is important that this certificate is made out and signed by the competent person/persons who carried out the design, construction, inspection and testing works.

What happens if I do not make a building regulation application or use a 'competent person'?

Failure to comply with the regulations is an offence. We can pursue a prosecution for a fine against the person who has carried out the work, or the householder. We can also require the removal or alteration of work that does not comply with Regulations. It is highly unlikely you will be able to sell your property. The search processes are to be changed to ask questions regarding electrical work undertaken to your property.

Examples of electrical works requiring regulation application or installation by a competent person (notifiable works)

Typical Domestic Locations Extensions
and
Modifications
to Circuits
New Circuits
Bathrooms
Bedrooms X
Bedrooms containing a shower or basin
Burglar Alarms X
Ceiling (overhead) heating ✓ 
Communal areas of flats X
Computer cabling X
Conservatories X
Dining Rooms X
En suite Bath / Shower rooms
Extra low voltage (ELV) non-preassembled CE marked lights
Garden - Lighting
Gardens - Power
Greenhouses
Halls X
Integral Garages X
Kitchens
(Note: where kitchens are open-plan to adjacent living accommodation, all linked rooms are treated as kitchens!)
Landings
Lofts X
Lounge X
Remote/detached buildings X
Remote/detached garages
Saunas
Sheds
Shower rooms
Small scale generators
Solar power systems
Stairways X
Studies X
Swimming pools
Telephone cabling X X
TV Rooms X
Under-floor heating
Workshops - detached from dwelling