New Part P building regulations for Electrical Safety In the home

When did the new Part P rules start and why?

On January 1 st 2005, new Part P Building Regulations were enforced in England and Wales to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and fires caused by faulty electrical installations and to make it harder for 'cowboy builders' to leave electrical installations in an unsafe condition. Part P is intended to increase the safety of households by improving the design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations in dwellings when these installations are being newly built, extended or altered.

The risks posed by unsafe electrical installations and portable appliances are electric shock, burns and other injuries arising from fires in buildings ignited by electrical components overheating or building up dangerous currents causing 'arcing'. Installations that are properly designed, fitted, tested and commissioned in accordance with British Standard BS 7671 (a requirement of Part P) will help minimise these risks.

From 1 January 2005, people carrying out electrical work in homes and gardens in England and Wales will have to follow the new rules in the Building Regulations.

Part P is being considered for Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2006.

The Scope of Part P

Part P applies to the following areas:

  • Dwellings
  • Combined dwellings and business premises having a common supply (such as shops, pubs etc.)
  • Common access areas in blocks of flats (but not lifts)
  • Shared amenities in blocks of flats (such as laundries, gymnasiums etc.
  • Outbuildings, including sheds, garages and greenhouses
  • Garden lighting and power supplies

How to meet the new rules

If the work is going to be carried out by yourself or a friend , you don't need to tell your local authority's Building Control Department about repairs, replacements and maintenance work; or extra power points or lighting points or other alterations to existing circuits (except in a kitchen or bathroom, outdoors or specialist locations).

However you do need to tell your local authority's Building Control Department about most other work before you start.

If you are not sure about this, or you have any questions, ask your local authority's Building Control Department.

If the work is going to be carried out by a contractor or installer, you don't need to tell your local authority's Building Control Department about repairs, replacements and maintenance work; or extra power points or lighting points or other alterations to existing circuits (except in a kitchen or bathroom, outdoors or specialist locations).

However you do need to tell your local authority's Building Control Department about most other work. If the contractor or installer is registered with a competent person scheme, you should tell your local authority's Building Control Department before they start the work. However if they are registered, the contractor or installer will look after all the building regulations for you. You do not need to contact your local authority's Building Control Department.

What is a 'special installation or location'?

The following are classified as special installations or locations:

  • locations containing a bath tub or shower basin
  • swimming pools or paddling pools
  • hot air saunas
  • garden lighting or power installations
  • solar photovoltaic power supply systems
  • electric floor or ceiling heating systems
  • extra-low voltage lighting installations, other than pre-assembled, CE-marked lighting sets
  • small scale generators such as microchip units

All electrical installation work in such areas (as well as in kitchens) will need to be notified, or self-certified by a prescribed competent person, even if only 'minor works'.

Why should I use a contractor or installer who is registered with a competent person scheme?

For the purposes of Part P, the Government has defined 'Competent Firms' as those registered under the NICEIC Approved Contractor scheme, the Domestic Installer Scheme and the Electro technical Assessment Scheme.

  • Members of schemes can deal with all the new rules for you.
  • Members are qualified to carry out electrical work.
  • Members will give you a certificate to confirm their work follows the new rules.
  • You will not have to pay Building Control charges.
  • You will have the option of taking out an insurance-backed guarantee for the work.
  • You will have access to a formal complaints procedure if you are not happy with the work.

If you decide against using a registered firm to carry out any work for you, bear in mind the following points:

  • There is no guarantee that the electrical installation is safe
  • You will have no official record of the work you've had carried out
  • You may have difficulty selling your home if you do not have the right electrical safety certificates
  • Your local authority's Building Control Department may insist that you put right any faulty work
  • What will happen if I do not follow the Building Regulations?
  • The electrical installation might not be safe.
  • You will have no record of the work done.
  • You may have difficulty selling your home if you do not have the right electrical safety certificates.
  • Your local authority's Building Control Department may insist that you put right faulty work.