Well are you as confused as I am? Have you ever even heard of Part P electrical regulations? Here I will attempt to bring you up to speed so that you have Part P explained.

Since January 1, 2005, all electrical work (apart from simple like-for-like replacements of damaged power points and light fittings) has been subject to approval by local authority building control officers.

Part P explained – what does Part P actually mean?

Any DIYer who fits a new lighting circuit in the kitchen, say, or installs an electric shower, is obliged by the new Part P of the Building Regulations to supply plans in advance to the council, and then pay for an inspector to come out to test the work. 

Electrical works carried out as part of major works requiring a Building Regulations approval will be included within the principal application. If works are only being carried out to the electrical system, a separate application must be made, unless the work is carried out by a competent person, registered with an approved Part P self-certification scheme. If this latter route is chosen, the competent person must provide a self-certification certificate to the customer and forward a copy to the authorities within 30 days.

So what are the chances of that happening? Potentially as likely as every DIYer who fits an outside tap calling the water company to ask if he could please have his water bill increased. It’s the law, but will it be ignored?

For professional electricians, the situation is even more complicated. In order to avoid the expense and hassle of getting a council building control officer to inspect their work, they now have to become a member of one of the five government-approved (but privately administered) competent persons schemes. This requires an annual fee of around £500, and extra fees for the registration of every completed job.

So what is the point of this new Part P legislation?

The Part P changes were intended to regulate building workers who have only peripheral contact with electrical work, such as Kitchen Fitters, heating engineers and burglar alarm installers, whose primary purpose is not to rewire houses, but whose work requires them to connect things to the electricity supply.

However, the government committed to privatised regulation, and it therefore decided that anyone who connects cables to current must pay money to join a private, profit-making scheme. So life-long skilled electricians are being lumped-in with the other trades and forced to pay for this Part P registration.

What are the rules for “non-electricians” under Part P?

There are two levels under Part P – Full Scope and Defined Scope. Those registered with Full Scope schemes (BRE, BSI, ELECSA, NAPIT & NICEIC) can carry out any electrical work and other trades registered under Defined Scope schemes (CORGI, ELECSA, NAPIT, NIC & FTEC) can carry out a limited amount of electrical work, for example gas fitters, kitchen or bathroom fitters and alarm installers.

Will Part P legislation raise standards.

Some people think that Part P will amount more to a collective dumbing-down of standards. There are also concerns as to how is it going to cope with the really dangerous practitioners – the cowboys and incompetent DIYers – who will ignore the new rules and carry on as before. Is it instead, penalising the good guys – the conscientious, qualified electricians who have always done things properly anyway?

We would love to know your views – especially anyone that is effect by Part P directly.

Now for the complicated bit:

To what types of electrical work does Part P apply?

a) in a dwelling

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

b) in the common parts of buildings serving one or more dwellings

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, but excludes power supplies to lifts

c) in a building that receives electricity from a source located within or shared with a dwelling

d)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

e) electrical installations located in outbuildings

such as detached garages, sheds and greenhouses.

f) electrical installations that operate at voltages not exceeding 1000 V a.c.

Notifiable work includes new installations, house re-wires, and the installation of new circuits, also includes additions to existing circuits in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors and in other special locations.

What types of electrical work are ‘non-notifiable’ under Part P?

a) replacing accessories e.g. socket-outlets, control switches and ceiling roses

b) replacing the cable for a single circuit only, where damaged.

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

c) re-fixing or replacing the enclosures of existing installation components, if the circuit’s protective measures are unaffected

d) providing mechanical protection to existing fixed installations

If the circuit’s protective measures and current-carrying capacity of conductors are unaffected by increased thermal insulation

e) work that is not in a kitchen or special location and does not involve a special installation and consists of:

- Adding lighting points (light fittings and switches) to an existing circuit, only if the existing circuit protective device is suitable and provides protection for the modified circuit, and other relevant safety provisions are satisfactory.

- Adding socket-outlets and fused spurs to an existing ring or radial circuit, only if the existing circuit protective device is suitable and provides protection for the modified circuit, and other relevant safety provisions are satisfactory

-Installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding

Special locations and installations:

  • 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
  • Details of current Full Scope part p schemes: 

    BRE Certification LtdTel: 0870 609 6093Email: partp@eca.co.ukWeb: www.partp.co.uk   

     

     

     

    BSI – British Standards InstitutionTel: 01442 230 442Email: product.services@bsi-global.comWeb:

    www.bsi-global.com/kitemark

    ELECSA LtdTel: 0870 749 0080Email: enquiries@elecsa.org.ukWeb: www.elecsa.org.uk
    NAPIT Certification LtdTel: 0870 444 1392Email: info@napit.org.ukWeb: www.napit.org.uk
    NICEIC Certification Services LtdTel: 0800 013 0900Email: partp@niceic.org.ukWeb: www.niceic.org.uk

    Any legislation put in place to make things safer is a great idea, but should there be a greater awareness so that homeowners know about Part P and what are the actual benefits of being Part P to a competent elecrician?

    One thing to remember when you come to sell your house, any competent solicitor or conveyancer is going to ask whether any work you have done while living in the house has been properly signed off for building control purposes!

    If you are unsure as to whether the works you are planning are notifable under Part P, contact your local Building Control department also the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which has driven the new legislation have produced a Part P Explained leaflet.