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Government regulations can sometimes feel overreaching and unnecessary, and it is a perfectly common reaction to wonder if they are just bloated bureaucracy, rather than something actually important to the health and wellbeing of those involved. This is especially the case when you are working on your own property, such as your home. After all, why should you need government approval to work on your own home?
Many laws and regulations are understandable enough. It doesn’t take an expert in building regulations to see why you should get planning permission before building a two-story dwelling in your suburban back garden with adjoining neighbours. It should also be fairly clear why that dwelling would have to meet quite strict regulations about construction and the strength of the materials used. Electricity may not be so obvious to some, however.
At first glance and without any electrical expertise, you could be forgiven for thinking that electrical problems only affect you. And, while it is nice to know your government cares about you, it is understandable to say you should be allowed to put yourself at risk if you want to. That being said, the risk is not yours alone.
The first problem is that the risk posed from faulty electrical work can also affect anyone else who enters your property. And, while the consequences of such an incident would be entirely your own, it is better to avoid said incident in the first place. The next problem is that electrical faults can, in some cases, cause electrical fires, which can spread to neighbouring buildings, not to mention add a little strain on the emergency services. Finally, there is also the risk—albeit a small risk thanks to several safeguarding measures—that you could cause damage to the electrical grid itself.
So the government places regulations on electrical work to ensure that everything is done to a high enough and safe enough standard, and judges this with certifications. Electrical certificates are signed off by a qualified individual who is certifying that the work done meets all the necessary standards for the electrical work undertaken. In some cases (though not all) electrical certification is a legal requirement, and even if the work is undertaken by an unqualified individual (such as the homeowner) it would need to be certified by someone qualified.
There are a few different kinds of electrical works certifications to suit different situations. If you employ a professional electrician to take care of your electrical work, they will know what certifications might be necessary for the job at hand. If you are carrying out the work yourself, you will need to know what certifications are required and bring in an expert to inspect your work.
In this section, we are going to cover different types of certifications. It is important to note that it is often ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to ensure the correct work is undertaken and the appropriate certificate given.
This certificate applies to minor works (as the name says!), and certifies that the work has been carried out to proper standards and that any wiring has been tested to the 1IEE Wiring Regulation BS 767s. This type of testing can only be carried out by electricians who are registered for “Part P”.
In situations where this type of certification is necessary, it is a legal requirement, and the issuer of the certificate should always give an original copy of said certificate to the person or business who ordered the work to be done.
There are, of course, nuances to what this certification covers, but as a general example, if you were to have a fixture changed—such as a light fitting replaced or an electrical outlet swapped—it would not need notifying. However, if you had a light fitting or electrical socket moved and the wiring modified as a result, you would need the work certifying.
Part P refers to the laws that govern the safe installation and modification of electrical systems, and a Part P notification is work that is considered “notifiable”, meaning a building control body must be notified that the work has taken place.
Electrical work can come in a wide variety of forms, with some not requiring official certification at all. For the works that do require certifying, they are also notifiable. Notifiable works include:
The property owner is legally responsible for proving that any electrical work carried out meets Part P standards, and local authorities have the power to make property owners remove or alter work that is not up to this standard.
An electrical installation condition report, or EICR, is a periodic safety inspection of a property’s electrical wiring. It is recommended that this kind of test be carried out on a property at least once every ten years for residential homes, and five years for rental properties, and may also be referred to as a “Homebuyers Test” or “Landlord’s Safety Test”. In the case of rental properties, a test should be carried out when there is a change of tenancy, regardless of the interval since the last test.
As you might expect, the point of an electrical installation condition report is to ensure the safety of the people living in the property. It is important because so many electrical faults are invisible to the untrained eye, and many electrical problems are just plain invisible no matter how trained your eyes are. It is, of course, recommended that the residents of a property be vigilant for obvious signs of an electrical problem, such as scorched sockets or burning smells coming from electrical fixtures, but this test protects against the things that aren’t obvious.
An electrical installation certificate is issued to show that a new installation has been installed and complies with Part P regulations. This will often be issued by the electrician who carried out the installation, but it is also possible to do the work yourself and have a Part P certified electrician inspect the work and issue the certificate after the fact in some cases.
Though the rates of individual electricians may differ—not to mention variations in price based on the size of the property—you can expect a report to start at around £200. Any starting price will likely cover a set number of circuits, with additional circuits pushing the price up further.
Once again, the size of the task will affect how long the job takes, but you can expect a typical three bedroom home to take around four hours to complete. Factors like how professionally the existing wiring was installed can also affect the length of the job. If the wiring was not installed to the appropriate standards, or was installed a long time ago and never upgraded, that can make inspections more difficult. That being said, if your property is still using wiring from the 1960s, it needs replacing regardless.
The main thing that an electrical installation condition report will include is a list of any faults found. This is the most important part of the report as far as the homeowner is concerned, because it is essentially a list of things that they need to deal with as soon as possible. If not for their own safety, then for the legal repercussions of leaving a potentially dangerous electrical fault in place. The break-down of fault types includes:
As mentioned above, a home should be tested at least every ten years, or five years if that home is a rental property. Homes should also be tested any time the occupancy changes, whether it is a residential property that has changed owners, or a rental property that has changed tenants.
While there are some electrical works that can be undertaken by unqualified people, and other works that can be done DIY and certified afterwards, the actual certification of electrical work can only be done by a qualified professional.
Fortunately, there are many qualified experts out there who can give you a quote for an inspection, installation certification, or anything else you might need regarding your electrical installations. If you’re worried that there might be a problem, or it’s been a long time since your property’s last electrical inspection, get a quote from an expert today!