Part P of the building regulations was introduced on 1st January 2005 (along with much controversy and debate) and for the first time brought electrical work into the scope of the building regulations for England and Wales (note Scotland which has its own rules). Its stated purpose being to improve electrical safety in dwellings.
This guidance refers specifically to the 2013 edition of the Part P document, that applies to work being planned after the 6th April 2013. This version of the approved document resolves many of the difficulties and controversies that surrounded previous versions, and for the first time introduces a formal process to allow a third party to inspect, test, and sign off work completed by others.
Note that as of this edit (March 2014) the Welsh building regulations still cite the previous 2010 version of part P
The Part P approved document covers electrical installation work in the home, and at its basic level requires that the any work done complies with and is tested to BS7671:2008 "The Wiring Regs" 17th Edition (or an equivalent standard).
It also highlights a number of specific electrical jobs in the home which are classed as "notifiable" jobs. When carrying out any of these jobs, the building regulations require that one of the specific procedures specified in the Part P approved document, be followed.
Where does Part P apply
- Domestic property, dwelling houses, flats etc.
- Common areas in blocks of flats such as corridors and staircases, and shared amenities like kitchens, gyms, and laundries.
- Some business premises where they share metering with a domestic premises (but excluding agricultural premises).
Part P does not apply to electrical installations:
- In business premises in the same building as a dwelling, but with separate metering.
- Installations that power lifts in blocks of flats.
What is a notifiable job?
The following tasks are notifiable:
- Installing a new circuit
- Replacement of a Consumer unit
- Any addition or alteration to an existing circuit in a special location (note simply changing an accessory like a light fitting or switch does not count as an alteration)
Where are special locations?
Special locations include:
- In a room containing a bath or shower, the spaces surrounding the bath or shower. In particular: within 2.25m vertically from the floor level; or 2.25m from where a shower head attaches to a wall. Horizontally 0.6m beyond the edge of a bath or shower tray, or where there is no bath or shower tray (e.g. in a "wet room") 1.2m from the position of the shower head.
- Rooms containing a swimming pool or sauna.
What is not notifiable
All other electrical installation tasks are not notifiable. Note that these includes some tasks that were included in earlier versions of the Part P approved document such as electrical work in kitchens, and alterations to outdoor installations.
Note also that like for like replacements (e.g. replacing a lamp fitting with a different one) are generally not notifiable even in a special location.
What are the requirements for notifiable jobs?
For work that is notifiable there are three ways in which it can be completed and certified:
- Work can be completed and certified by an electrical contractor or registered "competent person" that is a member of a Part P self-certification scheme. (There are a number of schemes run by electrical industry trade bodies like NICIEC, ELECSA, NAPIT, CORGI and various others).
- Work can be completed by anyone, under supervision of the the local authority building control body, and the building control body will issue a certificate.
- Work can be completed by anyone, and certified by a registered third party.
How does the certification work in practice?
Using a self certifying contractor
The registered competent person should complete a BS7671 electrical installation certificate and give this to the person ordering the electrical work. They should also (within 30 days of completion) give a copy of a Building Regulations compliance certificate to the occupier, and, pass a copy of the certificate to the local authority building control department.
Using the building control department
Prior to starting work the installer shall notify their building control department by submitting (and paying for) a building notice. The building control department will decide what level of inspection and testing is required, and may carry out this work itself, or may subcontract it to a third party.
Building control authorities may accept a BS7671 testing results and certificate presented to them by an installer who is technically competent, but not a member of a self-certification scheme. They may require evidence of the qualifications of the installer.
Once the building control body is satisfied that the work has been carried out correctly, it will issue a certificate.
Using a registered third party
Before work begins the installer may appoint a registered third party.
Within 5 days of completing the work, the installer should notify the registered third party. The third party should then carry out an Electrical Installation Inspection, and complete an Electrical Installation Condition Report, and give it to the person ordering the work. If the installer can furnish their own inspection and test results, the third party may agree to use these if they find them acceptable.
The registration body of the third party must then within 30 days give a copy of the report to the occupier, and the local authority building control department.
Note that while registered third-party inspectors will be members of a self-certification scheme as described above, their scheme provider may not automatically authorise them to act as third party inspectors until they have demonstrated additional competencies, and paid for additional levels of membership. i.e. Being a member of a scheme alone does not necessarily mean that the installer can act as a registered third party. In addition, some of the scheme operators have recently announced that they are not planning to support third party inspection schemes at all. (an unfortunate side effect of using trade bodies with vested self interests!)
Part P - Common Questions
Is DIY electrical work allowed?
Yes, all domestic electrical work is allowable. All DIY work should be completed to the standard specified in BS7671:2008 aka The Wiring Regs. Any notifiable jobs completed by a DIYer who is not also a member of a self-certification scheme should follow one of the alternative certification procedures described above.
Does non-notifiable work need testing?
Yes, all electrical work should be tested and inspected. Ideally results from the tests should also be recorded and kept.
What happens if notifiable work is completed without notification?
If the local authority building control department were to become aware of non-notified work, they may require the property owner to seek "regularisation" for the work at their own expense.
If the work is not to a adequate standard they may also take enforcement action to compel the owner to rectify the work as required - again at the owners expense.
Note that lack of Part P certification for notifiable works can sometimes cause difficulty when selling a property.
Can building control notification include other items?
Yes. Frequently electrical work may be just one of many items submitted on a building notice or full plans submission to building control. Note that some building control departments will charge an additional premium for any submission that includes electrical work.