Current Legislation/Part P
Part P Back Story
In May 2003 the Government made an announcement that it intended to introduce a new section to the Building Regulations, in England and Wales. This was to be eventually known as Part P, which would bring domestic electrical installation work in England and Wales within the same legal status with the rest of what was then the Building Regulations. It set out and placed a legal requirement for safety upon electrical installation work in domestic dwellings.
There then followed a long period of consultation with interested parties and after 2 years, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister then decided, that part of the key decisions relating to the introduction to Part P, could only be undertaken, as and when self-certification schemes or competent persons schemes were solidly in place. These schemes were seen as essential to the success of Part P to ensure that there was a form of competency assessment, on both the individual carrying out electrical work or the enterprise, in the case of a company. A certain amount of horse-trading and “behind the scenes” negotiations took place between the ODPM and the scheme providers, all of whom were obliged to agree to establish their schemes in parallel and with the same parameters and to not make profit the central rationale.
And so it was that, Part P of the Building Regulations became a legal requirement on January 1st 2005.
Part P is changing in 2013
As we have said, “Part P” was introduced on the 1st of January 2005 and simply refers to the Official Document “P” of the Building Regulations. Official document “P” or Part P, as it is more commonly known, and as with all the other approved documents, provides some practical technical guidance to domestic electrical installers, and to give some technical clarification for some common domestic building circumstances. It was soon realised though, that there were some glaring omissions and also difficulties actually interpreting certain aspects of an installation. So much so, that in 2006, “Part P” of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations (England and Wales) was significantly amended to give greater transparency of the general requirements. Critics of Part P, who were blaming the lack of enforcement of Part P, were also answered when the amendment was published.
It was for this reason that consultations were undertaken by the government resulting in a document which looked at what it describes as a "final impact assessment". This document set out the proposed changes to Part P of the building regulations and provided an analysis of the associated costs and benefits.
The key proposals and principle aims were to reduce the bureaucracy and cost burdens that Part P imposes on installers, building control bodies and consumers, without undermining the improvements to electrical safety, installer competence and the quality of electrical installation work arising from the introduction of Part P in 2005.
This impact assessment updates the consultation impact assessment which was a supporting document for Section 3 of the 2012.
You can download a copy of the impact assessment here ►►
Alongside this and almost in parallel, that the first amended edition of BS 7671 was published, during the summer of 2011 and will be effective for all new installations from the 1st of January 2012. However, this in no way detracts from this important impact assessment.
Part P: 2013
Part P will be changing - and the most important changes are that non notifiable work has been significantly increased and "third party" certification is now allowed
Download your copy of the official document Part P here ►►
There are currently 4 Government approved competent person’s self-certification schemes and these are as follows
Total Electrical Training is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites
British Standards Institution
Tel: 01442 278577
EC Certification Ltd
0845 634 9043
Napit Registration Ltd.
0845 543 0330
NICEIC Group Ltd
0870 013 0382
Part P Frequently asked questions
Q. When did Part P come into effect?
A. Part P came into effect in England and Wales on 1 January 2005.
Q. What are the requirements of Part P?
A. As of 1 January 2005 it is a legal requirement for all work on fixed electrical installations in dwellings and associated buildings to comply with relevant standards. The relevant UK standard is BS 7671:2008, 'Requirements for electrical installations' (The IEE Wiring Regulations 17th Edition). BS 7671 covers requirements for design, installation, inspection, testing, verification and certification.
Q. What types of electrical work does Part P apply to?
A. The term “domestic dwelling” includes houses, maisonettes and flats. It also applies to electrical installations in business premises that share an electricity supply with domestic dwellings, such as shops and public houses with a place where persons may be living, such as a flat. Any electrical work that is within or attached to a domestic dwelling, including but not limited to the common parts of any building(s) serving one or more domestic dwellings. One important exclusion to this is any power supply to a lift. Part P also applies to any building that receives its electricity from a source located within or shared with a domestic dwelling, and 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 domestic dwelling.
The common parts of building(s) includes access areas in blocks of flats which includes such as hallways and other amenities in blocks of flats which includes shared amenities like laundry rooms and gymnasiums.
Part P also applies to electrical installations located in outbuildings such as detached garages, sheds and greenhouses, and to other parts of electrical installations located on land around domestic dwellings such as garden lighting – this also includes extra low voltage lighting.
It should also be understood, that Part P only applies to electrical installations that operate at voltages not exceeding 1000 V a.c. and it always references BS7671:2008
Q. Can you explain what is a meant by the term, “notifiable”
A. Notifiable work normally includes new electrical installations, including either partial or full house re-wires, the installation of a new consumer unit, and the installation of new final or distribution circuits. Notifiable work also includes additions to existing circuits in kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors and in other special locations.
Q. I am still confused; does it mean that all electrical work will need Building Regulations approval?
A. No. In general, any electrical work that requires notification will only ever need to be given to, or full plans of the intended installation deposited with a local authority building control office. This notification is only lodged, if the work is not being carried out by an electrical installer or electrical contractor who is not registered with a government licenced competent person self-certification scheme.
Q. So, What types of electrical work are 'non-notifiable' and that I can carry out?
A. The following types of work are non-notifiable (in April 2013, this list may change)
Replacing accessories such as socket-outlets, control switches and ceiling roses
Replacing the cable for a single circuit only, where the cable may be damaged, on the basis 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
Re-fixing or replacing the enclosures of existing installation components, and that the protective measures are unaffected.
Providing mechanical protection to existing fixed installations – an example of this would be if you are installing some form of cable trunking.
Installing or upgrading main or supplementary equipotential bonding, on the basis that this will not breach nay other applicable legislation, like the gas safety regulations.
Work that is not in a kitchen or special location and does not involve a special installation and consists of any additional lighting points, which includes any switches to an existing circuit
Any additional socket-outlets and fused spurs that is added to an existing ring or radial circuit, and only is the circuit protective devices are suitable.
Q. What are “special locations”
A. Within the scope of official document “P, it is recognised that in addition to the ”Special locations and installations (listed below), that kitchens and bathrooms are considered to have special requirements, ands as such, any work carried out in these areas within a domestic dwelling, are notifiable.
BS7671:2008 has these listed as “special locations”
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
It is recommended that domestic installers avail themselves of a copy of the IEE Guidance Note 7 which gives clear detailed guidance on achieving safe installations where the obvious risks to people are much greater.
Q. What are competent person self-certification schemes?
A. Domestic electrical installers and electrical contractors, who register with a competent person self-certification scheme, are able to “self-certify” their work. This achieves the requirement that the installation is compliant with the Building Regulations whenever 'notifiable' work is carried out. Persons who are not registered with a self-certification scheme – this will include DIYers – will, by law, need to notify or submit plans to a local authority building control body, unless the work is non-notifiable as described above.
Q. What criteria is used for judging the competency in order join a Part P scheme?
A. Part P schemes competency requirements are detailed in the Electrotechnical Assessment Scheme (EAS)
To comply with the EAS, the applicant can achieve this through a mix of experience and qualifications, which typically will be evidenced by the applicant holding a relevant 17th edition qualification – some scheme providers may ask applicants to undergo further technical training in areas such as testing and inspecting. There are additional requirements, mostly of an administrative nature – most Part P scheme providers will go through these additional requirements with the applicant at the time of registration. As of 6th of April 2013, new requirements for QS's under the EAS come into force – please call us on 0800 170 7007 for more details.
Q. What are defined competence self-certification schemes?
A. These are Part P schemes aimed at installers and contractors who do electrical work as an add-on to their main core business – good examples of this non core activity would be a fitted kitchen installer, a gas engineer, a fitted bathroom installer.
Q. I am still concerned about Part P – do I have to join or will I be forced to join a Competent Person Scheme?
A. To reiterate, Part P is all about electrical safety in domestic dwellings – so in order to successfully demonstrate that, you have distinct routes for compliance with Part P, if you are carrying out any 'notifiable' electrical installation work in domestic dwellings:
You can join a competent person self-certification scheme, and this is clearly the choice of anyone who likely to be carrying out notifiable electrical installations in domestic premises.
If you feel that you can confidently prove your competency (see EAS notes on our news pages) and you think that you are only likely to be carrying out notifiable work infrequently, you do not have to register with a competent person’s self-certification scheme. However, you must notify local authority building control before carrying out the work and that the installation must meet all of the requirements of BS 7671 regarding design, installation, inspection and testing, and certification – you should expect to have at least 2 visits by a building control officer and be prepared for some expenses as each visit is usually chargeable. There is no requirement to join a Part P scheme. It is perfectly acceptable for the domestic electrical installer to submit the appropriate notices of notifiable work to the local authority building control department. Joining a Part P scheme provider is a personal choice for the individual electrical installation enterprise.
The whole purpose of Part P was to try and discourage unsafe “DIY” electrical work – electricity is dangerous and it can kill you!.....and believe it or not, even after the inception of Part P, there are still at least 30 deaths a year due to electrocution. However, if a householder insists that they wish to carry out electrical work on their domestic property, they should at least notify building control before commencing work, and/or after April 2013 when the amendments to Part P come into force, have a third party certify their work - that third party must be a enrolled with a competent persons scheme and have a QS. You also need to be aware that local authority building control departments are under a strict legal obligation to issue stop notices if they feel that any electrical installation work has or will put lives at risk. It is for this reason that anyone who wants to carry out this work and indeed carrying out any third party testing, must be deemed as competent. That person, who is carrying out the third party certification or the installer, if they are carrying out the tests and issuing the ECR, must additionally must meet the requirements set out in the EAS. If local authority is satisfied that all is in order, it doesn't simply get rubber stamped. The building control office will arrange for the work to be, inspected and tested at various stages and that there will be fees to cover any costs incurred.
Q. How does Part P apply to DIY work?
As we have already said, Part P applies to any electrical installation work that is notifiable work, and this places a legal requirement, whoever carries out the work. It is worth repeating though that some minor electrical work does not need to be notified; some examples include adding a lighting or power point to an existing circuit, adding a spur to an existing circuit or replacing a light fitting, as detailed earlier on this web page.
Failure to comply with the Building Regulations is actually a criminal offence and local authorities have considerable legal powers to require the removal or alteration of any work that does not comply with these important requirements. There have already been successful prosecutions and in one case, a rogue electrician was fined over £20,000 for non compliance.
Q. What are the extra costs to join a Part P scheme?
A.The annual cost of joining a Competent Person Scheme is not in itself expensive, when spread over the number of jobs undertaken during the year, but it is worth noting that in order to join a competent person’s scheme, there will be some costs born by the applicant.
Q. Given that some local authority’s additional resources to cope with Part P are in some doubt, where will these resources come from?
A. Part P allows for electronic notifications to building control, so there are massive savings to be accrued by local authorities. Some local authorities will employ electrical inspectors, whilst others will operate a system of call-off contracts, so in theory the money saved by the electronic system should pay for any additional Building Control Inspections.
Q. It is often said that in the past, not all electrical faults were not caused by bad workmanship; so why all the fuss about Part P?
A. In the Regulatory Impact Assessment, the government’s own advisors estimated that around 30% of electrical accidents could be prevented through regulation, and that this alone more than justified bringing electrical work in dwellings under Building Regulations control. However, the impact assessment undertaken in 2012 has recommended some relaxation in the rules. Download a copy of the impact assessment here ►►
Q. As Part P isn't’ being seen to be enforced, does this mean that more work is being done that should be notified?
A. The original Regulatory Impact Assessment considered the question of whether regulation and any perception that enforcement wasn’t being carried out could result in more unsafe work. This was dismissed by the government’s advisory team as there was no evidence that perceptions alone, is no reason not to introduce important regulations that have electrical safety as the primary driver. Besides which, the impact assessment (see section above) has suggested that the system is working well.
Q. What are the benefits of Part P?
A. By bringing electrical work in domestic dwellings within current building regulations and control has already contributed to reductions in the number of avoidable deaths, injuries and fires caused by faults in electrical installations.
One significant and in the view of many is that due to the introduction of Part P, and for perhaps the first time, electricians now see training and improvements in levels of technical awareness as a positive thing to engage with. Nationally, Part P has lead to significant improvements in the competence of electricians and electrical contractors and as far as consumers are concerned, this has been mirrored in an improvement in the overall quality of electrical work carried out.
Whilst Total Electrical Training has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained on this web page, we advise you that this information should not be relied upon as a substitute for formal advice from the originating bodies or departments of the scheme providers, compliance agencies and others involved in regulatory matters.