|NEW RULES ON ELECTRICAL WORK IN THE HOME
IN FORCE FROM 1ST JANUARY 2005
New building regulations
aimed at curbing the unacceptable number of deaths, injuries and house
fires caused by faulty electrical installations, come into force on 1st
The new rules affect
anyone considering electrical work in the home, including DIY
enthusiasts. Failure to comply could lead to householders being required
to bring the work up to standard and may make it more difficult to sell
Minor jobs like replacing
sockets and light switches in low risk areas will not be affected.
However anyone thinking of, for example, carrying out electrical work in
kitchens, bathrooms or outdoors or adding new circuits to any part of
their house will have to get building control involved. The alternative
is to get the work carried out by a suitably qualified electrician.
The key question for
householders is who will be carrying out the work. If it is themselves,
a friend or relative then they will have to notify the local authority
building control department unless only minor work is involved. An
alternative is to employ someone who is registered with a ‘competent
The ODPM leaflet
‘New rules for electrical safety in the home’, explains the options and
how to go about finding a ‘competent person’ in your area in a clear,
easy to read style. You can view it online now at the
ODPM website and
hard copies will be available from local authorities and competent
person scheme operators from the New Year.
The changes bring England
and Wales further into line with Scotland where Building Regulations
already address electrical safety issues.
Notes to Editors
Electrical safety in dwellings (Part P)
From 1 January 2005 all electrical work in dwellings will need to comply
with Part P requirements and be carried out by persons who are competent
to do the work.
Small jobs such as replacing a socket-outlet or a light switch on an
existing circuit will not need to be notified to a building control body
(although there are some exceptions for high risk areas such as kitchens
All work that involves adding a new circuit to a dwelling will need to
be either notified to building control, who will then inspect the work,
or carried out, by a competent person who is registered with a Part P
Persons registered with Part P Self-Certification Schemes will be fully
qualified electrical contractors with the ability to thoroughly check a
circuit for safety.
They will be able to issue Building Regulations certificates of
Many jobs carried out on a DIY basis will be small jobs that do not need
to be notified to building control, but householders are recommended to
have them checked by a competent electrician to make sure they are safe.
Much unsafe electrical work is carried out by over-ambitious amateurs.
Each year on average 10 people die and about 750 are seriously injured
in accidents involving unsafe electrical installations in the home. In
addition, in 2003 2,336 house fires were caused by faulty installations.
(Quoted accident statistics have been taken from data supplied by the
DTI, ODPM and the Home Office since 1990).
It is believed that risks from unsafe electrical installations have
increased over recent years due to:
• Rising numbers and variety of electrical systems and appliances in
buildings plus increased demands being made on them
• Privatisation of the supply industry in 1988 leading to fewer
electrical supplier interventions in consumer installations.
• Voluntary self-regulation schemes provide excellent support for
existing subscribers but do not always reach the independents or small
businesses that have grown rapidly in number since the recession of the
Electrical accident rates in houses compare with those for carbon
monoxide poising, gas explosions and collisions with glass – all of
which are covered by the Building Regulations.
Risks in future could increase as rising consumer ownership of portable
and fixed electrical appliances is causing extra demand for extensions
and alterations to existing electrical installations.
The risks posed by unsafe electrical installations and portable
appliances are electric shock and burns and injuries arising from fires
in buildings ignited by electrical components overheating or arcing.
Installations properly designed, fitted, tested and commissioned in
accordance with BS7671 will help to minimise these risks.
The change to the building regulations was developed in response to the
Construction Industry Deregulation Task Force’s 1995 report which
recommended amongst other things that the Building Regulations should
address electrical safety
For the purposes of Building Regulations a fixed electrical system means
those parts of the wiring and appliances that are fixed to the building
fabric e.g. cables, sockets, switches, fuse-boxes, immersion heaters and
British Standard 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations: the IEE
Wiring Regulations is the principal British Standard that covers the
safe design, installation and testing of electrical installations in
buildings systems and it is the technical standard almost universally
specified in UK contracts for electrical installation work. It is the
basis for the approved technical guidance to meet the electrical
requirements of the Building Regulations.
Building regulations secure the health, safety, welfare and convenience
of people in and around buildings by providing functional requirements
for building design and construction.
If you want to put up a new building, extend or alter an existing one,
or provide fittings in a building such as drains or heat-producing
appliances, the building regulations will probably apply. They may also
apply to certain changes of use of an existing building.
An ODPM explanatory booklet (available on the at
provides more information on the situation in England and Wales.
The Local Authority Building Control Officer or an Approved Inspector
will be able to advise whether Building Regulations apply in a
Failure to comply with the building regulations is a criminal offence.
Local authorities also have the power to require the removal or
alteration of work that does not comply with the requirements.