Updated: May 21, 2022
Part P refers to a section of the Building regulations specifically for electrical safety in homes which was introduced back in 2005.
Part P states that anyone carrying out electrical installation work in a home must make sure that the work is designed and installed to protect people from fire and electric shocks. It is the law.
Electricians carrying out work in England and Wales have to comply with Part P of the Building Regulations whereas in Scotland it is the Building Standards system. At the present time Northern Ireland has no equivalent statutory requirement.
What do I need to do before electrical installation work can be carried out in my home?
You must either:
tell your local-authority building-control about the installation work before it starts; or
employ an electrician who is registered with one of the Government-approved Part P schemes.
We recommend that you use a registered electrician to do the electrical installation work.
The advantages of using a registered electrician are:
you will not have to pay any building-control charges;
the electrician can deal with everything for you;
the electrician will arrange for you to receive a certificate that confirms the work meets Building Regulations;
you have to access to a formal complaints procedure if the work doesn't meet Building Regulations; and
you can choose to take out an insurance-backed guarantee when you have the work done, and you can make a claim if the work is later found not to meet Building Regulations.
Below is a good example of what can happen when not using a registered electrician:
We was asked recently a to replace a few upstairs lights to LED fixtures for a new client which was a relatively simple task. Once we had installed the lights and began testing we found there was 100 volts present on the earthing conductor for the lighting circuit.
This type of issue usually means the earthing conductor is disconnected somewhere in the circuit. We asked the client if there had been any other electrical work carried out at the property and they advised that the upstairs bathroom had been upgraded 6 years ago with new Downlighters installed.
We then carried out further testing to confirm the earth was disconnected somewhere near the start of the circuit which happened to be the bathroom.
Unfortunately the upstairs had no loft space and the existing cabling was installed within conduit throughout the ceiling void. Our only option was to cut open the ceiling within the bathroom to access the original junction boxes to find the disconnected earth which we re-connected.
It was clear to us the electrical work was not carried out by a registered electrician as the wiring was not of a good standard with chopped earths and taped connections throughout. No electrical certification was provided and when our client questioned the contractor on this they simply replied “This is something we do not do“.
On the face of it everything looked ok. The lights were on and working as they should but with no earth connection and with metal lights and switches installed throughout there was a high chance of electric shock should there be any form of loose connection.
No RCD protection was installed at the fuse board and no bonding to the Gas and Water services so this was a recipe for a disaster and our client was very fortunate to not have been injured or worse during the last 6 years.
However the additional costs incurred to carry out the electrical repairs and re-plaster the bathroom ceiling could have been easily prevented.
The Part P regulations was introduced to help prevent these types of scenarios but only by increasing awareness will these occurrences be reduced.
Always use a registered electrician.
Further information on Part P can be found here.