Learn to Build – Electrical Regulations

Learn to Build – Electrical Regulations


Electrical Installations

Whilst I’m on the subject of wiring, I think that it would be appropriate to mention the new electrics to your extension.

My personal opinion is that, despite how clever you know you are with electricity, unless you are certified, leave it to a registered electrician who will be in a position to issue an electrical installation certificate to building control.

If you carry out the work yourself, you will still have to pay an electrician to inspect it and issue the certificate. He won’t be pleased, will probably sting you, so, you might as well use him in the first place.

In January 2005 a new section was added to the Building Regulations for England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man concerning electrical safety bringing, for the first time, electrical works to domestic premises and their ancillary accommodation into the Building Regulations.

Although there is no direct equivalent in the Scottish Building Standards, electrics are contained within the regulations and, more specifically in Section 4.5 (Electrical Safety) and Section 4.6 (Electrical Fixtures).

However, these are pretty woolly in comparison and are confined to general directions to observe best practice and follow certain guidelines.

Part ‘P’ applies equally to buildings such as detached garages, conservatories, porches, sheds and greenhouses where the construction or alteration of such a building would be exempt under all other parts of the regulations.

It also applies to electrics installed on land associated with dwellings, such as pond pumps, garden lighting, and sewage treatment plants.

**If the electrical works are being carried out in conjunction with a new build, extension, conversion, material alteration or change of use of a building where a Full Plans or Building Notice application has been made, then the works will be covered and dealt with within the principle application.

But to ensure compliance with the regulations, a copy of an electrical installation certificate from a competent person (see below) must be provided to Building Control in order to obtain the Building Regulations Completion Certificate.

If works are only being carried out to the electrical system then as long as they are carried out by a competent person registered with an approved Part ‘P’ self-certification scheme, no separate Building Regulations application needs be made so long as the self-certification certificate is provided to the customer and a copy forwarded to the authorities within 30 days.

If the works are carried out by an unregistered electrician, who must be a competent person as defined in ii) below then, as well as making a separate Building Regulations application, they must provide a written statement that the works have been designed, installed and tested to ensure that they comply with BS7671.

A Competent Person is Defined as:

A competent person registered under an electrical self-certification scheme, or

# a competent electrician who could be considered competent for the purposes of signing a BS7671 Electrical Installation Certificate, but is not registered with an electrical self-certification scheme.

These definitions create grey areas but would almost certainly exclude a DIY self-builder and most general builders.

This puts the onus on the Building Control department to inspect and legitimise the work and, realistically, most Building Control departments don’t have the time or expertise.

Some accept established but unregistered contractors as competent. Others, that have no qualified inspecting staff, insist that only registered contractors are employed.

Bringing electrics into the regulations means that there is an interaction with other parts of the regulations and, in particular, Part ‘M’.

New buildings must obviously comply with the requirements for positioning of sockets and switches within the 450-1,200mm zones above floor level. Extensions to dwellings built after July 1999 must also comply with part ‘M’.

Extensions to dwellings built before that date can either have the switches and sockets in conformation with Part ‘M’ or at the same heights as the existing, so long as access to them is not made worse.

If an older house is being rewired without removing the plaster it is considered reasonable that the sockets and switches should be put back in the same place as they were before.

There are, in addition, certain conditions imposed on the works that can be carried out without notification:

1. Any replacement cable must have the same current carrying capacity, follow the same route and not service more than one sub-circuit through a distribution board.

2. The circuit’s protective measures must be unaffected.

3. Any increased thermal insulation must not affect the circuit’s protective measures and its current carrying capacity

4. The existing circuit protective device must be suitable and provide protection for the modified circuit with all other relevant safety provisions being satisfactory

5. All work must comply with other applicable legislation such as the gas Safety (Installation and Use)