Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Part P will add to Cost of Building

New building regulations, which according to the Government are aimed at curbing the unacceptable number of deaths, injuries and house fires caused by faulty electrical installations, came into force on January 1.

The unacceptable number of deaths figure seems to hover around the 10 mark annually and that it is by no means clear how the implementation of the new regulations, known as Part P, will reduce this figure, although it will add significantly to costs for builders. Rather like the CDM regs which were introduced in 1994 to a fanfare of publicity about how many lives would be saved: since their implementation, construction site deaths have increased.

Part P inspections do not apply to small electrical works in the home, which are arguably the most dangerous because they are more likely to be undertaken by complete novices. There is also no requirement for a first-fix inspection which would uncover dubious practices like running cables diagonally across walls, the kind of mistake which electrocuted MP Jenny Tongue's daughter last year. Some qualified electricians may undertake first-fix inspections but a large number will only be notified after the works have been completed.

Another interesting aspect of Part P is that it applies exclusively to dwellings: it's the only building regulation to do this. This may be in an attempt to reduce the number of fire brigade call outs for domestic fires, which average around 7,000 a year and cost nearly £50 million a year. But the feeling is that the implementation of Part P will have negligible impact on safety, deaths by electrocution or fire service costs but will add between £150 and £300 to the cost of building a new house or an extension.

For more info visit: www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_control/documents/contentservertemplate/odpm_index.hcst?n=3628&l=2

Mark Brinkley

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Blogger Mike said...

It can be shown, by looking at the declining accident rate in New Zealand relative to Australia, (previously NZ used to ban DIY wiring, but now allow it, Oz still bans it)that permitting DIY fixed wiring is safer than banning it - this contrary result is because making DIY work either illegal, or too expensive, leads to semi-permanent extension leads and flexes, which actually pose far more of a hazard than fixed wiring , even if imperfectly done. If we map the New Zealand experiance on to the UK population figures, after scaling , we can expect to save ~2 lives from fixed wiring, but lose perhaps 5 more to extension leads as the price of this "improvement". Perhaps we should await regulations to cover the inspection and use of extension leads..

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