Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Are DIY electrics still allowed?

I am in the very early thought process stage for building my own home. I have every intention of carrying out as much of the work myself as I possibly can, and this ranges from ground works to electrical installation, plumbing etc, etc.

However, the recent changes in legislation now mean that I have to employ someone else to do what I could do myself the day before the changes came into force.

To comply with this new legislation, my thinking is that I need to be approved under the "Competent Persons Scheme", and therefore, I need to know exactly what qualifications I need to gain, and what my next move is once I have the qualifications. Is it purely a case of gaining BS7671 and the like ?

It seems very odd that as a "layman" I can visit my DIY store or similar merchants and purchase all of the equipment I require to install systems, but I can't actually do anything with regard to fitting them.

Can you please clarify what the situation is.

Ian Thorley

Mark Brinkley, Author of The Housebuilder's Bible writes:

It wasn’t until 2005 that electrical work came under the auspices of building control in England & Wales. Part P, as it is known, doesn’t actually state that only competent persons are allowed to carry out electrical work: rather it suggests you have two choices. Firstly, you can elect to have a suitably Part P qualified electrician undertake the work for you and sign it off as having been carried out in accordance with BS7671. Alternatively, you can apply to have the electrical work inspected — and hopefully passed —by your local authority building inspector, or an agent acting for them. This, in theory, allows DIYers to undertake their own electrical work, in the time-honoured fashion, but adds in a measure of quality control that wasn’t previously there. If this work was being carried out as part of a larger project — i.e. building a house — then there shouldn’t be any additional charge for inspecting the electrics, though this may be at the discretion of the building inspector.

However, not every local authority is happy to undertake electrical inspections. Some of them have hired qualified electricians to undertake this new workload, others haven’t bothered and are instead insisting that all electrical work is undertaken by suitably qualified electricians. I suggest you make some enquiries to your local authority building inspectors and find out where they stand.

If they insist on you using a qualified electrician, and you still wish to undertake the work yourself, you then have a further two choices.

• One is to find a Part P electrician who will mentor you through the job, do some inspection and sign off the job as their own. They do exist. One who works regularly with selfbuilders across the land is Ben Addison.

• The other is to undertake the training yourself. There are various places you can do this training. One such is Trade Skills, who offer a range of courses suitable for your needs at a cost of around £1,500. This must include a City & Guilds 2381 qualification to show you understand the essentials of BS7671, and a further qualification for Part P Domestic Installers. Having successfully completed the courses, you would also need membership of a certifying body such as The Electrical Contractors Association in order to be able to sign off your own work. It would probably cost you around £2,000 for the qualifications and a year’s membership. However, at the end of this process, you would also have a very sellable skill. If you really enjoy electrical work, maybe this is what you have been waiting for!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work as a Chartered Surveyor and renovate houses as a 'hobby'. Locally, in Sheffield, I've recently inspected for mortgage purposes a terraced house that has been rewired by the owner. He did it through B.Regs and had to have an electrician authorised by the B. Control Dept to inspect at first fix and again at completion to test the circuits. I understand the charges were per circuit and were in the region of £300 + B Control fees. Still quite reasonable. I've rewired my daughters house myself and had a friendly lecky do a periodic test after he fitted the new consumer unit. Cost £200.

I can also confirm that the vast majority of mortgage valuers would not get involved sufficiently to queer the pitch. On seeing evidence of a full or partial rewire they would ask only for evidence of rewire guarantee or for a recent test. Providing one or the other is available then the circuits are, therefore, sound and no further action would be necessary.

If Mark would like to contact me, as a Domestic Energy Assessor, regarding my perceptions of Energy Certificates and the potential for another Eco-Bollocks of the Year Award, I'm Tony at

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3:34 pm  
Anonymous San Diego New Homes said...

Personally I would hire a professional. Electrics can be a bit dangerous. You don't want to accidentally get electrocuted.

9:11 pm  
Anonymous electric motor repairs said...

For everything else, there's always electricians who can provide the right service.

9:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinking of doing my own electrics too. It was a course I took in college but never saw it through to completion. I literally just need a quick patch up and I know I would be able to do it myself for free instead of calling a specialist to do the same thing a charge me a fortune. I guess the only thing I’m worried about it how this might hinder my house valuation for when I stick my property on sale.

3:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really wonder why I went to college for 4 years when very misguided people think they can do it themselves. I'm an electrician who works for a testing and reporting firm. The really knowledgeable sparks are the ones who are compliant in testing and inspection. Most installs done by electricians have stacks of none compliances so what chance has an amateur?? NONE. The reason self builds get passed is because...a. cowboy sparks sign other peoples work off b. building inspectors know next to nothing about electrical installation or regs, and c. councils don't care. If you are not a qualified, time served spark then, despite what you might think, you are not competent and do not have the knowledge. Just because something works does not make it safe. I wouldn't wipe my backside with the certificate of a part p course. A BS7671 course?? As my tutor said..he could teach an ice cream man to pass it. Lets see someone pass 2330, NVQ 3, AM 2 and 2391 in a week with no experience. You are playing with fire (possibly literally) and putting in jeapordy the lives of anyone who enters your property.

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Anonymous Dave Lee said...

I work as a qualified electrician at Eviva, and having seen many homes and situations arise over the years I would always recommend you use a qualified local electrician. Not only should you consider the safety of those in your home, but also when you come to sell your property it would be better to have the relevant documents pertaining to any work carried out. We have electricians in Birmingham who would be happy to advise at no cost.

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