Electrical work might need doing for several reasons. It could be that there’s a fault that needs rectifying or an old consumer unit that needs replacing. Or you might want to extend a circuit to add an extra socket or light switch.
Whatever the work, it’s important that your home electrics are safe and working properly. Building regulations play a large part in ensuring this. Read on to find out more about building regulations and how they apply to electrics.
What are building regulations?
Building regulations are a set of construction and design specifications. Most structures are legally obliged to meet them. Their purpose is to ensure the health and safety of all people in and around buildings. They are also in place to make sure that buildings are energy efficient and have disabled access.
Do building regulations apply to electrics?
Building regulations apply to electrics in domestic properties. Significant electrical work needs building regulations approval in advance. Minor work doesn’t, but should still follow building regulations.
Electrical work that needs building regulations approval in advance is a ‘notifiable’ job. Notifiable jobs include:
- Installing a new consumer unit (fuse box)
- Installing a complete new circuit
- Altering an existing circuit – but only if it’s in a ‘special location’. These are spaces around baths and showers, and also in kitchens and outdoors in Wales.
How do I make sure my electrics meet building regulations standards?
The easiest way to make sure your electrics are up to standard is to hire an electrician registered with a competent person scheme. Any work they carry out should meet building regulations standards. They should give you a certificate to prove this.
If you choose to hire a non-registered electrician or do the work yourself, it’s a bit more complicated. For notifiable jobs, you need to tell a relevant registered person or body before you start work. This could be your local authority, a private building control body or a third-party certifier (for properties in England only). After the work’s completed, they’ll then need to inspect and approve it. They’ll also issue a certificate stating it complies with regulations.
For non-notifiable jobs, you need to make sure the work is up to scratch. You can consult BS7671, which is a document that details UK electrical safety standards. You can also get advice from your local building control department. In these cases you’ll still need the work inspected, tested and certificated.
So whatever the electrical work, it needs to comply with building regulations. The condition of the electrical installation in your home is your responsibility. So you need to know the credentials of the person doing your electrical work, and act accordingly.
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