If you are carrying out electrical installation work in your home or garden in England and Wales, you must comply with the rules in the Building Regulations. It is best to use an installer registered with a competent person scheme (a ‘registered competent person’) who can self-certify compliance with the Building Regulations.
If an installer is not registered, then certain riskier jobs (identified as ‘notifiable’ in the Building Regulations) will need to be inspected, approved and certificated by:
- a building control body (your local authority or a private approved inspector), or
- in England only, an electrician registered with a third-party certification scheme (a ‘registered third-party certifier’).
The building control body or registered third-party certifier must be notified before work starts.
Notifiable jobs include:
- the installation of a new consumer unit or fuse box
- the installation of a complete new circuit – for example a ring or lighting circuit, or a new circuit for a cooker, shower or immersion heater
- alterations to existing circuits – such as adding an extra power point or lighting point – but only in ‘special locations’. In England, special locations are the spaces around baths and showers. In Wales, special locations include also kitchens and outdoors.
Most repairs, replacements and maintenance jobs, and alterations or additions to existing circuits outside special locations, are not notifiable.
The Building Regulations set out overall criteria and requirements to ensure electrical safety. Approved Document P provides further practical guidance for undertaking this type of work. You should bear in mind that any electrical work you carry out within your home, garden, garage, shed or other storage building must comply with the requirements of the Building Regulations. If you are unsure about the requirements, you should contact your local authority’s building control department.
All electrical work should follow the safety standards in BS 7671 (the 'wiring regulations'), which can be found on the British Standards Institute (BSI) website.
These rules have been introduced to help reduce the number of deaths, injuries and fires caused by faulty installations.
The Building Regulations set standards for electrical installation work only in relation to dwellings (houses, flats etc). If the work is carried out in industrial or commercial buildings it is covered by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for making sure that electrical installation work in these kinds of buildings is safe and if you have any queries about work in these buildings you should contact the HSE.
The Building Regulations do not restrict who may carry out electrical installation work. If you want to do the work yourself you should make sure that you know what you need to do before starting any works. There are a number of reputable guides that you can use to help you.
The Building Regulations do not set standards for the safety of electrical appliances but they do require that fixed connections of appliances are safe.