In theory, yes – anyone can carry out electrical work in your house. However, since 1 January 2005 there are more stringent requirements concerning the notification, inspection and certification of domestic electrical work. These requirements (detailed in Part P of the Building Regulations) have been introduced to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and fires caused by faulty electrical installations, and to safeguard householders against shoddy and dangerous work by “cowboys”.
Under the new legal requirements, the local authority’s Building Control Department do not need to be notified if the work is straightforward repair, replacement or maintenance work (generally, anything involving like-for-like replacement is fine). Nor do they need to be notified if the work is an alteration or addition to existing ring-main or lighting circuits unless it’s in a kitchen or bathroom, or outdoors.
For most other things, they will need to be notified that the work is to be done, and the work will need to be inspected and certified after completion.
If in doubt, ask the Building Control Department.
Inspection and certification
If you’re undertaking a notifiable repair yourself, or the person undertaking the repair isn’t a member of one of the Competent Person schemes of self-certification, then you’ll need to arrange for the work to be inspected and certified by the Building Control Department or one of their approved inspectors.
For that reason, it will usually be easier to get a firm that’s a member of a Competent Person scheme to do the work. The five currently operating schemes (as of November 2007) are run by:
- BRE Certification
- BSI (British Standards Institution)
- NICEIC (NB Zurich Certification are now part of NICEIC)
Even if the work done is not notifiable, it may be worth getting a Competent Person firm to do the work anyway – by doing so, if you ever come to sell your house you’ll be able to show that the work has been done to the approved standard.