Electrical safety: what you need to know

Ever since January 1 2005 in England people carrying out electrical work in their home have had to follow new regulations to ensure they are not putting themselves or others at risk.

The relevant section of the Building Regulations is now known as Part P.

Under these rules electrical work must be carried out by someone who is judged competent to do it.

That will almost always mean getting in a qualified electrician, at the very least to inspect the work and to verify that the job has been properly done.

Obviously most people would be considered competent to change a plug, and common sense dictates that a job like this does not require an electrician. And certainly there is no ban on doing DIY.

But it is a matter of being extremely sensible and clear-headed about where your competence to do electrical work stops. For most of us it is going to end at the light fitting, switch or socket, and if in any doubt whatsoever, you should call in an expert.

Find out who is a competent person here.

If the work that is being done covers repairs, maintenance or simple alterations such as adding extra plug sockets or light fittings then there is usually no need to contact your local council.

However you will need to talk to its Building Control department about most other things. And special rules apply to kitchens and bathrooms.

If in doubt, get in touch and if you need help finding contact details, check the Directgov link below.

If you do not get your electrical work properly done and signed off in this way you may run into trouble when selling your house – you will need to provide the proper electrical safety certificates at this time.

Another unwelcome consequence may be problems with your home insurance and the council may also insist that you put any problems right.

Further information: