Working with electricity in England and Wales

With effect of 1st January 2005, new rules were introduced into the English and Welsh Building Regulations regarding the installation and modification of electrical wiring. These regulations have subsequently been revised and these notes reflect the 2013 edition.

Known as 'Part P', these rules mean that all 'notifiable' electrical work must meet the safety standards for electrical wiring. The rules state that to ensure that these standards are met, all work must either be carried out by certified electricians or the work must be tested to the satisfaction of the local Building Control Department.

These rules DO apply to DIY activities, anyone carrying out DIY changes which are notifiable have to submit a building notice to the local authority before starting work and pay the fee to have the work inspected and tested.

If you are having building work carried out by a builder, check that they are certified to Part P Building Regulations or establish how they intend to fulfil the regulations for any electrical work they need to do and confirm that you will receive the correct certificate at the end of the work.

Failure to comply with these rules is a criminal offence which can lead to a fine of up to £5,000. Furthermore, problems may be encountered when trying to sell a property which has had notifiable electrical work carried out but for which the appropriate certificate cannot be produced.

Note: this page is for guidance only, cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of the of the guidance - see below for more official sources of guidance.

Deciding what you need to do

When you are considering any work which involves electrical wiring or installations:

  • If you intend to use a registered electrician (or a builder registered under Part P), they will take care of meeting the regulations and issuing a certificate.
  • If you intend to do the work yourself or use an unregistered electrician, check if the work is notifiable,
    1. if it is notifiable you can either find a registered third party who would certify the work or you need to tell your local Building Control Office before you start the work,
    2. if it is not notifiable you can just carry on with the work but make sure that the work is carried out to the current wiring standards.

    If you are in doubt whether work is notifiable, consult with a registered third party or your local Building Control Office before you start the work - do this yourself, don't leave it to any unregistered person you intend to employ.

Non-notifiable electrical work

Most work is now classed as 'non-notifiable', and this work can be carried out by a non-certified individual without notification although, obviously, the individual does need to be competent.

All electrical work is conditional upon the use of suitable cable and fittings for the application, that the circuit protective measures are unaffected and suitable for protecting the new circuit, and that all work complies with all other appropriate regulations.

Notifiable electrical work

Notifiable electrical work must either be carried out and/or certified by a certified individual/company or notified to the local Building Control before work begins. Notifiable work is (by the 2013 edition):

  • Installation of a new mains electrical circuit;
  • Replacement of a consumer unit;
  • Any addition or modification to an existing circuit within a 'special location'*.

* A 'special location' is defined as:

  • Within a room containing a bath or shower, the space surround the bath or shower - vertically to 2.25 metres or the height of the shower head if greater - and horizontally 0.6 metre from each edge of the bath/ shower tray in all directions, or 1.2 metres from the centre line of the shower head where no shower tray is fitted.
  • Within a room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater.

Sources of further advice

If you are in doubt about whether work you intend to do is notifiable or not; or doubts about someone offering to do the work, check with your local Building Control Department (normally in the telephone book under the local Council) or check out the Approved Document P on the Planning Portal web site.