Certification of Electrical Work - Does the Electrician Have to do the Work?


Postby Lima7 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:26 pm

Hi,

I have a couple of questions about certifying work done on home wiring.

I want to do some work on a ring main, I understand that building regs require this work to be certified by an electrician. Does the electrician have have to actually DO the work, or can I do the work myself and ask him to certify it for me? (for a fee obviously!)

Secondly, exactly what qualifications are needed to certify home wiring? I did a degree in Electrical Engineering 20 years ago, and started my career designing power plants, so I'm aware of the basic principles! I wired several houses back in the good-old days when it was ok to do so (and had them checked out by an inspector just for my own satisfaction) but now it seems I can't do this anymore. Can I just study the building regs and sit an exam? or is there more to it than this?

Thanks
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Postby ericmark » Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:57 am

There are two completely different but connected sets of paper work. The legal bit is part of building regulations and changes according to where you live. Both England and Wales have Part P but the regulation was relaxed in England but not in Wales. There are areas like bathroom, kitchen, and outside plus installing new circuits and consumer units which require either and electrician to self certify or home owner to pay local authority building control a fee before starting. The LABC fee starts with first £2000 worth of work so for large job reasonable but for a small job silly. As well as the fees the act means you also have to follow something like the IET/BSi regulations (BS7671:2008) but you could also follow any of the other EEU regulations although there may be a problem reading them.

There is no set qualification for an electrician clearly with freedom of labour movement you could study in any EEC country but the scheme operators require electricians to at least have passed their C&G 2382 exam which tests they can read a book (BS7671) one would hope electricians also held a C&G 2391 or 2392 which means they have been trained in inspection and testing but not all the schemes require it. What most insist on is the member has a full set of reference books and a set of test equipment.

The law allows third party inspection and testing but as far as I am aware non of the scheme operators have taken up the option so the only way to get work inspected and tested by a third party is through the LABC. Even this is a bit odd with some councils not having staff to do the job so they get an electrical installation condition report done by a third party then sign it off on the strength of that.

The IET/BSi BS7671:2008 states only the person in control of the work being done can sign an installation or minor works certificate. So an electrician could tell you to do things ready for next visit and that's OK as he is in control but you could not do the work then ask him to sign it off.

There are two installation certificates single signature and multi signature the latter has space for "designer", "installer" and "inspection and testing". So three signatures but problem is the scheme operators as far as I know will not accept the three signatures so these have to go to LABC and then the silly fees are charged.

Assuming you own the test equipment there is nothing to stop you filling in your own certificates the problem is to get the LABC to agree to you signing them.

I can to do some work on my mothers house with my son. We both at that time have C&G 2381 and 2391 and since my son was a sole trader he had the insurance so better if he signed off the work. However the building inspector would not agree to him signing it off but did allow me to sign it off as I had a degree in electrical and electronic engineering even though the latter has nothing to do with installation work or inspecting and testing.

So likely the LABC will accept your qualifications even though really they shouldn't. But when I wanted to hire test equipment as mine was out of calibration it was £75 for the week that being minimum hire time. Add to that the £200 approx LABC fee for most small jobs you can get an electrician to do whole job for less than the £275 so not worth doing as DIY.

So it will depend where you live. In England if it's in a bathroom or involves fitting a new consumer unit or a new circuit it requires registering. But the Part P in England says what work requires registering but in Wales it says what work does not require registering. So in England one can argue about what is required for example a consumer unit has to be used where there is no qualified electrician on site and a consumer unit is a type tested distribution unit. If you put anything not approved by the manufacturer in a consumer unit then it becomes a distribution unit. So fit a MCB from another manufacturer it's no longer a consumer unit. It would of course be for the courts to decide and likely they would not accept that reasoning but unless there is a court case then no one can say that reasoning however daft is wrong.

Even the simple circuit the BS7671 defines a circuit as all which is protected by a single device so to fit a FCU and a row of sockets from that would under BS7671 be a new circuit. But it would seem under Part P this is not considered as a new circuit. So what is the difference between a RCD FCU and a mini consumer unit with a RCD and MCB as used in a shed or garage? Clearly nothing they are both the same.

So although the BS7671 is very well written and there is really no room to question what is required with Part P it is down to you to read and decide yourself what is required. However it is very clear that in real terms BS7671 must be followed to comply with Part P. Although in theroy there are other documents in practice there is not. A copy will cost around £70 not sure how much as I am a member of the IET so get it cheaper.

Reading the document is not that easy as many of the regulations impact on each other. One which is argued about is 433.2.2 which allows one to protect at other than at the origin with for example a unfused spur. The fuse is in the plug. But it gives a maximum length of 3 meters which is often ignored. Many electricians try to argue the 3 meter rule does not apply to spurs but I can't see any way it doesn't. Both line and neutral are considered as live but with a TN earthing system there is a dispensation and one is allowed to isolate just the line. Which means with a TT system with a standard two RCD consumer unit one could claim the supply is split into just two circuits but same argument would not hold for TN.

For these arguments with BS7671 it makes no difference what it is called you still have to protect in the same way but names do make a difference with Part P. There are a few odd things like I have heard it said you can't have an earth electrode with a TN supply. This is correct but only because its name changes and it's called an extraneous-conductive-part it does not mean you can't knock in an earth rod and connect it.

On a practical side my son as an electrician once allowed the house owner to help. But he found work was not done on time so either he twiddled his fingers waiting for it to be done or he did it himself. He vowed never again would he quote for work where part is done by the owner. He would work on a day or hour rate on the understanding if he arrived on site it would be at least x hours work booked x varied according to how far away the job was but it was then up to the owner to ensure there was work for him to do. Most electricians have been caught out once and as a result most will not quote for a job where relying on others to do some of the work. One advantage with day rate is of course plumber can help electrician or electrician help plumber.

One problem he did get was time scale a job went on for. Sending in bills at end of each month he was paid but when his first wife left him he decided he needed to go cards in and stopped being a sole trader. The firm he worked for agreed he could complete jobs but not start any new and they must be completed within the month. At which time his contract would not allow him to do any electrical work not done through his new firm. He as a result had 3 jobs not completed by end of month as owner had not had something done allowing him to complete. Clearly this was a problem for the owner. He sold house and went to live in a narrow boat so no fixed abode. His phone for ever flat so even if they wanted owners could not find him.

Be it an accident, death, or change in circumstances or even going bankrupt there is never a guarantee work started will be completed but the longer the work goes on the more likely the problems. So for example a whole house re-wire DIY then LABC would be best option.

As long as re-wired to BS7671 and the installation or minor works certificates are completed then clearly the work is safe. The problem arises on selling the property. The IET regulations say an electrical installation condition report should be done each time the occupant changes or every 10 years so on buying a house it should all be tested anyway. The theroy was the LABC would have on record all the installation certificates but it seems with self certificate schemes electricians don't send the certificate to the scheme provider they just on line say the work complies so clearly the certificates are not held by the LABC.

So if you don't follow the law you could not sell the house saying as a selling point rewired 2015 but it is unlikely unless you make a mistake and injure some one any one will ever take you to court or it would stop you selling the house. As to insurance not sure. With any faulty work an insurance claim can fail it does not matter who does it or what paper trail there is. You would then claim from the electrician or if the LABC signed off the work then LABC. Watch builders from hell TV programs and see how many times the LABC is taken to court for not monitoring what work was done.

I got a visit before work started by LABC then I submitted the installation certificate and was sent the completion certificate but the work was not even checked by a casual glance by LABC inspector he never visited the site. He clearly trusted me but had I paid the fees (exempt as for disabled) I would have felt cheated when no visit took place.
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Postby Lima7 » Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:20 am

Thanks for the comprehensive reply ericmark.

It sounds like the bureaucrats have got themselves thoroughly embedded in the process - but none of this extra paperwork makes me feel any safer!

From what you're saying it sounds like the most practical option is to get an electrician around before I start the work, get him to tell me what to do, and then get him in afterwards to check the work and sign it off.

What a load of aggro for 4 extra sockets in my kitchen!
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Postby ericmark » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:46 pm

Because the test equipment is so expensive to follow rules only option is to get electrician to do the work.

When an electrician pays to be a member of a scheme he also signs to say he will abide to BS7671 so he is not permitted to sign off any one else's work.
ericmark
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