I now want to upgrade the kitchen, and I need to add 4 more double sockets. From what I’ve read about ‘part P’ and the IET wiring regs I need to get an electrician in to do this work.
I got a local electrician in to quote for the work, the problem is that although the work I want doing is relatively trivial, the electrician recons the house has been partially re-wired after 2005 when the part P rules came in, but there’s no sign of any paperwork for it – he did say that the wiring appears to be of a good standard, just no paperwork. The result is that he’s refused to even quote for the work!
The first question is why was this missed when I bought the house? Whose job was it to check? Should the seller have told me about this? Should the building surveyor have inspected the wiring? Should my solicitor have checked some records somewhere? Where should the records be? Should they be held by the house owner, or should they be held by the council?
The second question, is what can I do about? Can I just get an inspector in to check the wiring? Or do I need to have the house re-wired (this seemed to be what the electrician was hinting)?
The final question is what can I do to ensure that this doesn’t happen again? If I get an electrician to do some work for me in the future, what sort of paperwork or certificates do I need to make sure I get from him?
I would not expect an electrician to be really worried about the paperwork this is often missing.
The local authority building control (LABC) should have a record of all reportable work done. But if done by a scheme member electrician all it will say is the work complied with regulations and the scheme operators name. You would then have to ask the scheme operator who did the work and copies of certificates would be got from them. Personally I would not bother.
On change of occupier or every 10 years which ever is shorter the house electrics should be checked it's called an EICR was called a PIR stands for electrical installation condition report or periodic inspection report these compare the condition to current regulations and there was a big change in 2008 and any house before that date will get codes showing work is recommended.
The problem is today any new socket or cable buried in the wall needs either RCD protection or special cable and with a ring final it is hard to add RCD protection without renewing the consumer unit.
In theroy one can wire with Ali-tube cable and use RCD sockets but both are expensive for one odd socket maybe but for 5 sockets it would likely cost more than changing the consumer unit.
There are other options with my mothers house a sub main was installed and a mini consumer unit just feeds the kitchen.
It is more likely the electrician was worried about lack of RCD than anything else. Some consumer units will take a RCBO with is a MCB and RCD combined but they are longer than the MCB and not all consumer units will take them.
There are many ways to add RCD protection there is nothing to stop replacing a single socket with a RCD FCU and then running as many sockets as you want off that. However max load is 13A.
But although there are ways to get around the problem in the main it means before any major changes are done you need a consumer unit change.
RCD's come in many flavours but for personal protection it has to be 30 mA and needs to trip in 40 ms and a device this sensitive is likely to trip from time to time when nothing is wrong. As a result at least two are fitted so if something trips one you are not without all power. They are normally arranged so lights and sockets for any area are not on the same RCD so if you trip one your not plunged into darkness.
There are different quality units some like the X-Pole give a warning before they trip that leakage is getting near to trip point. And as said the RCBO means every circuit has it's own RCD protection but this also means it costs more to install.
Most electricians will test the house before fitting a consumer unit with RCD protection as once fitted any faults will show themselves and trying to explain after fitting a consumer unit that now more work is required is hard far better to know what needs doing before one starts. Often one finds things like two way switching on stair wells has been wrong for years but only comes to light when the consumer unit is changed.
Part P depends where you live Wales and England are different. In England a kitchen is not a special area and as long as it does not involve a new circuit it does not require notifying to LABC. Part P however does state BS7671 or similar should be followed.
So the IET/BSi 17th Edition amendment 1 or BS7671:2008 amendment 1 need to be followed. But there is no requirement to upgrade existing installations.
Some of the Part P rules are daft. A utility room did not need notifying but a kitchen did even when likely there is more water in the utility room than kitchen. In England many of the problems were corrected but not in Wales. The BS7671 has definitions but Part P does not read from same song sheet so under BS7671 fitting a FCU which in turn feeds a number of sockets is a new circuit but not with Part P. A kitchen is defined as some where with a food preparation area it does not need to have a sink or cooker and I know many tried to claim since there was no food preparation area when the electrics were installed it did not need notifying. It was of course clutching at straws but unless some one is injured it will not come to court so no one will be bothered.
The solicitor should have advised you an EICR should be carried out but it's up to you to get it done. Any report done with old occupiers is not valid so not something one can ask for before you buy. It has been know for old occupiers to remove items making switching on the power dangerous so has to be done after they leave.
Clearly the electrician did not explain the problems very well.
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