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Can I still change my light switch? August 2005

Amazon book - IEE wiring regulations  

Can I still change my light switch?

The first in a series of articles from Roger Runswick, Director of 50plus handyman

A little more regulation came into our lives this year when Part P of the Building Regulations was introduced. Covering electrical installation in homes, Part P brings the long established IEE Wiring regulations (also known as British Standard 7671) into the Building Regulations.

Part P impacts what we as individuals are allowed to do in our own homes in the way of electrical work. Part P notifications will also form part of the documentation for a property when it is being sold. So we should be at least aware of it its impact.


Electrical work in the home now falls into two categories:

  • Work that must be undertaken by a competent ‘person’ (being a firm or individual) or alternatively notified to Building Control before beginning

  • Work that is deemed to be ‘minor’ and therefore non-notifiable, although it is still recommended that this work be inspected and tested by a competent person.

The NICEIC, the electrical industry's leading independent regulatory body, states in a guidance note that ‘in general work involving a new circuit in any domestic location or any wiring in a kitchen or bathroom (or other special location) must be notified. Only component replacement or minor circuit alterations are not notifiable.’ Other special locations are typically anywhere there is water such as gardens, sheds, saunas or pools.

When a competent person undertakes the work, they issue a certificate direct to the householder and also notify Building Control, who record the work and issue a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate.

If you intend to undertake notifiable work yourself, check with Building Control that they have the staff to certify the work and take care to ensure that they can see the work in progress. It is not possible to certify work that has been covered up and it is against the scheme’s rules for a competent person to certify the work of others.

So what can a ‘DIY’ person do? Put simply one can:


  • Replace existing accessories such as sockets, switches and ceiling roses and an individual damaged cable

  • Providing that the work is not in a kitchen, bathroom or special location add lighting points, sockets and fused spurs – as long as the Wiring Regulations are followed.

So you can still change your own light switch!

With the potential advent of Sellers Packs, there is a likelihood that the electrical certificates will be a required part of the pack. So far so good.

But is the trade ready?

The answer to this is best indicated by the fact that there were thought to be around 60,000 practising firms or individuals undertaking electrical work prior to the introduction of Part P and around 20,000 other businesses that would need to comply with the new legislation or notify Building Control. By May 2005 only around 16,500 were approved with another 5,000 in the pipeline. In addition Building Control in many locations did not have suitably qualified staff could only advise householders to seek a competent person to undertake the work. So clearly there is going to be a period of transition.

Further information is available from a number of UK web sites including the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (   ), the Institute of Electrical Engineers (  ) and the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting ( ). A similar scheme exists in Scotland – check at .

Roger Runswick is a director of 50plus Handyman and a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers. He can be contacted at



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