Building Regulations: What do I Need to Know?

Any building work in England (including new building, modifications, change of use, etc) needs to (a) comply with current building regulations, and (b) potentially, be notified to the Local Authority.


This means that if you alter the electrical installation in your house, you may be legally required to notify the Local Authority's Building Control department, who will ensure that the building regulations have been complied with. In electrical terms this essentially means that all work is compliant with the British Standard BS7671 Wiring Regulations (17th Edition), with some additional requirements, as well as being compliant with all the other building regulations.


If you don't notify the Local Authority of notifiable work, you risk a fine of up to £5000. More practically, however, when you come to sell your house you will find the lack of appropriate paperwork will be spotted by the solicitor, which will cause problems. Should your house suffer from damage caused by or linked to an electrical fault, your insurance may refuse to pay out.


So what work is notifiable?


Notifiable work includes:

  • Installation of new circuits - for example, a new circuit supplying sockets or additional lights
  • Replacement of a consumer unit (including a fuse board)
  • Any work in special locations, including within defined areas of bathrooms, or rooms containing swimming pools or saunas


Non-notifiable work might include:

  • Repairs and maintenance, such as replacing a cracked socket outlet
  • Wiring a cooker into an existing circuit
  • Adding socket outlets to an existing circuit
  • Connecting an electric garage door to an isolator switch on an existing circuit


Note that this is a guideline provided for information and convenience, and no responsibility is accepted for any inaccuracies. For full information, consult the Building Regulations Approved Document P, current edition.


If you need notifiable work to be carried out, you have two broad options:

  1. Notify the Local Authority's Building Control department of the work in advance, carry it out yourself in accordance with BS7671 and the Building Regulations, then pay the Local Authority to inspect and certify the work - this typically costs several hundred pounds.
  2. Employ a qualified & registered electrician to undertake the work for you. They will ensure the work is carried out according to the appropriate standards and will certify their work, and their Competent Person Scheme operator will notify the building control body.


(Note that even non-notifiable work must be carried out according to BS7671; if a Local Authority finds that non-notifiable work is unsafe and non-compliant, they can take enforcement action, which may result in work being condemned and fines up of to £5000. An accident arising from non-compliant installation could lead to considerably greater liability.)


If you require further advice having read this, do feel free to contact us, or your Local Authority's Building Control department.

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