Planning, building and the environment

Building Regulations Part P

Note: The following circular was issued when the Approved Documents were still hosted on Communities and Local Government website. Since July 2006 all of the Approved Documents and related publications have been available on the Planning Portal (see links on the right).

I am writing to inform you about the Building (Amendment) (No.3) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/3210) and associated documents. The regulations were made on 6 December 2004 and came into force on 31 December 2004. These Regulations revoke in their entirety the Building (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1808) but re-enact almost all the provisions with a few amendments and additions.

Publications

ODPM Circular 8/2004

The purpose of the Circular is to amend Circular 5/2004 setting out the changes required to the earlier circular.

Approved Document P

An amendment to Approved Document P was approved on behalf of the First Secretary of State on 6 December. The amendment gives guidance on the changes from the No.2 to No. 3 Amendment Regulations.

An amendment slip has been produced for use with existing copies of Approved Document P and should have been sent automatically to all local authorities. If your local authority has not received copies, they can be ordered as specified on the back cover of the Approved Document.

The next print of the Approved Document will incorporate the amendments. They are now incorporated in the website version of it at the Communities and Local Government website www.communities.gov.uk/approved-documents (moved, see link on right).

Leaflet New Rules for electrical safety in the home

This leaflet, aimed at householders, gives guidance on how they might most easily comply with the new requirements and the notification procedure. It was published on 16 December and copies were sent to all building control authorities in England and Wales. It is also available on the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk/electricalsafety (moved, see link on right).

Local authority resources for Part P building control work

The Communities and Local Government recognises that many local authority building control departments did not possess the expertise needed to check building work for compliance with the requirements of Part P as the departments had not previously had to deal with the safety of electrical installations. We would encourage all local authorities to make sufficient resources available to allow them to carry out their statutory functions in respect of Part P, perhaps by considering reinvestment of some or all of any surplus arising from building control charges received.

Local authority inspection and testing of electrical installation work in dwellings

Where electrical installation work in dwellings is carried out by an installer registered with an authorised Part P competent person scheme (see Schedule 2A of the Building Regulations 2000, as amended), there is no requirement to submit a building notice or full plans to the local authority. Regulation 16A authorises the local authority to accept a certificate from the person carrying out the work as evidence that the requirements of Regulations 4 and 7 have been satisfied.

Where, however, notifiable electrical installation work is to be carried out by a person not registered with a Part P competent person scheme, a building notice or full plans must be submitted to the local authority. Under section 91 of the Building Act 1984 local authorities are then under a duty to enforce the relevant building regulations in their areas. Regulation 18 allows local authorities to make such tests as may be necessary to establish whether building work (including electrical installation work) complies with the requirements in Schedule 1 to the Regulations.

There have been reports that some local authorities are asking householders to have electrical installation work inspected, tested and certificated by someone other than the person carrying out the work. Section 33(2) of the Building Act 1984 (which would give power to local authorities to require persons carrying out building work to carry out such reasonable tests, at the person's expense, of or in connection with the work for the purpose of enabling local authorities to ascertain whether the work complies with the requirements of the Regulations) has not been commenced. This means in our opinion that local authorities do not have the power to require householders to retain an electrician to test and certificate the work in accordance with BS 7671. Local authorities which have adopted such a practice should discontinue it immediately.

Local authority building contracts

It has been drawn to our intention that some local authorities in letting contracts for electrical installation work in dwellings specify that only installers registered with the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) or which are members of the Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) should be acceptable for carrying out the work. Local authorities are reminded that there are ten authorised competent person schemes for Part P. Installers registered with any of the full competence schemes have been assessed as competent to carry out any electrical installation work in dwellings in accordance with the requirements of the Building Regulations; those registered with the defined competence schemes to carry out electrical installation work as a necessary adjunct to or arising out of their primary work.

Local authority charges for Part P work

Local authorities should ensure that charges for checking full plans applications or building notices and carrying out inspections of building work, including that relating to Part P, are pre-fixed in their charges scheme as required by the Building (Local Authority Charges) Regulations 1998. Authorities do not have powers to reassess a fixed charge, which they have levied for a particular application or notice, during the course of the work.

Signed by Anne Hemming, Head of Buildings Division

Communities and Local Government

3 March 2005

Enquiries

Any enquiries on this circular letter should be addressed to the Enquiries help line on 0303 444 0000, or sent to us at enquiries.br@communities.gsi.gov.uk

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