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DIY electrical work: an expert’s opinion


Carrying out your own electrical work can be tempting. There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there regarding what we’re allowed to do ourselves and what has to be left to a professional. We spoke to electrician Darren Pennington, of Pennington's Electrical, and member of RatedPeople.com to give us the reality of the situation.

Is it true that as a homeowner, I can carry out simple electrical jobs myself?

D: As a homeowner you are entitled to carry out any electrical works in your home. Some smaller jobs may not be required to be notified for Part P compliance. However, should you need to safely certificate the work in accordance with BS7671 wiring regulations and register it with Part P building control for compliance, you will be required to provide evidence that you are a 'competent person' and have carried the work out correctly. You will need to provide certification.

Is there a particular DIY no-no that homeowners tend to attempt more than others?

D: Most homeowners attempt to carry out smaller electrical jobs like installing light switches and light fittings, wall lights etc as they feel this is a small simple job that would be too costly to call an electrician in for. What is a simple job for a qualified electrician can turn into a nightmare for a homeowner.

We have been called out numerous times to rectify faulty wiring that has been caused by the homeowner attempting to carry out the job themselves, we have had damaged light fittings, damaged cables and switches and in some cases we have had electrical accessories that have caught on fire. In the end this costs the homeowner a lot more money to rectify than it would have to hire the electrician in the first place. Electricity is extremely dangerous. It can kill. Leave it to the professionals and don't chance it to save a few quid.

How common is it for electricians like yourself to be asked to verify a homeowner’s own electrical work?

D: It’s very common in this industry for a homeowner to ask us to certificate their own electrical work. We won’t do it. The work needs to be carried out by a professional to begin with.

If you’re a homeowner and you carry out your own electrical work, should you ever move or rent your property you will be asked to present all the certification for the electrical work carried out. You cannot obtain the appropriate certification following your own installation of electrical work at a later stage.  If someone is injured or a property is damaged your insurance will be invalid if you do not have the appropriate certification to prove the system is safe. 

Any last words of advice for the homeowner?

D: Always use a qualified electrician. Ensure they have Part P certification and ask for their scheme enrolment number and registered body. You can then check that they have the right credentials. Ask to see previous reviews on their work by using tradesmen recommendation sites like Ratedpeople.com. On completion of work, ensure that you have been provided the certification as required and store this in a safe place as you are more than likely going to need it at some point!

You can find an electrician in your local area here.