How to choose an electrician

publication date: Jun 10, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Choosing an Electrician is an important task as the work can be very dangerous

When tackling work on home electrics, it can be dangerous to take DIY too far in the name of saving some cash. From my perspective, when I’m looking at doing work on the property, if it’s anything that can cause real damage such as fires or gas explosions, I leave them well alone for the professionals to do!

Why NOT to DIY! 
Electrocution and electrical fires resulting from poorly-installed or improperly-checked systems are still causing a frightening number of injuries and even deaths every year in the UK. Electricity can be just as dangerous as gas, and, since you would hardly fit a new boiler or gas fire yourself, it makes sense to have a competent, registered electrical installer do any electrical work correctly, safely and legally, and make sure the work is approved by the LABC (Local Authority Building Control) on your behalf.

How to choose an electrician 
To be honest, there is no real excuse for choosing a cowboy electrician at all as the government has approved contractors for you to work with.

All you need to do is to search for an electrician who is registered with a Government-approved Competent Person Scheme (CPS) Provider for Building Regulations in England and Wales, such as NAPIT. We are working closely with NAPIT as they are very keen to help you make sure you carry out the job properly and don’t end up with one of the ‘bad guys’ in the industry.

NAPIT’s electricians have to meet strict qualification requirements, and are regularly assessed to ensure their continuing competence. I can’t tell you how often the rules change on property related matters, so imagine allowing someone into your home that doesn’t keep up with the latest rules and regulations, does the work, you pay for it, then end up having problems with no-one to turn to as they’ve gone out of business or ‘disappeared’.

Even if someone says they are a member of the likes of NAPIT, please make sure you check their credentials. Rogue traders are quite happy to not keep up with the rules and will often make false claims about their membership of a trusted organisation. For example there are some still out there claiming to be ‘CORGI’ registered to work with gas – but CORGI isn’t the right organisation to be registered with anymore, it’s the Gas Safe Register!

Always ask to see their ID badge and search for the company on, for instance, the NAPIT website. Generally, a registered, competent electrician will have ID badges and van stickers but always use their registration body’s online search facility to check that they really do belong to the organisation and they aren’t just displaying them to fool you into giving them your money!

You also need to be aware that under Part P, the section of the Building Regulations that covers electrical domestic work, certain electrical work on your home must be notified to your LABC (Local Authority Building Control). Part P covers electrical domestic work, and it’s designed to protect householders against substandard and dangerous electrical work.

If you don’t have this paperwork when you move home for example, or if you need to rent your property, you could well have difficulties in selling the property and may well have to pay for another electrical safety certificate to rent your property out legally, which is a waste of money and could delay your sale or let.

Finally, any electrician you hire must, by law, be registered to work with the LABC on your behalf in order to comply with Building Regulations, so check when they do the work that anything the LABC needs changing will be done at their cost – not yours – as they should have done it correctly in the first place!

Whether you are looking into changing a few sockets, or plan to beat those rising energy bills by having solar panels installed, competent and registered electrical installers will do the job for you to the required standards, and help keep you and your home safe.

Use our electrical and gas safe checklists to make sure you and your family are kept safe:-

All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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