This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.


Seeing through the Part P soup...

Part P has been in force since 2005. As with most new regulations, there was a good deal of confusion surrounding its implementation, but one would have hoped by now things would have died down and everybody would be living with it, if not happily, then at least with a small degree of contentment! But as I’ve heard recently from people within the industry, there is genuine frustration and even anger about the way Part P has been handled and enforced. What can be done to sort this out?

Its introduction sought to ensure that electrical work carried out in dwellings reaches a safe standard and make it harder for cowboy operators to put people’s lives at risk. But it seems from the comments of some electricians that the initial intentions haven’t been followed through with particular determination since 2005.

Almost every aspect of Part P has been subject to criticism, but the most persistent allegation is that it is allowing under-skilled people who have just been on a 5 day Part P course to undercut and take work off established installers who have been in the business for decades. Installers have been finding they are losing work by quoting for a fully safe, high standard job, only to find that a newly 5 day qualified installer has quoted a much lower rate to do a lower standard of work. As a result, installers are finding that Part P is really only benefiting the ‘Jack of all Trades’ rather than out and out electricians.

I’m not in a position to criticise any Part P course, as I’ve not been on one myself, but I would be interested to hear of any stories relating to substandard work people have seen carried out by an installer who had been on a 5 day course. I’m sure there have always been cases of less skilled people undercutting more established installers, but has this really increased since Part P came into effect?

Another oft-repeated allegation is that the enforcement of Part P is weak and ineffectual. This has been said so many times by people from every section of the industry that I think we can safely safe the criticism is wholly valid. It understandably angers people who have done everything they can to be fully qualified only to find that others are neglecting the regulations without being reprimanded. Part of the problem is that the Local Authorities in charge of the policing seem to be as confused by it as everyone else (there have been reports of an inspector not even knowing what Part P was!)

It would seem that the local authorities simply do not have the resources of either money or people to effectively manage the policing of Part P. Nor have they raised awareness of the regulations to the public so they know what to look out for. The average member of the public isn’t aware of what type of work needs to be notified and therefore isn’t going to be seeking a Part P qualified installer.

A well thought out campaign should have been initiated years ago through DIY merchants, magazines and wholesalers informing everyone of the regulations and what was required. This never happened, so we are now in a position of having a set of regulations that are failing to raise safety standards, that aren’t being policed and the public aren’t even aware of. Doesn’t sound too good, does it?!

So, what can be done? The obvious answer is more money. Without extra funding to the Local Authorities it can only ever be a damp squib, left to hang in the air as a relic of an ill conceived, though well intended idea. A regulation is only as good as its implementation and policing, and Part P is proof of that, but where the additional money comes from is yet another problem to overcome.

This is a very important subject and an area I’m very keen to progress in EPA. In order to do this I need to hear about your experiences and ideas on how the situation can be improved. Please email these to

Enjoy the newsletter,

Richard Scott

Your Comments:


I am in full agreement with you that the Part P is ill conceived and confusing.

I have just spent 4 years studying C&G electrical courses at my local technical college just to be told "yes, you have passed all the courses but you are not qualified to perform domestic installations". It is so frustrating that I have expended much time, sat exams and over £1,000 to do it the "right way" where it seems all I need to do is a quick 5 day course.


Pete Tasker BEng (Honours)
Electrical Engineer



Further to your article on Part P, I would like to add my thoughts and comments on the subject,

Your various correspondent’s comments regarding competitive tendering is an unfortunate fact of life in today’s business world.

Having been a practicing Electrical/Electronics engineer at the very highest of levels for the last 50 years working for (amongst others) virtually every Civil and Military establishment in the Western Hemisphere, NASA, International Plc’s, and the local community Assoc.!, I am informed by our local council that I am not qualified to install and sign off a simple mains circuit in a domestic environment (not that I have to, but it’s the principle), because I haven’t attended a Part P course.

I ask the question, ‘what qualifications/experience do you need to be deemed Professional?’

Yours faithfully,

Keith Damon
C.Eng. M.I.E.T



I am a fully qualified electrician and up to date with qualifications, I have been a self employed electrician for 40 years. I certify all of my work and I am a member of a trade organisation.

One of my biggest beefs is places like B & Q sell everything to rewire a house and more, and have large boards with wiring diagrams showing the general builder/handyman and public how to 'do' the work and what materials to use, to me this is the first thing that should stop.

When I first started in this job the wholesalers would not sell to you without having a trade account, and certainly not to the general public. I also believe that my local council do not have any 'teeth' when it comes to Part P, I have contacted my council on more than one occasion to report work being done by unqualified persons and the response I got was "What do you expect us to do?".

I also know quite a number of qualified and unqualified electricians working in private dwellings that are not Part P and have no intention of changing the way they work. I could go on all day but what is the use, Part P is the right way to go but it is NOT enforced.

It should not be possible to walk into a shop or DIY store and walk out with 100 metres of 2.5 cable and a split load consumer unit unless you are qualified to install these items, as long as this carries on we have no chance. I know of fire-fighters, police officers and unqualified electricians who work for large companies who all do 'foreigners' on days off and weekends.

Roll on retirement !

Tony Leach
(aka Victor Meldrew)



Your recent article on part pee EPA Mag I feel I have to comment on this as you are bang on the button. All part pee has done is replace the cowboy with the fee paying 5 day wonders. The notion of limited scope is ridiculous either you're an electrician or your not. With a few exceptions a lot of these part pee guys are the equivalent of a 2nd year apprentice. No disrespect to the apprentice intended, the problem here is from Joe public's point of view he thinks he's getting a proper electrician. He doesn't know the guys just been on a one week crash course.

Greater recognition should be given to the experience & knowledge of the time served electrician. While no doubt there are some jobs these guys are capable of it should be made clear to the unknowing public that they are not electricians in the true sense. Otherwise who is going to bother with apprentice training if the same result can be achieved on a five day course.

Then we have the local Authorities. Most of who did not welcome part pee & have had it forced upon them.
There doesn't appear to be any set rules as to how they implement their responsibility in this respect. A small few try to implement some commonsense when dealing with established electrical contractors who have chosen to give the part pee pantomime a miss Good for them. But the majority seem to have adopted a pass the buck approach & subbed the work out, this I have a problem accepting. Why should a contractor have his work vetted & scrutinized by his competitors.

My view is the part pee cartels should carry out this work on behalf of the council for free since they are the ones raking in all the money from part pee. In any case part pee is not the answer to the problem, it's adding to it. I would bet that the increased use of rcds in the 17th ed is in order to address the lack of knowledge in the 5 day wonders. Though Rcds are not 100% reliable then there the B & Q factor where your average Joe can buy anything he needs to Diy so do you really expect he's going to notify the council of his efforts. ( this is the reality )

Rob Bowser



I rang the local council concerning an issue on wiring, only to find that their expert didn't have a clue. Subsequently I didn't bother to mention that I had installed a shower pump (not that I have any problem with the standard of installation and additional earth bonding that is required by regs, that's all in place).

Lets face it, if a council official was capable of judging wiring installation they would be capable of doing it, and thus would be wasting their life in the office on low pay.

But I don't think throwing money at Part P is going to make any difference. Remember, the real reason for its introduction was to make it difficult for what we locally call "foreigners" (ie cash in hand payments) to be done, where the chancellor didn't get his cut. The pretence of electrical safety was an emotive smoke screen.

I have noticed that those DIY stores that still sell a complete range of cable & fittings also display the complete and correct installation method, which can be off-putting for a penny pinching amateur. However, they will sell such items which effectively could be used to commit a criminal offence, ie using them. Does this put obligations on Focus, Wickes and B&Q to ensure they are not accessories before the fact?

Should the state intervene and demand that only ID carrying Part P 17 edition Reg carriers can buy these items? And how would we train the check outs to ensure this? Even if we did that, would it improve safety in the home, or mean that repairs (which are "free" of Part P) were not done because of economic considerations?

On the continent electrical items that aren't supplied with a fixed plug (cooker hobs, ovens etc) tend to come with explicit fitting instructions, and again, the DIY stores clearly mark the cable reference at all points of sale, ensuring that the inadvertent use of the wrong cable is very unlikely. There, there is an inherent belief in the competence of the population to do the job correctly. On top of that, cookers tend to have special plugs and sockets for easy connection.

No, I don't believe throwing money at Part P will achieve the increased income tax revenue the government intended, though I agree with the general consensus of the industry that it will lower the overall safety standards of wiring. A piece of legislation too far? But what now is the way forward?

As we are now (especially in cities) electrically dependant, I think electrical (and gas) safety should become subjects taught in schools, regularly talked about on the TV and radio, with a view to making more people aware, rather than treating the public as too thick to understand. That would be money well spent.

And Part P? Scrap it. Regular inspection of existing installations will achieve far more than Part P, which is now a nightmare to police, potentially being a bigger source of crime than burglary. By revealing how many houses have sub-standard wiring will produce more income for the exchequer when that is rectified, and maybe even save lives, which was what all the emotive hoo-hah about Part P was supposed to be about.

name and address supplied



I was interested to read the article about Part P.

The fact that what I would call 'Chipboard Carpenters' can pass a simple examination and be then certified to carry out electrical installations in domestic premises without any real understanding of electrotechnology is quite frankly appalling.

At the risk of seeming to have a bad case of 'sour grapes' I am sure that I am not alone in feeling extremely aggrieved at the fact that such people can undertake electrical installations in residences, whereas I and a good many other qualified electrical engineers, electrical technicians and electricians who do not carry out domestic installations for a living, cannot legally install even a lighting point in our own houses without paying for someone with a fraction of our knowledge or qualifications to inspect and certify our work.

On the other hand I can perfectly legally install, inspect, test, maintain and operate any electrical equipment operating at any voltage in a non-domestic situation.

The ECA had probably been trying for years to persuade the government to enact legislation to eliminate the 'cowboy' contractors without any success whatsoever. And then, I am led to believe, a close relative of a Member of Parliament was electrocuted by a defective system installed by such a 'cowboy'. Then all of a sudden, when it was one of their own who had been effected, Parliament enacted Part P.

The whole thing was badly thought through. The 'cowboys' are still in business and some of them are now carrying virtually worthless certificates stating that they are competent even though their electrical training and knowledge is minimal.

Some organisations have no doubt made some money for imparting just sufficient knowledge to enable such people to pass the examination. Such knowledge probably being forgotten a short while afterwards. I wonder what the results would be if these people were called in at short notice a year after passing and asked to sit the test again, without any open books!

The final stupidity is that the whole thing is impossible to monitor or police. A fundamental tenant of good law making is not to enact laws that cannot be policed. The best thing would be for Part P to be revoked. There are many much more serious risks to live and limb that Parliament should devote its time to!

Yours sincerely,

Michael Twitchett



Scrap part p and put more emphasis on proper electrical qualifications.

I have lived in Guernsey for the last 5 years and was horrified when I first heard of this part p, after 25 years experience and numerous upgrades on my original qualification, now if I come back domestic work, I have to bow down to the building regs ( correct me if I'm wrong). Why has the electrical industry allow itself to be shafted like this? Is it not bad enough that we have to keep attending upgrades for our own regulations?

Robin Everest
Maintenance Engineer



I've just read your article in the EPA newsletter and feel compelled to take issue with you over some of your comments

"allowing under-skilled people who have just been on a 5 day Part P course to undercut and take work off established installers who have been in the business for decades. Installers have been finding they are losing work by quoting for a fully safe, high standard job, only to find that a newly 5 day qualified installer has quoted a much lower rate to do a lower standard of work. As a result, installers are finding that Part P is really only benefiting the ‘Jack of all Trades’ rather than out and out electricians."

It is a gross generalisation to suggest that general maintenance providers who have been on such a Part P course will do a less good installation than an out and out electrician. Indeed, the likelihood is that being newly qualified and having fresh knowledge, they will take far more care of the choice of materials and the method of installation than a died-in-the-wool sparks, who has had years to learn which corners to cut, what will go un-noticed, and what he can get away with. In the course of carrying out general building maintenance works, I have seen atrocious installations carried out by companies with NICEIC on the van.

Part P is a political tool to interfere with ordinary people's ability to get small works done affordably, and in the vast majority of cases, perfectly safely, and has very little to do with promoting understanding of safe electrical installation or raising standards of electrical work throughout the country. It is an ill-conceived, unenforceable hotch-potch of rules from the old Prescott (ODPM) days, and should be abolished.

If you're worried about your electricians losing work to general maintenance folks, then that is surely indicative that they're pricing jobs too high. If you're suggesting that Part P was meant to protect against that, then that is a very serious protectionist issue, which by the sound of it, has backfired.

With kind regards,

Pete Alcock
Small installer of AV Systems, plus general maintenance provider ("Jack of all trades!")

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page

Electrical Products