View the amended Part P Document here: planningportal.gov.uk

As of last month the Government has wheeled out its latest changes to Part P of the Building Regulations in an attempt to cut down on the amount of “red tape”. In the eight years since its introduction Part P has been a vital measure in maintaining safety when it comes to electrical installations, making sure that professional electricians have the skill and competency needed to perform these tasks. In order to do certain installations, electricians (and DIYers) are required to gain their Part P certificate and join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA.

The main change to the document is that it is now shorter and has greater clarity, with a notable reduction to the number of works that need to be notified to Local Authority Building Control. The full breakdown of changes is

  • Under the new regulations, any electrical work undertaken in kitchens or outdoors in no longer covered by Part P unless a new circuit is required. 
  • While before installers not registered with a Competent Person Scheme would have to notify their work so that a third-party inspector would need to check it, now these installers can instead use a registered third-party (e.g. another electrician) to sign off their work. This eliminates the cost of producing Building Regulations Compliance Certificates for some minor works, but importantly, the new regulations still retain the need to issue Electrical Installation Certificate Reports (EICRs) for all work carried out within a dwelling.
  • Reference is now made to BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 1:2011.

The main positive that has come out of these changes is the potential new areas of work it opens up for Part P qualified electricians who can earn more from inspecting and signing off other people’s work. Organisations have also commended this new streamlined document for not compromising on safety.

However while the ESC (Electrical Safety Council) has praised the fact the Government is amending Part P, they have expressed concern over some of the changes. They believe that the areas that have seen a reduction in notifiable are reasonably high-risk according to data, and so “any electrical work must be of a particularly high standard”.

The third-party certification is also still in question, as the rules for the Approved Inspector Scheme are currently unclear. The document itself is likely to go under review again in 2015.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today released the latest Green Deal statistics, and already there has been warnings coming from various different groups and companies.

Insulation company Knauf has warned that according to the current rate, it will take more than 200 years to reach the Government’s 2020 targets. This comes following the revelation that only 2031 more Green Deal assessments place in April than March, suggesting that interest may already be starting to stagnate.

Northern Europe Knauf Managing Director John Sinfield said: “These figures confirm the industry’s worst fears – that the Green Deal has been strangled at birth by the complete lack of any real incentive to encourage uptake amongst householders. If this rate of activity evens out at 10,000 assessments a month it will take 116 years to reach the original DECC aspiration of tackling 14 million homes – and that assumes an optimistic 100 per cent conversion rate from assessment to Green Deal. At a more realistic rate of 50 per cent it will take 232 years to achieve this goal!

“Therefore, our argument to Government is that a significant ‘demand driver’ is urgently needed in order to create momentum amongst householders. The Government claims that the Green Deal is a market driven mechanism yet as currently designed it will only appeal to a small subset of the population. The Green Deal must be made attractive to ALL householders if it is to stand any chance of success. Cashback should be broadened from just Green Deal to all boiler and insulation retrofits.”

However the slow-down in progress could be due to a “severe shortage” of building companies registered as installers, says The Federation of Master Builders in an unrelated assessment based on the same set of statistics. With only 942 companies approved to carry out the work, the FMB has warned that this is nowhere near enough to deliver targets.

Chief executive Brian Berry said: “There are more than 240,000 companies in the construction industry that employ fewer than 14 people. These companies are often best placed to carry out Green Deal work, but because it is difficult to access the market, they are reluctant to train the number of approved installers needed to retrofit Britain’s building stock.

“The Green Deal has now been open for business for almost four months and demand for work under the initiative appears to be growing, but it still feels like a missed opportunity to the majority of SMEs in the industry who haven’t seen any sign of transformation in the energy-efficiency market.”

In order to combat this, the FMB plan to introduce a “Strategy for the Low Carbon Building and Refurbishment Market”. This will involve giving its members better access to the training and certification required to carry out these areas of work.

Sources: Knaufinsulation.co.uk

theconstructionindex.co.uk

Just over a month after the announcement that the start of the Renewable Heat Incentive would be delayed until Spring 2014, the UK Government has also delayed the introduction of proposed "smart meters" to 30 million homes until Autumn 2015.

The £11.7 billion project has been considered vital to getting householders to cut their energy use as the country faces having to import more energy in the future. These smart meters record consumption of gas and electricity in hourly intervals, regularly communicating the information back to the utility provider for monitoring and billing purposes. While the project is set to start in 2015, its estimated that the move to install these into every home won't be completed until 2020.

Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, noted that installing these meters is going to be a "complex task" and this delay will allow the changeover to happen more efficiently. She said: "We welcome the government's prudent decision to allow an additional 12 months to complete the smart meter programme. This recognises the scale of the programme and the need to prepare carefully."

Energy Secretary Ed Davey added: "Completing the national rollout will be an enormous logistical and technical challenge for the industry. Getting this right for consumers is the government's priority."

However the Government will be taking measures to speed up the introduction despite delays. From the end of 2013, when a customer switches from a supplier who has provided them with a smart meter, the new supplier has to either rent the previous supplier’s meter or install their own smart meter, helping to gradually phase out old equipment. This also makes sure that suppliers don’t lose out when they become early adopters. There are also proposals to require energy suppliers and network operators to comply with the Smart Energy Code and ensure their smart meters really perform their advanced functions and supply data to customers.

Further reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22480068

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/smart-meter-roll-out-delayed-until-autumn-2015-116011

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/70d66e86-b97b-11e2-bc57-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2TFaAEogR

While there will always be a demand for qualified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and gas engineers, setting yourself apart from the other tradesmen in your local area is an important factor is getting your name out there among potential clients. And the best way to do this is to consider qualifying in more than one skill. Commonly gas engineer training goes hand in hand with plumbing qualifications, but there are far more potential combinations that could benefit your future career.

For example, if a plumber were to undertake electrical training it would open up a variety of new work for them that they wouldn’t be able to complete otherwise without a second tradesman. They would be able to properly install power showers, and by achieving a Part P qualification would also be permitted to sign off the work themselves once they had joined a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

In turn, if an electrician had plastering qualifications, they could provide a fresh finish to a wall surface after tearing it apart to complete an installation. The same applies for combining plastering, tiling and/or carpentry courses. You’ll be increasing both your eternal potential and boost your chance of success when starting up your own business.

Take note though, it’s vital that you train properly for your second skill just as you did the first. A plumber should not be attempting any electrical work without the proper electrical qualifications and the same goes for any other potential trades. Not only would you be putting yourself at risk, but your customer as well. By training properly, you’ll be able to do the job properly and known as a tradesman capable and competent enough to get the job done on their own.

If you would like to find out more about the multi-skills training routes available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and our team will be happy to tell you more.

In these days of high energy prices we are all looking for ways to save a few pounds on our electricity bills. I think I may have a way of achieving this saving -get your teenagers to move out of the family home!

A teenagers bedroom consumes large amounts of electricity, TV’s, games consoles, music systems, mobile phone chargers, lights, computers etc. all on at the same time and left on when not in use. Sounds familiar? Over a period of a year (multiplied by the number of teenagers in the home) equates to a large amount of energy being wasted.

We can try to educate them, but to no avail, they don’t listen or is it that they don’t understand? A friend noticed a vast difference in his energy bills once his teenager ‘flew’ the nest to go to university. He calculated that he was saving £10 a month on his electricity bill alone, that’s an annual saving of £120. It may not seem a vast amount of money but it’s a saving that has allowed him and his wife to start a new hobby together, allowing them to have ‘more’ quality time with each other.

He is also making savings on his heating costs as windows are not being left open for the heat to escape and the heating isn’t being left on when no one is in the house! Is the way to save money on energy bills as simple as getting the teenagers to move out? From where I’m sat it looks like a viable answer.

“You can’t do that!” I hear some of you scream. You could try putting timer switches on the sockets, so devices are not left on unnecessary. You could use lamps that are more energy efficient or of a small wattage. These are little things that could make a difference to your wallet at the end of each month.

- Mark Jenkins

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