Buildings Services and Utilities
In the UK, domestic wiring is covered by the Wiring Regulations, but these currently do not have the force of law, except in Scotland where they form part of the Scottish. This means that in England and Wales anyone who thinks they can install or fix wiring can have a go. Fortunately most people realise that major jobs are best left to a qualified electrician who is required to follow the regulations. Wiring must comply with the British Standard, and is likely to be included in the at some future date.
Electricity supply companies can refuse to supply what they consider to be an unsafe installation, and they also have the right to inspect any installation which they suspect may be unsafe.
Whilst drainage from properties is covered by the Building Regulations, anything to do with the supply of water is covered by The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations — in Scotland the Regulations are virtually identical, though they are called by-laws there. The Regulations are enforced by your local water company. They have the force of law and you can be fined if you contravene them.
You must give your water company notice (and receive its consent) before building a swimming pool or making certain alterations or additions to your plumbing installation, especially those with the potential to contaminate the water supply through back-siphonage. This can happen if there is a sudden demand for water on a large scale elsewhere — nearby factory use, for example, or fire engines taking water to fight a local fire —which creates suction in taps and outlets in a wide area.
So if, for example, you have the shower head on your mixer tap sitting in a full bath, some of that dirty bath water could be sucked through the shower head and back into the clean supply. This is why your water company must be informed before you install any appliance that has the potential for creating back-siphonage, such as a bidet with an ascending spray or flexible hose — unless the work is carried out by an ‘approved contractor’. Normally, a Water Inspector will visit your home, but if you do not hear within ten days of the correct documentation having been received, permission to do the work is deemed to have been given and work may proceed. The Water Regulations are not easy to read, although a guide is published by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS).
The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations insist that all work onpipes, fittings and appliances including boilers, and must be carried out by a registered, qualified installer. Contact CORGI (the Council for Registered Gas Installers) to find a CORGI-registered installer in your area. Operatives carry identification cards that list the areas of gas work the holder is certified to carry out. If in doubt, you can check an installer’s credentials directly with CORGI.
Where the works are to be supervised by a building inspector, then it is the builder’s or building owner’s responsibility to ensure compliance. A notice must be given toso that the inspector can inspect the works. Such notice has to be given by a person carrying out , which includes the builder as well as the building owner.
If you become a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that all gas fittings are certified safe by CORGI, which requires annual checks.
Any person who contravenes the Building Regulations is liable upon summary conviction to a fine of up to £5,000 and to further fines of £50 per day for every day of default.
A local authority has statutory power to order the removal or alteration of any work contravening the Regulations. Others have the right to apply for an injunction to secure compliance.