Since I was mainly industrial and commercial my domestic skills are also limited. And if I wanted to re-wire a house myself, then I would also like you be slow, and like you I would need to pay the fees and use the LABC to issue the completion certificate. I have always considered the LABC route was for two reasons, one was for people like me, who had the knowledge, but not worth becoming a scheme member for a one off job, and the other to allow for when things go wrong, if a tradesman stops trading for any reason then some how the owner of a property will need to get the work completed and a completion certificate issued.
Although in theory any one can pay the LABC their dues and DIY the job, this means the LABC has a lot of work monitoring what is being done. This it seemed caused the LABC some problems in the early days, there was a flat fee, and it did not matter how many times the inspector had to visit, there was just a flat fee. However the rules changed, and the LABC could pass on the cost of getting a third party to inspect the work. This means if the inspector visits and says that's no good, do it again and do it properly, then there will be a fee for both that visit and the next visit and so on. So some one who repeatedly gets it wrong could end up with a huge LABC bill, but some one who gets it right has a very low bill in comparison.
However it is not quite as simple as that, as the council has to also deal with fully qualified electricians who are not scheme member, in this case the council can accept the installation certificate from the electrician and just if it sees fit, retest a sample of the work to be sure he is following the rules, just like the scheme providers. For the commercial electrician who does one or two domestic jobs a year this is OK they get to know which ones they can trust, however for the electrician working on his own house this is a problem, they can't really get a third party tester who is less qualified than the electrician doing the work, or any disagreement would be hard to enforce, it has to be the LABC themselves who test the work. This means the LABC inspector needs to know how to inspect and test. So if I normally live in Holland and I want to wire my house in the UK to Dutch standards he has to know what is allowed and if for example I was to use a ring final with a CEE 7/3 socket (Schuko
) socket and a fuse next to each one, he will need to decide if that is allowed.
That may seem easy, but although reversible it does comply with EU rules, but in rest of EU they do not use a ring final, fitting a fuse beside every socket should cater for this, but then he needs to consider the earth system, is a TN-C-S permitted in Holland etc. So the guy would likely need a degree in electrical engineering as he is not simply following BS7671 but has to consider methods outside what BS7671 permits. There are a few councils who do have inspectors with the knowledge, but there are also those who don't. So the council inspector in real terms does not inspect the installation, he inspects what he perceives as the skill and honesty of the electrician and if that signature on the installation certificate is good enough.
Allied trades are also a problem, auto electrician, instrument electrician, and others may or may not know what they are doing. In real terms my degree in electrical and electronic engineering did not help me design, install plus inspect and test a domestic installation, OK my other training does, but not my degree. However to get some one to say I am wrong and override my installation certificate the LABC need to have some one who can show they have superior knowledge, not just have it, so would really also need to have level 5 or higher qualifications. So often although the LABC inspector should do a lot more inspecting and testing and be far stricter he tends to display a lazy fair attitude to it all. So in the main the LABC inspector will only question something which is blatant.
The third party inspector however is very different, the more times he kicks something back the more money he makes, and he does need to follow BS7671 so would have no problem failing my Schuko socket example, however now consider this, if not a true third party inspector but doing an EICR could he really fail a Schuko socket?