Law regarding part p etc, and courses for basic wiring

26 Jan 2005
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United Kingdom
I am currently not working in the industry at all and work in IT. I've installed my own basic cctv system at home, and have been approached by a few others to install for them.

I'd like to have this as a possible avenue if my current job goes pear shaped, which is possible. A few things have held me back in going further (even part time) one of which is the legal side of me doing any electrics.

The cameras are just 3 pin plug, but I'd have to get power up to lofts etc if it didn't already exist. Most wiring would be low voltage and video/network cabling, but I'd also need public liability insurance etc.

Is there a course I could go on in the meanwhile that would allow me to do basic electrics within people's homes, similar to what I believe the kitchen/bathroom fitters do in order to get around part P? Could this be done at evening class or is there much more involved?

Would a cctv camera be classed as within one of the 'outdoor' zones, or would it be classified as internal as the outside bit would just be low voltage?

What sort of money would I be talking about for public liability insurance if I decided to start doing some of these jobs? My plan would be to either start small with a few jobs of a weekend, or to just go for it if I was made redundant. Would be nice to have the skills I need in advance.

I'm probably just dreaming, but if there is a decent evening course I could to to get the skills I need then I'd be interested in looking into it sooner rather than later.

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Not sure on the courses front (I'm just a DIYer), but one thing I would point out is that when you say low voltage, you actually mean extra low voltage (low voltage is defined as 50-1000V (AC) / 120-1500V (DC) - i.e. it includes the UK mains voltage, whereas extra low voltage is <50V (AC) / <120V (DC), which is what you almost certainly mean for CCTV things...

Your average 'man in the street' would call 12V and similar low voltage, because it's below the mains level, so normally I wouldn't say anything, but since you're looking to do courses etc, I thought worth pointing it out.

When I was at uni, our engineering department had a great sign in one of the machine rooms - "Danger: Medium Voltage!", always amusing...
The courses you speak of for bathroom or kitchen fitters will give you a certificate which you can use to show towards your competence when approaching a competent person scheme such as ELECSA, NAPIT, NICEIC, BSI etc. The certificate does not allow you to work around the law when doing notifiable works - in order to avoid notifying each notifiable job to the LABC and paying a fee to let them oversee compliance with buiding regs you would need to join one of the schemes.

However, saying that, CCTV systems will fall into the category of ELV cabling for signalling etc so as long as you are not installing it in a special location then it isn't notifiable.

Installing CCTV in a kitchen isn't notifiable, however should you decide to install a spur in a kitchen to supply equipment that is notifiable.
New circuits from the CU are notifiable.
Home automation is seemingly a very good game to get into, growth industry and all that. I'd do it myself- in fact I was by-and-large offered a job not so long ago by the director a fairly large concern (I was doing his cabling as well as mine on a big refurb) but I'm quite busy doing what I'm doing, and besides can't be dealing with the "being an employee" BS again. Thats not my bag baby.

Given the fairly low need for electrical installation, could you specify on a quote "spur(s) to be arranged by client beforehand"? That said once you get into full blown HA you'll be dealing with scene lighting, automated doors etc...

I'd say you'd benefit hugely from some solid "proper" electrical installation experience, colledge will make you "competent" to wire up a spur but they won't teach you the intricacies of cable routing, this is the area most alarm fitters fail epically at, all they know are staple guns and trunking, but this is no good if you take on contracts in posh houses (which with CCTV etc they by and large will be)

PS don't worry about public liability cost it's pretty cheap, less than £100 for most trades.
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Thanks All, especially HB.

You are correct re the experience. If/when I do get made redundant I'd be looking to spend some time (free of charge) with someone to see how the practical side is done. I dont have enough free time or holiday to do that at the moment, but if I wasn't working I'd be trying to do that. One of my biggest concerns is doing damage when pulling up carpets/floorboards etc. I guess a quick course in plastering wouldn't go amiss either.

I'd prefer not to get electricians in for spurs etc, as my profit would minimized. That said I'm hoping I wouldn't need it in most cases. The system I use runs on a PC, so it has fairly high 'setup costs' anyway even for a single camera system. Those reduce of course once extra cameras are involved.

Can I be cheeky and ask what you'd charge for a single camera setup? I'm thinking I'd have to charge a grand, and I'm not sure what the uptake would be on that.

Good news on the liability insurance though, I thought that was going to be one of my biggest startup costs.
I couldn't comment on a price as this kinda stuffs outside my scope, and evan the stuff I'd do- cable runs etc- depend on the length of run, installation method (under floor or clipped to wall etc), how long is a piece of string?

As for experience you could work in partnership with a spark, on some sort of basis you help him out some of the time, he helps you to some extent ie installing/certifying spurs, advice or help on cable runs, obv. you'd need to work out a financial & timeframe agreement and revise it as "your" work increases in line with your ability to work independantly. Given both skillsets aren't in direct competician and in fact can augment each other, in the long term by passing/recommendations for work to each other it could be a successfull relationship. Many sparks don't have the time and/or inclination to learn a whole new skillset if they're sucessfull with what they're doing, but nature of the job is they'll be asked for such services from time to time.
Yes, good advice, and again something I'd be looking at doing when the time comes. I'll look at what else I can do to prepare in the meanwhile.

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