unfortunately this is common on this forum and I have seen more than one 'newbie' turned off by the frankly offensive behaviour of the few never to return to benefit from the considered opinions of the many.It's all getting a bit convoluted and away from what I intended, so let me summarise:
Perhaps you should consider it that you aren't paying them for permission, you are paying them to check your work is up to a standard. 'Competent' persons (members of schemes) also have to pay somebody to check their work is up to a standard but this comes on a more occasional basis when their scheme provider pays a visit.3. My main objection is to having to pay the LABC for premission to do what I want. If I conform to the regs and the tests are ok I don't see why I should have to inform them.
In general I would say these sorts of checks are a 'good thing'.
The problem is that just because a tradesman is a member of a competent persons scheme doesn't mean he is competent. In fact it is trivial to get on a scheme, assuming you have a basic idea of simple physics and can look up values from a table in a book.
So I have a lot of sympathy for your position as it is quite likely you will indeed do a better job than quite a few people who can sign their work off themselves.
I know a sparky round here who will test and sign off other peoples work, as long as he sees it uncovered beforehand. He will even give advice on what to do next. They do exist.
As for testing it yourself, it ain't rocket science, it is very procedural and the procedure is is laid out in several books. You can get a tester for a few hundred quid and flog it on ebay for not much less. Or rent for a week for less than £100.
Plenty of ways to skin this cat.