Getting work done, DIY or Professional?

Some repairs and improvements to your home must only be tackled by a qualified expert.

These are laid down in building and health and safety legislation. Regulated work includes gas installations and some electrical work.

Asbestos must only ever be removed by a licensed contractor.

Read the information below or contact our building control team for advice.

Gas installations

Gas Safe Register is responsible for controlling those working in the gas industry. Unqualified workers could invalidate your insurance as well as put your lives at risk from gas leaks or carbon monoxide poisoning. Annual inspections of gas installations (boilers, cookers, fires, etc) by a qualified and registered installer are recommended. If you’re renting the property out, it is a legal requirement to get gas installations inspected annually.

The government is aware of the risks of DIY gas installations and is tightening up the regulations. It is a criminal offence if an unqualified person does work to a gas installation. Gas safety certificates from a Gas Safe Registered engineer will be required and, apart from the potential danger, the absence of these could mean that you won't be able to sell your property.

Electricity

Anything except the most minor electrical work will either need to be done by a registered ‘competent person’ or you will need to make an application to the council's Building Control team, which will incur a charge. Failure to use a competent person or obtain Building Regulation approval is a criminal offence.
 
Examples of the work that a ‘competent person’ will need to do include:

  • connection of additional circuits to a new or existing consumer unit
  • complete re-wiring
  • replacement of damaged cables to more than one existing circuit
  • installing a new circuit for a shower or a cooker
  • alterations to existing circuits, including addition or relocation
  • equipment/accessories such as a light fitting or socket outlet

For further information, please go to www.partp.co.uk.

Water and drains

In general, homeowners are responsible for water and drainage pipes within their property, up to the junction with water main or main drain. Problems that occur on pipes that are the homeowner’s responsibility could be covered by house insurance, depending on the terms of the policy. If a problem occurs after the pipe work joins the water main or main drain, it will be the responsibility of Southern Water.

Leaseholders in blocks of flats will be responsible for pipe work within their flat, but common water pipes and drains which service the whole building will generally be the responsibility of the freeholder. However, leaseholders will probably be charged for any costs of repair, depending on leases and insurance.

For other properties, 1937 is the important year for shared drains. If there is a single drain shared between a number of properties and was constructed before October 1937, responsibility for any work on the drain is generally now that of the water authority. For newer properties with shared drains, responsibility will generally be shared between the properties served by the drain.

Southern Water deals with waste water across most of Sussex and provides mains water for Brighton & Hove. Their emergency number is 0845 278 0845. Outside this area, mains water is provided by a number of companies - you can check at www.southernwater.co.uk.

Asbestos

Breathing in air containing asbestos fibres can lead to asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases. It has been illegal to use asbestos in construction work since the 1970s, but asbestos can often be found in properties built before then. Asbestos sheeting was frequently used to protect boiler rooms, for example, because of its fire proof properties. As long as it is in good condition and not being disturbed or damaged, asbestos is not likely to cause a problem, especially if painted or otherwise sealed. However, if asbestos panels are damaged it can be dangerous.

You are most likely to come across asbestos in:

  • sprayed asbestos – generally used as fire breaks in ceiling voids, ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, etc
  • moulded or preformed lagging used for thermal insulation
  • insulating boards used for fire protection
  • some ceiling tiles
  • paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment
  • some older textured ceiling treatments
  • corrugated asbestos sheeting used for roofs

For further information about asbestos, what to look for and what to worry about, visit the Health & Safety Executive site at www.hse.gov.uk.  It also contains information on finding appropriate surveyors for inspection and analysis of areas that might contain asbestos - not everything that looks like asbestos is - and how to find licensed asbestos removers.