Without denigrating any of the preceding tradesmen, the electrician, together with the plumbing and heating engineer, is a different kettle of fish. Whereas many of the other trades are labour only, in general these two trades are supply and fix – either exclusively or in part – as many are quite prepared to countenance the self-builder purchasing items such as light fittings. In many cases, however, due to the added complexity of most fancy fittings, there is little or no saving to be had.

The fact that the trade is supply and fix means that most electricians work on a more permanent basis. Many work alone, bringing in help on the odd occasion. Others are larger companies who employ men and women and, in these cases, it is usual for there to be one major electrician plus a trainee. All must have the stability to be able to take ongoing responsibility for their work.

Payment is usually made in two stages. The first is on completion of the first fix or carcassing stage, where the wires and back boxes etc. are positioned on the walls and through the floor and roof zone prior to plastering. The second and final payment is made upon practical completion of the trade, when the various certificates have been issued and approved by Building Control.

In most cases, the self-builder is advised to only use an electrician or electrical company that is Part P registered. Although it is possible to use a competent person who, whilst not registered, could be considered by Building Control as a competent person to carry out the work, this is not generally advisable. Nevertheless, if that is the route you go down, an extra fee of £306.38 plus VAT will be payable to Building Control (varying from authority to authority) for an inspection upon completion of the work.

Electricians work with a plumber to earth pipework, commission the boiler and wire and commission the hot-water storage system.

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The Costs

20 ceiling pendant lights, incl switch and back box @ £4.89 each £97.80
VAT @ 20% £19.56
3 x 1-way light switches incl back box @ £2.34 each £7.02
VAT @ 20% £1.40
6 electric bathroom vents @ £21.00 each £126.00
VAT @ 20% £25.20
6 x 50m rolls of 1.5mm twin and earth cable @ £10 each £60.00
VAT @ 20% £12.00
28 packs of 1.5mm cable clips @ 65p each £18.20
VAT @ 20% £3.64
34 power sockets @ £5.94 each £201.96
VAT @ 20% £40.39
3 shaver sockets @ £18.99 each £56.97
VAT @ 20% £11.39
11 x 50m rolls of 2.5mm twin and earth cable @ £13.50 each £148.50
VAT @ 20% £29.70
40 packs of 2.5mm cable clips @ 65p each £26.00
VAT @ 20% £5.20
3 shower ceiling isolating pull switches @ £14.10 each £42.30
VAT @ 20% £8.46
3 mains-wired smoke alarms @ £20.02 each £60.06
VAT @ 20% £12.01
2 x 1,200mm florescent lights for loft @ £30 each £60.00
VAT @ 20% £12.00
11 fused spurs @ £6.54 each £71.94
VAT @ 20% £14.39
6 external coach lights, built-in PIR @ £32 each £192.00
VAT @ 20% £38.40
2 telephone flush slave sockets @ £7.27 each £14.54
VAT @ 20% £2.91
1 x 100m roll of six-core telephone cable £16.98
VAT @ 20% £3.40
1 x 100m roll of CT100 satellite cable £35.00
VAT @ 20% £7.00
8 satellite TV faceplates @ £6.60 each £52.80
VAT @ 20% £10.56
1 x 50m roll of 1.5mm three-core and earth cable £22.00
VAT @ 20% £4.40
1 x 50m roll of 6mm twin and earth cable £51.50
VAT @ 20% £10.30
2 packs of 6mm cable clips @ 65p each £1.30
VAT @ 20% £0.26
Consumer unit £120.00
VAT @ 20% £24.00
25 days’ labour @ £174 per day £4,350.00

(NB: In addition, now is the time to consider installing a smart home entertainment and lighting system, plus a whole-house alarm system, at around £15,800 + VAT.)

Electrical total £6,129.44
(of which recoverable VAT £296.57

How to reduce these costs:

  • Avoid over specification. Think carefully about what you actually need, i.e. not too many power points.
  • Think about where your furniture will go and don’t make the mistake of having power points that are inaccessible.
  • Brass, silver or even timber faceplates are attractive but they’re much more expensive than traditional white plastic.
  • The electrician may let you help them on the carcassing and running of the wires for a small discount; but they must supervise under the conditions of their certification. A layperson cannot do the work and then seek certification from an electrician who has not been involved in all of the work.

Our Benchmark House

The floorplan for the house costed within this series measures up at 227m² — much larger than the average family home. Four bedrooms on the smaller first floor share three bathrooms. Downstairs, the living spaces flow easily onto one another, with an open plan family kitchen being the hub of home life.

All prices correct at time of writing, November 2011

Special thanks to Estimators Limited (estimators-online.com 0161 286 8601) and Design & Materials Limited (designandmaterials.uk.com 0845 404 0400) for their help in the preparation of this series of articles.

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