Getting Electrical Work Done

The Energy Safety Service administers the principal laws governing electrical work in New Zealand. These are:

  • Electricity Act 1992
  • Electricity Regulations 1997
  • New Zealand Electrical Codes of Practice

Copies of these laws can be found on the Energy Safety Service’s website www.ess.govt.nz in your local library, or at Bennetts Govt. Legislation Bookshops (Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington) or on line at www.bennetts.co.nz

The law allows homeowners to do a limited amount of electrical work in their home. Any person, other than a homeowner, who carries out prescribed electrical work, is required to be registered by the Electrical Workers Registration Board (EWRB). All electrical workers who carry out electrical work in return for payment or reward, must hold an annual practising licence.

When you contract an electrician, always ask to see their practising licence and check the expiry date. This is proof that the electrician is qualified to do electrical work safely. Note, the colour of the licence changes every two years. If you are unsure if your electrician is licensed, get in touch with the EWRB.

Certificate of Compliance (CoC)
Electricians must issue a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) to customers when doing any fixed wiring work, including fitting new power points. CoC’s are not issued for maintenance work, such as replacing sockets and light fittings or repairing appliances.

Your electrician must also send a copy of the CoC to the EWRB. The CoC indicates that the work done is electrically safe and has been carried out in accordance with New Zealand’s electrical safety standards and codes. It also shows they have tested their work once completed. Keep your CoC in a safe place as a record of the work done on your property. It is an important document and may be required for insurance claims or when you are selling your home.

Electrical safety inspections
The law also requires some electrical work to be inspected, particularly work on the main switchboard, the main cable, and the main earth. The electrician you employ is responsible for arranging for a licensed electrical inspector to carry out the inspection. Keep the inspection report with your CoC’s and other important information.

If you have any concerns about your home being electrically safe, have it checked by a licensed electrical inspector.

Buying a Home
Before buying a home, get a licensed electrician or inspector to verify that all installations, outbuildings, and electrical equipment are electrically safe. They can also identify any electrical problems you may face in the future.

Ask the vendor about all electrical work undertaken and sight all CoC’s. This acts as an assurance that a licensed electrician has performed the job safely. The CoC is also important for liability and insurance purposes, should something go wrong.

Building or Renovating a Home
When building a new home or renovating an existing one, plan for your present electrical needs and for what you may need in the future. Make sure you have adequate power points and fittings and ask your electrician to advise you of the latest electrical safety devices available. Although you may have to spend a little more up front, it may save a life in the future.

Your Rights – How to complain about sub-standard or unsafe electrical work. If you have a problem with electrical work done in your home, first discuss it with the electrician or company who did the job. If you are still unhappy, you can lay a formal complaint with the EWRB. For more information about making a formal complaint, FREEPHONE the EWRB on 0800 66 10 00, or check their website at www.ewrb.govt.nz

DIY Electrical Work
The law allows you, as a member of the public, to do certain electrical work on your own home. You must follow set standards and it must be for your own use. You cannot take payment or reward for it.

Never do any electrical work unless you are sure you have the skills and knowledge to do the job safely and legally. Accidents and in some cases fatalities, can occur because people don’t know what they are doing. For more information on the requirements for doing your own electrical work, contact the Energy Safety Service for a copy of their free brochure ‘A Guide to Doing Your Own Electrical Work Safely and Legally’, or download it from their website www.ess.govt.nz