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The electrician who doesn't have a clue...

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Elham Rizi | 17:33 UK time, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Matt and Dan have also been in Nottingham as they've heard there's a man called Craig Andrew Lonsdale, who's trying his hand at electrics... And doing a terrible job.

We decided to put Craig's electrical handyman skills to the test and invited him to a house with researcher Lucy posing as a pregnant home owner. Craig arrived at the property to fit a double wall socket in the kitchen and an outside light by the front door - a straightforward job that any competent person could carry out in two to three hours.

Craig Lonsdale is not Part P registered and so should not be carrying out this work before he involved Building Control. Failing to comply with building regulations can result in a fine of £5,000 per offence.

First the parts...

To begin our work, Craig thought he would need a double switch to go in the living room - standard equipment for many electricians, but Craig didn't have one in his vehicle, so he popped off to the shops to get one.

After 25 minutes, Craig returned - still without the switch. To our actresses' amazement, he asks if he can borrow £10 as his card has been declined. Cash in hand, Craig headed back to the shops and this time managed to get the part.

Into the kitchen

On returning he decided to start work on the double socket in the kitchen and managed to fit it pretty quickly. Watching on was electrical expert, Ian Marsh, Technical Manager for ELESCA - part of the ECA (Electrical Contractor's Association). He was surprised to see Craig fail to use any testing equipment throughout the job.

"He's not tested the circuit. If he puts power in them without testing it, he's not complying with wiring regulations and will not know if the work is safe."

Ian spoke too soon, a few moments later Craig tested the plug socket, but not with a metre (polarity or loop test) as you might expect, but with a metal kettle. Ian is unimpressed: "It's just gross incompetence. I would not trust my life to a kettle".

Worryingly without a proper meter, Craig will never know whether the socket is properly installed and crucially, safe to use.

Now the outside light...

After we explained to Craig where we want the light fitting, it was apparent from the start that his electrical expertise was lacking when he suggested running the outside light from a light switch in the front room. What Craig failed to realise was there was no neutral conductor and the switch only controlled the living room lights and could not provide the power for a new light outside.

Ian Marsh knew that every attempt Craig made to connect the light to this switch would be futile, but after an hour or so of trying, Craig said the problem must be caused by a faulty bulb or a faulty light switch. Craig headed off into the night, leaving the job unfinished. He promised to come back, and dids try to return, but we decided to call it a day, realising the problem would never be fixed.

Ian reviews Craig's work...

After Craig had left Ian looked at both of Craig's jobs. Although the wall socket in the kitchen worked, on opening up the socket Ian discovered it had been left in a dangerous way as he had not connected the earth.

"Craig's failure to connect the earth wire makes this socket unsafe... The danger is... You've got a metal kettle right next to that socket it could very easily be plugged in. If that kettle was faulty it would stay faulty until somebody touched it and potentially got a shock".

So we had a socket that wasn't earthed and dangerous and a light installation that didn't work because two wires are needed for a circuit. Ian was particularly concerned at the sheer incompetence of Craig Lonsdale's electrical work.

"If Craig carries on working he's just going to put more people's lives in danger. It really is as simple as that. He's broken the building regulations. Part P asks that you make a reasonable provision for safety. He's not done that, he's left this unsafe".

Time to catch up with Craig again...

We decided to invite Craig to another home, this time Matt Allwright was ready and waiting. As soon as Craig spotted Matt he ran off, refusing to answer any questions. Later he sent us a letter, in which he apologised for carrying out the work. He admitted he was not trained to and has said he will not doing any more electrical work until he has obtained his Part P qualification. He said he will be doing this course in September. He also said he has never received any complaints from his clients and his working relationships are good.

You can get more information about Part P and how to ensure you use a competent Part P registered electrician by visiting the competentperson website.

Please note: The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Download our handy factsheet on how to find a competent electrician here.


  • Comment number 1.

    So, please tell the genuine electricians that pay approx £1000 per year to register with a part P scheme whether Craig was prosecuted or punished. If not, why should they pay such an exorbitant fee?

  • Comment number 2.

    Jonpds makes a very valid point. I have seen court cases for sub-standard work and for claiming to be a member of a scheme when they are not. But to date not a single court case for simply not registering under Part P where there was no other fault.

  • Comment number 3.

    Although i in no way endorse cowboys, i do have a problem with the implied comment that only competent electricians can be found on the registered persons schemes. I started business to provide a service which was not ripping people off, provides a good service and delivers professional safe end products for my customers. I have taken and passed varoius exams including Part P training and assessment. I however have not joined a scheme. Why because at 600 poundish per year i cant afford it. I have my qualifications I have my certificates why should i need to fork out yet more money to join a scheme.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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