What Electrical work am I legally allowed to DIY in New Zealand?

3 August 2018

The DIY trend

DIY or “Do It Yourself” is a trending practice in fashion, home accessories, crafts and now even electrical work! Building or repairing things yourself can be such a feel-good factor and it’s something you can do with friends, family or take it up as a solo mission.

However, if you live in New Zealand DIY electrical work can be extremely tricky business.
The law in New Zealand tells you what electrical work you are allowed to legally do, on your own and what you cannot.

Though you might be tempted to save some money on electrical work, especially if you live in an expensive city like Auckland, make sure to read on if you are planning on doing your own electrical work. You don’t want to end up breaking the law without even realising it and be prosecuted, or damage appliances, cause a fire or hurt yourself or those around you!

Your expert electrician or those DIY videos on YouTube that you have watched probably make it look like fixing electrical appliances or installing your own wiring is easy but remember that it’s not simple as it looks. Electricians make it look easy because they have learnt how to do the work over a period of time and they have been practicing for years! If you don’t know exactly what you should be doing, you could risk the safety of yourself and those around you by possibly getting an electric shock or even causing a fire if you do the wiring incorrectly.

Things to know before deciding to do your own electrical work

    • The first and foremost requirement to doing electrical work is that you or your close family member MUST own the house in which you are doing electrical work. If you are renting, call an electrician.
    • If you are an employer, employee, landlord or a tenant, and the building is used for commercial reasons, DIY electrical work is a complete NO-NO for you, by law. Doing DIY electrical work could see you prosecuted and you are likely to also invalidate your insurance cover on the building and contents in the event of fire, or other damage that could come from the electrical work.
    • If you are a home owner and plan on doing some electrical work, it is crucial to have the knowledge and skills required to do the work, because let’s face it, this is not the same as making your own candle or coffee mug. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing and that you do the work carefully taking all the precautions that you need to, like, turning the power off and not working where conductors or terminals are live or could become live. If you feel doubtful about what you should be doing, call a licensed electrician.

What electrical work are you allowed to DIY by law?

    • You are only allowed to do electrical work that requires low-voltage installations by law.
    • You are only allowed to do electrical work that is considered low risk – such as removing or replacing light sockets, switches, water heater switches, fuse links or thermostats. Be sure to turn off the electricity supply at the switchboard before working on any wiring.
    • You can connect and disconnect or replace existing fixed wired appliances. Make sure you are confident about what you are doing first.
    • If you are thinking of installing, altering or extending sub-circuits, you must get this tested by a licensed electrician. This applies whenever you are adding anything that will draw more power on the circuit than is currently drawn. You also need to get your electrician to connect your work to the electricity supply. And of course, remember to not work on any live conductors because you could electrocute yourself. If you have the slightest doubt about what you should be doing with the sub-circuits, the safest thing for you to do is to call a licensed electrician.
    • You are allowed to extend or alter a cable, but not a main cable that is coming from the street to your switchboard.
    • If you plan on doing your own wiring, be extremely careful and only do it if you are confident enough. Do not experiment with it. Once you are done, you are required to call an electrician to check it and sign off on it for you.

While these electrical jobs can technically be done by a New Zealand home owner who is not an electrician, it is crucial to re-emphasize the importance of calling an electrician if you are not a 100% confident on how exactly the electrical work should be done, because its not worth risking your safety or of those around you, for the sake of experimenting. If you enjoy risk, try sky diving instead!

Electrical work that you are not allowed to do according to NZ law

    • Do not work on any switchboards unless you are working on a fuse wire or a fuse cartridge.
    • Do not mess with the main supply of electricity.
    • Do not connect the wiring yourself. An electrician should do this.
    • In general, you can repair or replace existing electrical outlets, but you are not allowed to add on additional outlets that will draw more electricity. By law, only an electrician is allowed to do this. For example, you cannot install a heat pump on your own as it would require an additional electrical outlet to function and will increase the amount of electricity used in the circuit. That’s why heat pump installers have qualified electricians on their team for installations.

While you might be tempted to do your own electrical work, the best thing to do with electrical work is calling an electrician because they know things that you don’t.

Ensure that your electrician is licensed and issues a certificate of compliance.

Your Local Electrician

If you are looking for an electrician near you, here is a list of reliable electricians

For an electrician in Auckland Central, North Shore and West Auckland, contact
Jenco Electrical
Website: https://www.jenco-electrical.co.nz/
Contact number: 0800 453 626

For an electrician in Hamilton, contact
Leading Edge Electrical
Website: https://www.leadingedgeelectrical.co.nz/
Contact number: 0800 453 234

For an electrician in Christchurch or Canterbury, contact
Skilled Electrical
Website: http://www.skilledelectrical.co.nz/
Contact number: 03 382 1668

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