DIY gas work... is it allowed?
This question crops up regularly, often going something like this...
I'd like to fit my own boiler but a Gas Safe Register (previously CORGI) bloke I know says it is illegal.
Other people have told me it's fine for me to fit it myself as long as I get the
gas connection done by a Gas Safe Register fitter. I want to stay within the law but don't
want to end up paying someone else to do work that actually I'm legally entitled
to do myself. As a DIY-er what can I do and what must I not do to stay within
As with all things gas, there is no straightforward answer.
The answer lies (or should lie) in the law which governs the installation and
use of gas fittings. The legislation you need to comply with is called the
"Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998". Published on the
HMSO website here. (I also have a copy of the regulations in one single large document
which is easier for conducting text searches.)
Once you've read through it I predict you will feel none the wiser ;-) Some
content is ambiguous at best, self-contradictory at worst.
Getting to the point is difficult. You must either accept somebody's personal
interpretation of the gas regs, or read and interpret them yourself. Here's my own
interpretation (which the court may decide is wrong if it ever came to be
tested, so DON'T rely on it):
The regulations draw a distinction between doing gas work for nothing and
doing it in return for payment (of any kind - not just money). If you are
receiving payment you MUST be Gas Safe Registered, or the penalty can be a prison
sentence. If you are NOT being rewarded in any way (e.g. DIY for yourself) then
you need only be what the regulation describes as 'competent'.
For the potential DIYer the problem is deciding what the law means by
'competent'. This open to wide interpretation. You are certainly competent if
you go to technical college and pass the exams accepted by Gas Safe Register for membership.
At the other end of the spectrum a CORGI (no longer the gas register
administrator - except in Northern Ireland) inspector once suggested to me that if you fitted
your own boiler and followed the instructions fully and accurately in every way
and there were no 'gas incidents', that could constitute proof of 'competence' too.
However, successfully following the boiler installation instructions
accurately does not address all the legal requirements in the gas regulations in
my opinion. Boiler instructions never give details on things like how to install
the gas service pipe, how to calculate the size it needs to be, or how to test it
for leaks after installation, for example.
It's my view that you comply with the law if you install the boiler yourself
but get a person with formal proof of competence to install and connect the gas
service and flue components. Getting them to commission the boiler is more or
less essential too because the DIYer is most unlikely to have the tools and
knowledge to correctly carry out the four compulsory safety checks defined in
the gas regulations.
So there you have it. My view is that it's OK to fit your own gas appliance
provided you get the gas pipe and flue installed and the safety checks carried
out by a qualified person, but my view doesn't count. If something
goes wrong it will be the view of the court that counts. The court will decide
what the gas regulations mean, not me or anyone else ready to hand out free
legal advice, qualified or not.
If you are thinking of DIY, I advise you to read the gas regulations, and
then it's your call...