Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing


New measures to help protect the public from cowboy tradesmen have been introduced by the Department for Communities & Local Government.

Tradesmen who operate under self-check schemes, which allow them to check their own work, will now be required to meet higher standards and prove they meet the right levels of quality. The government said this will give householders the peace of mind that work on their homes is up to scratch.

The measures will also ensure that householders have a financial safety net in place, such as a guarantee or insurance, to catch them if self-check installers fail to finish work properly or if they can't be chased through the courts.

Organisations running self-check schemes will now:

•  need to be accredited to an international quality standard in order to operate

•  have to assess that their members' competence levels and actual work are up to national standards

•  be required to promote the membership and use of their schemes.

Around 85,000 complaints are made currently about building work in homes each year according to the Office of Fair Trading.

According to Communities Minister Andrew Stunell, today's proposals will further protect people from shoddy work and raise the bar for self-check tradesmen. He said: "Cowboy builders that leave behind a trail of shoddy work costing householders thousands to put right give the rest of the industry a bad name. We are determined to keep the cowboys from infecting self-check schemes, which let hardworking competent tradesman get on with providing high-quality work, quickly and at fair prices.

"I'm determined to ensure that consumers are properly protected. By raising the bar even higher for self-check tradesman, we are sorting the rogues from the professionals, making it easier for people to identify competent installers and giving them the confidence that they will receive a high quality of work – or be protected if they don't."

In the year to March 2011, Consumer Direct received 70,000 complaints from consumers about general home improvements, maintenance and repairs, and an additional 15,000 specifically about the window and conservatory glazing sector, according to a report prepared for the Office of Fair Trading.

The new conditions of authorisation for Competent Person scheme operators have also been published, together with an impact assessment and the summary of responses to consultation. More information on these conditions can be found here: www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/buildingregulations/competentpersonsschemes/.


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