Richard Harvey, Commercial Director for Plumbing and Heating at Wolseley, explores the top professional bodies to help installers decide which is best for developing their business and job skills. 

Get to know the CIPHE

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is a hugely popular professional body. With over 7,500 active members supported by over 150 manufacturing and distributing associate members, the CIPHE is made up of practitioners, consultants, specifiers, designers, public health engineers, lecturers, trainers, and students. 

Installers receive regular CIPHE journals and other technical publications to maintain their skills and knowledge. Members also have access to a dedicated helpline to help with technical queries alongside various opportunities to raise their company profile with integrated CIPHE logos, stationery, and document templates. 

A free purpose-built ‘smart pension’ is also given to each CIPHE member to help small businesses renew their existing pension scheme and maximise their benefits for both the employer and their staff. And, finally, tailored CIPHE vans specifically designed for installers are also available with tax-efficient monthly payments, full breakdown and recovery, road fund licencing, servicing packages, and cashback on every order.

Understanding SNIPEF

Specifically for plumbing and heating contractors across Scotland and Northern Ireland, SNIPEF has over 750 firms employing over 3,500 plumbers and 700 apprentices.

Providing professional and practical assistance for plumbing and heating contractors since 1923, SNIPEF helps to keep contractors ahead of the competition and up to speed with industry changes.  

Members gain access to a variety of schemes and services to support them with the running of a successful and profitable business. Other perks include access to specialist employment advice, industrial relations, and technical support, as well as a free listing on the Need a Plumber website. Private medical insurance is also be given to each member for that extra piece of mind at competitive premiums. 

Installers are also given the opportunity to self-certify for drainage, heating, and plumbing work, and undertake a Legionella Risk Assessment to gain an HSE legislation (ACOP 8) certificate. Exclusive discounts are also available on Renault vehicles, as well as membership discounts and trade-in offers. 

Contractors looking to become a SNIPEF Approved Certifier of Construction will earn certificates to prove they comply with building regulations and appear on the government’s approved list of registered installers after passing a one-day Building Standard Training Course.

Who are the APHC?

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) is a not-for-profit trade body committed to helping contractors across England and Wales in running a successful heating and plumbing business. 

With over 90 years of heritage, the APHC offers a selection of memberships, certification schemes, and training programmes available to help installers access technical and business support, and also to earn accreditations to demonstrate compliance with their Code of Practice.  

As members, installers receive a number of benefits including a ‘stamp of approval’ to demonstrate the quality of the work your business provides. Not only that, Licenced Members will also receive free unlimited access to technical, legal, and commercial advice, opportunities to improve skills and knowledge through discounted training programmes, and exclusive access to discounted products and services. 

Eligible members must operate in either England or Wales, hold Public Liability Insurance of up to £2 million, and obtain Employers’ Liability Insurance to the value of £5 million. They must also have a suitable customer compliant handling process and adhere to the APHC’s Customer Charter and Membership Rules. An NVQ Level 2 qualification is also required but, for time-served plumbers, a member of APHC will evaluate and inspect their work.

What does OFTEC offer?

OFTEC supports heating and cooling professionals in the oil and solid fuel sectors across to promote the highest level of technical standards.

With training schemes available for installers specialising in the domestic oil and solid fuel heating, OFTEC provides courses and assessment material for approved providers to help shape and support the future of oil-fired equipment. 

OFTEC offers memberships to contractors that can prove their willingness to achieve the high standards that are expected by the trade organisation, its members, and other stakeholders. 

Becoming a member of a trade association will not only help installers to improve their technical abilities in line with up to date best practice, but also help to support businesses with finding new work in challenging times. 

With a vast range of trade associations to choose from, it’s important for installers to establish which suits their business needs.