UK Government

Communities and Local Government: Tackling shoddy building work – putting more power in people’s hands

Press Release   •   Dec 23, 2009 10:20 GMT

New measures to help people get fairer treatment when building work goes wrong were published today as part of a consultation on boosting the professional standards for builders and tradesmen in approved competent person schemes.

Building Regulations Minister Lord McKenzie announced proposals to give the public easier redress by making approved schemes publish how, and how quickly, they will deal with complaints, as well as allowing the public to search online for a suitable local builder who is qualified to carry out the specific work needed.

Competent person schemes were introduced in 2002 as a way of ensuring building work is carried out to the high safety and environmental standards required in the Building Regulations, without the need to involve the local council or approved inspectors in signing it off.

Lord McKenzie said:

"Competent person schemes have significantly improved the levels of safety and professionalism that consumers expect when having work done on their home, but we have to keep the pace up and go further.

"Today's consultation aims to bring the service levels of all the competent person schemes up to the highest standards.  By allowing people to search online for a qualified local builder and providing stronger complaints procedures we are putting power in people's hands."

There are 12 competent person scheme operators, including on glazing, heating, hot water, plumbing systems and electrical installations in homes.  Members of these schemes carry out over 2.5m jobs each year, freeing up consumers from having to pay building control bodies' fees to get work approved.

Research since 2006 has shown differing in levels of service offered to consumers by the competent person schemes.  Today’s consultation sets out how the Government proposes to improve and harmonise those standards across the board.

Under the proposals people would be able look online to find the right local tradesman like a builder, plumber or heating engineer qualified to carry out exactly the job needed.  Consumers would also have upfront information on all competent person schemes' website about how their complaints procedures work and how long a complaint will take to process.

Notes to editors

1. The consultation published today can be viewed here: www.communities.gov.uk/

2. To achieve authorisation as a competent person scheme operator, a body demonstrates to the Department and the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) that it is a fit and proper body to operate a scheme and demonstrate technical capability in the type of work the scheme is applying for.

3. Members of schemes are assessed for competence against appropriate technical standards to show that they have the ability to carry out installations to Building Regulations standards. Scheme operators are responsible for monitoring the work of their members to make sure that these standards are achieved. Schemes must also offer consumer protection by way of robust complaints systems and the offer of an insurance-backed warranty.

4. Communities and Local Government monitors the performance of schemes against these criteria.

5. Businesses that are members of a competent person scheme gain the right to self-certify that their work complies with all relevant requirements of the Building Regulations without the need to notify a building control body in advance or pay a building control charge.  Customers are given a certificate of building regulations compliance after the work is finished and local authorities are informed of the work done for their records.

6. There is no obligation on a firm to join a competent person scheme (except for those in the approved gas safety scheme) as they can continue to notify work to a building control body in advance and that body then becomes responsible for checking that the work complies.

7. If the proposals in the consultation document are agreed they would be applied to new schemes applying for authorisation immediately. Existing schemes would be given a reasonable period within which to adopt the strengthened criteria. No legislation is necessary.

8. The following Competent Person schemes are in operation:

• Capita Gas Registration and Ancillary Services Limited
• NICEIC Group Limited
• Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (Certification) Limited (APHC)
• Oil Firing Technical Association Li9mited (OFTEC)
• NAPIT Registration Limited
• Building Engineering Services Competence Accreditation Limited (BESCA)
• HETAS Limited
• Corgi Services Limited
• EC Certification Limited (ELECSA)
• Fensa Limited
• CERTASS Limited
• British Standards Institution
• British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT)

Contacts

NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk