Archive | March, 2011

Cowboy Conundrums

11 Mar

We have been speaking with a lot of FENSA Fitters lately about cowboys, and their concerns, and we just wanted to clarify some information with you, and set the record straight. We have written quite a lot of blogs about cowboys recently, but it is important to our Fitters, and so is a real priority for us.

Basically, if you are an installer, you might be worried about cowboys giving the industry a bad reputation. Well first of all, we wanted to reassure you that there is not as much of a problem as  you might think with cowboys – a recent report by Consumer Direct found that found that double glazing and conservatory installers did not feature in the trades people complained about most of all, and this is obviously a very positive thing for the industry.

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Nevertheless, if you are a FENSA installer fitting energy-rated compliant windows, you may be worried about other installers that might not be fitting windows that are compliant with building regulations, and want to know how this could impact on the reputation of the industry overall. Well, there are 2 points to make here:

Misuse of the FENSA logo by companies that are not FENSA Registered. Although cowboys are in the minority, at FENSA we take any misuse of the FENSA logo or failure to certify compliance with building regulations very seriously, because the FENSA badge is recognised by consumers.  This is unfair for FENSA Fitters who have made the effort to comply with the eligibility criteria of FENSA registration, have been vetted and are regularly and independently assessed. This is why we have the cowboy stoppers website where cowboys should be reported so we can take action. If you suspect and have evidence that an installer is misusing the FENSA logo, not self certifying with a scheme like FENSA or obtaining approval from Building Control, you can submit this information online anonymously on www.cowboystoppers.co.uk.. We have taken action against cowboys a number of times, you can check out some of the installer prosecutions here. To further support our Fitters, we provide a Consumer Guide to Cowboys, containing hints and tips to recognise a cowboy.

Regular inspections for Compliance for FENSA Fitters: On the other hand if a company is registered with FENSA, they can self certify compliance, but are still subject to regular independent inspections for building regulations compliance, so we can maintain confidence in the industry. Inspections are normally carried out on 1% of each business’s installations, subject to a minimum of 2 per year and a maximum of 100. The majority of installations inspected do meet the compliance criteria, but again, in the rare event of a failed inspection, FENSA takes things very seriously. We will always insist on the rectification of any job that is sub-standard of building regulations. Failure to comply results in removal from the FENSA scheme with no exceptions. What is more, companies that are found to fail inspections will be assessed more often (this is in line with guidance from the Communities and Local Government Department).

So you can see that we are working hard  with the industry to deal with cowboys that misuse the FENSA logo, and to ensure FENSA Fitters are vetted regularly for compliance with building regulations.

 

If you want to talk more about cowboys, or have any further feedback or questions, you can share them in the comments box below, or you can attend our next FENSA focus group in Manchester on the 17th March (Contact sman@fensa.org.uk for more details).

The most successful of all Competent Person’s Schemes

11 Mar

This post was originally posted as a guest blog at Double Glazing Blogger

Now we at FENSA are not ones to boast, but we did just want to let you know about a report by the Communities and Local Government which considered FENSA to be one of the most successful Competent Persons schemes to date across the UK.

Self certification schemes were introduced by Government in 2002 under  the Building Regulations. The report, which can be found here, was made a year on in 2003 and found that FENSA is making a significant contribution to compliance with building regulations.

So how do FENSA ensure compliance? Well firstly every installation by a FENSA company has to be notified, and then a proportion of all jobs are inspected for compliance. Secondly, FENSA provide technical seminars, a technical Guidebook (revised issue being published soon) and a helpline to help installers stay up to date with compliance changes to the building regulations. In the report, FENSA was found to be the most successful of the 4 compliance schemes looked at.

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Since that report in 2003, over 9000 companies are now registered FENSA Fitters.  FENSA registered businesses who are undertaking consumer-facing, domestic contracts must be registered with an Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) provider. IBG’s provide added protection to the home owner should the installation company cease to trade and be unable to honor the terms of their own guarantee.

The FENSA Fitters are a major part of the glazing industry and FENSA is always looking for ways to improve the industry, and the work of FENSA further. A key way that we do this is through our focus groups, where we invite fitters to have their say with FENSA.  Focus research groups are organised annually to help us better understand fitter’s views and perceptions on the industry, and the next on is on Thursday 17th March in Manchester. During previous focus groups, installers have requested for help with saving money on petrol and last minute purchases from DIY stores. Subsequently FENSA has negotiated an exclusive deal with B&Q and developed a fuel discount card for its Registered Business.  If you would like to attend the next event,  please email sman@fensa.org.uk or telephone 020 7645 3715.