We have been engaged in a number of discussions lately on a number of different forums, some focused more for consumers, some for window installers. What has been interesting is a number of questions we have received that “overlap” to an extent. So with this in mind, we have put together this post to answer these questions in a single forum, making it easier for consumers and installers to find and read, and easier for us to communicate (all in the one place).
Right, here is that list of questions we have been asked:
- What is a Competent Person Scheme?
- What is the benefit of a Competent Person Scheme to consumers when not 100% of installations are checked?
- Why does FENSA use an independent inspection body?
- Why does FENSA choose the BBA as its independent inspection body
- What tools can inspectors use to inspect window installation
Competent Person Scheme
Members of these competent person schemes can self-certify that their work complies with the building regulations, as opposed to needing to submit building notices and therefore avoiding local authority inspection fees for consumers.
For more information on Competent Person Schemes please visit the Communities and Local Government website, or follow this link http://www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/buildingregulations/competentpersonsschemes/
What’s the benefit of a Competent Person Scheme?
These schemes aim to improve training within an industry, raise skill levels and ultimately competence of those employed in completing the work necessary. Members are able to self-certify their work, which removes thetime, cost and hassle with submitting a building notice to the local authority.
Competent Person Schemes are very popular as they prove to be the most practical way of enforcing regulations across a complete industry. FENSA is a competent person scheme and so is Gas Safe.
Such schemes ensure consumers can feel confident that the work on their house will be compliant with the building regulations. In addition, members of schemes have their work regularly checked. In the case of FENSA registration; installers have their work inspected by an independent inspection body, the BBA. These inspections are carried out to continually check competency levels, and to 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.
To date, over 9,000 companies nationwide have joined FENSA, all of which are regularly inspected and re-assessed by the BBA. In an independent report commissioned by the Government, FENSA was found to be the most successful of all competent person schemes to date in the UK, across all industries. For more information on the benefits of using a FENSA installer, follow this link http://www.fensa.org.uk/benefits-to-customers.aspx
Benefits of these schemes aren’t just limited to the consumer. There are a range of benefits of being FENSA registered, such as seminars on building regulation updates and access to discounted training, technical helpline and many more. If you are an installer and want to know more, then follow this link to our website: http://www.fensa.org.uk/benefits-to-installers.aspx
Why does FENSA use an independent inspection body?
By using an independent inspection body, FENSA ensures that every inspection carried out is in the interest of the consumer, and that the outcome cannot be influenced by the installer or by FENSA. This means that the consumer can be 100% confident that each inspection is purely measured against the building regulations.
In addition, FENSA is a competent person scheme, and as such, acknowledges that inspections should be carried out by dedicated professionals.
Inspections are not necessary for each and every installation, if they did, this would negate many of the benefits of Competent Person Schemes. By regularly inspecting an installer’s work, we check though that their levels of competency are being maintained, that their work meets building standards and that in the result of any failing, that the work is put right. Failure to do so results in expulsion from the FENSA scheme.
Why the BBA for independent inspections?
The BBA is well known within the building industry, they are audited by UKAS to ISO 17020, and were the first and as far as we know, still are the only UKAS accredited inspection service provider for the installation of windows and doors.
What tools can an inspector use?
This question really is for installers out there, so you may find it a little technical if you are a consumer.
There are a number of tools at the disposal of an inspector, however not all inspectors have access to all tools all of the time, and not all tools are required for all window installations. Tools that have been asked about in other forums include:
- Soft Coat detection
- Hard Coat detection
- Gas detection
All of these tools are available to BBA inspectors, though not 100% of the time. This currently is true for access to the gas detection equipment, due to the fact that its long term effectiveness reliability has not yet been proven, though initial indications are encouraging.
In an additional question, we were asked “how do you test for low iron to verify an equivalent spec?” In response to this, onsite tests are undertaken with hard and soft coat detectors and there it is not considered essential to determine iron content. The BBA are working with key equipment suppliers and glass manufacturers to identify where this may be an issue and to propose other methods of detection…
To sum up, it’s great to be asked so many questions and to engage with you all. We hope we have answered the majority of questions we have been asked in the past week or so, but please feel free to comment / ask related questions on this post. We are always happy to respond.