Competent Persons and Independent Inspectors

21 Apr

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:

  1. What is a Competent Person Scheme?
  2. What is the benefit of a Competent Person Scheme to consumers when not 100% of installations are checked?
  3. Why does FENSA use an independent inspection body?
  4. Why does FENSA choose the BBA as its independent inspection body
  5. 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…

Summing up…

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.

Talk soon…

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13 Responses to “Competent Persons and Independent Inspectors”

  1. Kevin Ahern April 22, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Dear Fensa
    I have been directed here by your link on the RCG website , unfortunately I am not at all sure that this article actually answers any of the questions raised in any detail.
    Should anyone wish to see the the RCG Blog you can find it here http://renegadeconservatoryguy.co.uk/policing-the-new-regulations/comment-page-1/#comment-17624

    • Admin April 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      Any further posts though, we would ask to be attached to this post thread.

      Thanks in advance…

  2. Gary August 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Ive 3 quotes now for my windows, one from a FENSA registered fitter, one from a CERTASS registered one and one that didnt seem to be with anyone. Is there any reason I should choose the FENSA fitter over the CERTASS guy? They both seem genuine enough…

    • Admin August 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

      Hi Gary. Thanks for your comment.

      As you probably know, if you get replacement windows or doors installed, they must comply with current building regulations. If you use a FENSA installer, they can self-certify compliance with the building regulations, saving you a lot of additional time and hassle. You will then get a certificate to prove this compliance.

      Why FENSA? FENSA was set up at the request of the Government and is the leading body providing homeowner protection in the double glazing industry for windows and doors. Nearly 9,000 companies nationwide have joined FENSA and FENSA has issued over 7 million window and door homeowner certificates.

      FENSA registered installers are assessed on a regular basis by an independent inspection body. The scheme is withheld from those unable to pass FENSA’s independent assessments. A 5 – 10 year insurance backed guarantee is available to the homeowner on every installation by a FENSA installer.

      What is more, you can easily get in touch with us at FENSA if you need to for any reason, through our webite or social media – for example, this blog, or our twitter account http://www.twitter.com/fensa_windows or http://www.facebook.com/fensafitters.

      Hope that helps. Do let us know how you get on with your window installation!

  3. Secondary Glazing London August 17, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    What a great blog.

    • Admin August 19, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks!

  4. Glazier London September 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    What a great blog, great read.

  5. marie October 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Hi, not sure i’m in the right ‘area’ of your v good blog but i am wanting an independent inspection of our recently installed upvc windows. However, I don’t know where to start! I need to know if my dissatisfaction is valid or not as it’s all new to me. The company have been out to rectify a few blips but I can’t help feeling it still looks shoddy and therefore won’t sign the Credit Agreement. Should internal window beading be ‘Butt end’ jointed (not sure i heard him right) to allow for movement….looks a bit messy to me.

    Any help or direction appreciated.
    marie

    • Admin October 21, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      We are looking into this. Was the company FENSA registered?

  6. Denise Clark March 26, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi I would also like to have an independent inspection on my windows that were fitted about 16 months ago. I do not think they have been installed properly. the company is Fensa registered but want to charge me £75 to come and see the problems!

    • Admin April 17, 2013 at 7:32 am #

      Thanks Denise for your feedback. We will look in to this for you.

      • Admin April 23, 2013 at 8:45 am #

        To fully answer your question we will need to know more details as this is quite a complex matter. Please email enquiries@fensa.org.uk with information such as the company name and details of why you feel that the work has not been completed to your satisfaction.

  7. carpet cleaning Old Knebworth November 29, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    Saved aas a favorite, I love your site!

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