Government-endorsed quality mark Trustmark are now helping tradespeople comply with new changes to home improvement and repair contracts, following the introduction of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.

These new regulations have introduced major changes to consumer projection law, applying to contracts made in stores, online and in-home. Failure to comply to these regs may lead to prosecution or fine, so it's important that all qualified tradespeople know exactly what they need to do.

Among the major changes are:

  • Consumers are to be given far more information prior to signing a contract. This includes everything from information about the trader and goods to cancellation rights and any applicable charges.
  • Traders need the active consent of the consumer for all payments. Methods such as pre-ticked boxes for additional payments are no longer acceptable.
  • Consumers are not liable for costs they've not been told about in advance
  • The cooling-off period for goods and services sold by distance or off-premises selling will be now be14 days from date of delivery of the products across the EU. Formerly this was seven days from date of contract.
  • Where the consumer has the right to cancel a contract, they must be provided with a model cancellation form by the trader
  • The cancellation period is extended to, broadly, 12 months if the trader fails to provide certain pre-contract information. The trader could also be liable to a fine of up to £5,000.
  • There are some exemptions in regards to cancellation rights, one of which is for products "made to the consumer's specification" – this will include such products as made-to-measure windows made to a consumer's specific requirements; another is for urgent repairs and maintenance when a consumer invites a trader to their home.

TrustMark chairman Liz Male said these changes are "a big step forward" in helping both consumers and traders enjoy a clear and positive relationship. She added: "What matters now is that all TrustMark-registered firms get the detailed guidance they need in order to ensure they are fully compliant. I’m delighted our approved scheme operators in this sector, including NICEIC and NAPIT are already busy providing this support to their registered firms."

More information and further developments can be found at TrustMark's website.

After a pretty abysmal first year, it's no surprise that the Green Deal - the UK Government's flagship energy saving programme, is going to be going through some much needed changes. After all, you know its bad when even Energy Secretary Ed Davey - one of the men behind the scheme, calls it "clunky", "complex" and "disappointing".

Speaking at the Ecobuild convention that's taken place in London's Excel centre over the last few days, Mr Davey launched a consultation on the changes that will be made to Green Deal sister scheme ECO (Energy Companies Obligation), while at the same time reaffirming that the DECC were about to make some vital changes to the overall programme.

He said that the Government had been looking to "streamline" the Green Deal from very early on, and that the fact changes need to be made after only one year shouldn't be that surprising given "the scale of the ambition". He also added that further incentives for people to sign up would be unveiled in the coming weeks.

The latest figures from January did report that the scheme was beginning to make a comeback, with 1,277 plans in place by the end of the month - 746 of which were completed. However Mr Davey stressed that selling finance plans was not the main aim of the scheme:

"The fact that most people currently having a Green Deal assessment are not then going on to choose Green Deal finance plans shouldn’t actually worry us.

"How people pay for energy efficiency improvements is not after all the main issue. The aim of the Green Deal isn’t to sell credit plans, but to make our homes warmer, cheaper and greener."

It's great to see that the DECC are pushing these Green Deal changes, but is there really that much new info since the last time Ed Davey announced what they would be doing. Hopefully this will be a move that brings the Green Deal into the spotlight, rather than empty promises made during a sudden rise that may not amount to anything. Only time will tell...

Via Building.co.uk

View the amended Part P Document here: planningportal.gov.uk

As of last month the Government has wheeled out its latest changes to Part P of the Building Regulations in an attempt to cut down on the amount of “red tape”. In the eight years since its introduction Part P has been a vital measure in maintaining safety when it comes to electrical installations, making sure that professional electricians have the skill and competency needed to perform these tasks. In order to do certain installations, electricians (and DIYers) are required to gain their Part P certificate and join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA.

The main change to the document is that it is now shorter and has greater clarity, with a notable reduction to the number of works that need to be notified to Local Authority Building Control. The full breakdown of changes is

  • Under the new regulations, any electrical work undertaken in kitchens or outdoors in no longer covered by Part P unless a new circuit is required. 
  • While before installers not registered with a Competent Person Scheme would have to notify their work so that a third-party inspector would need to check it, now these installers can instead use a registered third-party (e.g. another electrician) to sign off their work. This eliminates the cost of producing Building Regulations Compliance Certificates for some minor works, but importantly, the new regulations still retain the need to issue Electrical Installation Certificate Reports (EICRs) for all work carried out within a dwelling.
  • Reference is now made to BS 7671:2008 incorporating Amendment No. 1:2011.

The main positive that has come out of these changes is the potential new areas of work it opens up for Part P qualified electricians who can earn more from inspecting and signing off other people’s work. Organisations have also commended this new streamlined document for not compromising on safety.

However while the ESC (Electrical Safety Council) has praised the fact the Government is amending Part P, they have expressed concern over some of the changes. They believe that the areas that have seen a reduction in notifiable are reasonably high-risk according to data, and so “any electrical work must be of a particularly high standard”.

The third-party certification is also still in question, as the rules for the Approved Inspector Scheme are currently unclear. The document itself is likely to go under review again in 2015.

Part P Changes

In 2013, the Government made important changes to Part P of the Building Regulations. These are the regulations that ensure that all fixed electrical installations in domestic dwellings are suitably designed, installed, inspected and tested to provide reasonable protection against becoming a source or fire or a cause of injury to persons.

These changes to the Part P of the Building Regulations consisted of two principel modifications, the first of which reduces the range of electrical installation work that needs to be notified. Previously, electrical work undertaken in kitchens (such as adding a new socket) or gardens (installing security lights) were among the work you'd need to be Part P qualified to perform without having to notify an inspector. However now these tasks will no longer be notifiable unless a new circuit is required.

There are three main areas where electrical work will still be notifiable due to Part P of the Building Regulations, and these are:

  • Any work involving the installation of a new circuit
  • The replacement of any consumer unit
  • Any addition or alteration to existing circuits in a special location
In this instance, "special location" can mean two things, the first of which is any room containing a swimming pool or sauna heater. Secondly, it is any room containing a bath or shower, where the space surrounding a bath tap or shower head extends vertically from the finished floor level to a height of 2.25m, or 2.25m from where the shower head is attached. This can also apply horizontally, where the bathtub or shower tray has a distance of 0.6m. Alternatively, where there is no bath tub or shower tray from the centre point of the shower head where it is attached to the wall or ceiling to a distance of 1.2m.
 
The second part of these changes to the Part P of the building regulations relates to the use of a registered third party to certify notifiable work. Previously, any electrician undertaking work that fell under Part P not registered with a competent persons' scheme was required to notify their local authority's building control. They would then send out an independent inspector who would determine if the work was acceptable.
 
However, these changes mean that electricians not registered with a competent persons' scheme have to get their work signed off by a registered third party. For more information, visit the official Government Part P document.
 
Are you looking to become Part P qualified? Not only will this enable you to register with a competent persons' scheme and allow you to self-certify your own work (saving you hundreds of pounds), but could also potentially provide you with a whole new area of work when the third party approval system is finalised. Here at Access Training we offer a wide range of electricial courses, including specific Part P Training. If you would like to find out more, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.