With all the reports about cowboy builders doing shoddy maintenance work and unregistered gas engineers making potentially fatal mistakes, is it any surprise that finding a trusted tradesperson is becoming a major problem across the UK? In fact, a recent survey from the HomeOwners Alliance and TrustMark has found over half of Britons are hesitant to do maintenance work on their homes because they have difficulty finding someone they feel they can trust.

This result then has a knock-on effect as to what said homeowners then do. While the 2014 Homeowner Survey found 12% won't do the work at all and 26% simply delay the project, a significant 40% then choose to do their own repairs/DIY. When it comes to certain trades, this could easily end up in injury or worse. Other statistics found were that 27% will only do essential works, while if forced 28% will use tradespeople they are uncertain about.

Only earlier this week Heating & Plumbing Monthly reported a plumber in Kidderminister is behind bars for 16 months after overcharging elderly and vulnerable customers up to 800% more for simple jobs. Among Mr Steven Greenaway's misdeeds were:

  • Charging one elderly woman in Cradley Heath £1527 to repair a leak on her toilet and replace the cistern - a job averaging around £200 to do
  • Charging a Dudley pensioner £500 to unblock a toilet, then proceeding a charge her a further £780 after claiming the kitchen tap needed work
  • Charging a mother and daughter £1000 to repair a dripping tap - money that they had been saving for a holiday
  • Charging a Worcester couple £1,200 to repair a leak on a radiator valve - leaving them feeling "like they had been mugged"
  • Charging another Worcester couple more than £800 for work to repair a stop tap that should have only cost around £120
  • And as a final insult, he even advertised DISCOUNT rates for pensioners in Yellow Pages adverts

This piece isn't just meant to point the finger at these frauds who give a bad name to tradespeople everywhere, its also to show trainees how much better they can be. You don't need to con the elderly to make a healthy wage nor do you have to pretend to have qualifications - all you need is proper training and not only will you actually have the qualifications to your name, you'll also be able to make the money honestly. And as positive word of mouth about your business grows, so will those interested.

It all starts with getting the right training, and no matter which trade you're planning to persue a career in Access Training can help. From plumbing and gas to electrical, carpentry, plastering and more, our state-of-the-art centre and experienced tutors will take you from the level of absolute beginner all the way up to becoming a fully trained professional. To find out more about the courses we offer here at Access and how you can change your life with a brand new career, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or by filling in the enquiry form found on this website. One of our course advice team will soon be in touch.

With the planned building of millions of new homes across the UK well underway, many are also expecting a rise in new buyers over the next few years as Britain enjoys a well-needed construction boom. 

With this in mind, OFTEC - the group responsible for maintaining standards across the domestic oil heating and cooking industry, is offering some practical advice to those first-time buyers who may soon begin their search for the perfect home. This advice isn't just aimed at buyers of brand new homes either - it's especially geared toward those who may take on an existing home and not know what to look for in terms of their heating/hot water systems. Heating problems may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, especially to someone who hasn't done a plumbing training course or extensive gas training, but OFTEC offer these handy bits of advice to make sure you can walk into your new home with both buyer's satisfaction and peace of mind.

Be sure to check the boiler

Has it has had any problems in the past? When was the last time it was serviced? Boilers should be serviced annually for a number of reasons, mainly to make sure that is running efficiently and more importantly safely. If you are really unsure, it might be worth asking the current homeowner if you can have it looked at beforehand by a professional gas engineer.

Check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

These give potential buyers valuable information about the property's typical energy usage and costs. An EPC grades the property’s energy efficiency from A to G and contains two particularly important areas - current features and recommendations for improving the home. The current features section lists the most significant energy-related features of the property and gives them a star rating based on cost. The recommendations give more information about each energy efficiency measure recommended and explains in general terms how it would improve the energy efficiency of the home.

How much do you know about the hot water system?

How is it heated? It might be worth checking the water pressure to make sure it is all up to scratch.

Know the warning signs

Occurances such as stained/smoke damaged areas around the boiler and flue are not to be ignored and should be treated VERY seriously. If any properties you view have these, make sure that a registered gas safe engineer doesn't just look at them for your safety - but also for the safety of the current homeowners. Other telltale signs of bad maintenance include leaks and staining on carpets near radiators.

Getting the house properly checked

OFTEC recommend getting valuations, an RICS homebuyer’s report or even a full structural survey. The valuation carried out by a mortgage company is not a survey, and will not inform you if there are any defects that materially affect the property’s value.

 

However the most important thing OFTEC recommend is trusting your instinct. if you think there is something wrong with the property, then don't just discard those feelings. However if you get a good feeling this may be the house for you - minor problems can easily fixed by competent tradespeople, but be sure to make sure the costs aren't racking up before you've even moved in!

Is the popularity of a good relaxing bath in decline?

A new study from online bathroom retailer UK Bathrooms seem to think so, as their research has found order trends and customer feedback for baths has had a 54% decrease in the last year. On the other hand, the popularity of showers seems stronger than ever which has seen a staggering 72% increase. The study even found that three quarters of British homeowners would choose to install a shower in their home over a bath.

The survey looked at 1342 homeowners in the country, and was part of ongoing research into the opinion about bathroom styles. Respondents were also revealed the reasons why they considered showers to be superior to baths - 46% considered it much quicker, while 34% also added that a shower left them feeling much cleaner than a bath did.

Moving on to bathrooms themselves, 40% of respondants only had showers in their bathrooms, with 28% only having a bath and 32% owning both. If they were to move or rennovate their bathrooms, 78% said that installating a shower was of much higher priority than a bath. Why? 51% considered showers to be the speedier option, while 37% also preferred it because showers take up much less space than a bathtub.

Whether you're a bath or shower person (or both!), the winner here is still bathroom installers and plumbers in general. Whether your customer wants a shower or bath (or again, both!) installed, a fully qualified plumber is the only man for the job. If you're interested in specifically going into bathroom fitting, Access Training also offer specialised bathroom fitting courses to provide trainees with everything they'll need to know to perform the job to a professional standard.

To find out more give Access a call on 0800 345 7492 today.