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.

Via HVP Mag

New research from Screwfix has found that British trademen are working longer hourse than ever, even going as far as sacrificing holidays and weekends, in order to squeeze in more jobs.

It found that tradesmen work on averafe between 41 and 50 hours a week, which is more than bankers, medical practitioners and barristers/judges (who clocked in at 40.9, 38.4 and 36 hours respectively). A fifth of tradesmen admitted to working more than 50 hours a week - well about the UK average of 36.4 hours!

Not only that, but they are also not taking the annual statutory entitlement of 28 days, with one in six only taking fewer than 10 days off each year. Only 1% take more than an hour's lunch break, with three quarters of those surveyed happy to skip it altogether.

John Mewett, marketing director for Screwfix, said: “We know how hard tradesmen work, but the research really brought home how many hours they are putting in each week and how stretched they really are.

“For a lot of tradesmen, time is money, and so any opportunity to squeeze in an extra job is snatched up. This can mean long working hours and driving further from home to increase their workload. However, by finding ways to work more effectively, they can cut their working hours.”

The full infographic from Screwfix also included these interesting tidbits on tradesman habits:

 

  • 87% are driving the same amount or more this year
  • 62% eat a packed lunch each day
  • Tea is the most popular drink of choice, winning with 57% of the vote
  • 8 out of 10 skip meals while working
  • Average lunch break for tradesmen is 10 – 20 minutes
  • 73% think they don’t take enough exercise
  • 17% walk to work
  • 83% are working the same hours or more this year
Thinking of becoming a self-employed tradesman? Wanting to become your own boss and choose the hours you work and the jobs you do? Train with Access Training on your chosen trade and gain the qualifications you'll need to make this dream a reality. For more information please have a look at the course information on the website or phone 0800 345 7492 to speak to one of our sales team.

 

Gas Safe has proved time and time again to be an effective method in separating genuine gas engineers from cowboy traders, so that the general public know that when they hire a tradesman he or she is legitimate. But despite this, this sort of system is currently only available for gas engineers - so Joe Bloggs may not have the same level of certainty when hiring a plumber for wet work.

Until now that is. Or more precisely, October 8th 2013.

WaterSafe has been put together to provide a search facility of all Approved plimbers working in the UK, thanks to a partnership between UK water suppliers and the seven Approved Contractors' Schemes working across the UK. It will promote compliance with the Water Supply Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws in order to protect the public and make it even more difficult for unqualified dishonest plumbers to get work. Unlike the Gas Safe register this isn't a legal requirement, but will publically show plumbers are both fully qualified and competent in their trade. So arguably its something that's probably in your best interest to do.

WaterSafe's website isn't open just yet, however it can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk where you can find all the relevant contact details to find out more about the scheme. Keep checking back to this blog, as we're sure to be covering more of this brilliant new scheme closer to its official launch.

In the meantime - if you have any outstanding plumbing qualifications or are looking to become a professional plumber yourself, have you considered a comprehensive plumbing course from Access Training? Our courses are suitable for both newcomers and experienced plumbers alike, so give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or check out the courses section of the site to find out more.

Full story: Trust in tradesmen still a consumer concern

A recent study from Bradstone Assured has shown that concerns about rogue tradesmen still rank as one of the highest consumer concerns when it comes to the construction industry. The poll, taken by 2000 homeowners, found that nearly three quarters of the sample "felt anxious" when dealing with tradesmen they hadn't met before and a total of 60% thought it was difficult to find an honest tradesman.

Among the main consumer concerns were whether the job would be finished in time, being charged more than the original quote and fearing that the builder would go out of business before the work was completed. HOWEVER it also emerged that many customers were not taking the available steps to ensure that they were hiring a genuine tradesman and not one of the "cowboy builders" you so often hear about in the news. Less than a third of people check for professional credentials, only one in four take up references and 70% don’t even know the surname of the person they have employed.

Bradstone Assured spokesman Mike Leeming said: “Our research suggests that falling foul of rogue traders is still a real concern for homeowners. One in 10 even admitted to attempting work they weren’t capable of rather than risk bringing someone in."

So what measures can be taken to ensure a trustworthy tradesman? Professional branding, a good website and offering references up-front were among the things found in the poll to most likely reassure customers. It is important to know some of the professional branding to look for, as it can come from many different places and is all different depending on the tradesman you need. Electricians who have their Part P qualification will be able to join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA - they will usually have these stickers on their van/website and it shouldn't be too hard to look up with these bodies if you were really unsure. Plumbers also have their own Competent Person Schemes, and gas engineers are required to become Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas appliances legally. If you're unsure your engineer is registered - be sure to find out. Only last week a plumber narrowly escaped a jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work - resulting in an explosion at a home and the owners suffering serious burns.

There is also TrustMark, a sign of quality working across the RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector which recruits reputable and worthy tradesmen. The TrustMark scheme offers a number of checks to give you full peace of mind, and is fully supported by the Government, building industry and various consumer protection groups.

Of course, tradesmen are also required to do their part - from getting the right, reputable qualifications to doing the work to a professional standard. For tradesmen-in-training, all of the courses Access Training offer the qualifications you need to reach the "industry standard" employers look for. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a part of the schemes mentioned earlier, securing you a long and prosperous career in the industry. If you would like to find out more give us a call today.

Not everyone needs an extensive plumbing course to know the rights and wrongs of the trade, but with all the DIY products that are for sale in various outlets, there is good information available to prevent water contamination by misconnection of sanitary and waste water from dishwashers, washing machines and such. However, the majority of people don't ask for this advice so not to seem ignorant or feel embarrassed about not know how or what is the right way to do things.

With the economic climate the way it is, the vast majority of people also cannot afford a tradesman with the correct knowledge to do the work properly. There are the unscrupulous people who pretend to be a qualified tradesman, undercut a price just to get the work and don't really care about the consequences of their actions.

Then the poor misguided home owner gets the backlash from the relevant authorities when the source of the contamination is traced back to a particular home. It's very hard to educate people that asking for advice is not showing ignorance. It would only show their concern for doing it the correct way and the people who would give that free information would be only too happy to give them without making them feel humiliated or stupid.

But that's human nature, and people only employ a tradesman when they have that spare amount of money to get the job done. I'm sure the vast majority of people would like to think that any work done to the correct standards without causing problems as rivers and streams being polluted to the degree that is being reported by the water authorities, but unfortunately it always comes down to money

- Mark Lewis