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.

UK weather isn't always the kindest of things and, after some especially bad wind and rain earlier this year, it seems Spring is finally settling in nicely. This good turn in the weather seems to be especially good for skilled tradespeople, with their demand reaching record numbers as homeowners use this time to repair, maintain and even improve their properties.

This information comes from Trustmark, the Government-endorsed quality mark and online search database for qualified plumbers, electricians, carpenters, plasterers and more. In just the last four months, the number of searches across all trades has increased by 79% compared to that of last year - putting the total figure for the year on track to double that of 2013.

Among the trades which saw the highest improvements were ones that would be needed to fix properties after the Winter's spell of bad weather, including expert roofers (up an incredible 915%), flood recovery specialists (198%), garden landscapers (94%) and tree surgeons (91%). While this seems like a huge proportion of the searches, it was in fact only around 24% for these months as homeowners were on the lookout for many other handymen and women to improve their homes. Here are just a few of the trades that have seen a sharp rise in searches this year, many of which we teach here at Access:

  • Plasterers and renderers (88%)
  • Plumbing and heating engineers (83%)
  • Air conditioning specialists (79%)
  • Painters and decorators (77%)
  • Handymen (77%)
  • Electricians (52%)

So if you've ever wondered how "in demand" these trades are, the figures should speak for themselves. If you've been considering a change of a career and qualifying in a construction trade then now is the perfect time to do so. And you can forget about college courses and apprenticeships that would take up to three years to complete - at Access Training we can get you fully trained and qualified to a professional standard in a matter of weeks.

And to make this idea all the more enticing, we're holding a special offer on all of our courses throughout May in celebration of our birthday. We're offering up to 50% off of all of our courses this month when the deposit is paid in full, however the course itself does not have to be sat in May - you can complete and complete it when you're ready to! For more information and to speak to one of our course advice team, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 today.

It isn't the most ideal circumstances for tradespeople to have benefitted from, but with UK still being battered by wind, rain and flooding an increasing amount of homeowners are turning to tradespeople to help repair and/or waterproof their homes. And Goverment-endorsed standards group Trustmark report they've seen a 300% increase in flood protection services in comparison to this time last year).

Their records showed that the number of searches for flood recovery specialists represented more than 3% of all searches in January and, in total made up 11% of all searches for TrustMark tradesmen in the same month. Damp proofing and timber treatment specialists were the fifth most sought after master trade (out of 21) on the site, with figures also doubling since December (tripling since July!) for homeowners searching roof repairment to fix broken tiles and leaking roofs. Other highly sought-after tradespeople included tree surgeons (150% rise in the last month), fence installers (120%) and handymen (140%).

TrustMark's PR head Stuart Carter commented that it was 'clear that homeowners are really seeing the importance of preparing for the worst as seasonal extreme weather becomes the norm in the UK'. A sad truth really, which is why tradespeople should gear themselves up to be able to help homeowners in these months where they may need them the most. Access Training Academies offer intensive carpentry courses which will undoubtedly come in handy when dealing with any wood repair work a tradesperson may come across during flood season. The same goes for bricklaying courses, which we also provide from our training centre just outside Cardiff city centre.

For more information give our course advice team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Via HVP Mag

After parts of Britain suffered at the force of the St Jude storm, many properties have been left needing urgent repair work. However TrustMark are urging homeowners to ensure they are hiring reputable tradespeople to complete the work and make their houses safe again.

The gale force winds, reaching up to 90mph in some places, knocked down trees, blew down fences, damaged roofs and contributed to widespread flooding when combined with the heavy rainfall. As a Government, industry and consumer protection group supported scheme to ensure consumers find reputable tradesmen with the right qualifications for the job, TrustMark recommend making use of their online database to ensure no one falls victim to rogue traders looking to make money off of a bad situation.

Stuart Carter, Head of Marketing at TrustMark said: "Following extreme weather conditions, bogus property repairers often trick people into paying high prices for unnecessary or shoddy work so I would advise consumers to be extra vigilant and only use reputable tradesmen you know are registered with either TrustMark, which is the only endorsement from Government, or a recognised trade association. And never agree to have work done by somebody who turns up uninvited on your doorstep."

Ray Horwood, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, said: "Our advice to property owners who are concerned about the condition of their roof is to contact a reputable roofing contractor for a proper assessment and, if necessary, to obtain at least three quotes for any works."

APL Committee Chairman, Mark Gregory, Chairman of the Association of Professional Landscapers added: "Old fences, weakened by rot and decay are easily damaged or brought down by the high winds so employing a landscaper to do repair work on your garden can often be a bit hit and miss with homeowners facing a lottery of companies who promise to carry out the work. Consumers can feel confident that by employing a TrustMark registered landscaper, the quality of work will remain high at all times and that a professional standard will be met."

Via Installer Online

Government proposals for tougher sentencing on rogue traders has been welcomed by TrustMark, the Government endorsed quality mark for reputable tradesmen.

Following the Sentencing Council's consultation on fraud, bribery and money laundering, a revised framework has been put forward that will affect trades who falsify registeration marks, commit fraud and in some instances even bribe the public.

"The Sentencing Council’s new proposals will hopefully act as a deterrent to those cowboys who give tens of thousands of great law-abiding tradesmen a bad name," explains Liz Male, chair of TrustMark. "These criminals put their victims at risk and rip them off. The new guidelines are tougher on those who commit multiple offences, especially when the victims are particularly vulnerable."

In addition to this TrustMark is also pushing for even tough penalties on rouge traders fraudulently winning work involving electricity, gas and other potentially fatal substances such as asbestos.

"Tougher, simpler, sentencing guidelines will help us get the message across to rogues that their activities are unacceptable and have no place in our industry," she continues. "Ripping off the vulnerable and putting safety at risk must be deterred and we believe the Sentencing Council’s guidelines go some way to help doing that."

To coincide with this news, TrustMark has introduced a new logo download system this month in an attempt to reduce the risk of fraudulent misrepresentation. Each of its 14,500 registered firms will now be required to use their personalised logo in all of their website and marketing activing, detailing the trades that they have been inspected and licensed for by TrustMark. 

"The new TrustMark logo will provide a more transparent environment of trust for consumers as they will now be able to immediately see if a TrustMark firm has been inspected and is licensed for a particular trade. And tradesmen will be able to give themselves a competitive edge by demonstrating to customers that their work has been inspected and they offer warranties." said Liz.

This year alone TrustMark has had to take action against almost 100 firms that have been found to be misusing its logo, and regularly liaises with Trading Standards and the police when rogue traders are found. It then details each succesful legal action taken on its "Fakes and Forgeries" webpage, in an attempt to warn other homeowners about which business names to avoid.

You can keep up to date with the developments at TrustMark by visiting their official website.

Via Installer Online

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Academies we offer a full spectrum of trade courses including plumbing, gas, electricity, carpentry, tiling, plastering and painting & decorating. By training with us not only will you enjoy our state-of-the-art facilities and experienced tutors, but also gain exactly what you need for a long and prosperous career. To find out more please get in contact with our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

It’s happened to us all at some time or other, the job we have been putting off because it’s a little bit too big or we’re not sure how to do it. We bite the bullet and decide to get a tradesman in to do the work for us. Which tradesman? Where do we go to find out if the voice at the end of the phone is in fact a ‘quality’ tradesman and not John Wayne with a screwdriver?

You could go to www.trustmark.org.uk

TrustMark is a government endorsed scheme that regularly checks that the registered tradesmen are providing their customers with the quality service and workmanship members of the public expect and deserve (quite rightly). Trustmark registered firms have to;

  1. A firm's technical skills have been independently checked through regular on-site inspections, as well as checks on their trading record and financial status;
  2. Firms have signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety practices and customer care;
  3. The approved scheme operator has checked and will continue to monitor the firm's quality of work, trading practices and customer satisfaction;
  4. Firms are able to offer an Insurance Backed Warranty;
  5. Deposit Protection Insurance is available for consumers in the event a firm should cease trading;
  6. Firms will be able to tell you about any building regulations you must comply with and may also be able to provide appropriate certificates;
  7. If you have a problem or disagreement with the firm, there will be a clear and user-friendly complaints procedure to help resolve the issue;
  8. The scheme is fully supported by Government, the building industry and consumer protection groups.
  9. All of these checks will give you - Peace of Mind.

When employing a tradesman TrustMark recommends you take the following advice;

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief when requesting at least three quotes.
  • Ask friends and family for a recommendation and check the TrustMark website to ensure that the tradesman is registered for the particular trades you require
  • Use a firm that advertises using a landline phone number and be very wary of those only willing to give you a mobile number
  • Seek references, speak to previous customers and if a reasonable sized job, visit previous jobs
  • Don't just go with the cheapest, consider your ability to communicate with the firm and the quality of their work
  • Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesman, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value and ensure these are agreed in writing before the work is done.

If you use a TrustMark tradesman your work should be carried out to a high quality and if things go wrong (God forbid) you, through the scheme, have a means of recourse. That has to give you Peace of mind.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.