When it comes to bathroom fitting it seems the homemade goods are the best ones, with new research finding British tradespeople to believe UK goods are far more reliable than those produced abroad.

The research, which comes from online bathroom retailer UKBathrooms.com, looked at 1,012 tradespeople from all of the UK who work with bathroom fixtures and fittings in order to gauge opinion. With a total of 47% agreeing that British made products are superior, it seems the majority of fitters are opting to buy from UK manufacturers wherever they can.

Questions asked for the research included:

  • "Do you take into account where a product is manufactured before buying?" 62% believed this to important, while the rest didn't seem to care as long as it did the job.

  • "Which manufacturing country do you believe produces the most reliable bathroom fittings/products?" This was posed to all that had answered yes to the previous question, with Britain coming out on top with the aforementioned statistic. Coming in second were Chinese made products with 19%, while Germany took the third place spot with 16%

  • "Do you regularly purchase British made bathroom fittings?" With 67% answering 'yes' to this. When asked why, reliability was the most common reason with 57% explaining that British made products tended to have better longevity. 35% also cited that support was much better, as any problems with UK items could be easily fixed. 24% even said they simply preferred the "design and style" of the home products!

  • Finally, respondents were asked "Do you think it's important for tradespeople to support British made products?" 52% believed it is indeed important, with 61% agreeing that the UK industry needed their support. 40% also said that they do so to keep Britain's bathroom manufacturing industry in good demand.

UKBathrooms.com director Peter Gregg commented that he was pleased to know UK-based bathroom manufacturers are "held in such high esteem amongst tradespersons". He then went on to discuss the benefits the company has seen in using them itself - a higher level of quality control, easier to source and shorter lead times than buying from production lines in the Far East.

He concluded by saying: "The manufacturing industry’s love affair with the market in the Far East has taken a knock over the last few years as more and more suppliers are looking at the possibility of a return to the UK. Tradespersons being supportive of UK manufacturing can only be a good thing to those looking at the possibility of coming back to Britain."

Fancy learning all about bathroom installations and having a go at it yourself, with the aim to even turn professional? If you're looking for a more active line of work, Access Training Academies offer high quality bathroom fitting training courses that will give you the skills and qualifications to make that a reality. At the end you'll also have the perfect grounding to continue on to more advanced plumbing training should you so wish. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and our course advisers will be happy to tell you more. Don't delay and book your place today!

The last few days have been a reminder that winter is well and truly here, with the temperature dropping and the country getting its first innings of both frost and snow. Even with energy bills on the rise, it's important to keep warm during this time of the year and make sure that your heating system is working properly. According to Government statistics, the 2012-13 winter period saw the largest excess mortality rate since 2008-09, with deaths coinciding with influenza, RSV and the cold weather.

The run-up to Christmas can be a busy time for plumbers and gas engineers, with consumers coming with all kinds of problems including broken down boilers and frozen pipes. For the tradespeople reading this it'll be good for business, but for the rest of us here is a few pieces of advice to keep away any unwanted costs as well as making sure your home stays warm.

The UK had a pretty good summer this year so it's likely that you haven't turned the heating on for a while, so it'll be good practice to check it regularly to make sure it's all in working order. Suddenly starting it up in a cold snap could result in it freezing up and potentially breaking down. Regular boiler checks by a professional plumber and gas engineer are important and should be done once a year, including servicing according to the manufacturer's instructions. Not doing so not only puts you at risk of forking out for repair costs, but in the case of gas boilers also puts you and your family at risk of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another handy tip is to bleed your radiators. If you can feel cold patches on them it may be due to some air trapped inside that's blocking the system. It's easy to do and won't require the help of a plumber, but should that fail it might be blocked with something else. In this case the radiator might need a chemical flush and you will require a Gas Safe engineer to get the job done.

Most importantly, and this really goes for any sort of DIY maintenance work - KNOW YOUR LIMITS! If there's something you know that you can't do, don't try and do a botched job of it anyway as you'll end up having to pay even more to get it repaired properly.

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With plumbers and gas engineers needed more than ever during these winter months, now if the perfect time to qualify as a plumber and/or gas engineer with an intensive Access Training course. We not only offer comprehensive training for beginners, but also ACS reassessment to those needing to give their qualifications an update. To find out more contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

According to new research commissioned by ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, installers and heating engineers might have a huge opportunity at their fingertips.

It seems that millions of homeowners across the UK are failing to maintain their central heating systems properly, resulting in not only a loss of efficiency but a reduced lifespan and an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat homes. Their research looked at more than 1300 homeowners across the UK, with only 55% of them confirming that they have their boiler serviced annually. One in 20 even said that they considered it an unneccesary expense!

ADEY also found that 45% of homeowners claim to have a boiler between 10 and 15 years old, with 25% who have lived in their current home for more than 15 years saying that they have never once had their boiler serviced. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) of homeowners have a problem with their central heating system, with one in 20 suffering from low heat levels. One in 10 people put up with noisy pipework in their homes – a common indicator of debris in the heating system – and 15% of people admitted they turn the thermostat up to try to fix their boiler, burning more fuel than necessary on a healthy heating system.

Consumer/environmental broadcaster Lucy Siegle said: "Boilers are the 'forgotten workhorses' of our homes. We expect them to carry on pumping away without any TLC, but homeowners need to understand that a well-maintained system costs less to run. This is where installers have a great opportunity to use their insider knowledge and help their customers counter rising energy bills by ensuring their heating systems work safely and efficiently."

ADEY’s commercial director Rebekah Howard added: "The results of our research suggest that many people don’t understand the benefits that having an annual boiler service will bring, and worryingly, just let their good old boiler in the corner keep chugging away without giving it any attention.

"The current climate presents installers with a timely opportunity to be telling customers how a well-maintained and efficient boiler can help save money on heating bills, reduce the risk of it breaking down when it’s cranked up to keep them warm, and ensure it’s safe to use. Installers can be assured that many of their customers will welcome this advice, as three quarters of homeowners surveyed wanted to know about the simple changes they can make to the central heating to reduce energy bills."

More findings from the search can be seen in the infographic below:

Via HVP Magazine

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By becoming a qualified heating engineer, you too will be able to seize this opportunity for work. Not only that, but the life of a qualified plumber/engineer is varied, challenging and pays extremely well. You'll find yourself not only with a skill you'll have for the rest of your life, but a career that's never short of new work. But before any of this can happen, you'll need that right training and qualifications. Offering plumbing and gas engineer courses as both separate and combined packages, Access Training Academies is dedicated to helping students attain their goal of becoming professionally qualified, taking those first steps toward a brand new career. To find out more about how our courses can help you, contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 and book your place today!

According to new research the British public have spend an alarming £2.6 million on fixing plumbing disasters, and now new online plumber search facility WaterSafe is warning homeowners about the cost of using a dodgy plumber.

The survey, which featured a sample of 2000 consumers, found that 69% admitted that they choose their tradesperson based solely on price, without worrying about their qualifications or if they're part of a registered scheme. As you can imagine though, this naivety comes at a price - 23% admitted to have fallen victim to a rogue plumber while a further 23% know someone it's happened to. The price of the average repair job? Try a whopping £426.

It seems the biggest problem is that sourcing a legitimate plumber just simply isn't a priority for people. 68% of respondonts said they would trust the opinion of a friend or family member, and 27% would add a neighbour's referral on top of that. In comparison, only 21% (a mere fifth) said that they actually go on to check whether said plumber in properly qualified.

Interestingly, this blasé attitude clearly doesn't extend to the cost factor, with 69% stating they wouldn't trust a plumber to quote the right amount and always get a second opinion. Not surprising, given 33% claim they have been overcharged before. It seems all it really comes down to is who offers the cheapest price, regardless of the quality.

This is exactly what WaterSafe has been put together to end. It is a nation register, accreditation body and online directory that customers can use to locate credible plumbers and tradesmen in their area and hopefully pull the plug on rogue traders once and for all.

Kevin Wellman from WaterSafe said: "Our survey results are truly shocking. Whilst it is fully understandable that, times as they are, UK homeowners may need to be extra frugal, the price of putting cost before credentials can be catastrophic.

"Not using a properly qualified plumber is not only dangerous; it’s a false economy and could end up costing the homeowner thousands of pounds and a lot of hassle to put right. Furthermore, there are the safety implications. Water safety in the home is of paramount importance and by using a dodgy tradesman; homeowners are not considering the risk that contaminated water poses. For us, the motto is "be safe, be Watersafe"."

Former Watchdog presenter and TV personality Alice Beer supports the campaign to get the UK clued up on legitimate plumbers, adding: "WaterSafe's website allows consumers to search for an approved plumber in their area, ensuring that they are getting a safe and competent tradesman to carry out work in their home. By using a properly qualified professional with this scheme, we can work together as a nation to drive out unethical plumbers and raise safety standards."

Visit WaterSafe's official website for more details.

Via InstallerOnline

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If you are planning on becoming a professional plumber, make sure you do it the right way and get the proper qualifications. Not only will you be able to pride yourself on having the proper skills to get the job done, but you won't run the risk of facing hefty fines and possibly prison time should you be exposed. Do it the right way and come study at Access Training Academies. We offer intensive plumbing courses that will get you fully qualified in a matter of weeks. To find out more give our sales team a call on 0800 345 7492.

We could go on and on about why we feel Access Training is the best place to come for your trade qualifications, but our words don't mean anything unless the students we train can attest to the quality we aim to deliver. That's why we're going to start showcasing some of the positive feedback we've received about our range of intensive training courses, so that any of you reading that are on the fence can see that we really are dedicated to giving our candidates the best qualifications and practical trades training available. You can read more of the testimonials we've received in the past here.

After spending several years abroad, Mark Todd came home to kick start his new career on our Intensive Carpentry training course…

After leaving the Royal Marines around four years ago I got into working on maritime security on ships in East Africa. However after about 3 years I wanted to get a career back home, and I’ve always had an interest in carpentry. I’ve done a few little jobs here and there in the past but wanted to take it a bit further and get qualified.

I was originally going to go back to college but obviously that would have taken around two years to do. With Access Academies I’ve been able to come here and do the course in two months which has been so much better. I’ve come out of the course finishing on a Friday, then gone straight into a job the following Monday.

The eight weeks I’ve spent here have been excellent and I’ve really enjoyed my time. The tutors have been absolutely brilliant – I’ve learnt so much from them and they are always ready to give any advice you need. Not just with the work we do here, but if we’ve got anything else going on outside they’ll do the best they can to help which is really good of them to do off of their own backs. It really gets you raring to go – it got to the point in the last week where I just wanted to get out there and start working.

I’m about to start work with two carpenters doing some refurbishment in a nursing home. The work is ongoing, it’s local and I’ll be picking up experience from people who have been in the trade for 20 years each. Right now I still feel the need to carry on my learning. I plan to self-employed eventually but for the next six months to a year I’m just going to try and pick up as much experience as I can so I’ll be fully prepared.

- Mark Todd, Swansea

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Have you considered stepping into a brand new career and becoming a fully qualified tradesperson? Here at Access Training 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.

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.

So you've got your qualifications and are ready to start your new life as a self-employed tradesperson. Being your own boss can mean great things like having full control over what jobs you do, what hours you work and when you can take your holidays - but there are some things you'll need to put some serious consideration toward. It's time for you to consider just how much you plan to charge for your services.

Many people will work it out from a simple calculation of hourly rate multiplied by 35 hour week multiplied by 52. However how do you come up with a reasonable hourly rate in the first place? Installer Online have come up with a list of 10 things you'll need to factor in to come up with the best price tag:

  1. Invoicing: Ask any self-employed person and they'll tell you this is a far more important part of the job than you might realise. Time spent invoicing or chasing up cash is definitely something to consider.
  2. Marketing: Word of mouth is only going to get you so far, you're going to need to come up with some sort of marketing plan. How extravagant you choose to be is entirely up to you, but either way it's going to cost money.
  3. Your skillset: So you've got the qualifications, but is that it? Will these need updating every so often? You might be alright as not many qualifications need regular top ups, but be sure to research this when starting up the business.
  4. Accounting & Tax: When you become self-employed you become responsible for paying your own tax. If book-keeping isn't your strong suit, have you thought about employing an accountant? This can prove quite costly, but there are also accounting services available which are tailored specifically to the contractor, freelancer and sole trader. They have low costs and simple online interfaces to allow you to process your own accounts. Many of these are available from a low monthly fee and not only save you time and money they can also relieve you of the stress of scribbling around to do your accounts at the last minute.
  5. Holidays: The downside of having the freedom to choose your own holidays is that you're no longer paid for that time. Including bank holidays most full time employees get around 6 weeks paid leave per year. This is the equivalent to a 12% increase in your hourly or daily rate.
  6. Insurance: Every business needs insurance. Not just that, but there's many different types you may need - public liability, business car insurance, contents insurances etc. Make sure you know exactly what you need and scout around for the best prices.
  7. Your toolkit: Again, these are going to cost money and inevitably need replacing somewhere down the line.
  8. Travel: Petrol costs are another thing you're going to have to keep in mind.
  9. Quotes: You will have to pitch and quote for work in order to generate new business. These take time and often a lot of effort and often you won’t get paid a penny unless you win the business. Although you can offset the cost of providing quotes by upping your hourly rate this will be one of the biggest areas that you will find you work on with no pay whatsoever.
  10. Premises: As your business grows, you may find that working in a spare room or out of your van simply doesn't cut it. Whether its for admin or storage purposes, any excess space you need may end up incurring additional costs.

So with those things in mind, does your initial estimate seem a little low? Installer Online advise raising it by around 30%, but you also need to be aware of just how much your customers are prepared to pay. But don't get discouraged! Although it's a lot to think about its true that tradespeople earn an impressive annual wage, and 70% of the self-employed workforce now earn over the national average of £26,093!

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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.

Via British Builder and Developer

Remember when a van was simply a place that got you from A to B? Well, new research published by Direct Line of Business has revealed that those days may be long gone, with tradespeople using their vehicles for all sorts of different purposes.

Plumbers, electricians, gas engineers and various other forms of tradesperson are practically living out of their vans now - if not using them for sleeping then as mobile officies or even entertainment centres. Unsurprisingly nearly half (45%) are using them as a dining room to eat meals while on the job, and a lower 31% using it as a mobile office to manage their business.

One in ten (14%) are also using their vans as a place to smoke, which can cause additional dangers to their health. Smoking in an enclosed area poses additional health risks, as research from the British Lung Foundation found the levels of toxins in a vehicale can be up to 23 times higher than in a smokey bar.

Perhaps the most fun statistic of the results was that one in ten are using it as somewhere to keep themselves entertained with video games. While most of these might be doing so with their mobile phones, some (2%) are even going as far as to install consoles such as X-Boxes and Playstation 3s. As many as one in 20 (4%) have televisions in their vehicles.

Melissa Hunt, Business Manager at Direct Line for Business, said: "With tradespeople working long hours on the job, it is no wonder they often end up eating, managing paperwork and even sleeping in their vehicles. However, customising their van with the latest gadgets and installing entertainment centres may not only be a distraction and compromise their safety but it is unlikely to be covered if stolen."

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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.

In an interesting attempt to make the life of a tradesman easier, Installer Online have come up with an interesting new iPhone app that may just lighten your toolkit somewhat and make sure you're never without some important tools.

The free app is named InstallerTOOLBOX and has been developed "provide a range of functions that will make every day - and every installation - that little bit more straightforward." It incoporates a number of things that are essential to your job and keeps them all within your phone, meaning they'll be in your pocket at all times!

Altogether the app includes:

  • A TORCH for when you need that extra bit of light dealing with pipes under the sink or rummaging around in boiler cupboards. It features three brightness settings to give you maximum visibility.
  • A quick, easy and above all accurate SPIRIT LEVEL that "measures down to 0.1° to ensure that it is more than just a gimmicky add-on". It can also switch between horizontal and vertical settings.
  • A UNIT CONVERTER that covers everything from temperature to velocity so that you don't have to make any rough calculations in your head or require a pocket conversion guide. All you need to do is enter the amount and choose what units you want it in.
  • Finally, every tradesman loses a pen once in a while so here you can do away with pen and paper for good with the JOB SHEET. With this you can make notes, jot down job specs, prepare invoices and more! It also allows you to build you a record of every project you complete, including photo attachments. These are saved to the app and can be emailed out to colleagues, customers and whoever else may need them.
Sound like your ideal piece of kit? As mentioned earlier InstallerTOOLBOX is a completely free iPhone (sorry Android users) app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store now!

Get in touch to learn more about our training courses!

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