In a welcome development for homeowners, the Federation of Master Builders has revealed that it is considering introducing a scheme that would require builders to prove that they are competent to carry out work. The scheme would particularly target the SME building sector, and would differ from the current Trustmark scheme in that it could require all builders UK-wide to undertake sufficient training before being eligible for the scheme.
This would go a long way to reassuring homeowners that the companies carrying out work on their homes are properly qualified to do so. At the moment, a builder can work on a property without needing to produce any evidence as to their expertise. Unsuspecting homeowners can pay thousands to have work done to their property that is far below standard or even renders it unsafe.
Once it becomes apparent that the work is substandard, homeowners often find that the builder disappears or ceases trading. Although some seek redress through the courts, it can often be the case that the builder simply starts up in business again under a different name.
The new proposals are still at the discussion stage and, unless and until they are introduced, homeowners are advised to conduct thorough research before hiring a builder. You can check the incorporation date of any company through the Companies House website, as well as its status (some cowboy builders trade through dormant companies).
Cheapest is seldom best and some builders forge references. If at all possible, only award the contract to someone who has been personally recommended. It is also important to take details of the builder’s insurance policy, which you should then pass on to your own buildings and contents insurance provider. A contract or a set of terms and conditions that details the stages of the project and the payments due on the completion of each stage is also highly advisable.
To check the status of a building company, visit Companies House and use the Web Check service