Advice for homeowners

Harry

Meet your
FENSA Advisor

This is Harry.

You might recognise him from our TV ad.

Harry works for a FENSA Approved installation company. He's on a mission to help professionalise installers and protect homeowners across the UK, so he started this advice column.

Cowboy conundrums

We have been speaking with a lot of FENSA Fitters lately about cowboys, and their concerns, and we just wanted to clarify some information with you, and set the record straight. We have written quite a lot of blogs about cowboys recently, but it is important to our Fitters, and so is a real priority for us.

 

Basically, if you are an installer, you might be worried about cowboys giving the industry a bad reputation. Well first of all, we wanted to reassure you that there is not as much of a problem as you might think with cowboys  a recent report by Consumer Direct found that found that double glazing and conservatory installers did not feature in the trades people complained about most of all, and this is obviously a very positive thing for the industry.

 

Nevertheless, if you are a FENSA installer fitting energy-rated compliant windows, you may be worried about other installers that might not be fitting windows that are compliant with building regulations, and want to know how this could impact on the reputation of the industry overall. Well, there are 2 points to make here:

 

Misuse of the FENSA logo by companies that are not FENSA Registered. Although cowboys are in the minority, at FENSA we take any misuse of the FENSA logo or failure to certify compliance with building regulations very seriously, because the FENSA badge is recognised by consumers. This is unfair for FENSA Fitters who have made the effort to comply with the eligibility criteria of FENSA registration, have been vetted and are regularly and independently assessed. This is why we have the cowboy stoppers website where cowboys should be reported so we can take action. If you suspect and have evidence that an installer is misusing the FENSA logo, not self certifying with a scheme like FENSA or obtaining approval from Building Control, you can submit this information online anonymously on www.cowboystoppers.co.uk. We have taken action against cowboys a number of times, you can check out some of the installer prosecutions there. To further support our Fitters, we provide a Consumer Guide to Cowboys, containing hints and tips to recognise a cowboy.

 

Regular inspections for Compliance for FENSA Fitters: On the other hand if a company is registered with FENSA, they can self certify compliance, but are still subject to regular independent inspections for building regulations compliance, so we can maintain confidence in the industry. Inspections are normally carried out on 1% of each businesss installations, subject to a minimum of 2 per year and a maximum of 100. The majority of installations inspected do meet the compliance criteria, but again, in the rare event of a failed inspection, FENSA takes things very seriously. We will always insist on the rectification of any job that is sub-standard of building regulations. Failure to comply results in removal from the FENSA scheme with no exceptions. What is more, companies that are found to fail inspections will be assessed more often (this is in line with guidance from the Communities and Local Government Department).

 

So you can see that we are working hard with the industry to deal with cowboys that misuse the FENSA logo, and to ensure FENSA Fitters are vetted regularly for compliance with building regulations.

 

If you want to talk more about cowboys, or have any further feedback or questions, you can share them in the comments box below, or you can attend our next FENSA focus group in Manchester on the 17th March.

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What to check before appointing an installer

Check that you use a FENSA Approved Installer but also check the following:

  • Ask family and friends who have used installers about their satisfaction and whether they got a FENSA certificate.
  • Check the installer's references by talking to their previous customers.
  • Get at least three quotes and check you are being quoted like for like.
  • Cheapest is not always best and good contractors are always in demand.
  • Get quotes, timeframes and the fact that you will get a FENSA certificate all in writing. A proper written contract with an agreed completion date will help prevent confusion later on
  • Check the warranty on the installer's work and ensure they have enough insurance to cover their warranty. Domestic glazing installers that are registered with a competent person scheme like FENSA are legally obliged to provide warranty insurance to cover your installation should the company cease to trade within the life of the warranty.
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