From: Jon Vanstone, Chair of Certass Trade Association, the National Home Improvement Council and the Industry Competence Committee.

Following the reports in the press the past few weeks, I was struck by a piece from Phil Parry of Epwin Window Systems, responding to Fensa’s appalling assessment failure rate of 39 percent, which has now got to trigger a decisive response from the industry.

Following the implementation of the Building Safety Act 2022 and the introduction of the Building Safety Regulator’s enforcement powers this year, we’ve really expected to see a massive overhaul in terms of how all aspects of the Building Control system including Competent Person Schemes (CPS) approach competence and best practice.

Through my work at varying levels of construction, I am well aware of the problems that are impacting industry on the ground – but a failure rate of 39% is simply unacceptable and I question how and what Fensa is going to do to respond.

When you are sitting with almost four out of ten of Fensa assessments failing, we’re critically putting homeowners at risk, but also increasing pressure on competent installers and bringing the name of our industry into disrepute. This is especially damaging given how hard we have to work to better our reputation with consumers.

There are a number of reasons for this high failure rate. One, I think is that homeowners are often not aware of the importance of ventilation and compliance with Building Regulations, despite the right advice being available. As a result, they may choose to go with a cheaper installer who is not part of a CPS.

We need to begin educating consumers on what competence looks like now as if they understand their part in elevating the standards of the industry, they’re far more likely to demand the best for their home, as opposed to the cheapest. 

Another problem we need to question is: are our guidelines clear enough? Having unclear guidance can lead to confusion among both homeowners and installers, which can make it difficult to ensure that work is done to a high standard. When as an organisation many of your messages are about ‘alternatives to trickle vents’ as you try to sell a service under another of your brands, you take focus away from the need for Healthy Homes and appropriate ventilation.

I am calling on Fensa to take urgent action to address these problems. They need to make their guidelines clearer and do more to educate homeowners about the importance of ventilation and compliance.

At Certass we know our training and advice is superior, and by giving simple, easy-to-understand guidance to our customers we know we can avoid the confusion of Fensa’s guidance with a renewed commitment to improving best practice as a whole. This shows that the numbers don’t lie. 

As the unfortunate death of Awaab Ishak has proven, the health of homeowners is at stake. It is time for Fensa to act and ensure that the work accredited by them actually meets the standards set out by the Building Regulations. 

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