An Easy Way To Fix A Common Non-Compliance Issue

WER_LABEL_NEW_2-779x1024Certass Auditors carry out thousands of installation inspections over the year and we’re happy to say that proportionately to the number of inspections carried out, we get few non-compliances.  This is testament to the quality of the contractors that are our members.

However, there is one non-compliance that crops up that could easily be avoided.  “I don’t want any non-compliances, what is it?” I hear you say.  The Building Regulation in question is Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power which sets out the required thermal performance for windows and doors.

Usually the installed product does comply with Part L.  The issue is that when the Auditor carries out the inspection, they need to see the evidence to prove the installed product complies; but that evidence is not always to hand.

 

There are two ways to prove compliance

1) Window Energy Ratings (WER):

The purpose of a Window Energy Rating is to allow one window’s energy performance to be directly compared to another under standard conditions.  All replacement windows either have to be rated C or better. There are 2 ways to obtain a WER certificate:

  1. Buy your frames and units from a supplier who is part of a WER scheme. The supplier will then supply you with a WER certificate in their name or if they are a member of the TRR corporate scheme they will be able to input your company details in the certificate.
  1. If you want total freedom of supplier you can become a member of a WER scheme yourself and have WER labels in your own name.

2) U-Value:

  1. Full simulation reports carried out in line with EN 10077-2,
  2. Hot box test reports
  3. U-value calculations carried out in accordance with EN 10077-1 provided by approved operators

Going down the U-Value route to prove compliance is not the most consumer friendly way to prove compliance as they are unlikely to be easily understand what a U-Value is, whereas consumer immediately understand he relative merits of a WER label.

The Easiest Way

By far the easiest way to comply is by providing a Window Energy Rating Certificate to your customer; this can usually be sourced from your fabricator or by joining a Window Energy Rating Scheme.  As well as providing a certificate to your customer, you should also keep a copy of the WER Certificate and delivery note or invoice in the installations job file so when the Auditor requests the evidence to prove compliance you can lay your hands on it.

Call our sales team on 01292 292 095 or visit certass.co.uk for more information.

A Personal Review of this year’s Fit Show 2016 Telford

This year’s FIT show stand for Certass and QANW was organised by Gemma Swankie, head of marketing for the Kinnell Group and provides a review of this year’s FIT show success in Telford.

April 2016 saw the return of the extraordinary FIT Show, the only one of its kind in the UK for the glazing industry and of course Certass were there ready to meet and speak with representatives from both their current membership and any new contractors wishing to join any of Certass’s successful schemes.

This year’s Fit Show was a big deal for Certass as it celebrated its 10th birthday in April and Certass certainly brought the party mood with them to promote their special birthday show offerings. The stand was bright and inviting with a great team of knowledgeable staff which allowed all answers to be provided to the questions fielded by contractors there and then.  To help lighten the load a tea and coffee station was provided for contractors who could take a seat, chat to the team and enjoy a much needed rest before moving onto the next part of the show.

FIT Show 3

A relaxed atmosphere allowed for the team to discuss the Certass FIT show promotion and take the details from contractors that has allowed Certass to manage their applications over the last few weeks.

For Certass this FIT Show has been another success and has again “showcased our knowledge and determination to help the industry become regulated”. I feel that the show gives us an opportunity to put a face to a name and show that we are there to listen to what the contractors need and want from their Certass membership.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came and visited the Certass stand and would also like to welcome all new Certass members who have joined through the Certass 10th birthday promotion offered at the FIT show. Certass will continue to support the FIT Show and will be there in 2017 to continue to listen to contractors and support the industry. I look forward to seeing you all at the NEC Birmingham for what Certass hopes will be another successful show!

 

For further information on any of the Certass schemes, please call the Certass sales team on 01292 292095 who will be only too happy to assist you.

The Customer Is Not Always Right – Here’s Why………

Every established business owner has drilled into their staff that the customer is always right – the problem with this statement is the customer isn’t always right and to think otherwise can result in a serious disservice to you, your company and more importantly your customers.

Replacement window and door installations are bespoke products as they are designed, manufactured and installed by the installation company. Therefore, the installer is the designer, surveyor and installer of this manufactured bespoke product and holds legal obligations to the consumer as the person/company having the professional knowledge.

The installer is duty bound to know the Building Regulations, and other legal requirements required for a compliant installation as a professional. It is not reasonable that a consumer’s knowledge of Building Regulations should equal your own and so the consumer would be unaware if their installation requirements would be compliant and fit for purpose.

There are economic considerations and constraints that the consumer will try to impose upon the glazing installer’s design, after all they are the customer, they are paying, they are right…wrong!

Certass installers are amongst some of the most responsible and quality conscience installers in the marketplace and non-compliant installations within the Certass Competent Person Scheme are exceedingly low and range between 0.1 – 0.3%.

Recently, Certass were on-site with a new glazing contractor carrying out an assessment for Competent Person Scheme membership approval. We had no alternative but to reject the glazing installer’s membership from our scheme as the glazing installer refused to correct the non-compliant installation being undertaken.

The glazing installer explained that his customer insisted it be installed this way and if he didn’t do the job this way someone else would and he would therefore, lose the business. In this instance, a window had been fitted into a bedroom where the fire egress had been made much worse. The installer knew that fitting this new replacement window was making the fire egress worse and therefore, knowingly breached Buildings Regulations to satisfy his consumer’s wishes.

If at a later date somebody was hurt, injured or killed due to this installation, it would be the glazing installer as product designer, surveyor and installer who is considered the professional who would be culpable as the glazing installer is responsible for the manufactured product being fit for purpose and Building Regulations.  The installer when registering an installation with a Competent Person scheme are self certifying that the installation meets all relevant Building Regulation requirements. They are making a legal declaration.

The consequence of this installer’s refusal to take corrective measures in making his installation compliant has resulted in his Certass CPS membership being rejected, his customer without a Certass Building Regulations Compliance Certificate (BRCC) and the customer’s Local Authority Building Control will also refuse to provide certification until this installation meets Building Regulation requirements. Please do not get caught out by ignoring your professional responsibilities!

Certass Competent Person Scheme is a self-certification scheme allowing competent installers to self-certify that their installations are Building Regulations compliant. To find out more, call us on telephone number 01292 292099.

Free Window Energy Ratings (WER’s) for Glazing Installers is Old News!

Recently in the trade press much has been made regarding the availability of free Window Energy Ratings (WER’s) for glazing installers. At Certass TRR, this is old news and glazing installers have had the opportunity to benefit from this option for a couple of years now.

There are two options available to the Certass TRR glazing installer to have a WER in their own company name. Which of the two options a glazing installer selects is dependent upon the purchasing habits of the glazing installer. The Certass TRR glazing installer options are:

Option 1 – Use a Certass TRR registered fabricator or Certass TRR registered Trade Frame Supplier

 Certass TRR fabricator and trade frame supplier members have had the ability to issue WER labels to their customers, the glazing installer in the glazing installer’s company name for over 3 years by using our Corporate Installers Scheme. The glazing installer must purchase both the frame and glass through the trade frame supplier.

Option 2 – Glazing Installer Purchases Glass and Frames from Separate Suppliers

 For those glazing installers that wish to choose different suppliers for their glass and frame purchases due to their historic trading relationships and/or cost savings can, for a small nominal fee join the Certass TRR Product Certification Scheme.

Additionally, as these Certass TRR member glazing installers purchase their glass and frames from different suppliers, they are now defined as the full product manufacturer and we assist these Certass TRR members with their CE Mark compliant thermal calculations and CE Mark template self-declarations documents and provide guidance where required.

WER_LABEL_NEW_2

Further News on Free Window Energy Ratings (WER’s)

At present an annual fee is paid by Certass TRR fabricator and trade frame supplier members signing up to our Corporate Installer Scheme for their customers, the glazing contractors to be able to issue their own WER labels. Certass TRR will be contacting all Certass TRR supplier members shortly to inform them that the Corporate Installer Scheme fee will be waived in future.

Certass Always Moving Forward

Certass is currently working on a glazing supplier directory which will help to promote our Certass TRR suppliers to our installer network. Once our glazing suppliers’ directory is published, we will be providing this to all our glazing installers free of charge. The glazing supplier directory will show Certass TRR suppliers region by region with full contact details per glazing supplier.

Certass is currently working on a whole new online member’s area which will integrate both the Certass installers and TRR member platforms into a singular member’s area. This new platform is industry leading and has been designed with you the member in mind. Member companies will be permitted to easily view summarised core data from a single home screen.

Certass is moving into its second decade of trading and we are keeping with the attributes that established Certass and helped us grow to our current stature by continuing to deliver excellent customer service and by always providing great value and flexible solutions both benefitting our customers and the glazing industry sector.

What You Can and Can’t Register With a Competent Person Scheme

Domestic Replacement Glazing Works

What You Can and Can’t Register With a Competent Person Scheme

Many works must meet Building Regulation requirements but not all works in dwellings are notifiable to the Local Authorities. Therefore, Competent Person Schemes can only register works on a contractor’s behalf with the Local Authority that are deemed notifiable. Generally speaking, conservatories and porches are excluded from Building Regulation notification requirements.

Conservatories and Porches

There are some exemptions from the energy efficiency requirements and Local Authority notification in Building Regulations for some conservatory and porch extensions. The exemption for conservatories or porches in Building Regulations:

  • Which are at ground level;
    • Where the floor area is less than 30 m2;
    • Where the existing walls, doors and windows in the part of the dwelling which separates the conservatory are retained or, if removed, replaced by walls, windows and doors which meet the energy efficiency requirements; and
    • Where the heating system of the dwelling is not extended into the conservatory or porch.

In circumstances where any conservatory or porch does not meet all the requirements above, it is not exempt from Building Regulation compliance and therefore, must comply with the relevant energy efficiency requirements and is notifiable.

Certass Guidance for registration of existing porches with Certass  

When determining if replacement doors or windows are notifiable, you need to consider the following two factors:

  • If the porch/conservatory was removed, could the remaining door to the property be considered an external grade door? i.e. is it weathertight and secure?
  • Is the porch/conservatory heated from the property’s main heating system? i.e. is there a radiator in the porch/conservatory fed from a boiler that heats the rest of the property?

If the door in the example above is not an external grade door at the time of the replacement, then the windows and doors in the porch/conservatory are notifiable.

If the porch is heated from the main property heating system, then the replacement windows and doors in the porch are notifiable irrespective of whether the secondary door is / is not external grade.

Wall Openings

Where a wall opening has been widened as part of the replacement windows and /or doors installation then these woks cannot be registered with a Competent Person Scheme and these works must be notified via the relevant Local Authority or through an Approved Inspector.

Technical Support

If as a member of Certass you have any doubt over the correct registration requirements, please contact us and one of our technical team will be more than happy to discuss your requirements with you. Telephone number: 01292 292099.

Happy New Year!

As this is our first Certass column of the New Year, it’s time to reflect both on what Certass achieved in 2015 to support our membership and counting down into 2016, taking a look ahead at the potential trading opportunities for the New Year.

2015 saw the following Certass developments:

Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) requirement and financial protection

Ensuring that our members met the new Government license requirements relating to the assessment of their individual site operative’s technical competence and the provision of financial protection to their customers, the homeowner.  To this end, in September 2015 we launched the Certass MTC Continuum Card in order to improve the MTC experience for our members and keep them compliant with the technical assessment requirements.  Each Competent Person Scheme must carry out MTC assessments of the site operatives of its certified companies.  The assessment must be against the appropriate National Occupational Standards or meet the appropriate National Vocational Qualification requirement. The only optional part is the MTC card. As Certass includes the MTC card for free it makes sense to take advantage of this benefit to provide your customers with evidence of competence.  The MTC Continuum also allows certified companies the option of spreading the costs of the MTC assessment.

The new Government license requirements also require that all certified companies must provide financial protection to their customers irrespective of which Competent Person Scheme they were in.  We are aware that this has caused some issues for low users who may be paying for minimum Insurance Backed Guarantee (IBG) volumes or are being charged non-use fees by their IBG providers.  One of these providers, QANW, now offers a new low user IBG product thus ensuring that satisfactory financial protection is provided to customers in line with Government rules.  Therefore, there is no better ‘Pay As You Go’ Scheme than that offered by Certass with its monthly payment option which can now be linked with a low user IBG solution to give a complete low cost solution without becoming uncompetitive on individual jobs due to high LABC fees or registration costs.

Letting your customers know about your company

A Certass Competent Person membership positions you as a reliable, quality contractor – but you need to tell this to your customers too.  Certass has created a Doodle Ad, for its “Competent Person Scheme” members. This makes your company stand out from the crowd, balancing the fear and doubt of using a non-Competent Person Scheme Member with the benefits that our Certass members bring to their customers.

You can publish your Doodle Ad video on your company website, on your facebook profile and on your youtube channel – it will grab your customer’s attention.  For further details and to view the video visit www.doodle-ads.co.uk/certass

Free Legal Advice Portal

As another benefit to its certified companies, Certass has just added to its membership package a free legal advice portal with a telephone helpline option for legal advice.  For more information on this please contact our team on 01292 292 099.

New Look Website

We have launched our new look website, which makes navigating to find out information easier than ever before for both the contractor and the homeowner, visit www.certass.co.uk to have a look around.

Going forward into 2016

After such a busy year in 2015 we are hoping that during 2016 we will be able to consolidate the changes already introduced.  Looking to the future, we have already mapped out the next three years product development programme. In general terms we intend to keep listening to industry and developing our services and products around their needs.  One key area we wish to develop more is strategic partnerships with manufacturers that want a certification service for their installer networks. We are able to dovetail into their marketing efforts and provide the quality framework for their offering, providing our expertise in auditing and IT platforms to further their key differentiators. We intend to keep our investment in staff, both ensuring adequate numbers and quality training to service our customers. We are currently fully rebuilding our IT platforms to provide a more modern user friendly interface.

Certass listens to its members

At Certass we work hard to develop relationships with both existing and new member companies.  For example, we always ask our new members why they chose Certass to join and lately they have told us it’s because:

  • Our fee structure – the ability to spread costs over 12 months rather than paying an up-front annual fee.
  • Simple application process – the option to complete forms and upload documents online or complete paper forms and email, fax or post them back to us.
  • Friendly and supportive administration – there’s always someone at the end of the phone to answer any membership questions.
  • TrustMark membership included (subject to application) – the TrustMark logo is something that homeowners have come to trust and our members get it at no extra cost.
  • Certass name and logo – our brand is recognised as one that delivers quality to our members and their customers.
  • Technical expertise – as well as providing industry handbooks, our inspectors are on hand to answer technical questions from our members, helping them to comply with current building regulations.

Finally, all of us at Certass wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

 

Mike Billington, Chairman, Certass

Award Winner 2015 – Best for Certification Services

Certass Limited is a UKAS approved Certification Body for the operation of a Competent Person Scheme for a variety of construction firms. Jason Clemmit, Certass Managing Director talks through the company’s vital work and provides us with an intriguing insight into what the future holds for Certass Limited.

Best for Certification Services

In 2012 the DCLG, Government Department in charge of Competent Person Schemes, launched a new Competent Person Scheme operator’s license. Amongst other things, a major new license requirement was for site operatives employed by companies to be fully assessed by the Certification Body for their individual technical competence.

Site operatives could meet this new DCLG license requirement by either having a recognised National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) or by completing a Minimum Technical Competence (MTC) assessment carried out by the approved Certification Body. The MTC assessment is based on National Occupational Standards as is the same with an NVQ.

A large proportion of the Certass membership base is within the glazing sector. This industry sector did not have a high take-up of recognised qualifications, so it was an extreme challenge to establish a framework, write the assessment guidance, find and train an adequate number of suitably qualified assessors and to carry out the required on-site assessments within the Government set timeframes.

Not only did we manage to develop a framework that has been recognised as both robust and practical thus avoiding any heavy, unnecessary admin burden being felt by the industry, Certass has been instrumental in turning around an industry sector that did not have a recognised qualified workforce to one of the most recognised in a very short time span. Certass site operatives can now readily prove their competence with a Certass provided photo ID skills card showing their qualifications. The MTC qualification is not a one-off and forget qualification, the site operative must be able to demonstrate their on-going competence and be re-assessed every few years.

Certass is a Certification Body that provides a quality assurance mark to its member companies, the member company can then use this mark to demonstrate its competence to its customers. We operate in the Renovation, Maintenance, Improvement (RMI) construction sector for both installers and product manufacturers. We operate schemes we have created under our own mark such as our Company Vetted scheme or schemes that operate under a Government licence such as Competent Person, PAS2030 and TrustMark.

Competent Person Schemes are self-certification schemes which were established by Government in 2002, that allow certified contractors to self-certify that their works meet current Building Regulations rather than using Local Authority Building Control. Certass obtained a license to operate a glazing Competent Person Scheme in 2006 to provide much needed competition to this industry sector.

In 2010 Certass launched the Thermal Rating Register, a product certification scheme for the thermal performance of windows and doors. The scheme again brought competition to the glazing fabrication sector providing cost effective window energy rating to companies. In the same year Certass obtained a license to operate the TrustMark certification scheme which is a Government endorsed scheme for consumer protection.

In 2012 Certass obtained a license to operate a PAS2030 scheme for the Government’s Green Deal measures. At the same time Certass expanded its scope of certification to include building fabric insulation.

Through our scheme Certass currently has several thousand installer and manufacturer companies certified covering most contractor trades through one of our schemes.

Our customers range from sole trader single operative companies to UK national installers and manufacturers. We deliver the same high standard of customer service to all our member companies no matter what their size is.

In addition to operating our schemes under our own Certass branding, we also operate a number of partnership white-label schemes for a number of national and international manufacturers wanting to operate their own quality assurance schemes for installers fitting their products.

It is easy for Certass to provide a friendly and supportive service to our customers because that’s just who the team of people that work at Certass are. When recruiting new people into the Certass team, it becomes evident pretty quickly who has the right disposition to complement our team.

We ask for on-going feedback, both formally and informally, from both our customers and our customers, customers (the consumer) asking about their experience of our service and what they would like to see us do.

With regard to cost effective services, our certification services do not return a dividend to shareholders, any profits are reinvested in the business to deliver a better service to industry.

Working within the RMI sector provides us with a number of challenges, particularly green technologies, which are subject to Government policy and influence. Therefore the biggest challenge to come is what will Government policy be following the collapse of the Green Deal scheme and the likely changes to ECO.

Currently the Government has commissioned an independent review – the Bonfield Review to look at standards, consumer protection and enforcement of energy efficiency schemes. Certass is actively engaged in this review to try and adequately represent industry. Whatever the review’s outcome, Certass will as always, create products that meet industry needs.

There are many established Certification Bodies some much larger than us competing in the same sector. What sets Certass apart from its competitors is its entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to always look at different ways to deliver an innovative quality service to our customers.

Simply put, we are an enthusiastic bunch of decent people that really do take pride in offering a good service at a really great value price. I believe that a key to our success is that key people within the Certass certification process are drawn from industry and therefore, they understand what our customers want. It is this grounding at Certass that lends its common sense approach so well to all the things we do at Certass.

Because we are a client led business that develops common sense solutions in the dry tick box world of certification, our clients see our unique business ethos and are drawn to the way we work. We have an innovative culture but it is all underpinned by the people within our company being genuine people that really do want to deliver a great service.

I personally believe the reasons for our success begin with the team of truly great people that I lead. We are a close-knit relatively small team of people where everyone wants to deliver a great service to our customers. We blend that friendly and supportive team of people with investment in IT platforms, technical knowledge and a big chunk of common sense to both deliver products to our customers that help their business and lead the way.

Looking to the future, we have the next three years’ product development program mapped out already. In general terms we intend to keep listening to industry and developing our services and products around their needs.

One key area we wish to develop more is strategic partnerships with manufacturers that want a certification service for their installer networks. We are able to dovetail into their marketing efforts and provide the quality framework for their offering. Providing our expertise in auditing and IT platforms to further their key differentiators. We intend to keep our investment in staff, both ensuring adequate numbers and quality training to service our customers. We are currently fully rebuilding our IT platforms to provide a more modern user friendly interface.

Being nominated for this award conveys to our industry sector audience that at Certass we are doing something very right for our customers, we have made some very significant in-roads within our industry and are continually looking to improve what we offer to our members but above all our service excellence. We are all very proud and honoured to have our efforts to date recognised in this way.

Certass Launches New MTC Delivery Options

It’s been a challenging year or two delivering the Government MTC requirements for our members’ skilled site operatives. Certass invested heavily to deliver these requirements, we are now able to pass on savings to our members after paying off this initial investment. After many conversations with our members we are announcing some new MTC options which will improve this experience and keep you compliant with these requirements.

Firstly, we have invested in our own card printer and our cards are all printed in-house.

From 1st September – FREE photo ID MTC skills card for all new suitably qualified site operatives registered with Certass

Secondly, we fully understand how the upfront MTC assessment cost can impact significantly upon the cash flow of both small and larger companies alike. We now have 2 options; you can now choose either the existing pay up-front option or you can now choose:

Certass’ NEW MTC Continuum

Per Site Operative – Pay a one-off registration fee of £100+VAT followed by a small monthly payment of £3.75+VAT.

What’s does this new Certass MTC Continuum mean to me?

For sole traders

A lower one-off registration fee followed by a low monthly fee which we’ll simply add on to your direct debit. No more large fees!

For companies with several site operatives

You pay a one-off registration fee for the number of qualified site operatives, followed by a low monthly fee per site operative. If one of your site operatives leaves the company and you hire a replacement, simply continue to pay the monthly fee, return the old site operatives MTC card to us and we will not charge you another registration fee*. To protect your company’s compliance with us, we will carry out a new MTC assessment on your new site operative at one of your installations.

Already paid your MTC fee upfront?

Don’t worry you can easily transfer to the Certass MTC Continuum when your existing MTC card expires without having incurring any extra costs.

Additional information

  1. The Certass MTC Continuum card is annually renewable.
  2. MTC Continuum is a site operative charge option – not linked to a specific individual, the MTC card is transferable at no extra cost following new site operative’s successful MTC assessment.
  3. To transfer the MTC Continuum card to a new site operative the old MTC card (for site operative who has left your company) must be returned to Certass.
  4. To transfer to your new site operative avoiding new registration fee, there must be a continuous DDM monthly payment in place with Certass.
  5. All Site operatives must refresh their Building Regulations knowledge by undertaking a knowledge assessment and have their installation work observed every 3 years.

*conditions apply

Certass Launches new doodle ad for Certass members to market to consumers

A Certass Competent Person membership positions you as a reliable, quality contractor – but you need to tell this to your customers too. The best way to do this is using the medium of video – the stats show that your customers enjoy watching video; they will hear your message. But standing in front of a camera is tough, not everyone can pull it off.
doodle image 2

Certass has created a doodle ad, for its “Competent Person Scheme” members. The doodle ad makes your company stand out from the crowd, balancing the fear and doubt of using a non-Competent Person Member with the benefits that our Certass members bring to the consumer.

You can publish your Doodle Ad video on your company website, on your facebook profile and on your youtube channel – it will grab your customer’s attention.

Once they start watching, they will become engaged, they will find it hard to stop watching – they will want to see how it ends.

A Doodle Video is proven to be 800% more engaging than words on a page, in commercials or on blogs?

People buy emotionally – the strongest asset that a cartoon has; is the capacity to accentuate emotion.

Certass, working with Doodle Ads, has produced a doodle video that’s entertaining, fun and engaging. More importantly though it explains why you are different from everyone else in your marketplace.

The last slide of the doodle ad tells your viewer what to do next, a call to action and it can be customized to show your company logo and contact details.

For further details and to view the video visit www.doodle-ads.co.uk/certass

Delivering more to you…

In our Christmas articles you may remember that we highlighted that our Managing Director, Mr Jason Clemmit was looking at ways to give more back to our members by providing you with additional benefits and we asked you for your input in what these should be.

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and starting to recover from the season’s festivities and your New Year resolutions are holding fast in readiness for the start of the New Year.

Continue reading