Federation of Master Builders has issued a rallying call to the UK government to consider a form of mandatory licensing. Stipulating a compulsory licence to be the minimum qualification required to set up as a builder would, the FMB maintains, restore the public's faith in the building trade by guaranteeing a consistent level of skills and professionalism.
Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized building firms, the Federation of Master Builders has published a new study looking into the habits of UK homeowners in relation to house improvements.
The study offers some surprising statistics gleaned from a pool of 2,000 respondents, not least that one in three homeowners are delaying making improvements to their property for fear of engaging a rogue – or ‘cowboy’ – builder. This concern is further heightened by a revelation from BBC journalists that they were able to register a fake handyman account on the online portal mybuilder.com and also to upload five-star reviews to their profile by pretending to be one of their own customers. Such sites revolve around the credibility generated from positive online reviews, but homeowners appear to be increasingly wary of their legitimacy.
Returning to home improvements, the Federation of Master Builders’ research suggests that the UK economy may be missing out on up to £10 billion of work annually, simply because homeowners are wary of who to trust when it comes to extensions, loft conversions and other domestic improvements. The indications were that homeowners may potentially be prepared to commit on average £40,000 to major improvement work over the next five years if they felt they could commission a builder they could trust.
To address the situation, the Federation of Master Builders has issued a rallying call to the UK government to consider a form of mandatory licensing. Stipulating a compulsory licence to be the minimum qualification required to set up as a builder would, the FMB maintains, restore the public’s faith in the building trade by guaranteeing a consistent level of skills and professionalism. In Canada and Australia such licensing has ensured that homeowners can proceed with building work with confidence, but currently anyone in the UK can set up as a builder and start trading immediately.
Commenting on the study, Refresh Renovations UK General Manager, Alan Evans, emphasised that the Refresh way is to take the guesswork out of building projects. ‘Our end-to-end service starts with planning and ends with final handover to give homeowners complete peace of mind,’ he said. ‘Our user-friendly online portal enables our clients to monitor schedules and budgets, and our tradespeople are among the best and most reliable in their field. We all know that building projects – especially complex extensions and loft conversions – can be fraught with pitfalls, so at Refresh we focus on managing every step to ensure that no time or budget is wasted. Ultimately, we’re there to take the stress out of domestic building projects and to ensure that our clients enjoy the ride as well as the final result.’
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