Construction across the board is being asked to pull its proverbial socks up at a time when the external pressures are as great as they have ever been for installers. We suffer from a lack of material supply, economic uncertainty and continual changes in the rules of operation within the UK.
Failures such as Grenfell Tower have led to a Government backdrop of change no matter what the economic circumstance. There is pressure on every area of construction and we are facing some very uncomfortable times in the next two years as the Building Regulator forms. Glazing needs businesses both large and small to work together to ensure a consolidated message to government is received on how we move forward.
Too often the results of poor workmanship have dogged industries such as our own as we try to shake-off the unsavoury images so easily visible online. This has led to considerable mistrust in the standards of our work as the multiplying effect of online opinion is left uncountered by all the good work seen in our industry yet often unspoken about.
Third party accreditation and certification are being seen as the solution to many of the issues within construction, as agreed by the groups that formed following Grenfell three and a half years ago. However, the structure of the standards is too often dictated by the larger businesses who can afford to have one or two people sitting in a variety of committees whilst local tradespeople need to be on site.
That which suits a large business is often used as a barrier to entry for the local companies. If you can ensure the need for processes that are about running a larger business rather than ensuring how competent work is undertaken, then you can protect markets and take funding structures away from SMEs and micros.
This has been seen this year with the Green Homes Grant, which due to its BEIS origins has been made to align with PAS 2030 and related standards in-spite of a lack of evidence in the standard’s success for cross-sector adoption.
Insulation businesses and associations seem to love it, but then it was a solution to all the poor work done by their sector of the market under Green Deal. Certain qualification authorities support it due to the demand for qualifications as a display of competence, even though it, again, comes with a lack of evidence that this is really the case in the domestic RMI market.
Our industry, beyond those who have a vested interested in qualifications, ignored the last review of PAS 2030 as it was deemed not relevant to most of our sector. And now we are being made to suffer from a standard with little relevance to the operations of an SME.
These requirements clearly need a review to ensure they work for all business types. Standards which judge competency of a fitter to undertake work need to relate to the level of the job they are doing and the complexity of the building environment in which the work is being undertaken. I believe it is reasonable to expect CPD learning, as long as it is delivered easily and is for the purpose of ensuring a good understanding of regulation and best practice method changes.
In broad terms, if competent work is always delivered by a business then the longevity of the business is somewhat immaterial to the customer as the job is going to be good. This reduces complaints to local authorities and claims against insurance policies.
Most installers within the domestic glazing market operate under a competent person scheme, and the requirements laid out by the Mandatory Technical Competencies (MTC) document and scheme interpretations of this.
The MTC review for the new requirements in late 2021 has just begun, and this will bring a number of issues for consideration. Competent person schemes are being asked to help shape the future requirements that will be asked for when giving installers the the ability to register work for building control compliance.
Due to our disconnection with PAS 2030 and single glazing inclusion within the Green Homes Grant Scheme, the work on glazing will be expedited. The pressure will only intensify as the drive to move glazing to a primary measure, a position we in Certass have been promoting, may stimulate greater demand.
There will be consideration in the MTC of the needs for compliance for future BEIS driven funding as well as what additions are required for working in high risk residential buildings, such as Grenfell.
All this means that we need our industry to come together and create a position that suits all those businesses who operate by the rules. Certass will be leading the charge for the SME, but we need others to consider more than just their shareholders’ funds when speaking about what our industry should be judged against.