Changing for the better

Jon Vanstone, Chair of Certass Trade Association, discusses his recent appointment as Chair Elect of the National Home Improvement Council, and explains why new changes should be seen as a good thing for our sector…

With all the changes to Building Regulations happening now, it’s understandable that a lot of professionals in our industry are concerned about the future of compliance and enforcement.

With the recent introduction of the measures laid out in The Building Safety Act 2022, we’re seeing more and more levies placed on installers and tradespeople at a time when things are looking less than certain. 

In essence, it’s beginning to seem like we have a ‘compliance tax’ within our sector. Those who are investing the most time and energy into bettering their adherence to best practices and pre-empting the safety measures laid out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), are finding themselves between a rock and a hard place. The industry is growing increasingly competitive, and it seems these new measures are costing us money and valuable jobs. 

When it appears that you’re being punished for doing your work correctly; it’s easy to see why tradespeople are losing more and more faith in the regulatory bodies and the sector. It’s something that has been concerning me a lot in recent months. 

New beginnings
This is why I’m excited to share that I have now been named as Chair-Elect of the National Home Improvement Council (NHIC), ahead of taking up the position properly as of July 2023. 

What we all need to remember is that the new measures being implemented by the HSE as Building Safety Regulator (BSR) are designed by their very nature to help the industry.

These measures are here to drive a new future for competence in the industry. Competence really is one of the key issues here. Consumer faith in the home improvement market is at a historic low and it needs to be remedied. 

By providing clear, reliable evidence of our competence as a sector, we can begin to slowly rebuild a reputation for delivering great work, safely. 

The role will give me more opportunities to meet with key figures from both Government and Regulatory bodies, those who influence how rules are changed and implemented. It also allows me to have those necessary conversations that allow us to be reflected and represented at higher levels of the legislature. 

An uncertain market?
Currently, we’re seeing the home improvement sector and overall property market enter strange times. More homeowners are opting not to move, but improve. 

It’s crucial that, in a time where residents opt for more and more home improvement projects, we’re taking advantage of the work available, whilst taking steps to improve our standing as an overall industry.

Many companies fear that the new regulation will mean they have a target on their backs. This simply isn’t the case. What we really need is stricter control and more oversight as to how traders are operating. This will keep those few bad apples accountable, and drive standards up for the rest of us.

A new future for competence
By its very nature, once an industry makes steps towards regulation and improving its standards overall, the cowboys will move on. Those few traders who have coasted along the post-pandemic boom period with shoddy work and contempt for the industry aren’t long for this new world. 

We need to help ourselves. Hold ourselves to a higher account than we have previously. This won’t be easy, but only by pulling our own socks up and committing to the new frameworks laid out by the BSR will we help to improve the industry, and slowly rebuild some of that confidence in our sector that has been dwindling for so long. 

One thing that certainly requires improvement is the glazing sector’s culture. Many among us would think it democratic that the industry’s driving factor is competitive pricing, but this only worsens the issues we face. Suppliers racing to keep costs low to attract new business only drive the idea that price is all that matters. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to refocus on delivering the best work, accountably and safely. Let the cowboys fight it out over low-cost jobs and squabble over the pennies. By focusing on delivering great work for our customers with the best products, you’ll have nothing to worry about. 

The goals and guidelines for the future are clear; the NHIC’s 5Cs of repair, maintenance and home improvement: Carbon, Consumer, Compliance, Competency and Connection, set out a strong pathway to support members to have a better understanding of the changes that are coming. We’re all in this together.

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