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Rogue traders

Rogue traders who claimed to be roofers conned victims out of £85,000

John Harrop and Samuel Smith cold-called their victims after posting leaflets claiming to be professionally registered tradesmen working under the company name Advanced Rooflines.

Durham Crown Court heard yesterday how the pair would provide a quote for works to be carried out, before purposely causing damage and hiking up the bill.

Phillip Morley, prosecuting, said Harrop and Smith took a supervisory role and employed other, also unqualified, people to carry out the work.

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Tradesmen Recommendation Site

Guide to support you to know which tradesmen recommendation site to use

Always check for recommended reviews

Take your time to investigate the work and the portfolio

Contact the tradesman on the recommendation site

Ask lots of questions

Ensure you never pay anything upfront.

Ensure you look to get a receipt for the work

Make payments in stages

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How to become a qualified electrcian

Electrician Courses & Apprenticeships Explained

What qualifications do I need to become a Fully Qualified Electrician? 

It is important to note that not everyone has to become “Fully Qualified”. If you just want to work on domestic projects then there is no need, you can simply qualify as a domestic installer or domestic electrician. If you want to work on all kinds of work including commericial, agricultural, industrial and domestic then you will want to work towards being a fully qualified electrician.

If you want JIB grading as a fully qualified electrician you will need to complete both training at a college or training centre such as Trade Skills 4U plus an NVQ which is essentially a portfolio of work completed whilst working on site. 

If you are new to the industry there are 2 different routes to achieving “fully qualified” status and a 3rd route if you just want to carry out domestic installations but this 3rd route means you will not be classed as “fully qualified”:

The 3rd option to become a Domestic Electrical Installer means you can still start one of the first 2 routes at a later stage however if this is your intention then Routes 1 and 2 are going to be a cheaper and quicker options overall. 

Confused? Simply call 01293 529777 or 0800 856 4448 for simple clearcut advice.

Route 1 Explained  – Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma’s

For many looking to start out in the industry they can find themselves unable to find a job or work placement without any knowledge or experience. In fact most people that do an apprenticeship or work placement have often found it via someone they know such as a family member or close friend.

If like most you are not lucky enough to have such contacts the best way to break into the industry is to complete the Level 2 and 3 Diploma’s (Also known as Tech Certs or Technical Certificates) and then use this knowledge to gain a job in industry. Once you are working you can then complete your NVQ. We find that almost everyone who completes their Level 2 & 3 Diplomas with us finds employment in the field either during or after their course.

The great thing about this route is it is really open to all. It gives you a way to break into the industry and gain industry recognised qualifications without having to complete the NVQ or find a job first.

Route 2 Explained – The Apprenticeship

If you are lucky enough to find a work placement then you can complete your training and NVQ at the same time. However this is only possible if you have the breadth of work available to you that allows you to check off all the jobs you need to complete. Typically to complete an apprenticehsip will take 2-4 years and you will not gain the full qualification once your NVQ is complete.

As an apprentice you will start learning at Level 3 which for some can make this route a bit harder at first. However it is likely that as you are working in the industry you can spread your learning over a longer period of time.

Trade Skills 4U can help you register on an apprenticeship matching service, however please note that we recommend you take as much action as possible trying to find a placement direct with employers. This means calling them up and sending out CV’s to as many potential employers as possible.

Route 3 – Domestic Electrical Installer Route

This third route is equally valid and open to anyone. You are able to train as a Domestic Electrical Installer and register as such with one of the Domestic Installer Schemes like NICEIC or ELECSA etc. This means you can get out there and get earning in a much shorter space of time compared with the “fully qualified” route however your work will be limited to residential installations such as flats, houses, bungalows and the like. You will be able to work on anything from and including the consumer unit coming into a property. For many electricians despite being fully qualified they often find the most lucrative jobs are in this sector.


What is a National Vocational Qualification and how does it work?

The NVQ is now part of the new Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment. It’s not a training course, it’s an assessment qualification. After completing your 9 practical and theory training units you move onto ‘on site assessments’ the NVQ. Whichever route you take if you want to be fully qualified then at some point you will need to complete the NVQ. If you take route 1 then you will at some point simply transfer into Route 2.

The idea of an NVQ is that you work alongside a more experienced electrician who will guide you through certain tasks that are detailed in the NVQ document (i.e. installing metal conduit, or installing a phase 3 board)

As you undertake the various tasks you’ll take photos and write a few lines about what you have done, this is called evidence.

We will send along an assessor to visit you in your workplace to assess evidence of you gaining skills and experience and complete your portfolio (folder) of work.

When the tasks in the NVQ document are assessed and you have completed all the necessary skills and tasks, you have then formally completed your NVQ. It’s worth noting, if your firm is very active in all sorts of electrical installation, you’ll gather evidence more quickly, and so you’ll complete more quickly.

You then move onto the AM2 to complete your NVQ Diploma. 

The AM2 (Achievement Measurement no. 2) is your final assessment. It’s literally a practical exam with an assessor watching you complete given tasks at an assessment centre, under exam conditions.

It takes a couple of days and on successful completion, that’s it, all done, congratulations, you’re a fully qualified electrician, with a Diploma no less!

City & Guilds &  EAL seem to do the same courses, which is best?

Frankly there is no best, both are sponsored and well respected within the industry. They contain the same content, but are slightly different in how they are assessed and tested and delivered by us, from your perspective you’d barely know the difference, it’s down to merely which brand you prefer, though some funding organisations may insist on one or the other, so we need to check that for you.

Both Diplomas’ are the new diploma qualifications brought out within the last 2 years, so very much the latest versions.

Whichever Diploma you choose to do and we can help you decide. Call 01293 529777 for advice.

Both enable you to become an electrician; they do exactly the same thing.

NVQ only?

Can you do the NVQ on its own? Since the start of 2014 the only option to complete the NVQ on it’s own is to transfer into route 2. You now only do this if you have previous qualifications that map into this NVQ. for more information on this please see this dedicated page.

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Home improvements add value to properties but what offers the best value?

Making living spaces open-plan and converting your loft are the top renovations that will increase the value of your home, according to a survey by Anglian Home Improvements.

Interestingly, when asked what home improvements they think add the most value to a property, only two per cent of respondents said that creating open-plan living space would give the biggest boost to value.

Here are the home improvements which add the most value:

● Creating open-plan living space: adds an average of £46,504

● Loft conversion: adds an average of £24,255

● Extension: adds an average of £6,456

● New kitchen: adds an average of £3,509

● Conservatory: adds an average of £3,155

And what do Brits think are the best ways to add value?

● Extension: 27 per cent

● New kitchen: 25 per cent

● Loft conversion: 15 per cent

● New windows: 8 per cent

● New front door: 7 per cent

Why are homeowners carrying out home improvements?

A separate study for the Post Office Money revealed the motivations behind home improvements. It found that while only five per cent of people had carried out improvements because they planned to move in the near future, 28 per cent admitted they had done so because they thought it would be a good investment and add value to their property.

Chrysanthy Pispinis, of Post Office Money, said: “Over the past few years, house price growth has slowed, so homeowners have turned to other options to add value to their homes – with renovations being a clear opportunity.”

But others simply wanted to update their home or carry out improvements that would enhance their quality of life.

The proportion of homeowners carrying out improvements has fallen by 10 per cent since 2016, but the amount people are spending has increased from an average of £12,000 then to £14,015 now, according to the Post Office Money research.

Nearly three-quarters of homeowners used savings to fund the work on their property, while 18 per cent used a loan or credit card and seven per cent increased their mortgage or took out an equity release product.


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Need a plumber, electrician, or roofer? Find a trader who’s up to the mark

Finding the right tradespeople can be a real challenge. The most common complaints are around poor quality of work and a general lack of professionalism resulting in electrical problems and structural issues.

According to Ombudsman Services, a not-for-profit, privately run company, the “rogue trader” issue is exacerbated by the fact that six in 10 homeowners fail to check credentials before commissioning work.

Getting a personal recommendation from someone you trust is normally the best way of finding a reliable tradesperson. But if that doesn’t work, where else can you go?

Many local authorities run their own “trusted trading schemes” with lists of plumbers, roofers, electricians and others who have all been strictly vetted by trading standards. You can use the postcode search at the Trading Standards website to find a scheme in your area.Advertisement

Consumer organisation Which? operates Which? Local. Only Which? members can post reviews which are all verified for authenticity. Average price and job completion data are also included. The drawback? You have to join Which? to access the site at £1 for the first month and then £10.75 a month.

You can also use TrustMark to find tradespeople operating to government-endorsed standards. Again, enter your postcode, choose the type of trader and the database is searched within 50 miles.

TrustMark (consumer helpline 01344 630 804) is a not-for-profit organisation, licensed by government and supported by consumer protection groups. All firms carrying the TrustMark logo and featured on the website, are required to have their technical skills independently checked through regular on-site inspections.

But always remember, however you find a trader, always check their credentials. Even TrustMark, which, unlike many commercial directories, takes responsibility for the quality of work, warns: “Always check they are ‘licensed’ for all the trades/work you are asking them to carry out.

“This can be done on its website: search ‘trade’ then ‘company name’ and under ‘more information’ you will see ‘only’ the trades the firm is licensed for by TrustMark.”

Also check qualifications to make sure the person is able to complete your job safely and at a high standard. All those dealing with jobs involving gas, for example, must, by law, be registered with Gas Safe, formerly known as CORGI.

Similarly, “Part P” regulations need to be complied with to carry out most electrical work. Use competentperson.co.uk to find a local electrician registered with a government-approved scheme showing they work to the UK national safety standard (BS 7671) and will give you a safety certificate to confirm this.

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6 Common Plumbing Problems to Avoid a Catastrophe

Small plumbing problems can easily become catastrophes because, in many cases, you don’t know you have a problem until it’s too late. If you’re not diligent, a leaky faucet, a troublesome toilet or a clogged drain can lead to bigger, more serious issues.

Here are some of the areas you should keep an eye on now to avoid paying for major repairs down the road.

  1. Hot water heaters

Your first indication that your water heater is on the blink might hit you one morning when you try to take a relaxing, hot shower. Or when you step into a flooded garage or laundry room. Conventional hot water heaters usually last six to 12 years. Unless you have a tankless hot water heater, let professionals check out your situation at least once a year.

  1. Leaky pipes

Leaks are common year-round, not just during the winter. If you notice wet spots on the floor or ceiling, call in an expert right away. Leaky pipes have the potential to cause major damage to your home.

  1. Clogged drains

If you don’t absolutely know what you’re doing, fixing a clogged drain is probably something you should leave to experts.

You can also take a few simple steps to curtail drain problems in the first place.

“To avoid clogged drains, you might want to put a strainer on your kitchen and bathroom drains to prevent hair and other debris from getting into your pipes,” said Butch Bailey, owner of Lamar Plumbing in Corpus Christi.

“It’s also a good idea to avoid pouring grease down your drain. Instead, put it in a jar or can and then in the trash,” Bailey added.

  1. Running toilets

A faulty toilet can waste 200 gallons of water a day. In the long run, you’ll save money on your water bill if you call an experienced plumber to fix any number of problems that might be keeping the tank of your toilet from filling up.

  1. Dripping faucets

In many cases, you can fix a dripping faucet by replacing a seal or washer. Or you can call an expert plumber, who will take care of the leak and eliminate the shock and pain of an unusually high water bill.

  1. Faulty hoses

How many times have you dragged your hose out of the garage or shed in early spring, hooked it to faucet and turned it on, only to find that winter temperatures have damaged the hose or the faucet? If you’re lucky, you can solve this problem by buying a new hose. If you’re not, you might need to have a plumber take a look at your outdoor faucet.

While you can address some of your plumbing woes on your own, the money you save might end up going right down the drain if larger issues aren’t identified and repaired. In most cases, your best option is to let an expert handle your plumbing problems.


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Contractor insurance – which one do you need?

Having the right contractor insurance not only demonstrates professionalism but also your care and commitment to keeping your clients property safe. Whether you’re a plumber, a joiner, or a handyman; you could be staking a huge financial wager by not having the right cover in place.


So what are the most important covers to consider as a contractor? And how would they protect you if something unexpected happened?

Liability insurance

There are two main types of liability insurance to consider. Public liability insurance ensures that you’re protected against accidental damage to customers’ property and can also protect you financially against claims for third party injuries deemed to be caused by you or your business.

Employers’ liability insurance is required by law if you hire staff, even if they are part time or temporary. Site workers can be at greater risk of accidents due to the nature of the work they do, particularly when working with plant and machinery. Having this cover in place can protect your business against the financial exposure of employers’ liability claims and usually offers up to £10M protection as standard.

Tool and equipment cover

You’re probably reliant on a number of tools – handheld, power tools or equipment that you use daily. Depending on the nature of your work, these could be quite costly and hard to replace. If your business equipment is of any value then you need tool insurance to protect it against the unexpected. Theft of tools can be particularly common; especially when left in commercial vehicles overnight. This cover can often be added to your insurance policy, subject to some security conditions.

Personal accident cover

Being self-employed comes with many perks; but one of the downsides is that you are responsible for your own absence and sick pay. One or two days off may not have much of a financial impact, but if you broke a limb leaving you sofa bound for a few weeks, your income could take quite a hit. Personal accident cover as part of your contractor insurance can offer a set amount to substitute your weekly income in the event of an injury. So if you’re a roofer or builder working on site or in any other high risk trade such as window cleaning, you should consider including this cover in your contractor insurance policy. Considering this, you probably now realize why you need contractor insurance.

Commercial legal expenses

As careful as you may be, accidents happen and things can go wrong along the way. If you’re taken to court, legal costs in defending yourself could rapidly rise. Commercial legal protection could take care of these costs, and can also protect you against a number of other scenarios as well. For instance, if you’re subject to a tax or VAT investigation, these costs could be covered by your legal protection insurance. It can also help to protect you against employment disputes and commercial tenancy disputes as well.

Professional indemnity insurance

If you’re an IT contractor or business consultant  or giving advice in your professional capacity, you should consider this cover in case someone suffers a financial loss as a result of your recommendations.

Commercial vehicle insurance

Most contractors will use a van daily to get to and from work and carry their equipment. Whatever work you do, if you use your van for business purposes then you need commercial vehicle insurance to protect you on the road.

Compare contractor insurance

Premier BusinessCare can help you arrange insurance to protect you against a number of risks. You can compare contractors insurance quotes online for property maintenance insurancecleaning business insurance, gardeners insurance, painter and decorators insurance and much more.

If your needs are more complex or you’re looking for some expert recommendations, then give us a call. Our agents are on hand to provide advice on all your commercial insurance needs.


Contractor Insurance


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7 Renovation Projects to Tackle in 2019 That Can Add Value to Your Home

7 Renovation Projects to Tackle in 2019 That Can Add Value to Your Home

1. Valuable Kitchen Renovations

The kitchen is the heart of many homes, but is yours feeling a bit lifeless? Consider a kitchen renovation! With carefully chosen colours and finishes, a renovation will help breathe life into this space. As an added bonus, well-planned kitchen renovations are can increase the value of your home offer a return of 6-10% on the sale price.

Kitchen Renovation

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You can choose between large and small renovations to suit your needs and your budget. If the layout feels out of date, take the opportunity for a major renovation that allows you to change the space and make it more helpful. A full kitchen remodel allows you to embrace new trends in your shelving, appliances and fixtures!

Open shelves are going to be a big trend in 2019, allowing you to display your dishes and kitchen wares in a natural way. If you already have these shelves in place, think about incorporating one of the warm natural colours sure to be popular in the upcoming year.

Countertops and the backsplash are fantastic ways to change the look of your entire kitchen without replacing cupboards! Metallic accents will be popular this year in shades of copper and brass, and will be a great touch in your kitchen renovation!

2. Updating Your Yard with Landscaping

Although it may not be temperate right now, you can always start planning an update to your home’s exterior! Plus, by thinking early you can always book your trades now to ensure you are ready to start when the weather is warmer!

The big theme for 2019 when it comes to your garden will be creating an oasis. Take the opportunity with landscaping to create spaces you look forward to spending time in. This includes both the low maintenance plants sure to be trendy this year as well as using natural wooden furniture for your secret hideaway. As the year unfolds, you’ll be glad for the retreat. If you’re not big on space, consider containers to introduce your plants into the areas you do have in a fresh and engaging way.

3. Take Advantage of a Loft Renovation

Turn the unused space in a loft into something useful! This adds to your property value, especially if you add a bedroom or two by converting this space. Lofts can also be great spaces to include a home office. Regardless of the purpose for this space, it’s sure to add welcome value for your home.

Warm neutral paint colours, sure to be a trend for 2019, will be welcome in your loft conversion. Choose a shade that will transform the loft into a cosy space, regardless of the intended purpose. Remember that a conversion allows you to incorporate modern technology, so consider energy efficiency with LED lighting to brighten up the space.

4. Refresh Your Entry

2019 home trends

Although you use it nearly every day, your front entry may be a bit neglected. Change that this year with an upgrade! This adds to your property value by increasing its appeal from the street. Plus, replacing your entry doors is a great way to keep your home efficient. A good, properly installed door helps block the cold and keep your home running smoothly.

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Paint is an easy way to accent your home with 2019 new ideas. Consider a colour that contrasts with your home’s exterior for real impact, or choose 2019’s deep forest green to stay on trend.

5. Freshen Up Your Exterior

The outside of your home is just as important as the interior! A well-planned update increases property value and offers an aesthetic upgrade. Options include paint and siding, but don’t forget about brick refacing! All of these will be popular in 2019 with new profiles and colours to choose from. You can make your exterior the best on the block!

Choose timeless colours so this isn’t a fix you want to change by the end of the year. It can be a costly and time-consuming project, so you want to make the right choice the first time. A neutral palette will be popular in 2019, sure to match existing windows or shutters.

Another great 2019 trend will be to bring the indoors out! Make a patio feel like an extension of your home with cushions, rugs, and even outdoor firepit to make this homey and ready for the spring!

Or consider adding a deck for even more value. It’s a fantastic way to improve the value of your home and extend your living space. Consider using a composite material over wood to reduce the amount of upkeep you’ll have in the space. This enables you to spend more time enjoying your deck and less time with maintenance!

6. Bathroom Remodelling

Just like the kitchen, a bathroom remodel can range from minor improvements to major renovations to give you better property value. Examine your space to see where updates are most needed. The surround, fixtures, sink and tile are common focuses for an update that offers a great return.

But if you have good fixtures, reuse them! Then you can spend on the luxurious, like updating to modern shower doors or installing a high-value waterfall faucet in a trendy finish like black matte (sure to be popular in 2019!). Reglazing a tub can save you thousands and easily return the value on your efforts.

Bathroom Remodelling

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A bathroom lasts for a long time, so stick with timeless choices for this space. Instead, introduce 2019’s trends in less permanent ways. Living coral, 2019’s colour of the year, can be perfect as a pop of colour that can easily be repainted in favour of a new option in the future.

7. Replace Your Old Windows

Energy efficiency is always popular, especially when it comes to your home improvements! This renovation can drastically increase your home value. Properly installed and sealed will help keep your home warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.

For 2019, trends come in modern styles and classic designs with an update. Think of windows with lattice, but built with modern features like casements so you can get the classic look but modern convenience. You’ll have options to suit the style of your home so everything blends together for the perfect exterior look

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Top Tips – When hiring a tradesman

Are you about to hire a tradesman to work in your home or garden?

Whether the job is big or small, there are certain steps we advise you to take. For your own protection, please take a few minutes to read this advice. Following these guidelines could save you time, money and a lot of stress.

When employing a tradesman you are advised

To follow best practice and:

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief – requesting at least three quotes.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations and check the TrustMark Online Directory to ensure the tradesperson is registered for the particular services you require.
  • Use a business that advertises using a landline telephone number and be very wary of those only willing to provide a mobile number.
  • Seek references, speak to previous customers and if possible, visit previous jobs.
  • Don’t just select the cheapest.  Consider how you would communicate with the business representatives, as well as the quality of their work.
  • Only pay for work that has been completed and not in advance, unless using a service like the TrustMark escrow service which releases funds to the tradesperson at key project milestones.
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesperson, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses.
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong and a dispute arises.
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value before the work is completed.

On the 13 June 2014 the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 SI 2013 No. 3134 came into force.

These regulations now apply to contracts concluded on or after 13 June 2014. On this date, the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and the Off Premises (Doorstep) Regulations 2008 were revoked.

Important information

Many of the information provisions are already required by existing legislation and will be familiar to businesses. However some are new, some examples include:

  • Schedule 1 to the regulations lists the information to be provided for on-premises contracts,
  • Schedule 2 to the regulations lists the information to be provided for distance and off-premises contracts
  • Where cancellation rights exist, all distance and off-premises sellers covered by the regulations will need to provide the cancellation form in Schedule 3.

How do I know a tradesman is trustworthy?

If a business is TrustMark registered, it is working to a Code of Conduct set down by an approved Scheme Provider.  This stipulates the standards they are required to work to, the legislation they must adhere to and the levels of customer service and trading practices that TrustMark demands.

What standards of workmanship can I expect?

TrustMark Registered Businesses are checked and monitored against recognised British, international or industry standards. We ensure you receive a good standard of workmanship and that any complaint will be treated fairly if there is a problem. If you are unhappy with the service you have received from a TrustMark Registered Business, please see further guidance here

How do I know the firm is financially sound?

A Registered Businesses’ trading record and financial position is checked when they first join TrustMark, however such checks cannot guarantee a business will not hit financial difficulties.  For this reason, we insist all Registered Businesses provide a warranty that provides increased protection if the firm goes out of business.  

Who checks up on these tradesmen?

TrustMark’s approved Scheme Providers (which include trade associations, local authorities / Trading Standards, certification inspection schemes and commercial organisations) check the performance of all the businesses that join TrustMark through them.

So who checks up on the approved Scheme Providers?

We do. The TrustMark team monitors approved Scheme Providers on behalf of the TrustMark Board. The Board reviews each approved Scheme Provider’s performance, taking into account an independent assessment of the quality of their work, how they handle complaints, and so on.

What is your top home improvement plan for 2019?