Article for Progress Magazine by: Federation of Master Builders

Builders have a duty to do everything they can to provide peace of mind to the homeowners who employ them. From the consumer’s perspective, hiring a builder to carry out even a fairly minor job can be stressful and the fear of having a bad experience can result in homeowners sitting on their hands. FMB research has shown that £6 billion of refurbishment work a year is lost due to consumers being too anxious to carry out projects for fear of hiring a dodgy builder.

Central to the response to this anxiety involves addressing two key issues – protecting consumers by reducing their exposure to risk and having protection in place for when things do go wrong.

Reducing consumer exposure to ‘rogue traders’ is very much the industry holy grail and the FMB and NHIC share this ambition. The FMB goes the extra mile by putting in place stringent vetting and inspection procedures for prospective and existing members that radically reduce the chances of consumers falling foul of a dodgy firm.

On joining, a Master Builder must have been trading for a minimum of 12 months; pass an independent inspection by the British Board of Agreement; have public and employers’ liability insurance; and pass credit and director checks. Since 2011, all new members have passed an independent inspection before joining and from 2015 all members are being inspected every three years. All of these checks ensure that the FMB badge really means something – it is the sign of building quality.

Clearly, the best protection for a consumer is to hire a quality firm in the first place. However, the FMB offers further support to homeowners by providing our members with accessible, plain-English contract for projects. Whichever builder a consumer hires, they should always insist on using a written contract – even for a relatively small job.

That said, even the best builders make mistakes, which is why it’s also crucial to have robust insurance policies in place. These will mitigate against anything going wrong whether you’re building a new home or commissioning an existing home.
You wouldn’t go on holiday without purchasing travel insurance so why would you commission a £20,000 extension without insurance?

The importance of builders being able to provide affordable, comprehensive insurance cover is why the FMB set up an insurance arm almost 40 years ago. FMB Insurance (FMBIS) now offers a wide range of warranties and policies that grant both builders and their clients, complete peace of mind. Since FMBIS exists to support FMB members, it means that clients of Master Builders can secure themselves significant discounts on their policies, without any compromise on the comprehensiveness of the coverage. Whether it be Contract Works Insurance for an extension or loft conversion, or New Build Home Insurance for self-builders, FMBIS provides vital protection to consumers and with it, complete peace of mind.

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