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What's in a badge?

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 19:31 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

When it comes to creating your dream home, finding the right style is the easy part. But choosing electricians, plumbers and builders who you can trust can be more of a headache.

Many tradespeople display badges and logos in their adverts and on the side of their vans. And while some can show they are qualified to do certain jobs, others are practically meaningless.

The fact is there are dozens of legitimate trade associations, quality marks and schemes out there, but does anyone know how to spot them and what they all mean?

We sent Rhodri to meet some real consumers to find out if they can navigate the world of trades people's logos.

But Rhodri's turn as an odd-job man wasn't enough to convince Zoe and Darren Hughes from Crofty on the Gower.

The couple are in the middle of a massive renovation project, turning a run down three-bedroom property into their ideal home - so have a lot of experience choosing trades people.

Zoe told Rhodri about what they've been through so far.

"It's been a absolute nightmare, dust, mess, builders, more mess and more dust," she said.

So how did they find the right people for the job?

"It's local people we know of, and we can trust really," Zoe explained. "But we do also look for qualifications as well as recommendations."

Choosing a tradesperson with the right logo could even save you some cash. Tradesmen who are part of the government's competent persons schemes can be very useful.

Being part of one of these schemes means they're qualified to meet building regulations and can self-certify their own work, so you don't have to pay extra to get the council to sign off the work.

But not all badges mean that work can be self-certified. Others show that your tradesman is a member of a trade association. And some have stricter memberships and assessments than others.

For example, even within the Federation of Master Builders there are two tiers of quality control.

Members at the lower level have to agree to a code of practice. But at the higher level members have to undergo an inspection every three years.

Rhodri set Zoe and Darren a challenge. Armed with lots of logos which you might see on trades people's vans, he asked them to identify which was which.

The couple correctly identified FENSA, which has the biggest competent person scheme in the area of window fitting.

But they didn't recognise the GGF logo, which stands for the Glass and Glazing Federation. The GGF is actually a trade association rather than a competent person scheme.

While FENSA will deal with the technical aspect of the window fitting, the GGF can deal with a wide range of customer complaints, so it might be a good idea to see if your window fitter carries both logos.

Next the couple looked at the Corgi logo, a familiar image to many, and one which has long been associated with gas fitting. It's a legal requirement for anyone working with gas appliances to be part of that scheme.

But as of 1 April 2009 Corgi is being replaced by the Gas Safe Register. So, in future, all trades people who work with gas fittings or appliances will be legally required to join this new register, meaning there's another important logo to look out for.

After the challenge Zoe and Darren was surprised at the range of different logos and the various things they can tell you about your tradesman.

Zoe told Rhodri: "There were a couple that were obvious, that we have seen before, but there were one or two that needed a bit of guess work, trying to guess what the letters meant.

"But we have found a few that we will be looking out for in future."




APHC (Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors)
Area: Plumbing and Heating
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.competentpersonsscheme.co.uk


Building Engineering Services Competence Accreditation Ltd
Area: Heating and Ventilation
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.besca.org.uk


Area: Glazing
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.certass.co.uk


Area: Electrics
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.elecsa.co.uk


BSI (British Standards Institution) - Kitemark
Area: Multi-area
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.kitemark.com


Area: Glazing
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.fensa.org.uk


FMB (Federation of Master Builders)
Area: Building work
Type: Trade Association
Website: www.fmb.org.uk


GGF (Glass and Glazing Federation)
Area: Glazing
Type: Trade Association
Website: www.ggf.co.uk


Gas Safe Register
Area: Gas
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.gassaferegister.co.uk


HVCA (The Heating and Ventilation Contractors' Association)
Area: Heating and Ventilation
Type: Trade Association
Website: www.hvca.org.uk


Napit (National Association Of Professional Inspectors and Testers)
Area: Multi-area (electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation)
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.napit.org.uk


Area: Electrics
Type: Competent Persons Scheme
Website: www.niceic.org.uk/


Area: Multi-area
Type: Government-backed initiative endorsing reputable trade associations, certification bodies and other organisations
Website: trustmark.org.uk


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