Which qualifications does your builder have?

Most of us will have no idea what qualifications builders have. We invite people, for a number of different reasons, into our homes to work on our most expensive assets and yet, we don’t know whether they are qualified to do so.

Is this madness??

I am currently doing some work for the Construction Industry Training Board on training for construction professionals at NVQ Level 3. Looking at the qualifications from Level 1 up to 3 it does seem that anyone holding Level 2 should be able to do most things on more recent housing stock. So why do we see so many mistakes with common building work?

Last year I was speaking to Cardiff and Vale College and it seems as though a common occurrence is that people start their Level 1 (this represents a basic understanding of the topic and the main basic key skills), but only a relatively small percentage come back to do their Level 2 (this represents the industry standard – what people need to know to be able to do their jobs properly). Where do they all go? Well it seems that some decide that it is not for them, but many others start work.

So in this country we have the ridiculous situation where anyone can put a Builder logo on the side of a van and start trading as a legitimate business. No need for a qualification, no need to show that you understand how buildings work or that you can undertake the more complicated work with confidence, competence and skill.

In other countries you have to have a qualification to build, but not here. So bear this in mind when looking for a builder. Also the marks associated with FMB and NFB are worth noting. They do require a portfolio of work to be seen in order to join, but no official qualifications. So there is some reassurance here, but again no training.

Whilst there are some issues with the standard training, especially since we don’t recognise the differences between modern building materials and practices compared to the historical ones required for lots of refurbishment work, it is the best way of at least having an underlying competence. So look for a minimum of NVQ Level 2 for standard works, a Level 3 for more complex requirements and a Level 3 Heritage Skills qualification for work on pre-1919 buildings. If there are no qualifications to be had, then look for a portfolio of work and references.

Good luck!