Setting Up A General Builder Business
General builders typically carry out property repairs, refurbishments, renovations and improvements and also new house builds for homeowners. They also carry out repairs to and refurbishments of commercial properties such as shops, pubs, hotels, buy-to-let properties and small industrial buildings. Other general builders specialise in loft conversions and kitchen and bathroom renovations. Some builders also carry out contract work, for example for local authorities, housing associations, architects, larger building firms and work on behalf of loss assessors, which includes the renovation of properties following major floods.
This profile provides information about starting up and trading as a builder. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.
The 2020 coronavirus outbreak and resulting Government restrictions have had an impact on all UK business sectors. Appropriate advice should be sought to understand how the outbreak has affected builders trading in the UK.
Qualifications and skills
There are no qualifications legally required to start up or trade as a builder, and most of the skills needed by anyone setting up this type of business are usually gained through previous experience in the construction sector. In addition to prior experience and proficiency in a particular building trade (such as bricklaying or plastering), the proprietor of a building firm will benefit from training in project management, estimating, bid writing and staff supervision.
However, formal qualifications are needed to become competent to self-certify work within the scope of building regulations, or to enter and work on construction sites, as follows:
- Under the Building Regulations 2010 (as amended) in England and Wales and equivalent regulations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, building work carried out in residential properties may need to be notified to local authority building control departments or self-certified by a registered ‘competent person’ who is accredited under a competent person scheme to confirm that the work complies with the Regulations.Registration with a competent person scheme is voluntary. However, to be eligible for registration, builders must join an approved certification body, which requires them to meet competency standards. This is usually demonstrated by undertaking formal training in the type of work that they carry out and passing an assessment. There is more information about competent person schemes in the Trading, commercial and legal issues section of this profile.
- Most major house builders and principal contractors require builders working on construction sites to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, for which, as a minimum, they must pass a health and safety test (www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/health-and-safety-test/) and hold, or be working towards, a Level 2 or 3 N/SVQ (www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/).
The following courses are suitable for anyone intending to start up and run a small building firm:
- Free webinars provided by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), covering topics such as business expenses, self-assessment online, VAT, self-employment and becoming an employer. Go to www.gov.uk/government/collections/hmrc-webinars-email-alerts-and-videos for further information.
- The one-day Introduction to Buying course run by PTP, which covers topics such as negotiation skills and understanding value and costs. It is delivered regularly at training centres across the UK and costs £450 (excluding VAT). Go to www.ptp.co.uk/training-courses/introduction-to-buying for further information.
- Contracts of Employment, Recruitment and Selection, which is a distance-learning course run by Stonebridge College that may benefit builders who are new to recruiting staff. The course costs £110. Go to www.stonebridge.uk.com/course/contracts-of-employment-recruitment-and-selection-byte-size for information.
- The CIOB Level 4 Diploma in Construction Site Management, which is an online course costing £324 that covers a range of topics such as project control and monitoring, estimating and measuring work, contractual and legal responsibilities, and managing sub-contractors. Go to www.reed.co.uk/courses/ciob-level-4-certificate-and-diploma-in-site-management/192127 for more details.
- A one-day Fundamentals of Supervisor Skills course run by Activia Training, which costs from £249 (excluding VAT), depending on the date and venue. The course is available throughout England and covers defining supervisory roles and responsibilities, communication skills, managing conflict, dealing with difficult employees and time management (www.activia.co.uk/management/fundamentals-of-supervisor-skills).
- The online Level 1 Award in Construction Management: Cost Estimation run by Inspire London College, which may be useful for builders and covers the cost estimation process, types of cost estimation and factors influencing construction costs. The course requires 80 hours’ study and usually costs £250, although significant discounts may be available (www.reed.co.uk/courses/construction-management–construction-cost-estimation/224027).
- The Online Working at Height Training Course, which is run by High Speed Training and costs £25 (excluding VAT). The course helps employers to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005 by covering key topics such as undertaking a working at height risk assessment, using equipment safely and ensuring that employees take steps to minimise their risk of a fall. Go to www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/health-and-safety/online-working-at-heights-course.aspx for details.
- One-day courses in bid writing, which are run by Thornton & Lowe at a range of locations across the UK and cost around £300. The courses may be useful for builders intending to bid for public sector contracts. Go to https://thorntonandlowe.com/training/category/bid-writing-course/ for more information.
- Learn to Succeed at Social Marketing, which is a free online course with six chapters run by Hootsuite Podium. Topics covered include optimising social media profiles (on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube), developing a social media strategy, building an online community and creating online content that will engage followers’ attention. Go to https://education.hootsuite.com/collections for more information.
- Consumer Rights Training for Retailers – Services, which is a 35-minute online course provided by iHasco that costs £25 (excluding VAT). The course briefly explains the Consumer Rights Act 2015, what it applies to and how it relates to services. Other topics covered include handling customer complaints, fair wording of terms and conditions (Ts and Cs), notices and contracts, and handling disputes, including alternative dispute resolution (www.ihasco.co.uk/courses/detail/consumer-rights-for-retailers-services).
Builders often take on trainees as apprentice bricklayers, builders or joiners. The builder is required to provide the apprentice with appropriate training and mentoring. There are various specific construction apprenticeships covering skills such as bricklaying, plastering, roofing and site supervision. Funding is available towards the cost of training, depending upon the apprentice’s age and where in the UK the builder is based.
Go to www.gov.uk/guidance/construction-apprenticeships for more information about construction apprenticeships in England.
For more general information about apprenticeships, go to:
- England (www.gov.uk/take-on-an-apprentice).
- Wales (www.careerswales.com/employers/server.php?show=nav.9829).
- Scotland (www.apprenticeships.scot/take-on-an-apprentice).
- Northern Ireland (www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/apprenticeships-explained-employers).
Industry awareness and product knowledge
Builders can keep up to date with news and developments in their sector and improve their awareness of trends by attending events and reading trade journals and industry resources, including:
- Professional Builder (http://probuildermag.co.uk), which is an online resource that includes product and equipment reviews, best practice building tips, and news and information.
- ‘Housebuilder’ (www.house-builder.co.uk), which is an online and print magazine that includes news about the major house builders in the UK, details of events, product reviews and information about award schemes.
- ‘Building’ (www.building.co.uk), which is a digital and print journal for the building and construction industry that is published weekly and provides news and information, market analysis and product and equipment reviews.
- ‘Construction News’ (www.cnplus.co.uk), which is a weekly journal for the building and construction industry that provides news and information, special features for small construction businesses and details of contracting opportunities.
- Magazines and websites, such as ‘Homebuilding and Renovating’ (www.homebuilding.co.uk), which provide news and analysis of issues affecting the general building and renovation sectors, as well as updates about new products and legislation.
- The Homebuilding & Renovating Show (www.homebuildingshow.co.uk), which is a four-day event held at the NEC, Birmingham each March and September. It provides opportunities to attend seminars and talks from industry experts. A shorter version of the show is held at various locations across the UK, including Scotland, Yorkshire, Somerset and Surrey, on various dates during the year.
- Online forums, which provide opportunities to share best practice and discuss issues with other builders and industry professionals. Examples include www.contractortalk.com/index.php and www.diynot.com/diy/forums/building.
Key market issues and trends
Current market issues affecting start-up and established builders include the following:
- Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in July 2018 revealed that output in the construction industry (the amount charged to customers by construction firms) grew month-on-month in the last two months of 2017 to reach a record high in December, when it was 31.5% higher than the lowest point recorded during the previous five years, which was in May 2013. However, construction output fell by 1.7% in the three months to May 2018, the third such consecutive fall. The amount of new construction work fell by 2.5% month-on-month in May 2018, while repair and maintenance work grew by 7.3% (www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/constructionindustry/bulletins/constructionoutputingreatbritain/may2018).
- In recent years, the Government has announced various initiatives to encourage house building in the UK, which could lead to increasing opportunities for builders. For example, in August 2017, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a £54 million package to support local authorities to release more land for house building (www.local.gov.uk/about/news/funding-boosts-local-authorities-transform-local-communities-and-release-land-new-homes).
- Small and medium-sized construction firms are continuing to grow despite an increase in the cost of materials, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The ‘State of Trade Survey’ for Q1 2018 revealed that smaller builders’ workloads rose slightly in the first three months of 2018, although at a slower rate than in the previous quarter. The Q1 2018 results mean that smaller construction firms have now enjoyed five consecutive years of growth. However, 58% of FMB members reported they were struggling to hire quality bricklayers, 55% said they were having trouble finding carpenters and joiners and 40% were struggling to hire plumbers (www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/newsroom/small-builders-resilient-despite-material-price-hikes and www.fmb.org.uk/media/39641/fmb_state_of_trade_q1_2018.pdf).
- The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has projected that average output in construction will grow by 1.3% annually between 2018 and 2022, with 158,000 new jobs predicted over the same period. In the ‘Construction Skills Network Forecasts 2018-2020’ report, the CITB highlights that infrastructure and housing are the strongest-performing sectors and forecasts that employment will grow by 0.5% on average per year to 2022, equating to 2.77 million people working in construction – just 3% below the previous peak reached in 2008 (www.citb.co.uk/news-events/uk/2018/construction-set-for-growth-despite-brexit-uncertainty).
- More than 390,000 planning permissions were granted for new homes in 2017, an increase of 18% when compared to 2016, according to a joint report published by the Home Builders Federation and construction data firm Glenigan. The ‘Housing Pipeline Report 2017’ also revealed that the number of planning permissions granted for private housing increased by 7% and permissions for social housing increased by 27% (www.hbf.co.uk/news/record-planning-permissions-show-house-builders-investment-continuing-rise).
- The Small Sites, Small Builders programme, which will make publicly owned sites accessible to small homebuilders to boost the capital’s small homebuilders sector and increase the supply of new and affordable homes, is to be piloted in London. Initially 10 small sites will be developed, with capacity for between 2 and 42 homes to create 111 new houses, 68% of them affordable. Smaller builders will bid to develop the sites through a simple process with standardised contracts ( www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-launches-small-homebuilders-scheme-with-tfl).
- Builders could benefit from the continuing trend to ‘improve not move’. According to ‘The Hiscox Renovations and Extensions Report’, the number of householders choosing to improve not move grew five-fold in the five years to 2018, rising from 3% of householders in 2013 to 15% in 2018 (or 26% of those aged 18 to 34). High property prices and the cost of stamp duty were the main reasons given by respondents who had decided not to move (www.hiscoxgroup.com/news/press-releases/2018/14-03-18).
- Research by the FMB has highlighted the value of European Union (EU) workers in the construction industry and revealed that 94% of building firms questioned describe the quality of EU workers (who represent 9% of the UK’s construction workforce) as good or very good, while 85% confirmed that EU workers were important in order to maintain or expand their firm’s workforce. Moreover, 76% of employers surveyed agreed there would be negative impacts on the health of their business if EU workers returned to their home countries (www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/newsroom/construction-employers-call-on-eu-migrant-workers-to-stay).
Trading, commercial and legal issues
Start-up and established builders face the following trading, commercial and legal issues:
Trade body membership
Membership of a trade body can provide a wide range of individual and business benefits. Relevant bodies include:
- The Federation of Master Builders (FMB, www.fmb.org.uk), which is a trade body that represents the interests of small and medium-sized building firms in the UK. Members can display the FMB logo and use the FMB’s ‘Find a Builder’ service. Other membership benefits include discounted software, insurance, discounted entrance fees for industry events, and legal and business advice. Members must comply with the FMB Code of Practice.
- The Guild of Master Craftsmen (www.guildmc.com), which is a trade association that represents more than 400 trades, crafts and professions, including builders. Members can display the Guild’s emblem and coat of arms. Other membership benefits include an entry in the Guild’s ‘Find a Craftsman’ directory and access to legal and technical advice, discounted products and services and credit-vetting services.
- The National Federation of Builders (NFB, www.builders.org.uk), which is a trade association representing builders, building contractors and house builders in England and Wales. Members must comply with the NFB Code of Conduct and can display the NFB logo, and benefit from access to legal advice, guidance and support. Builders that have been trading for at least two years can join as full members, while newly established firms can take advantage of a ‘start-up’ membership package. Details of membership fees are available on request from the NFB.
- The Scottish Building Federation (SBF, www.scottish-building.co.uk), which is a trade association representing the Scottish building and construction industry. Members must comply with the SBF Code of Conduct and can use the SBF logo and benefit from a listing in the SBF’s searchable members directory. Other membership benefits include business and legal advice, and networking opportunities. Annual membership fees depend on turnover and details are available on request from the SBF.
The FMB Code of Practice is available at www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/standards-and-practice/code-of-practice.
The NFB Code of Conduct can be downloaded at www.builders.org.uk/documents/membership-criteria.
The SBF Code of Conduct is available at http://sbfnew.1cm.me.uk/uploads/boarddocs/Code%20of%20Conduct%20Rev%20Dec%202015%20(3).pdf.
Independent quality assessment schemes
There are various quality assessment schemes that a builder may benefit from joining. Membership of an independent scheme can indicate that the builder meets certain health and safety standards and that they are a reputable trader. Suitable schemes include:
- TrustMark (www.trustmark.org.uk/tradespeople/how-to-join), which is a government-approved scheme to help members of the public find reputable tradespeople. Builders joining the scheme must do so through an approved operator scheme such as those run by recognised trade bodies. TrustMark members are required to adhere to their trade body’s code of practice, have sufficient insurance cover and have completed a recognised health and safety qualification.
- The Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme (CHAS, www.chas.co.uk/about-chas), which assesses compliance with basic health and safety standards. Public and private sector organisations considering tender applications use the scheme to evaluate whether potential contractors meet required health and safety standards. Assessment fees depend on the size of the business.
- The SafeContractor scheme (www.safecontractor.com), which requires registered contractors to meet defined standards of health and safety.
- The Which? Trusted Trader scheme (https://trustedtraders.which.co.uk), which requires applicants for Trusted Trader status to undergo an assessment of their business before allowing them to join the scheme. The assessment fee starts from £240 and scheme membership costs from £58 per month.
- A number of approved trader schemes run by local authorities that builders can join. Membership indicates that listed traders provide a reliable and fair service. Go to www.derbyshire.gov.uk/community/trusted-trader/trusted-trader.aspx for an example of a scheme.
Builders across the UK must ensure that their work complies with specific building regulations and standards, which vary according to where in the UK the work is carried out.
England and Wales
Building work and renovations carried out in England and Wales must comply with the Building Regulations 2010, which set standards for building work and are updated frequently, most recently by the Building (Amendment) Regulations 2017.
Certain types of building work, including the erection or extension of a building, structural modifications, work on the foundations of a building, the installation of services such as water, drainage or heating and certain work in relation to a building’s energy efficiency, must be certified by building control bodies as being compliant with the Regulations (www.gov.uk/government/collections/approved-documents). Building control bodies can be either a local authority Building Control Officer or a private sector ‘Approved Inspector’. Go to www.cic.org.uk/services/register.php for a Register of Approved Inspectors.
Builders who belong to a competent person scheme can self-certify some types of building work, including electrical installations, heating and hot water systems, replacement windows and doors and replacement roof coverings. Go to www.gov.uk/building-regulations-competent-person-schemes/current-schemes for a list of competent person schemes.
Some types of buildings are exempt from the Regulations. Buildings on the exempt list include agricultural buildings, greenhouses, temporary buildings and buildings ‘not frequented by people’. Go to www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200128/building_control/38/building_regulations/2 for details.
General information about building regulations is available at www.gov.uk/government/policies/building-regulation.
In Scotland, the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 set standards for building work in Scotland, and apply to most types of building work, including the construction or demolition of a building. Work within the scope of the Regulations must be certified as being compliant with the Act and Regulations, and a Building Warrant provided by a ‘verifier’ must be obtained before the work can begin, unless the work is undertaken by tradespeople who are registered with an Approved Certification Scheme. A verifier is appointed by the Scottish Government and is normally the appropriate local authority building standards department.
Go to www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2004/406/contents/made to view the Regulations.
General information about building standards and the Regulations in Scotland is available at https://beta.gov.scot/policies/building-standards/.
The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (as amended) set standards for building work in Northern Ireland and cover various types of building work, including the erection of a building and any structural alterations. Work within the scope of the Regulations must be certified by a Building Control Surveyor as being compliant. The local authority building control department must be provided with sufficient notice and details of certifiable work before it can begin. A Building Control Surveyor will inspect the work regularly and, on satisfactory completion, a Completion Certificate will be issued.
Go to www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2012/192/contents/made to view the Regulations.
General information about building control and the Regulations in Northern Ireland is available at www.buildingcontrol-ni.com/.
Planning and permitted development
Some builders provide advice about making an application for planning permission, but certain types of development are designated as ‘permitted development’ and do not require planning permission. Permitted development covers a variety of projects such as the installation of decking, and the building of conservatories and small extensions (subject to restrictions, for example relating to size and in conservation areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
There is more information about planning permission and permitted development at www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200125/do_you_need_permission (England and Wales), https://beta.gov.scot/policies/planning-architecture/ (Scotland) and www.planningni.gov.uk (Northern Ireland).
The property owner is responsible for applying for and obtaining planning permission.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (the CDM Regulations) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland place statutory duties on general builders, building professionals, tradesmen and their clients, relating to the management and co-ordination of health and safety during construction projects.
Under the Regulations, builders acting as contractors have a duty to:
- Ensure that clients are aware of their own duties under the CDM Regulations.
- Plan, manage and monitor all work, taking into account the risks that anyone affected by their activities may face.
- Ensure that all workers they employ or appoint have the necessary skills, training, site-specific induction and supervision.
- Before starting work, ensure that measures have been taken to prevent unauthorised access to the site and that suitable welfare facilities have been provided for workers.
Construction projects that last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers on the project at the same time at any point, or that exceed 500 person days, must be notified to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Although notification is the responsibility of the client, architects often notify HSE on their behalf as part of their professional services.
Where projects involve more than one building contractor, a ‘principal contractor’ (sometimes an architect) must be appointed during the construction phase.
For more information about the CDM Regulations, go to www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/index.htm, and for more information about contractors’ CDM responsibilities, go to www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/contractors.htm.
Premises and business rates
Builders require secure premises on which to store equipment, materials and tools, along with office space to run the administrative side of their business.
While many general builders run their business from a home base, some rent a small commercial or light industrial unit and will need to budget for the costs associated with leasing premises, including solicitor’s costs, rent, utility bills, water rates and business rates.
Commercial rent and business rates vary significantly depending on the location, layout and size of the premises.
In England and Wales, the Valuation Office Agency (www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates) is responsible for determining the rateable value of premises based on their size and rental value, and this figure is used by local authority valuation officers to set local business rates.
In Scotland, the determination of business rates is the responsibility of the Scottish Assessors (https://beta.gov.scot/policies/local-government/non-domestic-rates/), and in Northern Ireland they are dealt with by Land & Property Services, part of the Department of Finance (www.finance-ni.gov.uk/topics/property-rating).
Builders intending to start up and run their business from a home base should inform their mortgage company or landlord and check that they are allowed to do this under the terms of their mortgage or tenancy agreement. They should also contact their local authority to find out whether they will need change-of-use planning permission to run their business from home, for example if converting a garage or outbuilding into a storage area for tools and equipment.
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 amended the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to allow tenants to run a home-based business from a rented residential property under a specific ‘home business tenancy’ granted by their landlord, as long as it is the kind of business that someone could reasonably be expected to run from their home. Go to www.landlordsguild.com/consenting-to-carrying-on-a-home-business for more information.
Anyone running a business based at home will also need to find out whether they will become liable for business rates. The Valuation Office Agency has more information about rates for a home-based business in England and Wales at www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates/working-at-home. Guidance for Scotland is available at www.mygov.scot/business-rates-guidance/do-i-need-to-pay-rates-if-i-work-from-home/ and guidance for Northern Ireland can be found at www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/use-your-home-workplace.
It is also essential to have adequate insurance cover both for the home and for business purposes.
Materials and equipment
A builder needs to budget for and source a wide range of tools and materials, typically from a builders’ merchant. Some merchants may stipulate minimum order levels and require new customers to set up a trade account.
However, for the first few months’ trading, many suppliers will only deal with new trade customers if payment is made at the time of purchase and before delivery of equipment and materials. Suppliers usually carry out credit checks on new customers applying for a trade account. This includes taking up references, reviewing published accounts (if available) and checking public registers such as County Court Judgments.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) set out requirements regarding the use of protective workwear such as safety boots, overalls, masks and goggles worn by builders and their employees and sub-contractors.
Suppliers of PPE include Safety Supplies (www.safetysupplies.co.uk) and Arco (www.arco.co.uk). Examples of workwear suppliers include MyWorkwear.co.uk (www.myworkwear.co.uk) and Alexandra (www.alexandra.co.uk).
Builders’ estimating software
Some builders use specialist software to estimate prices and quantities of materials required. Typical software features include customer management invoicing and estimating tools.
Calculators and tools to assist with costing and pricing include the following:
- What Price (www.whatprice.co.uk/costs/extension-costs.php), which provides a free extension cost calculator.
- YourTradebase, which provides a template for quotations, which is available at www.yourtradebase.com/quoting-software.
- HBXL (www.hbxl.co.uk), which provides a range of software packages that cost from around £700 (excluding VAT), including an estimating package, a project management package and a health and safety package.
- Meadowlark, which provides job management software (www.meadowlark.co.uk/MTSWForBuilders.htm). Prices are available on request.
- Easy Price Pro, which provides an estimating package that costs £455 (excluding VAT) (www.easypricepro.com/category/estimating-programs/all-other-trades/details/total-build-builders).
- CLiPIT Solutions (www.clipitsolutions.co.uk), which provides specialist accounting software for the construction industry and provides prices on request.
- Eque2 (www.eque2.co.uk), which provides construction accounting, house building and estimating software for projects of all sizes.
Tendering for public sector contracts
Public sector organisations, such as local authority housing departments, housing associations, schools, colleges, university halls of residence, hospitals and residential care homes, can be a key source of contracts for builders. They usually ask builders to submit an expression of interest for the contract being awarded. If that is accepted, the builder will be invited to submit a formal tender.
Public and private sector tender opportunities are listed on websites such as the following:
- Tracker (www.trackerintelligence.com), which monitors 2,000 sources of tender opportunities and has a Bid Manager tool that allows users to access and respond to opportunity documents.
- Dynamic Marketplace (public sector contracts under £10,000, https://buyers.procserveonline.com/otis/preregistration/splash_page.html).
- Public Tenders (www.publictenders.net).
- Contracts Finder (public sector contracts over £10,000, www.gov.uk/contracts-finder).
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own dedicated public sector procurement websites. These are:
- Public Contracts Scotland (www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk).
- Sell2Wales (www.sell2wales.gov.wales).
- eSourcing NI (https://e-sourcingni.bravosolution.co.uk/web/login.shtml).
Public sector tender opportunities are also published by a variety of other sources, including:
Supplier guidance in relation to tendering for contracts has been published by various local authorities. Go to www.warwickshire.gov.uk/supplierguidance for an example.
Pricing, quotations and VAT
It is best practice for builders to provide all customers with a written estimate or quotation before agreeing to commence work. The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Code of Practice stipulates that its members must:
- Provide a quote or estimate that states the price, what is included in the price and whether a Plain English contract will be used.
- Supply a contract that stipulates how long the job will take, when work will begin and whether work is covered by an insurance-backed warranty and payment terms.
Go to www.fmb.org.uk/about-fmb/our-members/code-of-practice-pdf for a summary of the FMB code.
When calculating the costs of a building project for inclusion in a pricing estimate or quotation, builders must include labour and materials costs, together with the costs of demolition and waste removal and disposal, if appropriate.
Labour costs typically include costs of using sub-contractors whose average day rates usually range from around £100 to £200, along with the costs of wages for the builder’s employees. Wage rates and holiday entitlements for building workers are set by the Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC). For example, the 2018/19 BATJIC wage rate agreement requires workers who hold an NVQ Level 3 qualification to be paid £12.45 per hour. Go to www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/publications/batjic-wages-and-holidays/ for more details.
Depending on whether they have been engaged by a private homeowner, a commercial client or on a sub-contract basis, for example by a larger building firm, builders will generally quote either a price for an entire building project or charge an hourly or daily labour rate, with extra charges added for any materials required.
Some builders charge a price per square metre for building extensions and houses. Prices typically range from £1,000 to £3,500 per square metre depending on whether the extension is to be single-storey or double-storey. Go to www.whatprice.co.uk/building/price.html for examples of building and repair prices typically charged in the UK.
Information about the rules of measurement that apply when calculating building costs is available at www.jctltd.co.uk/new-rules-measurement and www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/pricing-building-work.htm.
Guidance about how to estimate building project costs can also be viewed at http://checkyourprice.co.uk/building-installation-cost/.
Spon’s ‘Architects’ and Builders’ Price Book’ is a reference book that provides information for builders and other tradespeople, explaining how to estimate and calculate material prices and labour costs. The 2017 edition costs around £145 as an e-book (hardback not available). Go to www.crcpress.com/Spons-Architects-and-Builders-Price-Book-2017/ECOM/p/book/9781498786119 for more information.
As best practice, all customers, including householders and commercial customers such as landlords, should be provided with an invoice on completion of the work. Builders usually require payment to be made within 14 or 30 days of receipt of invoice, usually by cash, cheque or Bacs.
The standard VAT rate applies for most general types of repair and renovation work, although some building work projects qualify for a lower rate of VAT. For example, the construction of new residential buildings is zero-rated for VAT, and the conversion of residential premises into a different type of living accommodation is subject to VAT at 5%.
Builders must ensure that they charge customers at the correct VAT rate. Go to www.gov.uk/guidance/rates-of-vat-on-different-goods-and-services and scroll down to ‘Building and construction, land and property’ for more information.
Builders must register for VAT once their turnover reaches the mandatory threshold.
Consumer contracts and Ts and Cs of business
Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (CCRs), builders must provide consumers (such as private householders who are acting for purposes unconnected with their business or profession) with certain pre-contract information, such as their pricing, payment and cancellation terms, before agreeing to commence work. There is no equivalent statutory obligation to provide pre-contract information for commercial customers, although it is best practice to do so.
The CCRs stipulate that if a builder agrees a contract with a consumer at their home, over the phone or by e-mail, they must provide the consumer with a statutory 14-day cooling-off period, during which time they can cancel without incurring a charge. However, where a consumer instructs the builder to start work within the 14-day cooling-off period, they can still cancel within the 14 days, but will be liable to the builder for the costs of the work carried out up to that point, provided this has been explained in the pre-contract information.
As good practice, builders can include the pre-contract information in their standard Ts and Cs of business, either by displaying them on their website, or by providing them along with their written quotation or estimate, which will effectively form a contract when accepted by the customer.
The pre-contract and other information in a builder’s Ts and Cs should typically include:
- The builder’s trading name, address and telephone number and, if applicable, their VAT registration number and limited company registration number.
- How pricing is calculated, including labour and additional charges such as those made for materials (including VAT, if appropriate).
- Methods of payment accepted and whether a deposit is required.
- Details of the builder’s membership of a competent person scheme and information about how their membership can be verified.
- The right of the builder to sub-contract certain elements of their services, such as the provision of scaffolding.
- The builder’s cancellation terms and procedure and the customer’s cancellation rights.
- Insurance held by the builder, including cover for accidental damage and public liability.
- The builder’s policy for complying with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
- Who is responsible for waste removal and disposal.
- Warranties offered on workmanship and materials.
- The builder’s procedure for resolving any disputes and information about any certified alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme for consumers, such as the FMB’s free dispute resolution conciliation service (www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/dispute-resolution).
The information requirements under the CCRs do not apply to:
- Repair and maintenance contracts where the cost of the work is £170 or less (although in this case, certain specific but less detailed information about the contract terms must still be provided to the consumer).
- Contracts for work costing £42 or less (such as contracts for minor maintenance work).
Sample Ts and Cs for a self-employed builder in the form of a building contract for small works can be purchased from Net Lawman (www.netlawman.co.uk/d/building-contract-small-works) for £18 and Clickdocs (www.clickdocs.co.uk/homeowners-building-contract.htm) from around £20.
The CCRs are enforced by local authority trading standards officers, who can be contacted for advice and guidance about complying with consumer protection legislation.
It can be worthwhile having a solicitor draft or review Ts and Cs to ensure they comply with the law.
Other consumer protection regulations
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, building work for consumers must be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge, if it has only been possible to provide an estimate rather than a fixed quotation before starting the work. Materials such as bricks, mortar, plaster, plasterboard and timber supplied as part of the work must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.
If a builder fails to meet their obligations under the Act, they must make reasonable redress to the consumer. If the builder fails to provide reasonable redress, the consumer can bring a complaint to court up to six years from the date when the work was completed (five years in Scotland).
Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, it is an offence for a builder to mislead or otherwise act unfairly towards a consumer, for example by falsely claiming to be a member of a particular quality assessment scheme when they are not, or claiming to have qualifications and experience that they do not have.
Consumer dispute resolution
Many construction-related disputes are dealt with by agreed dispute resolution procedures provided for in standard contracts typically used in the sector such as the JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal) and the ACA (Association of Consultant Architects).
However, under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015, builders who fail to resolve a dispute through their own customer service efforts must inform consumers about an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme relevant to their industry. ADR schemes provide consumers with a way of resolving complaints without going to court.
In 2014, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) launched two dispute resolution schemes (Third Party Opinion and Fixed-fee Mediation) that are suitable for more informal resolution of construction-related disputes where the amount in dispute is relatively small. More information about the schemes is available at www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/Third_party_opinion_and_fixed-fee_mediation_procedures.
The FMB provides a free conciliation service to settle disputes between consumers and its members. If a dispute cannot be settled the matter is referred to an independent mediation and/or arbitration service. Go to www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/dispute-resolution for more information.
The Consumer Protection Association (CPA) also provides insurance-backed guarantees and an ADR scheme for the construction sector. Go to www.thecpa.co.uk/alternative-dispute-resolution for more details.
Ombudsman Services also provides a dispute resolution service in relation to home improvement firms that are members of the Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme (DGCOS) or Home Insulation and Energy Systems (HIES). Go to www.ombudsman-services.org/sectors/home-improvement for more information.
Business protection regulations
Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, it is an implied term of business-to-business contracts that building work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge, if it has only been possible to provide an estimate rather than a fixed quotation before starting the work. Materials such as bricks, mortar, plaster, plasterboard and timber supplied as part of the builder’s service must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.
The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 make it a criminal offence for builders to promote their services in ways that are misleading or unfair to other traders. This includes providing misleading information about their qualifications and experience, or making unfair comparisons between their own services and those of other builders, handymen or similar tradespeople.
Privacy and data protection
To comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), any personally identifiable information or data that the builder holds about their customers and employees should be stored securely, either manually or electronically, fairly and lawfully processed, and used only for their clearly intended purpose.
In addition, all builders must have a data protection policy, which clearly explains how personal data collected and held by them is managed and used. The policy should be in writing and included, for example, in their standard Ts and Cs of business or on their website, and also provided to customers when they first make an enquiry.
Guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about complying with data protection legislation is available at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/.
The ICO provides a guide to complying with the GDPR, which can be viewed at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/.
Builders may need to pay a data protection fee to the ICO. For most builders, the fee will be £40 per year. Go to https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-fee/ for details.
Builders carrying out work to the exterior of properties often engage specialist sub-contractors to carry out scaffolding work. Other self-employed tradespeople may be sub-contracted to assist with bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, electrical work and joinery on complex or large contracts.
Professional scaffolding contractors typically base their estimates on a price of around £15 per square metre. Scaffolding contractors are listed in directories such as those maintained by ‘ScaffMag’ magazine (https://scaffmag.com/scaff-directory) and the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC, www.nasc.org.uk).
It is essential for the builder to agree a written contract with sub-contractors before they begin the work. The contract should:
- Define the exact role and responsibilities of both the builder and the sub-contractor.
- Include warranties relating to the quality of the sub-contractor’s work and the materials they use.
- For long jobs, such as a large extension or the construction of a whole house, include a timescale for work.
- Specify any penalty clauses for underperformance or late completion, as appropriate.
- Include details of all fees and expenses to be paid to the sub-contractor and a payment schedule setting out how the sub-contractor will be paid.
- Include a review and arbitration procedure for resolving any disputes between the builder and the sub-contractor, and to resolve any complaints raised by the customer that relate to the sub-contractor’s work.
Go to www.netlawman.co.uk/d/builders-contract-sub-contractor for an example of a builder’s contract with a sub-contractor, which costs around £20.
The Construction Industry Scheme
The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a tax scheme that applies if a builder engages other tradespeople, such as scaffolders, as sub-contractors. Under the scheme, a builder acting as a contractor must deduct 20% from the payments made to their sub-contractors and pay the money to HMRC. In this case, it is essential for the builder to register with HMRC as a CIS contractor and follow a number of rules to ensure that sub-contractors are paid correctly and their tax is deducted in accordance with the law. Go to www.gov.uk/topic/business-tax/construction-industry-scheme for further information about the CIS.
To ensure compliance, all sub-contractors must also be CIS-registered (this also applies to general builders who work as sub-contractors for someone else, such as a major house builder).
Tax and IR35
Rules introduced by HMRC, called IR35, are intended to prevent avoidance of National Insurance (NI) Class 1 Contributions and tax payments by self-employed builders and the organisations they are engaged by, such as major house builders. General builders may be required to prove to HMRC that they are genuinely self-employed. If they cannot, this can lead to an increased tax and NI liability for both the builder and the organisation they have been hired by.
Builders can ensure that both they and their sub-contractors meet HMRC’s criteria for self-employment by using HMRC’s employment status-checking tool (www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax).
Waste disposal and trade effluent consent
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, builders have a duty of care to ensure that any trade waste they produce in the course of their work is properly and safely disposed of by a registered waste carrier. Examples of trade waste include waste bricks, timber, plasterboard and excess plaster that has been mixed. Go to https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers to search for registered waste carriers.
The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 applies in England, Wales and Scotland and makes it an offence for traders to regularly carry their own trade waste without being registered as a waste carrier with the appropriate statutory regulator. In Northern Ireland, an equivalent offence is created by the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.
In order to carry their own trade waste, builders who regularly remove waste from customers’ premises need to register as a waste carrier with the appropriate statutory regulator.
Registration as a waste carrier differs slightly across the UK, as follows:
- England. Builders who regularly carry construction and demolition waste (CDW) must register with the Environment Agency as an upper-tier waste carrier (www.gov.uk/waste-carrier-or-broker-registration).
- Wales. Builders regularly carrying construction waste must register with Natural Resources Wales as an upper-tier waste carrier (https://naturalresources.wales/permits-and-permissions/waste/register-as-a-waste-carrier-broker-or-dealer/?lang=en).
- Scotland. Builders who regularly carry construction waste must register with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as a waste carrier (SEPA, www.sepa.org.uk/regulations/waste/waste-carriers-and-brokers).
- Northern Ireland. Builders regularly carrying construction waste must register with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency as an upper-tier waste carrier (NIEA, www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/registration-carriers-and-brokers).
Gypsum waste and plasterboard waste must be separated from a builder’s general trade waste. This is necessary to avoid such waste being mixed with biodegradable materials at a landfill site, as this can produce hydrogen sulphide gas, which is poisonous and flammable. Once separated, gypsum and plasterboard wastes must be disposed of at a waste transfer station, recycled or reused.
Guidance on waste in the construction industry has been published by CECA (the Civil Engineering Contractors Association). Entitled ‘Waste Classification and Permitting in Construction – Guidance for the Construction Industry on the Waste Permitting Regime’, it can be found at www.ceca.co.uk/media/300067/ceca-waste-classification-and-permitting-in-construction-february-2018.pdf.
Under the Water Industry Act 1991, which applies in England and Wales, the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 and the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, waste water produced by builders (for example while washing out buckets that have been used to mix plaster) may be classed as ‘trade effluent’ and, depending on the scale of their activities, builders may require formal consent from their water company to dispose of this waste water at their premises.
In England and Wales, builders should find out whether they need trade effluent consent by contacting their local water company, for example Northumbrian Water (www.nwl.co.uk/services/business/trade-effluent/) or Welsh Water (www.dwrcymru.com/en/Business/Trade-Effluent.aspx). In Scotland, this is handled by Scottish Water (www.scottishwater.co.uk/business/our-services/compliance/trade-effluent), and in Northern Ireland by Northern Ireland Water (www.niwater.com/trade-effluent-charges).
Workplace health and safety
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 place statutory duties on employers and the self-employed in relation to the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone else affected by their business activities, such as customers, suppliers, sub-contractors and members of the public.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, all employers, and the self-employed, are required to undertake a risk assessment of their work activities and workplace, including each place where they carry out building work. Employees must be provided with adequate health and safety training.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes a guide to carrying out a risk assessment at www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (the CDM Regulations) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland place statutory duties on building professionals relating to health, safety and welfare on construction sites. Go to www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/index.htm for a summary of the CDM Regulations as they apply to builders.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, builders must have health and safety measures in place to protect themselves, any employees, customers and visitors to their premises from the potentially harmful effects of breathing in plaster or wood dust. For more information, go to www.hse.gov.uk/coshh and www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg136.pdf.
Some building work involves contact with asbestos. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, certain work with asbestos must be notified at least 14 days in advance to the HSE or the environmental health department of the local authority, depending on the type of property where building work is to be carried out. Higher-risk work can only be carried out by a contractor with an HSE asbestos licence. Go to www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/licensing/index.htm for more information about asbestos licensing and notification.
Under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, builders are responsible for ensuring that electrical appliances, such as electric drills, screwdrivers and cement mixers, are properly maintained and tested for safety through PAT (portable appliance testing). Go to www.hse.gov.uk/electricity/faq-portable-appliance-testing.htm for information.
Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, builders are required to provide adequate first-aid equipment for staff, and as best practice should ensure that staff have a first-aid kit with them when they are working on-site. First-aid kits costing from around £10 can be sourced from online suppliers such as First Aid Advisors (www.firstaid-direct.co.uk) and Safety First Aid (www.safetyfirstaid.co.uk).
Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, builders must assess the risk of injury to themselves and their employees and ensure that any unnecessary lifting is avoided, for example by using sack trolleys to move heavy items such as bricks and timber, or take steps to reduce the risk of injury, for example by always moving items with assistance.
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, builders must ensure that all equipment used in their business (including equipment such as electric drills, screwdrivers and cement mixers) is properly maintained. Employees must be trained in the safe use of equipment. The HSE publishes a guide to the Regulations at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg291.pdf.
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland set out requirements regarding protective workwear and the training of employees in its use. A builder should ensure that employees and sub-contractors wear protective workwear such as overalls, safety boots, masks and goggles, when appropriate. There are guides to the Regulations on the HSE’s website at www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) apply in England, Wales and Scotland. Equivalent legislation applies in Northern Ireland. The regulations place a duty on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the ‘responsible person’) to report work-related deaths, serious injuries, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences.
Under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, employers and the self-employed have a duty to avoid work at height where it is reasonable to do so. Where working at height cannot be avoided, for example where building work needs to be carried out on the upper storey or roof of a property, builders must assess the potential risks of the work and take measures to reduce these risks. This includes making sure the work at height is properly planned and organised and that equipment is properly inspected and maintained.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland place a duty on employers to ensure that their workplace meets the health, safety and welfare needs of all employees, including those with disabilities. The Regulations stipulate requirements for the maintenance of the workplace and equipment, including the provision of toilets and washing facilities for anyone working at customers’ premises.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme card
In order to enter and work on construction sites, for example on new-build properties, builders are usually required to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card (www.cscs.uk.com) to demonstrate a minimum level of competence and health and safety knowledge.
Various types of card are available to builders, depending on the level of their qualifications. To be eligible for any card, applicants must pass a health and safety assessment and hold or be working towards a relevant qualification. Most types of card will cost £36 from September 2018 and must be renewed every five years. The separate CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test (www.cscs.uk.com/applying-for-cards/health-and-safety-test/) costs around £20.
Promoting the business
Opportunities for promoting a building service include:
- Advertising in specialist online business directories and comparison websites, many of which offer free or low-cost basic listings, such as:
- Advertising in specialist home and interiors directories such as the House Directory (www.thehousedirectory.com), which charges an annual advertising fee of £135 (excluding VAT).
- A listing in the Residential Landlords Association’s online suppliers guide (www.rla.org.uk/html/suppliers/suppliers.shtml) or the LandlordZONE suppliers directory (www.landlordzone.co.uk/directory/suppliers-directory).
- Joining a trade body that lists its members in a searchable directory.
- Joining an independent quality accreditation scheme that lists its members in an online directory. Go to https://trustedtraders.which.co.uk for an example.
- Networking and building contacts with potential commercial customers, such as commercial landlords, buy-to-let landlords and hotel proprietors, and potential sources of sub-contract work, such as major house builders, property maintenance services, housing associations and other general builders that may have larger contracts and require additional assistance.
- Advertising in local newspapers and magazines. Advertising rates for local circulation paid-for and free newspapers are charged by column centimetre. Costs for a classified advertisement typically range from £5 to £10 per column centimetre.
- Advertising in the hard copy and online versions of local business directories such as Yellow Pages (www.yell.com) and Thomson Local (www.thomsonlocal.com). Google My Business (www.google.co.uk/business) and Yahoo Local (www.infoserve.com/local-listings/yahoo-local/) provide free listings for builders by location.
- Adding their details and location to Google Maps and Apple Maps, which enable customers to find builders near to them using their smartphone or tablet. Go to www.business2community.com/social-business/add-business-google-maps-01094521 for a step-by-step guide explaining how to add a business to Google Maps. Information about how to add business details to Apple Maps is available at https://mapsconnect.apple.com.
- Creating a Facebook business page to encourage customer referrals. Facebook pages can be customised with the builder’s trading name, logo and other information, and regularly updated with product news, special offers, competitions and customer testimonials. Go to https://en-gb.facebook.com/Acedrivewaysandconstruction/ and https://en-gb.facebook.com/bangonbuilder/ for examples of builders with Facebook pages. Go to www.facebook.com/business for further information about how to use Facebook for business promotion.
Builders require several types of insurance cover, including:
- Public liability insurance, which covers a builder against claims for compensation from customers, sub-contractors and members of the public who are injured or adversely affected as a result of their activities.
- Professional indemnity insurance, which covers a builder against claims of breach of conduct or professional negligence, for example by failing to certify building work as required under their competent person scheme.
- Employers’ liability insurance, which is mandatory as soon as the builder employs staff.
- Legal expenses insurance, which covers a builder against claims for defending or pursuing contractual disputes with commercial customers or sub-contractors or to defend employment tribunal cases.
- Building and contents insurance, which will be needed to cover the builder’s premises, tools, equipment, stock and materials against accidental damage, fire, flood, theft and any business interruption arising as a result.
- Cover for use of any vehicles for business purposes, which must include a minimum of third-party cover. Cover can also be obtained for equipment and materials stored in the vehicle.
Specialist insurance for builders is available from insurers such as Trade Direct Insurance (www.tradedirectinsurance.co.uk/Builders-Liability-Insurance.aspx) and Zurich (www.zurich.co.uk/broker/midmarket/construction/builders.htm).
This section provides an at-a-glance list of the legislation that builders must comply with. Professional advice about the impact of legislation should always be taken before making any business decisions.
Consumer and business protection
- The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 require builders who fail to resolve a dispute through their own complaints-handling procedure to inform consumers about a certified alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme relevant to their sector, such as that provided by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
- The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 make it a criminal offence for builders to make unfair comparisons between their own services and those provided by other builders, handymen or similar tradespeople.
- Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (CCRs), builders who provide their services to consumers (meaning anyone acting for purposes unconnected to their business or profession) must provide them with certain pre-contract information, including their pricing, payment and cancellation terms.
- Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, it is a criminal offence for a builder to mislead or otherwise act unfairly towards a consumer, for example through misleading pricing or by falsely claiming to be accredited under an independent assessment scheme.
- Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, building work must be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge, if it has only been possible to provide an estimate rather than a fixed quotation before starting the work. Materials provided as part of the service must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.
- To comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), any personally identifiable information or data that the plasterer holds about their customers and employees should be stored securely, either manually or electronically, fairly and lawfully processed, and used only for their clearly intended purpose.
- The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 amended the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 to allow tenants to run a home-based business from a rented residential property under a specific ‘home business tenancy’ granted by their landlord, as long as it is the kind of business that someone could reasonably be expected to run from their home.
- Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, builders who provide their services to commercial clients must carry out the services with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge, if it has only been possible to provide an estimate rather than a fixed quotation before starting the work. Materials provided as part of the service must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. Some provisions of the Act have been introduced in Scotland through the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994. However, common law in Scotland has a similar effect to the Act.
- The Building Regulations 2010 (as amended) cover most types of building work carried out in England and Wales. They require anyone carrying out work covered by the Regulations to notify their local authority and have the work either inspected or self-certified by a registered ‘competent person’.
- In Scotland, the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 apply with equivalent requirements.
- In Northern Ireland, the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (as amended) apply with equivalent requirements.
Health and safety
- The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (the CDM Regulations) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland place statutory duties on builders relating to health, safety and welfare on construction sites.
- The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 require certain work with asbestos to be notified at least 14 days in advance to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the environmental health department of the local authority.
- Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003, builders must have health and safety measures in place to protect themselves, any employees, customers and visitors to their premises from the potentially harmful effects of breathing in plaster or wood dust.
- Under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Electricity at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1991, builders are responsible for ensuring that portable electrical appliances, such as power drills, screwdrivers and cement mixers, are properly maintained and tested for safety through PAT (portable appliance testing).
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 place statutory duties on employers and the self-employed in relation to the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone else affected by their business activities, such as customers, suppliers and members of the public.
- Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, builders are required to provide adequate first-aid equipment for staff, and as best practice should ensure that staff have a first-aid kit with them when they are working on-site.
- Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, all employers, and those who are self-employed, are required to undertake a risk assessment of their workplace and work activities and provide employees with adequate health and safety training.
- Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, builders must assess the risk of injury to themselves and their employees and ensure that any unnecessary lifting is avoided, for example by using sack trolleys to move heavy items such as bricks, timber or sacks of plaster, or take steps to reduce the risk of injury, for example by always moving items with assistance.
- The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1993 set out requirements regarding the use and maintenance of protective clothing and equipment and the training of employees to use it safely.
- Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999, builders must ensure that equipment used at work is suitable for its purpose, maintained in good working order and inspected regularly. Employees must be trained in the safe use of equipment they use.
- The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) apply in England, Wales and Scotland. Equivalent legislation applies in Northern Ireland. The Regulations place a duty on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the ‘responsible person’) to report work-related deaths, serious injuries, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences.
- Under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, builders who use ladders or raised platforms, or who supervise this activity, must ensure that such equipment is properly inspected and maintained and assess the risks involved in using it. The Regulations also require that workers should be competent or supervised by competent people, and prescribe the precautions to be taken to avoid risk from working at height.
- The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland place a duty on employers to ensure that their workplace meets the health, safety and welfare needs of all employees, including those with disabilities. The Regulations stipulate requirements for the maintenance of the workplace and equipment, including the provision of toilets and washing facilities for anyone working at customers’ premises.
Environment and waste disposal
- The Control of Pollution (Amendment) Act 1989 applies in England, Wales and Scotland and makes it an offence for traders to regularly carry their own trade waste without being registered as a waste carrier with the appropriate statutory regulator. In Northern Ireland, an equivalent offence is created by the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997.
- Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in England, Wales and Scotland, and the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, builders have a duty of care to ensure that any trade waste produced in the course of their business is collected by a registered waste carrier and properly and safely disposed of.
- Under the Water Industry Act 1991, which applies in England and Wales, the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 and the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, waste water produced by builders (for example while washing out buckets that have been used to mix plaster) may be classed as ‘trade effluent’ and, depending on the scale of their activities, proprietors may require formal consent from their water company to dispose of this waste water at their premises.
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB)
Tel: 0330 333 7777
The Guild of Master Craftsmen
Tel: (01273) 478449
National Federation of Builders (NFB)
Tel: 0345 057 8160
Scottish Building Federation (SBF)
Tel: (0131) 556 8866