In recent years, customers have become much more aware and alert to cowboy traders – those looking to perform work they are not qualified to do or complete competently and safely.
Agreeing to have these rogue traders work in your home can be very costly to correct, and extremely dangerous to live with. According to the BBC’s Watchdog, the British public is still wasting £100million a year to rectify illegal gas jobs, not done by a fully qualified gas engineer, that put their homes and families in instant danger.
It is essential to guarantee that your gas fitter is above board and fully qualified – read our article below for some helpful hints and tips.
Firstly, anyone carrying out work on gas installations and appliances in your home must be on the Gas Safe Register, by law. This means that all registered engineers have been checked to make sure they’re competent and have all the necessary qualifications to work with gas safely. This isn’t limited to your boiler, only Gas Safe engineers can work on gas appliances, which include gas fires and gas ovens. Hiring a Gas Safe registered engineer is the only way to make sure your gas appliances are in safe working order.
You can check that any traders are registered and qualified to undertake your work by using the check an engineer or business section of the Gas Safe website here: Check an Engineer or Business
Make sure you see their Gas Safe ID before you allow them into your home. Check that the card is in date and that the picture matches the person holding it. Any responsible and trustworthy engineer will be happy to share their identification with you, if they start making excuses, don’t let them do the job.
Gas engineers have a range of qualifications that apply to specific types of gas work. Different qualifications are required to work on domestic and non-domestic properties, different types of gas, as well as different appliances, such as boilers, cookers or gas fires.
Research suggests that one in three people would trust a tradesman to do their gas work purely on endorsement from a friend or family member. Five times as many people would take a recommendation on trust, rather than actively check whether they were registered to safely and legally work with gas. Never trust a gas engineer on first impressions or recommendations alone, no matter how helpful and polite they seem – always ask for the Gas Safe Register ID card. Also ask if they belong to any other registered Trade Body such as OFTEC – the Oil Firing Technical Association, and if they say they are, then check that out too.
Make sure you ask any questions you may have about your particular job – what you can and can’t have done, and how much will each choice affect the cost? If they’re experts, then they should be able to answer your questions confidently and advise you about the best course of action for your needs and budget. If they are positive and helpful now, they are more likely to give you a good service if you choose to employ them.
Don’t be shy about checking out their payment terms, and do not consider using the trader if they offer to do the job cash-in-hand. Not only is this illegal, it also voids any manufacturer’s warranties on materials or equipment. Part-payment up front is perfectly reasonable for the cost of any materials. Final payment should only occur after the job has been completed to your satisfaction and any paperwork needed has been provided. Illegal or cowboy engineers may ask for most or even all of the money up front. Do not pay the final cost before the job is done as you may never see them again. Make sure that you talk through all costs involved before the job begins, ask about prices for materials and exactly what you are getting. A qualified and reputable engineer will be happy to discuss all costs involved and list exactly what you are getting for your money. Question any unforeseen or surprise payment requests, costs for a quoted job should not spiral out of control.
Feel justified in asking what happens if things go wrong. It pays to be open and up-front about your concerns and to plan for all eventualities. Ask about guarantees for the work done and what after care is offered as standard.
A reputable engineer or company will be happy to sit with you and discuss the work needed and act as a source of advice and guidance. They will have your best interests at heart and not try and talk you into work you do not need or feel that you cannot afford. They should never pressure you, make you feel intimidated or not listened to. If you are asking these people to come into your home and do work that needs to be done professionally in order to be safe, do your homework and check your facts. Time spent now researching engineers and companies will be time well spent and money saved in the long run.
For extra safety, nominate your home for a free gas safety check after the work is completed.
If you suspect an illegal gas engineer, report them to Gas Safe Register anonymously by calling the free helpline 0800 408 5500