It pays to play the ventilation game - December 2012
This article appeared in Electrical Installer, December 2012
Titon’s Paul Rainbird advises how electrical engineers can grow their business by expanding their portfolio of services to include ventilation installation, which, as he explains, can be achieved relatively easily with the right professional training.
Electrical contractors, plumbers and HVAC engineers are renowned for their ability to operate across numerous sectors more ably than most. And, given the current economic climate, any opportunity for business growth and additional sales should be fully embraced.
So, as the mechanical ventilation sector continues to grow, electrical installers should look towards undertaking ventilation installation training, not only to add to their existing skills base, but also to take advantage of the growing increase in demand.
An interim report from the Zero Carbon Hub VIAQ (Ventilation and Indoor Air Quality) Task Group revealed that mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) technology is already proving immensely popular in the UK, with over 18,000 units sold in 2010-11. The Task Group predicts this trend to continue, with MVHR looking to become the most popular form of ventilation in new homes post 2016. With this being the case, there is no better time than now for electrical installers to look at diversifying and expanding their service offering.
When it comes to installing ventilation systems, electrical contractors should not tremble, as many of the principles and practices required for installing these technologies will already be familiar to most. In order to build upon this familiarity, the best thing to do next is look into the training and self-certification options available.
Following the UK Government’s introduction of Competent Person Schemes (CPS) in 2002, individuals and contractors were able to self-certify their work to ensure its compliance with the Building Regulations. This resulted in many sole traders and small firms joining the scheme to self-certify existing work in accordance with Part P. But, should electrical installers wish to utilise the additional benefits of ventilation installation, they will also need to become familiar with Part F. This concentrates on the tight levels of control with which ventilation systems are designed and installed, as well as its overall performance to ensure that adequate indoor air quality is provided. And, the good news for installers is the NICEIC has recently launched a CPS for Part F, which will allow contractors to self-certify in the area of ventilation.
The first step towards being recognised as a competent installer can be taken now by completing the two-day BPEC Domestic Ventilation Systems 2010 training course, which has been designed to meet the requirements of the Domestic Ventilation Compliance Guide 2010. The course requires installers to have the necessary qualifications: a minimum of NVQ Level 3 in plumbing, heating or electrical engineering. Successful completion of the BPEC course (which is run by manufacturers including Titon) provides training evidence for suitably qualified individuals to include in their application for registration on a CPS. Installers will learn about issues including system design, installation and commissioning, as well as the required theory and practical applications allowing them to acquaint themselves with the equipment used on site.
Furthermore, the domestic ventilation CPS offers improved SAP* ratings for house builders using CPS registered installers. This is great news for competent installers, as it puts them in a prime position for winning new business projects, providing they can complete the paperwork for the SAP Assessor and Building Control, no matter what ventilation system is used.
Once electrical contractors have completed the various training courses available, they will then want to put their new skills into practice. But first, they will need to ensure they are up to speed with the various legislation associated with training. For instance, the Department for Communities and Local Government has recently introduced ‘new conditions of authorisation’ for all competent person schemes operating in England from 6 June 2012**. All CPS operators are required to comply with these conditions, which have been designed to improve consistency and transparency, while improving quality assurance and the level of compliance with the Building Regulations.
Electrical installers have an array of transferable skills and there are a growing number of opportunities out there for those who are prepared to undertake the relevant training and branch out into other, related sectors. By enhancing their skillset and taking advantage of CPS, installers will be able to take advantage of a growing ventilation sector, while at the same time bolstering their position against competitors in the quest to win new business from developers.
While training can sometimes be frowned upon due to the time and money that needs to be invested at the outset, it should be remembered that this initial, short term outlay will result in long term rewards and Titon does offer discounts to help ease the cost burden. In addition, by further improving standards throughout the industry, we can help to tackle the problem of ‘cowboys’, by enabling the consistent and easy identification of competent installers.
The benefits are clear; electrical contractors should add as many strings to their bows as they can, in order to improve their business offering. After all, a multifaceted business with a strong professional reputation will reap the financial rewards as the industry recovers.
* SAP Appendix Q of the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) is the route through which energy performance information, including, but not limited to product performance data, is made available to energy assessors that was not available when SAP was published. It is also the means by which test and calculation methodologies can be agreed that can be used to measure product performance and when and how that performance can be treated in SAP.