Trickle vents and everything you need to know.

New building regulations have been announced in the UK today.

 

So, what is the new home regulation that has been placed today? From today, all new and replacement windows must meet new ventilation and energy efficiency regulations. What does that mean? New and replacement windows should be fitted with trickle vents regardless of whether the windows being replaced had vents in them or not if no background ventilation alternative is being installed.

 

What impact will trickle vents make?

 

Installing trickle vents to windows will help keep the air in our homes fresh and clean, as well as keep condensation out and lower humidity in a room. While they may not be the most comprehensive ventilation solution, they can be used in conjunction with other systems to ensure excellent air quality throughout your property.

 

What does the regulation require?

 

Here is a summary of what the regulation requires:

 

  • When replacing windows with background ventilation (or trickle vents), it is necessary to ensure that new trickle vents are no smaller than the vents in the original window, and they must be controllable either automatically or by the occupant.
  • When replacing windows without background ventilation (or trickle vents), replacement of the windows is likely to increase the home’s airtightness. Therefore, the regulations specify that the ventilation provision is no worse than before the work was carried out by ensuring the installation of appropriate trickle vents.

 

The installation of appropriate trickle vents involves careful assessment of the room that needs to be ventilated and the positioning of the vents within the building. This will ensure comfortable and adequate ventilation whilst managing draughts and external noise.

 

The new building regulations coming into effect from June also specify certain requirements for thermal efficiency – this means that a particular ‘U Value’ needs to be achieved:

 

  • Achieving a thermal efficiency U Value rating of 1.4 W/m²K or less is required for all new and replacement windows and doors.

 

These regulations are there to help improve air quality within our homes and reduce the chance of dampness. However, as some of you may be aware, they could also lead to a need to overheat your house in winter by a couple of degrees which goes against NZ50 ambitions.

 

Things for businesses and consumers to be aware of:

  1. Trickle vents are short in supply. They are a regulatory requirement so be prepared for secondary visits to fit, or a slight delay to your initial installation date.
  2. Trickle vents for some are not the prettiest item to see. For consumers, your contractor will be obligated to fit them, so we would expect them to be quite forthright in installing them.
  3. The majority of windows and doors projects will require them. There are a handful of scenarios where they may not be required. These kind be found in the document detailing Part F: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ventilation-approved-document-f

Is getting more complaints a bad thing?

It sounds like the answer should be yes doesn’t it?

I recently had a client tell me that since introducing our complaint handling services,  they had seen an increase in complaints. His service had not changed, business was slowing down and so could not understand what the point of our service was. It was causing problems and whilst business was slowing down, he was still having to pay for our complaints service.

In my position, this was a difficult start to the conversation.

However, although we could see the client’s complaints increasing, we could see the number of disputes (escalated complaints) and claims were coming down. This was important. Whereas at a complaint stage, you still have the opportunity to turn a complainant into an advocate, depending on how brilliantly you respond to their complaint. But at a dispute or claim stage, the trust is rapidly vanishing and your ability to retain your customer for further business is becoming very difficult.

As we worked through the problem what became apparent was that by becoming easily contactable, for customers to raise a complaint, the client was indeed receiving more. By ourselves engaging in those complaints early, we were reducing the normally high escalated complaints and claims.

In a world prior to social media, one complainant would negatively influence 24 people on average with regards to your company’s service. UK research has shown that it is likely only 8% of customers actually complain if they are not happy.

Think about that for a second. For every complaint you are not seeing come into your business, this could be a person negatively impacting on average 24 potential customers. Potentially in your local area. Which you would never know, unless you are actively inviting those complainants to come to you with any feedback in regards to your products or services.

Putting that all to one side. Those additional complaints that we did invite in provided so much more information in relation to where the client’s service was going wrong. We were able to identify that missed appointments were a rising problem, and that was intrinsically linked to their downturn in business. As a result, actions are now in place to turn this around, which in turn should reduce the number of complaints and also increase the number of installations being completed, improving their bottom line.

We will continue to invite complaints for our clients. We help resolve them. But more importantly, we help improve and ultimately sustain or grow their business.

Renewable energy interest is on the up. But is the UK ready for it?

I write this as an avid fan of moving towards a sustainable future. I have children who I am very conscious of being the receivers of a world tainted by the industrial revolution and what has followed since. However I also believe that in using more energy, this normally translates into a better standard of living. So, the secret is to not use less energy, but to use more, ensuring that it is clean energy.

At QASSS, we have been building up a picture of how renewable energy is delivered to the UK homeowner. We collect data around complaints, disputes and claims in relation to renewable energy, along with other home improvement sectors. It allows us to have a view of how things look at the backend; how do all of those sales translate to deliveries and installations. How do those installations translate to quality and great service.

Its fair (we think) to say that the UK is still quite new to the world of renewables, at a residential level certainly. We are still feeling the aftermath of the great solar mis-sell event which happened in the UK. In 2014/15, sales were booming across the country, particularly in those sunny southern regions. But by the end of 2015, the sinister side of the boom started to show its face. Claims arriving on the doorsteps of retailers, installers and finance lenders. Mis-selling being mentioned everywhere. Claims/compensation style companies picking up on the scent, as vulnerable consumers were being promised the undeliverable.

What drove this? Government incentives and a lack of market entry controls. The Government Feed-in Tariff along with RHI (renewable heat incentive) payments accelerated the interest in renewable energy. At the time, it was mainly solar. But with that interest comes opportunity to make a fast buck. As the RHI scheme came to an end in 2020/21, renewable energy installations were not just flatlining, but declining. This showed a market that was built upon financial incentive, and not necessarily by the climate change agenda which is feeling more real now.
As we come out of a pandemic, and with rising energy prices, and a need to reduce our reliance on gas, renewable energy has never looked so attractive. Add to that more incentives such as the removal of VAT from renewable energy equipment purchases, the introduction of a Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the addition of renewable energy to the government ECO4 scheme, plus others…the market is perfectly positioned to make a lot of the same mistakes from 2015.

With a surge in demand, comes the need for more materials and skilled labour. Both of which are found lacking at the moment. The renewable energy gold rush is on, and the impacts of that are already starting to show in consumer detriment volumes.

So, what is the point of this article? Well right now the UK still needs more investment from renewable energy manufacturers, home insures and banks. It needs more skilled labour and better supply chains. It needs more measures to assist in ensuring only professional businesses are allowed to operate in it.

To mitigate the above, more than ever, companies delivering these solutions have to invest in their design departments. With the amount of work becoming available, they need to learn to say no when they have not got the right solution. They need to ensure that collectively they manage renewable energy installations with a quality first mindset, to assist in enhancing the reputation of the market. UK consumers need this confidence as they seek to understand how they should spend their money in order to avoid long term, excessive energy bills.
We all have a duty to make sure that renewable energy works. Particularly for our children.

If there are organisations or individuals out there interested in receiving anonymised, industry data, highlighting where things may be going wrong with the sales, installation or aftercare phases of renewable energy, please feel free to subscribe to our emailing list.

How to write a complaint properly?

Having an excellent customer experience is vital to us all. Whatever service you may require, the customer always looks at what lengths the service provider will go to make your journey easy and smooth. But what happens when you don’t get that service?

Just as important as it is to know how to handle a complaint, it’s also important to know how to write a valid complaint to those who have misled and not met your customer’s needs.

Here are our tips to help you achieve this:

Straight to the point

Writing a well-detailed complaint is the most important part in writing a complaint. You need to provide enough information to the person you’re writing to, enabling them to investigate your complaint properly. The aim is to stay on track and not go off point; going off-topic can be confusing, getting lost in translation and making things more complicated for your case.

100% Facts

When writing a complaint, one thing to bear in mind is that the truth will always come out. Keeping to the facts and what you know will be in your favour. Do not make allegations or accusations that you can not prove. Making fake accusations and allegations can lead to dismissing your complaint or something much more serious, which may cost you a more significant price.

Your feelings are valid

Making your feeling heard is an essential part of writing a complaint. Explain how you felt about the behaviour or service you’re complaining about, but don’t use emotive and abusive language. Reflecting on your feelings will help them understand how you felt about their service and how you weren’t pleased with the end results. Maintain a firm but respectful tone, and avoid aggressive, accusing language. Keep the tone of your complaint letter professional. The person dealing with you might not be directly responsible for the problem and will be more likely to help you if they sympathise with you.

Proof, proof and more proof

Proof is your best friend; having accurate information and proof of what happened on the day will help your complaint and speed up the process. Having the date, time, and who dealt with your service/products, documents, and email you’ve exchanged will make your complaint stronger to help your case to the fullest. If you don’t have the exact detail of the event, but know that it happened before a specific event, just say that. For example, you could say, ‘A few days before 14 February …’, or ‘Just before Christmas….’

Coming to a conclusion

What is it that you want? Is it your money back or the product to be replaced? Maybe an apology is enough.

Make it clear to tell them what you want from this situation. It’s important to voice the outcome you are after and say precisely what you expect from the person. That way, they are more likely to be able to resolve the problem faster and give you what you want.

Do not threaten action

Don’t threaten any action unless you are willing to follow through with it.

If you don’t have a strong case, or you are asking for perhaps more compensation than you think you might receive, or if the cost of the action is greater than the compensation, the other party will think that you are bluffing.

Take action only if it is worth it and only when all avenues of discussion have been exhausted.

At QASSS, we have many years of experience in complaint handling and dispute resolution and understand just how critical good complaint handling is to the home improvement sector.

Our bespoke complaint handling and alternative dispute resolution services can help you save time and money and avoid reputational damage. To find out how we can help, contact us 0161 676 0919 or email [email protected]

Poor Quality Workmanship Continues To Hold Back The Home Improvement Sector

In 2021 we heard about a lot of the problems impacting the home improvement sector. Some could be seen as ‘good’ problems, with record levels of demand hitting the UK as a result of those buying behaviours moving from holidays to home improvement.

The UK RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector is worth approximately £52.3bn to the UK economy. Private housing RMI is expected to grow by 3-4% per year up to 2025.

In March 2021, we saw the highest private RMI spend for over a decade. MyBuilder.com is receiving more than 150,000 job requests from families each month, a rate it says is ‘significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels’.

Mortgage broker at Mojo Mortgages says compared to 2019, 2021 remortgage applications for home improvements were up 174%.

As those good problems continue to rise, we could see the issues unfold in trying to deliver that record level of demand.

 

Record Levels of Skill Shortages

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of Trade Body, the Federation of Master Builders, stated that ‘over half of small, local builders can’t find skilled tradespeople’. We could see builders demanding fees up to £2,000.00 to reserve their services six months in advance.

It is estimated that the UK will need an extra 1.25m trade workers by 2030, including 305,000 qualified trade apprentices, something very much recognised by The British Institute of Kitchen and Bathroom Installation (BiKKBI), and their CEO, Damian Walters.

Listen to this… one-fifth of construction trade workers aged 55 or over will retire before 2030. Given that there is around 1.2m RMI companies in the UK, that is the potential for a lot of skill to leave the sector.

 

Record Levels of Material Shortages

So what has caused it. Take your pick:

  • COVID pandemic
  • Brexit
  • Demand surge
  • Shortages in production
  • Shortages in haulage
  • The Suez Canal blockage.

As a result, 82% of traders are reporting material price increases. Not good for the UK consumer or UK purchasing a business.

 

A different view

As a result of the above, the UK is starting to witness record levels of detriment. But is it actually a result of the above, or are some older problems still existing?

QASSS currently provide outsourced complaints management, along with independent alternative dispute resolution and claims management services. As a result, we see a lot of what is happening at the ‘back end’. 2021 was a tough year for sure, but looking at the dispute volumes and categories coming through, we can see that still at the top of the charts are:

In fact, when it came to disputes, there were very few that could be attributed directly to the two main challenges are highlighted above. This is important to note so that as an industry, we don’t lose sight of the issues that still sit there, and it is those issues that are inviting many disruptors into the market.

If you are interested in learning more or want to gain more insight from our anonymised data sets, please email us at [email protected]