Should you become a WaterSafe approved plumber?

Julie Spinks, managing director at WRAS, highlights some of the main benefits of belonging to an Approved Plumbers scheme and being listed on the WaterSafe database.

How can qualified plumbers stand out from those entering the market without suitable qualifications, whilst improving their reputation and growing their customer base? Consumers know that they need to find a contractor who is competent and trustworthy, and plumbers have traditionally earned new clients through word of mouth, or a positive recommendation from family or friends. However, the increased availability of information means that people are expecting more than just a recommendation to confirm the competence of a contractor. There are comparison websites where you can be rated on your performance in areas such as reliability, price and quality of work, but it also helps for your qualifications to be supported by an industry recognised scheme.

Benefits

WaterSafe have found that plumbers join their organisation for three key reasons:

  1. Promotion and branding
  2. Customer reassurance
  3. A direct link to your local water company

A listing on the largest online directory for approved plumbers in the UK, which is promoted by your local water company, is a great advantage for plumbing businesses. You will be listed on the WaterSafe website, where you can be searched for and viewed by people needing a service in your area, who can quickly and easily see that you hold the relevant qualifications and insurances. Some contracts now specify that plumbers must be WaterSafe approved; for example, NHS guidance recommends that hospitals employ WaterSafe approved plumbers or equivalent.

Membership can provide reassurance that you’re qualified and trusted to work safely with water, which is really valuable information for current and prospective customers. The scheme is backed by all UK water companies and the drinking water regulators, so membership adds to your credibility and reputation.

Finally, a direct link to your local water company is really helpful. Approved plumbers can self-notify some types of plumbing work and can provide a certificate to confirm that the work complies with the water regulations. This can speed up how quickly work can be done and provides reassurance to your customers.

How to join

In order to join an Approved Contractors’ Scheme a plumber must, as a minimum, have successfully completed a suitable plumbing related NVQ Level 2 in Mechanical Engineering Services (see watersafe.org.uk/howtojoin for details) and have a Water Fittings Regulations qualification. This means that you will be equipped to advise customers on the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Byelaws, helping your customers to understand which products are compliant and therefore safe and legal to use. You’ll also have a greater understanding of how important the installation of a fitting is, as even approved products can become non-compliant if they are not installed correctly.

Plumbing businesses must have £2 million of public liability insurance and, where appropriate, £5 million of employers’ liability cover.

Depending on your location in the UK, there is a choice of seven different Approved Contractors’ Scheme that you can join. All schemes provide your business with free promotion and branding, as well as offering a listing on WaterSafe, although fees and benefits vary between the schemes.

  • In England you can join CIPHE, APHC or your local water company scheme (WIAPS, Thames Water’s TAPS, Anglian Water’s APLUS or Severn Trent’s WaterMark)
  • In Wales you can join CIPHE, APHC or your local water company scheme (WIAPS or Hafren Dyfrdwy’s WaterMark)
  • In Scotland or Northern Ireland you can join CIPHE or SNIPEF

There are currently over 6000 approved plumbers on the WaterSafe database, and plumbers interested in finding out more can visit: www.watersafe.org.uk/howtojoin

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