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Builders can't work with Quality Mark


Sir, I must take issue with Alan Wheeler of the DTI, who believes the Quality Mark will have an effect on the cowboy builder problem (Letters, January 23).

Does anyone believe householders will check with the register while the con-man waits at the door? I also doubt the rogue who drives the old lady to the bank for cash will mention that he is not registered.

The scheme is too bureaucratic. The bulk of private sector work is carried out by individual tradesmen, sometimes with one or two employees and some of these requirements are impractical, others amount to harassment. For example:

Management structure: not appropriate for one or two employees.

Staff qualified with NVQs or equivalent: How many NVQs would be required for a simple kitchen extension?

Financial stability check: How often? And does this also apply to the customer?

Validated statement of tax status: What business is this of the householder? Do we check the source of their funds?

Demonstration of commitment to customer care: How?

Adherence to code of practice for QM builders: This includes provision of clear information of services offered, price and timetable, use of a written contract.

For replacing a tile? A written contract needs to be comprehensive if it is to hold up in court.

Hold QM warranty: This includes cover for advanced payments, poor workmanship and major defects. But with NVQ staff, fully vetted? Never!

Provision of public liability insurance: This is becoming difficult to obtain to the required minimum of £2 million.

Some time ago, Somerset Trading Standards developed a 'Better Builder' scheme, which committed the builder to provide a fair deal and removed some of the confusion which is often the cause of conflict. This scheme was abandoned due to lack of funding. It should have been given a lengthy trail.

David Brown Stoke on Trent