Builder’s viewpoint – Deepak Singh Udassi

I’ve been running a London based building firm, City Lofts London, for several years and I fully support the proposal to licence the UK construction industry for a variety of reasons.

It’s deeply frustrating for the vast majority of honest and reputable building firms that a small percentage of rogue traders are giving the whole sector a bad reputation. A mandatory licensing scheme would stop the many highly competent and professional firms from being continuously undercut by cowboys. It’s time to professionalise the construction industry from top to bottom and licensing is the best way of achieving this.

Licensing would drive up standards across the board and will allow for the removal of incompetent firms who undermine these standards. Homeowners shouldn’t have to cross their fingers and hope that their builder will do a good job. Consumers deserve better and licensing would provide a much higher level of assurance, as well as improved levels of quality and safety.

Licensing will also serve to give the construction sector a better reputation. Let’s face it – most people see the building industry as a fairly undesirable place to work. If young people, parents and teachers had a more positive impression of construction, they may well be more likely to pursue, or recommend, a career in construction. It’s crucial that we improve the image of the industry because this would gradually help ease the construction skills shortage. It’s almost impossible to find a decent plasterer at the moment and when we do, the wages they command are through the roof.

What the FMB is suggesting is that the existing opt-in TrustMark model could be simply turned into a mandatory scheme. It needn’t be any more complex for building firms to obtain a licence than it is for firms to join a trade association like the FMB. If implemented sensibly, licensing doesn’t have to mean lots of ‘red tape’. Nor does it need to break the bank. In fact, what is currently proposed would cost a small firm like mine just £150 every three years. Surely this is a price worth paying to professionalise our industry once and for all.

I see no reason why an honest building firm would be against this proposal.