Builder’s viewpoint – Spencer Ellis

Spencer Ellis – Owner of Kent Building and Construction
I have been in construction for 22 years and am a huge fan of the idea of licensing the construction industry. Indeed, I have been telling people this should happen for years. I lived in Australia for a number of years and in certain states, Australian builders need to have a licence to operate. If it can work there, there is no reason that it can’t work here.

The licence should show that firms are professional and can be trusted entirely. I am relieved that the Licensing Task Force is going to try to develop a model for licensing that everyone can get behind. One way this could work is to develop a test for builders to pass before they are granted a licence. What is most important for me is that the license is not a tick box that firms can check by handing money over. After all, even a cowboy can take part in a paying exercise – this licence has to mean something.

A licence would greatly improve consumer protection. As builders, we work on, and improve the biggest singular investment anyone ever makes. We deal with hundreds of thousands of pounds of people’s money. It cannot be right that we don’t require a single piece of paper to show we have had any training or testing to show we are capable of doing this.

A lot of clients would have no idea if the work that their builder was doing was of a high, professional standard or if it was poor work quality. The simple reason for this is that they are not builders themselves. Likewise, as a builder, I would not know if my accountant was doing a good job on my accounts. But the difference is an accountant has been trained and would have sat tests to prove they are capable of doing the work they are paid to do – they didn’t just pay a fee and open an office.

If you are a professional builder and you run a professional company, then such a licence would only be a positive step forward. I give my utmost support to the proposal and I will be first in line to sign up.