Train to Keep Fit - March 2012

This article appeared in HVP: Heating, Ventilating & Plumbing, March 2012

The installation of domestic ventilation systems has varied in quality in recent years. With this in mind, Titon’s Ventilation Systems Operations Manager, Paul Rainbird, takes a look at the importance of professional ventilation training, the forthcoming Competent Persons Scheme (CPS) for Domestic Ventilation Installers, and how it will benefit the installer, industry and householder.

In 2002 the Government introduced the Competent Person Schemes (CPS) to allow individuals and contractors to self-certify their work and ensure compliance with good practice and regulatory requirements. Since then we have seen the likes of FENSA, HETAS and OFTEC schemes make significant improvements in their respective industries, which is good news for consumers and legitimate operators in their respective fields. And these schemes are soon to be joined by a Domestic Ventilation CPS, with the added appeal of improved SAP ratings for house builders using CPS registered installers.

Up until last year’s Building Regulation revisions, there was no need for anyone involved in the installation of domestic ventilation systems to be qualified, despite the increasing use of more complex systems. Subsequently, the installation, commissioning and provision of information to end users for domestic ventilation systems has often fallen short of the required standards, as less scrupulous contractors drive down price at the expense of quality and energy efficiency. This can leave the rest of the supply chain to pick up the pieces and bear the repair costs, and more importantly, it disappoints end users and can leave them out of pocket with higher fuel bills and at risk if the property is under ventilated.

The publication of Approved Document Part F (ADF) 2010 and the accompanying Domestic Ventilation Compliance Guide began to address these potential shortfalls with new regulatory requirements and more detailed guidance. Further encouragement in the pursuit of achieving ventilation effectiveness and energy efficiency has been announced, with a change to SAP that represents a significant opportunity for quality oriented contractors.

The previous version of SAP automatically added a 40% loading to the specific fan power of MVHR (Heat Recovery Ventilation) and 30% to MEV (Mechanical Extract Ventilation) to account for reduced energy efficiency arising as a result of poor installation. The British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) is currently working with CPS providers, such as CORGI and NICEIC, to establish a CPS scheme for Domestic Ventilation. This enables registered installers to submit a SAP ventilation checklist to the Building Inspector and SAP Assessor, which will set out the detailed performance characteristics of each installation - including energy consumption - and can be used by the SAP Assessor to reduce the “in use” loading. It will also improve the DER rating via changes to SAP calculations that have been introduced in January 2012.

The first step towards being recognised as a competent installer can be taken now by completing the BPEC Domestic Ventilation Systems 2010 training course. Successful completion of the course provides training evidence for suitably qualified individuals to include in their application for registration on a Competent Person Scheme.

So why is it important to act now? Two simple reasons. Firstly, the SAP benefits derived from using a competent installer will appeal to house builders. So if you want to be in a position to win projects, you’ll need to demonstrate competence in order to complete the paperwork for the SAP Assessor and Building Control, no matter what ventilation system is used. Secondly, the improvement in the energy efficiency of new homes has lead to a substantial increase in demand for more complex and innovative technology, as well as installation practices. This makes it vital to keep up to date with developments to be successful in the future.

So your next step must be to enrol on a course run by a recognised BPEC training centre such as the two day course we offer at Titon. The course covers the necessary theory and hands on practice allowing installers to acquaint themselves with the equipment used on site. Plus, it’s also an ideal opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the issues important to you!

In a dynamic and expanding market installations of more complex domestic ventilation systems are set to grow significantly in years to come. With such growth, there will be plenty of opportunities for installers, providing they have the right experience, qualifications and are on top of the on-going regulatory and technological changes. Whether it’s a move towards semi-rigid ducting, integration of service cupboards or more sophisticated householder controls, installers will need to be prepared. Like any growing market, investing in training now is likely to be a shrewd choice. Plus, ventilation systems will require regular maintenance that only trained installers can carry out, providing additional income in the years to come.

The next band of changes to the Building Regulations arrives in 2013 and ventilation is likely to be at the heart (and lungs to use a well known Titon analogy) of building design. And remember, training doesn’t have to be dry and dull. A good course will be both an engaging and useful experience for all involved and provide a good return on investment.

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