What is a Competent Persons Scheme (CPS)?
Competent Persons Schemes were introduced by the Government to enable companies to self-certify compliance under the Building Regulations without the need for a separate assessment from Building Control.
What does this mean for You?
All replacement windows in the UK must meet building regulations (including insulation, fire prevention, security and safety). You must have a certificate to prove it — this is sometime erroneously know as a "Fensa Certificate" but it is actually called a Compliance Certificate and FENSA are not the only organisation to issue them. The expensive route to a certificate is to get Building Control at your local council to inspect the property and issue a certificate. The easiest and cheapest route is to use an installer who is a vetted member of a CPS (such as Certass or FENSA) who can self-certify their own work — the certificate is then issued by the CPS.
CERTASS vs FENSA
Certass and Fensa are both Competent Persons Schemes serving the replacement window industry; there may also be other schemes. They are all government-authorised and provide the same basic service — the vetting of installers and the issue of Compliance Certificates. For you, the customer, it doesn't really matter which one your installer is with as they all perform the same role. Spectrum is a registered member of CERTASS.
As part of the registration process, we had to pass an assessment of our company, our surveyors and our installers. For surveyors and installers, this includes a short exam which includes current building regulations, a face-to-face interview and an on-site assessment to ensure their knowledge and skills meet the required standard to ensure compliance with building regulations.
Building Regulations Compliance Certificate
Once the work is completed and paid for, you will receive your certificate showing that your windows comply with Building Regulations. You should keep this safely as if you come to sell the property, the buyers' solicitor will ask for the certificate. If you don't have a certificate, you will have to get your windows certified by building control (for a fee) or alternatively provide indemnity insurance instead. Please note that the law covering indemnity insurance is being reviewed by the governament (as at September 2021).
You will normally receive your compliance certificate from CERTASS up to 4 weeks after the windows have been installed and paid for.
What is a Fensa Certificate
The above compliance certificate is sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Fensa Certificate, even though FENSA are just one of several bodies who can issue certificates. It's rather like a Dyson vaccum cleaner being called a "hoover" despite not being made by Hoover. People will tell you that you need a Fensa Certificate, but what they mean is that you need a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate issued by a CPS such as CERTASS or FENSA.
Are all windows & doors covered by the scheme?
No. Broadly speaking, only direct replacement windows and doors in domestic buildings can be covered. If the opening for a window or door has been widened, then it cannot be covered by the scheme. However, where brickwork has been removed below the window to make a taller window or doorway, then this will usually be covered.
On the whole, conservatories and porches are not covered by this scheme. You will need to enquire with your local authority to check regarding notification and certification. See here for further guidance. New buildings, new extensions and new window openings are also not included in the scheme. and you will need to contact Building Control for certification.
It is a requirement of Certass that an insurance-backed guarantee is available protect you in the event that your supplier/installer ceases trading. This may include deposit protection. This is in addition from the deposit protection offered by Katrup, Internorm and Solarlux. Our insurance-backed guarantees are provided by QANW.
Certass members are required to abide by the Certass consumer code. The consumer code demonstrates the business is dedicated to delivering a fair and quality service.
Certass offer a low cost alternative to court proceedings with their Alternate Dispute Resolution service.
This information is designed to help you understand Compentent Person Schemes. It is provided in good faith but it is not a definitive guide and it is your responsibility to ensure your project meets building control regulations.