In the trade

Federation of Master Builders

The Trade Association Federation of Master Builders (FMB) took a bit of a pasting on last night’s Watchdog. The Federation of Master Builders is the largest trade association in the UK building industry, representing over 13,000 building companies.

What does the Federation of Master Builders promise?

The Federation of Master Builders states on their website…
“The Federation of Master Builders promotes standards of excellence and helps its members to continually improve levels of business performance and customer service. Our members are carefully vetted before they are allowed to join, and are required to adhere to a strict code of practice. Only those builders and specialists who can prove their skills and good business standing are accepted as members.”

The FMB membership criteria and checks include: 
  • A minimum of 12 months trading, or is otherwise able to demonstrate experience enough to warrant membership
  • 6 references including one from a ‘professional’ or Local Authority Building Control
  • Local Federation of Master Builders Branch approval
  • Public and employer liability insurance
  • No un-discharged bankruptcies or relevant outstanding County Court Judgments against company or directors
  • VAT registration (where appropriate)
  • Confirmation of business address/details
  • Credit checks, public record and director checks

Federation of Master Builders on Watchdog

Watchdog was following up recent complaints from consumers of bodged building works by Federation of Master Builders; houses left uninhabitable and a disabled access ramp which you can’t get up – is this the definition of a Master Builder?
Bodged building work costs customers over a billion pounds every year, so how can you make sure you are picking the right person. Advice can be to go to a Trade Association and the biggest in the building industry is the Federation of Master Builders. They say if you pick one of their members its “a sure fire way to avoid cowboys”.
But for some watchdog viewers this might not to be the case….
Irene Turner has a new ramp for her wheelchair that she can’t get up. After £44k worth of works to her home to give her wheelchair access, a year later and she still can’t get through her patio door and the floor has a slope of 2 inches.
Chartered Surveyor Barry Cross estimated costs of £19k to rectify faults they have identified with the building works, saying the workmanship is poor and unacceptable. The Federation of Master Builders are looking into it – but Irene expected more and as yet there are no plans for the FMB to visit her home and check out the situation.
Ian Vickerstaff expected a better quality of work from his Federation of Master Builder but building regulations were not adhered to, electrics were messed up and the FMB builder dangerously built the extension over a mains gas pipe. Eight months since the works started, the house is derelict and Ian has sent the FMB builders off as he felt they were doing more harm than good.
The Federation of Master Builders say that if a member gets it wrong they will take it seriously and investigate. However, after Ian’s complaints to the FMB, no one visited the site. The FMB wrote to the builder concerned to see if they agreed with the accusations, which unsurprisingly they did not, so now it’s gone to arbitration.

What did the Federation of Master Builders have to say?

Federation of Master Builders Richard Diment, DG FMB, defended the FMB on Watchdog: “These are exceptions to what people usually find with FMB builders and the short reports I don’t think show the full picture and there are further complications in each of these cases.”Watchdog questioned the Federation of Master Builders about their promise to investigate complaints – if they don’t go to site and see the work, how can they fulfil their promise?

Richard Dimmer commented “What we are trying to do is get resolutions to problems that the customer has and we believe in the vast majority the process does get a satisfactory solution. In the case of Mrs Turner, the case is still going on and the builder has agreed to go back to see what’s happening and put it right. We are making changes so people have the confidence in using an FMB builder”.
So, are the reliability promises of the Federation of Master Builders actually founded? What do you think and if you are registered with them what are your view points? Every story has many sides so we want to hear yours.

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  • Reply
    Phil Russell
    April 25, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Things are worse than you thought ! Recently a builder was featured on BBC Look North after a customer complaint for demanding a £30,000 final payment for a poor quality and unfinished job, the builder then changed the locks on the customers house and refused them access !—Theres worse ! The builder in question has just been voted in by his peers as FMB Regional Chairman in the northern region and is a National Delegate, which means he is a main board director of The FMB !
    If you look on The BBC news website and search for “Couple Locked Out Of Home” you will find the programme.

  • Reply
    F Carpenter
    December 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I had my kitchen refitted by an FMB kitchen “expert” and he carried out electrics notifiable under Part P Building Regulations, but did not notify them, and now I have no Buildings Compliance certificate. The FMB complaints procedure is hopeless. After my initial letter, the builder replied saying he had done nothing wrong (of course!) so the FMB recommended arbitration which costs money (up to £1,000). They did not actually look at the facts of my complaint or get involved apart from passing my letter to the builder and vice versa.

  • Reply
    Phil Russell
    December 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Sorry to hear about your problems, but not surprised when FMB have as their main board directors people who have been featured as virtual rougue traders on TV and are supported and promoted by The FMB. There are good builders and ethical businesses within the FMB, but some sad to say seem to be leaving , disillusioned by the lack of action the organisation takes against firms and individuals who clearly have not operated within the code of practice they signed up to when they joined the FMB.
    Search BBC News North East for “Couple locked out of home” , view this clip and you will see an example of a board director of The FMB at work, how he runs his business and treats people—it’s an absolute disgrace, but the individual is supported by The FMB, one has to ask why ? and can The FMB possibly have any credibility with the consumer ?

  • Reply
    annette hoy
    August 27, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    We have had a nightmare build by a member of the federation of master builders, M J Till Builders Ltd. Two companies of Chartered surveyors have written reports – both concluded the only way to redeem the problems would be to pull the building down and start again. A massive report was put into south eastern region FMB about all of the defective workmanship – they responded by saying the builder had gone on a 3 week holiday and would deal with the complaint when he returned. When he returned, the FMB said his membership had lapsed and they could nothing about the problems. Just weeks later, he is now sporting his membership with them, the NHBC and Trustmark – checks on their computer ‘find a builder’ show he is yet again registered with them.
    In addition to the terrible workmanship – he built the building too high out of the ground – too high as well – retrospective planning was required. Building control would not sign off his work due to defects and problems. A chartered structural engineer condemned aspects of his workmanship.
    The office of fair trading are powerless – Trading Standards who hand out the Trustmark membership are just as useless.
    The consumer has no power except through the courts.

  • Reply
    January 11, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Dear Annette
    Sorry to hear about your problems with an FMB Builder, unfortunately this situation is arising too often.
    My view is that the FMB needs purging of these rogue traders and it should start at the top by kicking one of it’s management board directors out, whose firm was exposed on TV for shoddy workmanship, demanding £30,000 for incomplete work and then changing the locks on the customers home locking them out. When a FMB Management Board Director behaves in this fashion, what hope is there ?
    The FMB must act and be seen to be acting against these rogues, FMB’s claim of being ‘THE SIGN OF BUILDING QUALITY’ simply does not hold any credibility any longer.
    I could mention a lot more things that FMB members do and talk about in meetings that would shock you to the core.
    I am an FMB Member trying to maintain standards in workmanship,customer service, business ethics, health & safety and employment relations, however a revolution in the organisation of The FMB is required to cut out the rotten wood and restore and uphold the standards FMB Members are supposed to have.

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