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.