Certass vs Fensa vs Assure: What you need to know in 2024
In April 2002, new building regulations came into effect in England and Wales that affected anyone who replaced windows and doors in a domestic dwelling (a house). These regulations were mainly the provision of using a thermally better type of glass that would help the UK reduce its carbon emissions and comply with new worldwide agreements. Window installers were faced with having to register all their installations with their local area building control which would be costly and time-consuming. The Glass and Glazing Federation, with approval from the government, devised a self-certification scheme that could help installers save time and money by self-certifying their installations with such a scheme. This scheme was called FENSA and was launched in early 2002 in readiness for the start of the new regulations.
This self-certification scheme had rules. A certain percentage of installations had to be inspected to ensure they met the regulations and there was a requirement for documents and insurances. It quickly grew to a sizable organization with over 9000 registered installers at its peak. The installer registered their work with FENSA, who would then notify the installer’s local authority of the installation. FENSA would then issue a legal building control certificate directly to the consumer who would be expected to keep in a safe place should it be required in the future.
Four years later in April 2006, the government department that regulated FENSA, gave permission for two more organisations to run similar schemes, one being the BSI and the other being Certass.
After a couple of years, the BSI decided they no longer wanted to run a self-certification scheme, this then left FENSA and Certass. Eventually, the BSI was replaced by another organisation called Assure.
In 2014, all the schemes that were licenced had to become UKAS accredited and had to work to a strict set of rules. Some of the rules included the assessment of the staff that fitted the windows and the people that measured up the work, These assessments were called MTCs (minimum technical competency), and installing companies had to have certain paperwork and liability insurances along with an insurance backed guarantee which had to be given automatically on all installations registered with the scheme operators. The schemes became reclassed as Competent Person Schemes and the three companies, FENSA, Assure and Certass were the only companies accredited to run such a scheme. There are strict rules in place for these organisations and they have to ensure the companies that are registered with them are also compliant of some very strict rules too which doesn’t always go down well with the installers!
Every three years there is usually a change to building regulations that affect the installation of windows and doors and all companies that are affected by the changes are expected to comply with the regulations, whether they are registered with one of the schemes or registering their jobs through their local area building control. Some of the regulations include toughened safety glass, fire escape hinges in the right places, disability access and thermal performance of the windows. As building regulations change often, it is always worth speaking with your scheme operator for an update, or your local area building control.
In Scotland, there are no requirements to join such a scheme, as the regulations and requirements are different. However many companies in Scotland also install work in England and it is beneficial for them to register with a scheme operator for these installations. Many companies in Scotland have also joined schemes as consumers recognise the badges with a competent installer and it gives them peace of mind when choosing their installer.
The different schemes
All three schemes work to the same UKAS accreditation and are fully regulated in the same way. Some offer more benefits for installers than others. Some are more well known to the consumer than others. All three schemes have slightly different pricing structures. But they all carry out the same requirement, they ensure the installing company who are registered with them are competent in their work, ensure consumer protection is in place and provide the consumer with a building control certificate with a different brand on.
Here are the different schemes and their benefits:
Certass are the main competitor to FENSA. They pride themselves on championing local installers (the essential connection between homeowners and the industry) who deliver some of the best installation work. All Certass competent persons scheme members are regularly audited, both on-site and at your premises. Certass will also check your business processes and procedures to make sure that you meet the requirements of our Government-endorsed, UKAS-accredited competent persons scheme standards. The benefits on offer at Certass are some of the best in the industry and are fast becoming one of the best-known certifications.
- Free listings on their ‘Find an Installer’ search feature
- Free consumer ratings service
- Free Certass Trade Association membership
- Free unique company profile page
- Free personalised Certass and Certass TA logos
- Free Joblogic software package licence
- Free legal, tax, HR and health & safety advice
- Free technical and installation advice
*Taken from the Certass Website
Access the Certass Scheme website here
As discussed above, FENSA is the original government-authorised scheme that monitors building regulation compliance for replacement windows and doors. According to the FENSA website, FENSA’s mission is to improve window and door replacements across England and Wales, by professionalising installers and protecting homeowners. They also make sure the work complies with building regs, is energy efficient, and is registered with your local council. They also verify that every FENSA Approved Installer’s guarantee is insured. The FENSA logo is the most recognised in the trade, and for good reason. They also provide a decent range of benefits with their memberships.
- Free listing and leads from FENSA online
- Become a Teacher TradePoint Federation Member
- Cut costs with a fuel card
- Free BFRC Energy Ratings
- Ablity to offer finance to your customers
- Discounts on specialist business insurance
- Access to the FENSA Training Academy
- Discounts on branded workwear
*Taken from the FENSA Website
Access the FENSA Scheme website here
As we know Competent Persons Schemes (CPS) were introduced by the UK government to allow individuals and enterprises to self-certify that their work complies with the Building Regulations within England and Wales. According to the Assure website, “Certification by The Assure Competent Person Scheme can both save you money and increase customer confidence in your work. Recently, the department for community and local government published a report implying that installers could save around £241 in Building Control fees by self-notifying their work”. Unfortunately, the benefits are not as good with Assure as the other two more established schemes of FENSA and Certass – but if you’re simply looking to be compliant, without the added extras, then Assure could be a good option.
- Self-certification for compliance with Building Regulations
- Energy Rating labels
- Knowledge assessment for installers and surveyors
- Access to market-leading Insurance
- Technical and arbitration helpline
- Personal and friendly support team
- Noise Rating Scheme
*Taken from the Assure website
Access the Assure Certification website here
So which is right for me?
When it comes to choosing a scheme, you have a choice of three main players or registering all of your jobs individually with building control. These schemes make things much easier for installers alongside providing you with industry and compliance updates, added benefits, leads and more. If you have any questions in regards to any of the schemes above, please visit their websites and contact a company representative who will be able to answer any questions you have. We believe going wth a scheme makes sense for the added benefits and relatively low cost. We hope this article has helped you understand these schemes and the differences each has to offer.
Get 1% better, once per week, free.
Combined, we have over 30+ years of experience working with tradespeople. From window and door installers to builders who work on domestic extensions and conversions. TradePixels is a new way of getting your digital marketing up and running.
Other Similar Content
If you're a tradesperson looking to grow your business in 2023, it’s impossible to ignore the importance of SEO. Here's a quick guide for tradesmen.
Website not performing well on search engines? Tradesmen could be missing out on lots of potential business. Here's your tradesman web design guide.
Email marketing is a tradesman's secret weapon for driving more high-quality customers through your website - it's often overlooked!