Through the pandemic, home improvements have given many homeowners up and down the country a real sense of purpose as well as a much-needed distraction from the trials and tribulations of lockdown life.
Improving your home should be an exciting time, but with so many technical terms to get your head around it can often be quite confusing. At Compare Companies, we completely understand that all you want to do is find the most competent and competitively priced local double glazing installer and get to work creating your forever home as soon as possible.
In your quest to find the best window and door company, it’s likely you’ve come across the terms FENSA and CERTASS. So, what exactly are FENSA and CERTASS?… No one likes sifting through reams of jargon, so we’ve done the research for you!
What is FENSA?
FENSA stands for Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme, where the term ‘fenestration’ refers to the arrangement of windows, doors, and openings in a building. Set up by the Glass and Glazing Federation in April 2002, FENSA was the first Competent Person Scheme (CPS) created for the window and door installation industry in England and Wales, following government authorisation to coincide with the latest Building Regulation of the time. FENSA monitors building regulation compliance for replacement windows, doors, roof lights and roof windows.
Being able to self-certify the work considerably speeds up the process of registering new double glazing with local authorities for building control compliance. FENSA certificates typically take 2-4 weeks to be issued, whereas non-FENSA registered double glaziers must apply directly to the local Building Control department and can take up to 2 months or more to certify the work.
How do window installers get approved by FENSA?
FENSA approved installers have demonstrated competence in both knowledge and practical ability to self-certify work and are regularly assessed to ensure compliance to building regulations is continually maintained. FENSA approved installers must also include the option of a 5–10-year insurance backed guarantee within the quote, so you are fully protected in the unlikely event of the company ceasing to trade.
FENSA offer a handy online FENSA register to search for your nearest approved installer in just a few clicks.
What is CERTASS?
CERTASS is short for Certification and Self Assessment. A not-for-profit company, it was established in 2006 by The Department for Communities and Local Government as an alternative to the FENSA scheme.
The CERTASS assessment process is made up of three parts: an online multiple choice knowledge assessment, an on-site observation, and a professional discussion with the CERTASS Assessor.
CERTASS will issue the compliance certificate directly to the homeowner (either by post or by email) within 7 working days of receiving notification of the completed works from the CERTASS contractor.
FENSA vs CERTASS – what’s the difference?
FENSA and CERTASS are both UKAS* approved certification schemes, both set up in response to Government legislation. They essentially offer the same thing; peace of mind to homeowners that their replacement double glazing is compliant, efficient, and insured for quality and performance. They both eliminate the need to apply and pay for a separate Building Regulation inspection, as well as offering deposit protection – although FENSA suspended deposit protection as a requirement for FENSA Approved Installers in May 2020** in response to the short-term exposure deposits present to them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some believe that FENSA installers are more experienced than CERTASS installers, although there is nothing to back up this claim other than FENSA launching 4 years earlier.
The most prominent difference for homeowners is that CERTASS is a Green Homes Grant Approved Certification body, as its members also have the required TrustMark-registered status. That said, since February 2021, FENSA is offering a limited number of free PAS 2030 training for installers looking to become approved suppliers for the Green Homes Grant Scheme.
*UKAS (the United Kingdom Accreditation Service) is appointment by government to assess organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection, and assessment services.
**Correct at time of publishing.
What is the Green Homes Grant Scheme?
Introduced in August 2020, the Green Homes Grant Scheme aims to help homeowners and landlords in England align their properties with minimum energy efficiency standards to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions. Covering a range of thermal upgrades, eligible property owners can access vouchers between £5,000 – £10,000 up until 31 March 2022.
What if my windows are not FENSA or CERTASS registered?
Window and door installers are not required by law to be registered with either CPS scheme, but it is important to understand that it is illegal to install double glazing in a property without building regulation approval. So, if a building regulation certificate has not been issued, your local authority may ask for it to be altered or removed, and failure to do so can result in fines, enforcement notices and even prosecution for serious breaches. Although, if this is the case, you can apply to your local authority for retrospective building regulation approval.
If and when the times comes to sell-up or remortgage your home, a building regulation certificate is also required to lawfully go ahead. FENSA and CERTASS certificates simply speed up the process.
Do you need a FENSA certificate for composite doors?
Officially, under Part L of the Building Control Regulations, replacement windows and doors with 50% glass or more in the main body of the building should have a FENSA, CERTASS, or building regulation certificate. So, composite doors with less than 50% glazing will not need to be registered with FENSA, CERTASS, or your local authority. New conservatories, orangeries and porches don’t need a FENSA/CERTASS certificate either, as they are primarily for replacement windows and doors only.
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So, now you understand what FENSA and CERTASS are all about, why not get clued up on which energy-efficient windows are best for your project?