Rogue Builders Can Endanger Lives

We have all come across stories of rogue builders who have caused untold upset and financial distress for the people they claim to help. Think of stories like these and you will usually think of financial loss, stress and upset. However, you may not think there could be any danger to life as a result of the work that is done (or not done, or not completed to the proper standard).

However, this was indeed the case with Robert Scott, a builder from Milton Keynes who has recently received a suspended jail sentence for installing faulty wood burners in his customers’ homes.

Faulty stoves and fake trading certificates

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Image courtesy of Ian Streeter

A wood burner can be a wonderful addition to any home. However, as the majority of people will know, it must be installed in the proper manner by a professional who is qualified to do so. If this is not the case, there is a very real risk of something going wrong.

If you decide to have a wood burner installed, make sure you approach an installer who is HETAS-approved. HETAS is the official Government body that approves qualified and experienced installers who are capable of carrying out the installations safely and properly.

In the case of Robert Scott, who traded as JRS Builders and Fire Installations, he was displaying the HETAS logo without permission to do so. He was previously part of the scheme but had been removed from it. During the court case it also became clear that he had stolen a HETAS certificate and used this to give a copy to a customer.

Officers from the local council investigated a number of complaints and also came across other customers with installations put in by Mr Scott that had caused them problems. Many of these installations had been done after Mr Scott had been removed from the HETAS scheme.

Robert Scott was eventually given a custodial sentence lasting for 10 months. This was suspended for 18 months if he meets a series of conditions. A councillor at Bedford Borough Council encouraged anyone who may have come across a similar rogue tradesperson to get in touch with the trading standards at their council. This applies across the country, of course – not just in Bedford.

A genuine HETAS certificate is very important

If you think you have found a builder or installer who can put a wood burner in for you, make doubly sure that individual is currently qualified and approved by HETAS to do the work for you. You can check this with HETAS if you like.

The whole idea of having a wood burner installed is to provide you with a safe and appealing source of heat in your home. Several of those who had installations done by Mr Scott found themselves with faulty wood burners. In one instance, a customer had to call the fire brigade because their house had filled with smoke. As you can imagine, this must have been frightening for them – and all because the installation had not been done properly to begin with.

While these customers had to foot the bill for the faulty installations to be resolved, there was also the very real potential fire risk involved. Make sure you aren’t caught out in a similar situation. Make sure you only ever use a reputable trader, and report any suspicious traders to Trading Standards. Remember, Thrift Urban Housing and our fraud service is also here to help you.

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