My brother in law lives in Nantwich, having just moved into a rural property. He needed a new oil boiler, but as we are 200 miles away, it wasn’t practical to travel up to do the work.
He asked me how he should find a good contractor; I suggested he should find an OFTEC registered installer (OFTEC are the trade technical body for oil fired heating) and also select someone who was a Worcester Bosch Accredited Installer.
So far so good, he got a couple of quotes and the chap that impressed him most got the job. This particular contractor also came with glowing 5* recommendations from one of the largest ‘Trusted Trader/Tradesman type‘* websites.
*(Important Note: I use this description generically to describe the service rather than referring to any company that has a similar name).
So it was all systems go, the installation was going to take 2 days.
Things didn’t go well from the start; the wrong boiler was delivered. And it didn’t get any better afterwards. After around 4 days the contractor left him with no heating over the weekend because they couldn’t understand the wiring.
Unfortunately for me, Mrs Hot Water & Central Heating (Jacqui) and I were going up to stay that weekend…
Defects found were;
4″ hole drilled through external boiler casing in wrong place and left open to the elements
Non- Bosch flue cage doesn’t fit, so it has been self tapped through boiler casing – causing rust.
Oil fire valve upside down; no isolation valve, no oil filter.
Oil pipe sleeved in gaffer tape
Fire valve sensor not fitted in Bosch designed clip above the boiler burner;
Flex run around house and outside, flex cable tied to boiler heating pipes.
Bare unterminated cables in boiler, programmer and thermostat (example below).
Incorrect wiring causing zone valve to burn out in short circuit situation.
Secondhand pump fitted (date code 2009) and passed off as new.
Leak on new oil line.
Oil pipe buried under 1cm of dirt and sleeved in a short length of overflow pipe, fire valve should be 1 metre away from boiler (Bosch instructions).
System not powerflushed (contractor said their Powerflush machine was broken)
All in all, it was one of the worst jobs I’ve seen. I fixed the wiring mistakes during my stay but all the other problems have taken 6 further days of remedial visits by the contractor. I’m told Bosch sent someone over and they thought it looked like a 10yr old had done it.
The contractor involved was registered with MCS for heatpumps and solar, this means they also hold a Government PAS2030 quality ticket (shows what that is worth, if you had any doubts about Government led quality initiatives). They have just two staff, and both of them were responsible for the fiasco, which is still not over.
What are the lessons to be learnt?
When you read tradesmen website reviews, treat them with a pinch of salt. Remember that all a ‘tradesman recommendation checked website’ wants is a £400 a year revenue stream from each contractor (or thereabouts). The quality of their work is never seen by the website owners and is judged by non-technical customers, some of whom may have been intimidated or coerced into providing glowing reviews.
If a tradesman is on a manufacturer website, it is a good sign but sadly it seems it doesn’t guarantee a good job.
If a tradesman is registered with OFTEC or Gas Safe Register, that too is a positive but it doesn’t guarantee a good job either. Neither Gas Safe Register or OFTEC are concerned with any aspects of the job outside basic safety.
I’m often told when I do quotes that as heating technicians hold similar basic accreditations, any finished job can be assumed to be the same. Nothing could be further from the truth, as my brother in law’s lousy job unfortunately proves.
Whether you are a doctor, solicitor, window cleaner or a policeman, you will be aware that your colleagues have different standards of work to you.
Our industry is no different.