The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” goes the old saying: you might mean well, but if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing you’ll do more harm than good. The Federation of Master Builders meant well when it set up the Construction Licensing Task Force. The idea was put an end to the scourge of cowboy builders once and for all by requiring all construction businesses, including sole traders, to pass an exam and carry a licence to trade.
A world without cowboy builders is certainly an alluring prospect but the Licence UK Construction campaign was, at best, a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It literally wanted to make it illegal for anybody to do a paid job of work – even if it was just hanging a picture on a wall – without first being tested and awarded a licence (for which you’d have had to pay).
It seemed like a nice idea, but the more you looked at it the sillier it became. It wouldn’t have stopped billion-pound-turnover house-builders flogging jerry-built rabbit hutches to trusting families. And it wouldn’t have stopped the Grenfell Tower tragedy. But it would have made life hard for many a smallbuilder.
As we report on page 7 of this issue, the Construction Licensing Task Force has finally seen the light and performed an embarrassed U-turn, calling only for builders doing government grant-funded improvements to carry an “approved quality mark”. Next bright idea?