This is an excellent article by Yvonne Orgill, chief executive of The Bathroom Manufacturers Association, where she discusses the importance of using a qualified installer and quality products. It provides excellent advice to anyone looking to purchase a new bathroom. Retailers of bathrooms should understand this advice to provide additional expert guidance to their customers.
Apart from price, which is always top of the list, there should be two main priorities for anyone investing in a new bathroom. The first is that the product should be of excellent quality and should conform with all the relevant standards and regulations. The second is that it should be installed correctly, safely and efficiently, by qualified and competent installers.
But there can be a problem...
How does a customer know for certain that they are choosing the best products and installation services?
"Whether it's a bathroom, a bedroom or a bar of chocolate, I always advise people to buy from a long-established retailer with a great track record, selling well-known branded products manufactured by companies belonging to a trade association," says Yvonne Orgill, chief executive of The Bathroom Manufacturers Association.
"Well, in my position, I would say that. But it is true! A would-be bathroom buyer can ensure peace of mind (and an assurance of getting things put right if they do go wrong) if the chosen bathroom comes from a well-known branded manufacturer supported by a trade body and produced to conform with all the regulations.
"Bathroom products are required, by law, to meet certain British Standards. These standards are in place to ensure that they perform as described, conform with the regulations and are no danger to health."
Some standards are also covered by the CE Marking Regulations. This familiar mark became legally binding for sanitaryware relatively recently, in 2013. Now, all bathroom products covered by Harmonised European Standards must have the CE Mark fixed to the product, its instruction literature, or its packaging.
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CE marking is a key indicator of a product's compliance with European legislation. It is not a quality mark but it does indicate 'fitness for purpose.' By fixing the CE mark to a product, a manufacturer or importer is openly declaring its conformity with the legal requirements as detailed in the Construction Products Regulations.
The BMA works hard to emphasise the importance of CE Marking and ensures that its members do follow the requirements. Unmarked product could be an indication of non-compliance and therefore not fit for purpose.
In addition, bathroom products could also be registered with the European Water Labelling scheme. This voluntary scheme seen in 34 countries throughout Europe, lists 12,500 products in its on-line database. Each listing shows water consumption, and where relevant, energy consumption, characteristics. Customers can choose which products best meet their budget and lifestyle.
Correct installation of products is also crucial. It is becoming more important than ever that customers choose a qualified and competent installer who adheres closely to the regulations. Unfortunately, as in all walks of life, there is a minority of unscrupulous people who will hoodwink their clients and charge exorbitant fees for shoddy and unlawful bathroom installations. Fortunately, recent court cases have put some of them behind bars for this very reason.
One of the best ways to select a genuine and competent installer is to use authoritative directories. One of the most familiar is the CIPHE - the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering whose members are required to abide by strict rules.
The WaterSafe scheme is also an ideal way of selecting an installer. This national scheme is aimed at consumers looking to employ the services of contractors who are competent to work in compliance with the Water Regulations.
Competent contractors will work to set standards and will carefully advise clients and ensure that the installation is the safest possible. For instance, they will recommend using the latest Thermostatic Mixing Valves, the small and inexpensive devices which limit excessive hot water temperature. These prevent life-changing scalding accidents, particularly in the young and elderly.
"Conformance of product and competence of installation should always be priorities for anyone thinking about a new bathroom," says Yvonne. "It makes sense. It avoids possible future problems and in the end saves both money, and sometimes lives."
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