What is a Fensa Certificate?
FENSA stands for ‘Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme’. It is a type of ‘Competent Person Scheme’ that proves installers are experienced and competent enough to carry out work that complies with Building Regulations. A FENSA certificate is a common way for these installers to prove that their work and products are up to standard. It’s typically issued by construction companies who install windows and doors.
Once the work is complete, the FENSA installer will provide the homeowners with a FENSA certificate and register the installation with the correct local authority. The certificate typically lasts as long as the products do and it serves as evidence of an up to 10-year insurance backed guarantee.
Compare My Move collaborates with well-known property experts to create accurate and insightful guides that will help you through the moving process. In this article, we will explain what a FENSA certificate is, why you need one and what to do if you’ve lost yours.
What is FENSA?
Once the UK government gave authorisation, FENSA (Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme) was created in 2002 in response to the new building regulations introduced in April of the same year. It was the first and is currently the most well-known Competent Person Scheme for the door and window installation industry in England and Wales.
The building regulations introduced in 2002 required any new double-glazed window, door or roof light installations to comply with new regulations and meet certain thermal performance standards. FENSA monitors building regulation compliance and each approved installer is regularly assessed. Their job is to ensure the work carried out is energy-efficient, registered with the correct local authority and to verify that every installer’s guarantee is insured.
When you hire a FENSA installer, you get a certificate to prove it. This FENSA certificate is then physical proof that the window and door installations in the property are compliant and have been accurately registered. It is a vital certificate to have when selling a house. In 2018, over 13 million certificates had been issued across the UK - that’s approximately 50% of all UK homes covered by FENSA just 16 years after its creation.
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What Does a FENSA Certificate Cover?
A FENSA certificate covers the replacement of external windows, doors, roof lights and roof windows in a property against the correct Building Regulations. It also serves as evidence that the installation company’s warranty is insured.
The main role of a FENSA certificate is to provide proof that the window and door installations in your home:
- Comply with Building Regulations
- Use energy-efficient products
- Are registered with your local council
However, the certificate does not cover:
- Commercial properties
- New-build homes
- Repair work
Why Do You Need a FENSA Certificate When Selling a House?
During the buying and selling process, the conveyancers involved will ask the seller a number of standard questions about the property. This will provide the potential buyer with all the relevant information concerning the building, its history and any problems that may delay the conveyancing process. One such question is, “Have you replaced any windows since 2002?”
If the answer is yes, the conveyancer’s job is to then ask for the FENSA certificate or whatever equivalent the seller may have. All properties containing windows and doors that were installed from 1st April 2002 onwards should have a FENSA certificate. If you have the certificate ready, it will ensure a much smoother process and reduce the risk of delays.
If the property does not have a certificate, further enquiries must be made. The lack of a certificate could signify that the installation of the windows and doors was faulty, unreliable or not to legal requirements. It may also mean that the seller or buyer will eventually have to pay for an inspection by building control. These factors can either put buyers off a property or completely halt a sale.
The presentation of a document such as the FENSA certificate can support the information provided in the TA6 Property Infomation Form which must be completed by the seller. This reassures buyers that the work completed was to a high standard and by a competent, skilled installer. The certificate can then be transferred to the buyer once the transaction is complete, making for a much more seamless sale.
How Do You Get a FENSA Certificate?
If they’re a member of the scheme, your installer should provide you with a copy of the FENSA certificate once the work has been completed. If you were not the owner of the property during the installation, the previous seller should have given you the document once the sale was finalised.
If a certificate was never issued or has been lost, you can obtain another one by contacting FENSA directly. A replacement certificate will cost around £20 but it can be purchased online. If you’re unsure whether the property has one already, simply provide FENSA with the house number and postcode and they will check on your behalf for free.
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How Long Does a FENSA Certificate Last?
The FENSA certificate will last as long as the newly installed windows and doors do. It is a transferable document, meaning even when the property is sold on, the certificate will still be valid. It will be passed onto the new owner during the sale and will last as long as they keep the windows and doors.
What Happens if You Do Not Have a FENSA Certificate?
There are a number of reasons why a property may not have a FENSA certificate. These include:
- The installation of the windows and doors was complete before 1st April 2002, meaning the property doesn’t need a certificate to say it complies with Building Regulations.
- The doors and windows were ordered before 1st April 2002 but were installed by 30th June the same year.
- The installation was certified under another scheme or directly by the Building Control Officer.
- The installation was not certified.
If you know the property has a FENSA certificate (or something similar) but you believe it to be misplaced, you can replace the document online for a small fee. However, if you believe the property doesn’t have a certificate, there are other solutions to consider:
- Local Authority Search Results - Your conveyancer can check the local authority search results for further information. If the property was in fact certified, the results should tell you when and by whom.
- Retrospective Building Regulation Compliance Certificate - You can apply for a Retrospective Building Regulation Compliance Certificate with your local authority - this is also known as a letter of regularisation for unauthorised works. As a building control officer will have to visit the property, it will take time for you to apply for and receive this letter and it can cost anywhere between £300-£400. If an issue with the installation is found, it will then be rectified before a certificate is provided.
- Indemnity Insurance - The buyer can take out double glazing building regulations indemnity insurance. The buyer can apply for an indemnity policy if the double glazing installation occurred over a year ago. This will protect them against financial losses should the local authority enforce alterations. The cost of this is typically around £180-£500.
It’s important to note that it isn’t illegal to buy or sell a property that doesn’t comply with building regulations. However, the person or company who completed the work can be subjected to an unlimited fine. The property owner could also be given an enforcement notice by their local authority, pressuring them to resolve the issues and pay for the repair work.
How to Find a Competent Installer
If you’re looking for a competent professional to install new windows, doors or roof lights, you should first search through the FENSA official website and use their Find a FENSA Approved Installer tool to narrow down your options. This will ensure they’re certified and regularly assessed by FENSA, providing you with added protection and peace of mind.
Rogue traders do exist so it’s essential you find someone who is experienced, qualified and fully-regulated. If they are not a member of FENSA, they might be with Certass, the second-largest organisation in this industry, Certass has the same role as FENSA in ensuring installations comply with Building Regulations and are fully registered.
Another option is to ask family, friends or reliable tradespeople for recommendations. However, if you choose this option, make sure you do your research and ask as many questions as possible. Ask the installers for references and let them explain what scheme they use to verify that their work complies with current Building Regulations. Depending on who you get the recommendation from, you can also ask to see a previous FENSA certificate for further evidence and reassurance.
As with any service, cheaper does not always mean better. Many reliable installers will be in demand so try to find at least 3 different quotations that you’re happy with. When you eventually find one who is suitable and available, check their warranty and insurance before signing the contract. You should be provided with the quotes, proof of product selection, an agreement that they’ll provide a FENSA certificate and a timeframe for the work required.
Next Steps of Selling a House
This has been a part of our selling a house guide. Next in this series we explore the reasons your house may not be selling. Whether you're choosing the wrong buyers or you've priced your house too much, we cover it all. To learn more read why isn't my house selling.