Using certified tradespeople provides not only a long-term economic benefit to the purchaser but also peace of mind.

Many trades, such as electrical engineering or plumbing require far more than a mere ‘hands on’ attitude but also a thorough understanding of technical theory – theory that is often an amalgamation of a number of disciplines such as physics, math, chemistry etc. Workers, such as steamfitters, work on boilers and hot water systems that require high levels of technical expertise to install and maintain. The human consequences for a badly installed furnace, boiler, or electrical system can be catastrophic. It is essential that those carrying out such work know what they’re doing – and the best way consumers can ensure this is by checking their contractor’s credentials.

Technical expertise

Paul Myers is President and owner of Keith Plumbing and Heating Co. Ltd. in North Vancouver, British Columbia and views certification as essential to the health and safety of both consumer, and worker alike.

“We need certification to protect the purchaser and workers,” says Paul. “Homeowners are making an investment and have a right to protection. But this is not a union issue – it doesn’t matter if you’re [in a] union or not. All that matters is that if you go into someone’s house to do work you should be qualified to do the work properly.” Not only this – but checking a contractor’s credentials is essential because in certain instances the use of unlicensed workers can actually void insurance policies, leaving the purchaser on the hook for massive costs.

High stakes

Certification is clearly important for ensuring that work such as home renovations are completed properly but the stakes are even higher when it comes to industrial scale projects, where safety margins are extremely narrow. Joe Shayler is Business Manager of the United Association Local 170 plumbing and pipefitting union in British Columbia. UA170 signatory contractors use only certified and fully qualified journeypersons and indentured apprentices – a standard that Joe would like to see extended to all tradespeople.

“If you’re going to be living beside an oil and gas refinery you’re going to want to know that it was built with qualified journeymen,” says Joe. “If you have workers that have never been taught the code, or been under the tutelage of a qualified journeyman how do we know they’re doing the job properly?” The unfortunate answer here is that you don’t – an answer with which nobody should be satisfied.