How To Start A Business As A Heating Engineer In The UK

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Did you know there are approximately 120,000 registered plumbing and heating engineers in the UK? And despite that sheer number, it can still feel impossible to get the right professional when you need one. 

Qualified, professional and available heating engineers and plumbers are in high demand, particularly in the UK, where we rely on heating to keep our homes warm for almost half the year. This market can be competitive – but an incredibly lucrative one to get into if you’ve got the skills and are ready to be your own boss. 

If you think it’s time to set up shop, we’ve got all the information you need on how to start a business as a heating engineer. 

What type of heating engineer do you want to be?

The first step in knowing how to start a business as a heating engineer is determining your niche.

Heating engineers cover many different services for different industries. So, one of the primary things you have to do is figure out what services and specialization you want to offer.

For example, do you want to work in the residential sector or specialise in commercial or industrial heating? 

In terms of services, will you offer: 

  • Emergency call-out services? 
  • Traditional plumbing services? 
  • Boiler and gas installations?
  • Heating services and repair? 
  • Heating refits or renovations?
  • Unvented hot water systems?
  • Water recycling and renewables?
  • Any other services? 

When starting out, it can be tempting to try and offer as many services as possible. But rather than be a jack of all trades, it might be more beneficial for you to specialise in certain services to become the leading expert in that specific niche for your area.

This will also help out when it comes to marketing and advertising your business, all while guaranteeing a high quality. 

Once you have this part figured out, we can move on to the nitty-gritty details of how to start a business as a heating engineer.

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Do you need to be qualified to set up a business as a heating engineer? 

It’s important to make sure that you have the right qualifications before you start a business as a heating engineer.

This is because some of the services you provide can be dangerous without proper training, and in some cases, you won’t legally be able to carry out and sign off on certain services without the correct paperwork. 

For example, if you’re working on any gas appliances, you must be Gas Safe registered. According to the Gas Safe Register, more than one million homes in the UK are put at risk yearly by illegal gas fitters carrying out unsafe work.

In addition, 1/5 gas appliances were so dangerous that they needed to be disconnected immediately, including over 186,00 gas cookers, 147,000 boilers, 75,000 gas fires, and 32,000 gas meters. 

If you’re working on any solid fuel or oil appliances, it’s recommended to get accreditation from HETAS and OFTEC. Without this, you won’t be able to issue a Certificate of Compliance to customers for their stoves, wood burners or any other appliances.

Becoming registered with these organisations can also help customers find your business through their online directory, making it a win-win for your business. 

Learning how to start a business as a heating engineer can be intimidating and stressful.You must have the necessary qualifications before you can set up a business due to the nature of your work.One of them is becoming a Gas safe Registered Engineer.

How to become a Gas Safe Registered Engineer

It takes five simple steps to become a Gas Safe Registered Engineer, ensuring that you are qualified to work safely and legally on gas appliances.

If you’re already Gas Safe registered through an employer, you will need to re-register with your own personal details, as this registration won’t follow through to your own personal business. 

1) Make a Gas Safe account 

The first step to getting on the Gas Sage register is to create an account with them. You’ll need your name, an email address and a secure password. (We don’t recommend Password123 or GasSafe1). 

2) Complete the application form 

Once your account is registered and verified, you can complete the online form to apply to the Gas Sa Register. This form will need details such as: 

  • Your name
  • Your address and contact information
  • Your gas engineering qualifications
  • Your experience 

Make sure you have all the information on hand before completing the form. 

3) Pay the registration fee

Once your form is ready, you must pay the registration fee. The 2023 rate for this fee is £262 (including VAT) for a new application, and it will cost £290 to renew each year. Once paid, you need to wait for your application to be processed. 

On average, applications take up to 10 days to process – but this can be longer depending on the required information. 

4) Schedule an inspection 

Once your application is processed, you must schedule an inspection to ensure your work is up to standard. An email will be sent out to you with instructions on how to set up this inspection. 

5) Pass your inspection 

A Gas Safe Inspector will come out to check your gas work and assess if it meets the required safety standards. If all goes well, this test will be passed, and you will be Gas Safe registered. 

If you fail this inspection, you will be given a list of issues you must address. Then, you can request a re-inspection to have another chance to pass and become Gas Safe Registered. 

How often do you need to renew your Gas Safe Registration? 

A Gas Safe registration lasts for one year and needs to be renewed annually. Once registered, you can renew your Gas Safe certification at any time in the eight weeks before your membership expires. 

We’d recommend keeping this date firmly on the calendar and putting some money aside for the renewal fees in your budget. 

I’m qualified. Now, how to start a business as a heating engineer? 

With your qualifications in place, it’s time to start getting into the details of setting up your own business. There are three phases involved in this process: 

  • Preparation, where you get your business plan together and prepare yourself for business. 
  • Registration, where you officially set up your business as a limited company or register to be a sole trader 
  • Trading, where it’s time to start getting those clients and making money! 

With your qualifications and the idea of what services you’re offering out of the way, the only thing remaining in the preparation phase is to create your business plan. 

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Preparation: create your business plan 

A business plan is like a map for your business. It tells you everything about your business, how it runs, what you want to achieve, and how you’ll do it. If you follow it, you will find treasure (or profit) on the spot marked X. 

Businesses that have a plan are more likely to succeed. This is super important because one out of every five businesses in the UK doesn’t make it past their first year!

Your business plan will include information such as: 

  • What products or services that you will be offering 
  • What will set you out from the rest of the competition (which is where specialising in one aspect of heating engineering might be a benefit over trying to be a jack of all trades)
  • What market you will operate your business in (i.e. residential, commercial or industrial)
  • How will you run your business (i.e. will you be based in a 10-mile radius of your home city, will you cover callouts, or will you be appointment-based only?) 
  • How much will your services cost? 
  • What equipment and funding will you need to get started? 
  • How will you get your funding?
  • How are you planning on attracting customers and clients to your business? 

Okay, there are lots of loaded questions here, and it’s okay if you don’t have all the answers straight away. And to make it easier, we have many help guides and how-tos to help you get the answers you need. 

Get inspired by: 

We’ve also got an in-depth guide on how to create your business plan, step by step. If you want some help or would rather take the easier route, Startup Hive has a free tool that makes it easy. You just fill in the blanks, and you’re on your way.

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Set clear goals for your business

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Brainstorm ideas and log inspirations

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Registration: How to set up a business as a heating engineer 

With a business plan under your belt and all the preparation done, we’re moving on to the final step in learning how to start a business as a heating engineer.

It’s time to set up your business officially.

But first, you need to decide on a company structure, as the process will vary depending on your choice. The biggest options to decide between will be a sole trader vs a limited company. 

Sole traders are the most common choice because they are quick, easy and require a lot less regulations and d tape to jump through. To set up as a sole trader, all you need to do is tell HMRC that you’ll pay your taxes through Self-Assessment. That’s it. 

On the other hand, Limited Companies are a little more complicated but provide you with greater protection and tax benefits than a sole company. This is because they could act as their own legal entity, which means that you can enter contracts, buy property and take out debt in the company’s name, rather than your own. 

The process for setting up a limited company is a little more complicated. For this, you will need a company name (that isn’t taken or goes against Companies House guidelines), a registered business address, an appointed director (which can be yourself) and assigned shares.

You’ll also need to create official documents called a memorandum of association and articles of association. Finally, you have to complete the registration process with the Companies House. What a list. 

Or, if you’d rather someone take care of this for you, you can use one of our trusted company formation agents to complete this entire process on your behalf. How quick and easy. 

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Trading: promotion and day-to-day business

Once you’re officially set up, it’s time to start trading and running your business. How exciting! 

The business plan you created in the preparation phase will be an essential guide here on starting trading, giving you the building blocks of your strategy and goals. It’s in your hands to make it happen. 

Although every business will be run differently, we’ll leave you with two top tips from the Business4beginners team:

1. Get a website

Ensure you create a website and get listed on official Gas Safe and other accreditation websites.

Having an online presence will make it easier for people to find you, and customers can find your website through online registers like Gas Safe. These platforms provide an extra layer of trust, knowing you are a qualified expert for the job. 

As a heating engineer, your website doesn’t need to be the most high-tech and content-filled website to exist.

It just needs to be a place to showcase your services and provide a way for clients to get in touch. And if you’re budget-conscious, you could even use a free website builder to get your website live in minutes. 

2. Get testimonials and reviews

Word of mouth and social proof is incredibly powerful as a heating engineer. Once you start bringing clients in, ensure they leave your business reviews – either on social media (through a Facebook page) or through review websites like TrustPilot or CheckaTrade. 

The more positive reviews you get, the more potential clients will trust your services, which means more work and clients for you. 

Looking for more business advice? 

Business4Beginners was created to be your friendly, neighbourhood business buddies, ready to lend a hand with all the latest news, handy tips, and great advice to kickstart your business journey.

If you’re eager to elevate your business planning game, say hello to Startup Hive

This step-by-step platform is crafted by our awesome Business4Beginners team. It’s your go-to source for personalised advice, super-easy-to-understand videos, and clear paths to help your business take off. 

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Business4Beginners has been advising new businesses owners since 2013. The founder, Paul Bryant, has created, grown and sold several successful businesses and remains the editor and fact-checker of all content published on the site.
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