The American economic crisis has been making headlines all over the world for a few months but the US is not alone when it comes to financial difficulties. Various countries around the world have suffered severe economic meltdowns (Iceland and Ukraine just to name a few). The UK has also been having serious economic troubles as well, especially in the housing industry. There has been a twelve percent drop in the price of homes in the UK in the last twelve months. We ask – has the heating and plumbing industry been affected by this?
So far evidence shows that the fallout from the economy has not affected the heating and plumbing industry as initially feared. Although there are reports of sales drops, there are still many companies reporting that sales are steady. The only major change seems to be the type of jobs undertaken by the engineers.
While the housing market was on an upswing, many heating and plumbing professionals were enlisted for the installation of new systems. While the trend was towards home buying, it led to many new systems designed and installed. Professionals would be hired to design systems with a long term view of house prices increasing forever. Once the housing market lost momentum, home owners became more interested in making sure their current systems last as long as possible, and keep the costs down.
Heating and plumbing engineers are now being hired to repair and renovate systems in homes. Heating and cooling systems are being retooled and cleaned instead of being replaced. Professionals are finding that their billable hours are going toward boiler replacement and hot water cylinder repairs and inspecting vents and drains to ensure that they are working correctly and cost efficiently.
Heating and plumbing professionals do appreciate the work they are winning in this difficult economic climate. They acknowledge that the work may not always be challenging or interesting. Installing a combination boiler is not quite as exciting as designing and fitting an entirely new piping and plumbing and heating system in a new home. It is, however, a reliable stream of work and enables them to pay their bills.
Some heating engineers have discovered that diversifying their business and learning how to practice “green” methods of plumbing and heating can remarkably improve their number of billable hours, as recently clients have shown interest in making sure their homes are environmentally friendly. Solar thermal panels, under floor heating systems and environmentally friendly sewer systems are becoming more popular.
The simple fact remains that even though the economy is clearly slowing down, the heating and plumbing industry will be able to stay fairly stable because of the simpler jobs of renovations and repairs and periodic maintenance. Engineers who are up to date on “green” technologies will also be able to bring in a fair amount of work each week. It is important for heating and plumbing engineers to be flexible. The more flexible an engineer can be, the more likely they are to survive no matter what the economic conditions are.