Building the foundations

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) was established in July 1941 by 15 small builders who were determined to help Britain build back better after the London Blitz of 1940. Faced with a shortage of skilled labour and materials, the builders – united by a shared passion for quality construction – worked together to coordinate the efforts of local builders to restore bomb-damaged buildings and homes. What began then as the Federation of Greater London Master Builders, later became the Federation of Master Builders in 1943 to reflect the national reach of the organisation. The FMB ‘badge of quality’ was created and to this day, continues to identify small and medium-sized (SME) building companies that are committed to quality craftsmanship.   

Since 1941, the FMB has evolved while maintaining a clear focus on championing quality construction and representing the interests of SME builders. While there is much work to be done, we are proud of our history.

The post war years

In the 1950s, the FMB continued to establish its presence in the regions and the first edition of Master Builder Journal, which is known today as Master Builder magazine, was published. In 1957, the FMB exhibited at the 'Building the New Britain Building Exhibition' at Olympia in London, where both the Queen and Queen Mother visited the FMB stand.

FMB meets the queen

The late 20th century and beyond

In the 1970s, the FMB introduced the first pension scheme for the building industry known as the ‘Construction Industry Pension scheme’. We also formed the Building and Allied Trades Joint Council (BATJIC) in partnership with the Transport and General Workers Union in order to determine annual changes in wages and conditions within the building industry. The FMB continues to support BATJIC each year, which helps to maintain good industrial relations in the workplace.

In the 1980s, the FMB secured two seats on the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), giving small builders a voice in determining the training requirements for the industry. We continue to work with CITB today to call for greater support for SME builders. During this period, the National Register of Warranted Builders (NRWB) was established, which included an insurance-backed warranty — the first scheme of its kind in the building industry — on workmanship, materials and structural defects. NRWB later became FMB Insurance, which continues to provide a wide range of insurance and warranty products to those in the building industry.  

In the 1990s, the FMB expanded into Scotland and Northern Ireland with the creation of local hubs and the online Find a Builder service was launched, making it easier for consumers to find a Master Builder they could trust. The Master Builder of the Year Awards were also launched to recognise quality projects delivered by SME building companies.  

In the 2000s, the FMB joined TrustMark, the only Government-endorsed standards scheme for trades that operate in and around the home, as one of its founding scheme providers. We are currently the largest provider for trades. Independent inspections of all new members were introduced in 2011 to ensure building companies met the high standards of workmanship expected of a Master Builder.

Our work continues

In recent years, we have expanded our membership services and increased our profile and lobbying efforts to help Master Builders promote, protect and grow their building companies. Read about our current campaigns to support Master Builders.

In 2020, the UK construction industry faced its biggest crisis since the Second World War – the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, the FMB has played an active role in supporting members and collaborating with the wider construction industry to tackle new and unprecedented challenges. As they did back in 1941, we know that Master Builders will again have a key role to play to support recovery and help the nation to build back better.

In September 2020, the FMB appointed its first female National President, Jan Etchells.

The FMB through the years