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How to start a heating and ventilation business

If you've recently qualified, or have been working your way up within a heating and ventilation company, you might be wondering how to start a heating and ventilation business of your own. In this guide, we explain what it takes to set up and develop a successful HVAC company.

The demand for effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC) in the UK is rising. Many offices and retail establishments have (or plan to install) air conditioning and the demand for maintenance and repairs is not going away any time soon.

As a heating and ventilation engineer, you have a promising career ahead of you. But have you ever thought about branching out and going it alone?

If you’re wondering how to start a heating and ventilation business, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll explain the practical steps to setting up a business, including the essentials such as insurance, business registration, and tax liabilities. We’ll also share lots of advice and tips on how to grow your new HVAC business. 

We also have a number of FREE business templates to save you time, including a business plan template, a marketing planning guide, and a business development strategy template to help plan your business growth.

Can’t wait to get started?

Sign up for our ‘Become the Boss’ series for help getting your heating and ventilation business up and running in no time.

You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips and top advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position. At the end of it all, you could be armed with the knowledge to be the founder of your new business.

Simply enter your email to make the most of this free business advice:

Create a business plan for your heating and ventilation business

The very first step to setting up your own business should be to create your business plan. This will outline your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

A business plan will also help you to focus on each of the elements that will help to create a successful business. This includes taking the time to research competitors and customer needs to get your positioning right, figuring out your costs and your pricing model, and making sure you have the right resources and qualifications to go solo.

The following areas are all essential parts of a well-rounded business plan:


Consider what services your customers need, what your target location for customers is, what days of the week you’ll work, and where you’ll source your tools and equipment. When it comes to the services you offer, choosing a niche could help you reach customers. For example, ventilation equipment installation or HVAC maintenance and repairs.


Once you know who your ideal customers will be, you’ll need to make a plan for how you’ll reach them and encourage them to choose your business. Advertising is great but it can be costly and may not be in your budget. A great way to get your business out there is to become a Checkatrade member.

If you’re looking to boost your digital presence, then it’s a no-brainer joining Checkatrade. With our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence, we make it easier for customers to find you. And as long as you pass our 12 checks, you’ll instantly be seen as a trusted business to your potential customers. With the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier, as 8 out of 10 people would choose a tradesperson we’ve checked over one we haven’t*.

Finances and costs

When looking at how to start a heating and ventilation business, you’ll need to decide how you’ll pay the start-up costs. Will you need a loan or credit card? Do you have sufficient savings? Or, are there any government loan schemes that can help you get started? Also plan how you’ll manage the finances of your company. You could hire an accountant or use accounting software like Powered Now.

Take a look at our guide on how to write a business plan. And enter your email below to get your FREE business plan template:

Training and qualifications

As you know, to work in this field, you’ll need to have completed either a college course or an apprenticeship.

But before you take the leap into self-employment, it’s worth reading up on the certifications you’ll need to do your job. For example, the heating and equipment testing and approvals scheme, the (HETAS) certificate.

As a business owner, you need to protect yourself and any employees from any avoidable dangers, so make sure you’re up-to-speed with health and safety guidance.

If you want to take your qualifications to the next level, broaden your options even further and gain membership to a professional body, you can do an HNC/HND, a higher-level vocational qualification, or study for a degree.

Other useful skills and attributes

While you may have the technical skills to be a competent and able heating and ventilation engineer, running a business requires a different skillset altogether.

Do you have what it takes?

  • Knowledge of the building and construction industry
  • Analytical skills and the ability to use your initiative
  • Attention to detail
  • Good communication skills
  • Being well organised and able to manage your own time effectively
  • Good interpersonal skills and the ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • You need to be assertive and have conviction in your decisions
  • Good problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • You must be reliable, punctual, respectful, and enthusiastic

Top tips on how to become your own boss

How to start a heating and ventilation business – step by step

As you might imagine, there are various steps you must take to get a new business off the ground. In this section, we’ll guide you through what you need to do.

Choose a business name

One of the most exciting parts of starting a company is picking your business name. You’ll want to make sure it’s memorable while standing out from your competition. You’ll then need to register it.

Register your business

Next, you’ll need to register your business with HMRC to trade legally.

You’ll also need to decide on your business structure: will your business operate as a sole trader or a limited company?

It’s important you weigh up the different regulations and taxes that apply to each so you can settle on the arrangement that works best for you. If you’re unsure or need some guidance, contact a professional accountant.

Get business insurance

Frustratingly, accidents and mistakes can happen, particularly when you work in the trade sector where there are risks involved. As a responsible business owner, you will need to get insurance.

There are different types of insurance that can help to protect your business from financial losses such as:

All Checkatrade members receive an exclusive discount with our insurance partner, Covéa.

How to pick the right tradesperson insurance


As a new business owner, there are a number of things to consider when it comes to finances:

1. How will you fund your new venture?

You’ll need to cover the start-up costs of equipment, supplies, and perhaps a company vehicle. If you don’t have sufficient savings, make sure you understand the interest rates and repayment fees of any borrowing you take out.

2. Keep an eye on your cash flow

Poor cash flow management is one of the top reasons for new businesses failing, so keep a close eye on money coming and money going out of your business. Take a look at our article, 4 simple tips for successful cash flow management to help avoid the pitfalls.

3. Understand your tax liabilities

As an employee, it’s likely you were paid under PAYE and you were taxed ‘at source’. When you become self-employed, you need to register for self-assessment with HMRC and understand when your taxes need to be filed and paid.

4. Stay on top of the books

It may not be the most exciting part of your day, especially when you’ve been out all day grafting, but taking the time to keep your books in order will pay off in the long term. Read our guide to bookkeeping for small businesses.

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Tools and equipment

You’ll need a range of tools and equipment for your new heating and ventilation company. If you’re short on funds, there’s always the possibility of buying used tools, as long as they are in excellent condition. At the very least you’ll need:

  • Hammers
  • Pliers
  • Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Tape measure
  • Thermometers
  • Torch
  • Drill
  • Multimeter
  • HVAC load calculator
  • Psychrometer

Checkatrade members receive exclusive discounts on a range of business essentials through our carefully selected partners.

Save money setting up your heating and ventilation business

Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year on fuel, insurance, tools, equipment, workwear, and more**

Tell me more

Marketing your heating and ventilation business

Naturally, once you’re all set up, you need to start generating a regular flow of work! This is where your marketing strategy comes in.

Signwriting your vehicle is a great way to build awareness of your services, and networking with other trades is a good way to make introductions.

Setting up social media profiles for your business and populating them with content that showcases the quality work you offer is a great way to connect with potential customers and start to build rapport.

Many tradespeople share updates, completed work, and videos online to demonstrate their capabilities.

Save money and time marketing your business

When setting up your new heating and ventilation business, you’ll probably find that you have a lot of plates to juggle.

Let us help you to get your business off the ground

  • With our digital marketing strategy and strong online presence, becoming a Checkatrade member makes it easier for customers to find you
  • You’ll get a business profile on the UK’s leading trade directory, and a search listing in Google, just as a website would
  • Display customer reviews, testimonials, and examples of your work on your Checkatrade profile page
  • Manage customer enquiries on the go, directly from the Checkatrade app, keeping everything in one handy place
  • Get free marketing materials and exclusive discounts on business essentials, including workwear, tools, equipment, insurance, van leasing, fuel, and more

And with the Checkatrade tick by your name, it makes your marketing just that little bit easier, as 8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade, compared to one which isn’t*.

Save money setting up your heating and ventilation business

Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year on fuel, insurance, tools, equipment, workwear, and more**

Tell me more

Quick action: Sign up for our ‘Become the Boss’ series

You could get your heating and ventilation business started right away with the help of our ‘Become the Boss’ series.

You’ll receive a series of 8 emails containing actionable tips and top advice from fellow tradespeople who were once in your position. And at the end of it, you could be the founder of your new business.

To get trade business insider secrets sent to your pocket, enter your email address in the form below so we can help you to get started:

How to grow your heating and ventilation business

With your heating and ventilation company up and running, you may be wondering how you can grow your business.

This next section is all about identifying, setting, and achieving realistic growth targets to scale up in an attainable way.

What is business growth?

‘Business growth’ can often be thought of as ‘selling more’, but it can occur in many different ways.

Business growth can include generating more revenue via increased sales, but developing a larger customer base, and offering more services can also contribute to the growth of your business.

Similarly, growth is also about maintaining or improving your profitability, by seeking out greater efficiencies and minimising costs, for example.

Before you step into the ‘growth’ stage, take some time to consider what growth means for your business:

  • What does ‘growth’ look like?
  • How will you achieve that growth?
  • How will you gauge success?

What growth targets should you set for your business?

As we already mentioned, growth can be achieved in a number of different ways. Just a few examples of growth targets are:

  1. To get more work
  2. To increase revenue
  3. To develop a bigger team
  4. To expand your service offering

How will you achieve your growth targets?

Once you’ve narrowed down your growth target/s, you can start planning how you’ll achieve these goals in your business development plan.

Download our free business development strategy template.

How to create a business development strategy – Free template included

But how do you achieve these growth targets? We’ve provided a selection of tactics you could implement, depending on the targets you’ve set.

1. Growth target: get more work

If your aim is to get more work, you need to attract more customers.

To do this, you could review your marketing strategy. Assess what’s working and what’s not. Look at what you’ve not yet tried that could get more visibility for your business, and help you stand out from the competition.

There are different strategies you could try to get more work for your business:

Traditional marketing

Digital marketing

To help create a clear list of marketing tactics and who’s responsible for them, use our FREE marketing planning guide and checklist.

2. Growth target: increase revenue

To increase your revenue, you need to nail those sales targets! Take a look at our different articles for advice:

3. Growth target: develop a bigger team

If business is booming and you have more work than you can handle yourself, it could be time to expand your team.

As an employer, you have certain responsibilities. For example, it’s a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance. You’ll also need to understand company payroll and learn about holiday pay.

But we understand that you’ll be keen to hire at the right time, and when you do, you’ll want to make sure you hire the right candidates to represent your business.

Check out these articles to give you all the guidance you’ll need:

When you find good workers, you’ll also want to know how to keep them! Find out how to retain an amazing team.

4. Growth target: expand your service offering

As a heating and ventilation engineer, you’re in a growing industry, with plenty of scope to branch into new markets or offer additional services.

  • You could extend the locations you are willing to travel to for work. A big contract might just be worth it
  • Another is to offer additional services, for example, obtaining an electrical qualification to offer these skills alongside your core business
  • Or maybe you’ve identified an opportunity to specialise and focus on a particular niche

In order to do this, you may need to identify the training and development needs of you/your team.

Remember, whatever growth targets you set, they must be S.M.A.R.T

  • Specific – what does the task involve?
  • Measurable – how will you quantify success?
  • Achievable – is this attainable given the resources, knowledge, and time available?
  • Realistic – is the target realistic to the confines of your job and your existing responsibilities?
  • Time-bound – when should the target be achieved by?

How to tell if you’ve reached your targets?

The simplest way to know if you’ve achieved your targets is to measure them.

Draw up a chart that includes your target, your current figure, the figure you’re aiming for, and the % increase. Populate the chart at regular frequencies so you can monitor your progress.

Further considerations for business growth

As your heating and ventilation business grows, there are some other factors to consider too:

  • Funding – how will you facilitate your growth plans? Do you need to source additional funding?
  • Business structure – is it still appropriate to operate as a sole trader, or might it be time to change to a limited company?
  • Company finances – an accountant can help you to stay tax efficient and compliant, and also help to source additional funding as you grow
  • Business processes – will your existing processes support you effectively as you grow? That is, are they scalable? Find out how technology can help to make your business more efficient

Check out our tips on how to grow your trade business.

Grow your heating and ventilation business with Checkatrade

Running a successful business takes time, dedication, and a lot of hard work. Help take your business to the next level with a Checkatrade membership.

Here’s how we can help your business to thrive:

Get more leads

Checkatrade is the best-known sign of quality in the trade industry, with a third of all trade work coming through Checkatrade*.

Win more business

A Checkatrade membership gives you our seal of approval. 8 out of 10 people would choose a trade endorsed by Checkatrade compared to one that isn’t endorsed*. It’s the tick that homeowners trust.

Save money with exclusive access to trade deals

A Checkatrade membership is more than just a directory listing. Our exclusive discounts on business essentials will help you to keep your profit margins sharp. Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year each** on everything from tools, equipment, van leasing, insurance, workwear, and more.

Save money setting up your heating and ventilation business

Checkatrade members save on average £470 per year on fuel, insurance, tools, equipment, workwear, and more**

Tell me more


How profitable is an HVAC business?

So, do HVAC installers make good money? This all comes down to the size of your company, your skill level, the type of jobs you take, how many hours you work, and other factors.

Generally, having an HVAC business is profitable due to the constant need for heating and ventilation in buildings throughout the UK.

How much does the average HVAC business owner make?

Many people considering starting a new heating and ventilation business are curious about how much the average HVAC business owner makes. While a rough guide to potential earnings is between £25,000 and £55,000 this will depend on a number of factors.

What’s more, an HVAC business owner’s salary will usually be based on the size of the company, the services offered, the quality of the work, and the customer’s needs.

What are the start-up costs for an HVAC business?

The start-up costs for an HVAC business are generally not too high. It should cost you less than £10,000 depending on the scope of your plans, although this will vary depending on how much you need to buy, the amount of insurance you need, and how you plan to market your business.

Give your new business the best chance of success

Join the best trades on the UK's leading trade directory

Start our checks now

*Claims are sourced from a survey conducted by Deep Blue Thinking on a nationally representative UK sample in November 2021.
**Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Saving calculation based on average spend across 12,505 members in 2020/2021/2022. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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