Skills shortage may encourage property owners to retrofit homes themselves — but at a cost

During a speech held at The Conveyancing Climate Change Conference earlier this week, Robert Stevens, head of property risk at Nationwide Building Society (pictured above), claimed that the process of retrofitting UK homes to improve energy efficiency could be hampered by the lack of skilled labour.

According to Robert, the lack of tradespeople may encourage some property owners to take up the task of insulating their homes themselves, which may not offer any benefits or, worse, could damage the property.

Others may be duped by ’cowboy builders’ claiming to be able to retrofit homes, which again could end up wrecking one’s property.

He listed examples seen by Nationwide of people using spray foam insulation inside lofts, potentially affecting the structural integrity of the roof (as the loft may not be able to support the extra weight), or causing timber to rot.

Meanwhile, other have used foam insulation under floors, obstructing access to wiring.

Robert believes this is just the tip of the iceberg and claims there is a general lack of knowledge at  consumer level with regard to EPC ratings.

“More people probably know the EPC rating of their fridge than the one of their house — and that’s quite scary,” said Robert.

“The reality is that an EPC today is just seen as a piece of paper that's produced to help somebody get a property; most consumers don't read it or take it into consideration.

“There's an awful lot of education that needs to be done here for the consumer, because the average person on the street doesn't really understand all of this, and that there are real life costs that will come into play.”

Robert added that experts may need to “protect consumers from themselves” and emphasised the importance of advising buyers on the current and future potential risks to their desired property, helping them to understand its insurability and the possible costs of repairing and retrofitting the home, if needed.

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