Issues with retrofit insulation taking hold

[January 2017]

HOUSEHOLDERS affected by issues with damp are being urged to consider failed or compromised insulation as a possible cause.

The retrofit insulation industry grew rapidly on the back of government subsidies and property experts say some contractors have allowed standards to slip in the chase for grant funding.
They are warning poor quality design and installation of retrofit insulation, coupled with defects such as poor pointing and cracked render in filled cavity wall buildings, can lead to major problems and say early signs should never be ignored.

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of national trade body the Property Care Association (PCA), said: “Faults caused by or made a great deal worse by retrofit insulation can have a significant effect on homes.

“It could be that it’s not working effectively to reduce energy consumption, but it can also lead to internal dampness and that has the potential to cause significant damage to a property if left unchecked.

“Signs such as peeling wallpaper, cracking plaster, mould or flaking paint could be due to a number of reasons, but it’s important that the cause is identified as early as possible.”

The issue of inappropriate, defective and compromised retrofit insulation is in the spotlight after the publication of the Bonfield report, entitled ‘Each Home Counts.’ Published at the end of 2016 the independent review has identified significant issues, and proposed steps to avoid problems in the future.

According to the PCA, up to 20 per cent of its members at any time are dealing with the unintended consequences of retrofit insulation – and up to 50 per cent are seeing it on a regular basis.

The trade body first started to raise concerns in 2012, as its members began encountering issues with damp being caused by retrofit insulation in properties across the UK.

Mr Hodgson added: “Grants for home insulation were introduced as part of a Government initiative to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

“The subsidy was well-intentioned, but it has helped to create a market with a grant system which rewards volume rather than quality.

“The quality of installation, the suitability of a building and the needs of a particular site have become secondary considerations in some cases and that can have a knock-on effect for homeowners.

“A relatively small but highly significant number of properties which have been fitted with retrofit insulation are encountering problems. It is important for both homeowners and property professionals to be aware of the issues surrounding retrofit insulation.

“Anyone who does believe their insulation is the cause of dampness should go back to the company that installed it in the first place and seek their assistance.

“If householders have concerns about damp then they can contact a member of the PCA, who will be able to advise them appropriately.”

Watch the video:  Retrofit Insulation & Ventilation