Hodgson View: Do we need to buy a ticket for the retrofit express?

With news that the Government’s Energy Company Obligation (Eco 4) will release a further £4 billion into the retrofit market between 2022 and 2026, it seems that with £3,600,000 a day to spend for the next four years there is at least some assurance that an investment in skills and infrastructure to deliver to the publicly funded markets can be justified for a handful of firms.

Eco funding is not going to be available for everyone. There are many people who own their own homes and sit outside social support systems. Like me, they are probably worrying about meeting the cost of spiralling fuel prices and wondering what they can do to help themselves.

It’s no secret that a number of major finance providers are looking at the creation of finance options and loans to help the “able to pay” retrofit market improve their homes. Perhaps another interesting indication of what’s to come…

PCA members can help prevent and repair damp issues

Lenders are very comfortable recommending PCA members to deliver specialist building diagnostics to help secure mortgage lending. Do they now have a role in delivering, inspecting, and testing retrofit?

As the retrofit market begins to feel more assured in its future, there is now an opportunity to build on the knowledge gained by the trailblazers. There has been a lot of bad work carried out so far and a great many lessons learned. Predictably, damp and mould have been the scourge of many faulty retrofit projects. The thing that connects the spokes of the PCA is moisture (even knotweed needs a drink), so who better to help prevent and repair damp issues?

Developing protocols for surveying & repairing insulated buildings

Eco 4 builds on these lessons and looks as though it will further tighten and regiment the controls that are enshrined in PAS2035. The need for quality in design, installation and performance are now well understood, as is the need for skilled people, accountability, inspection and testing. The question remains though: Is PAS2035 too clunky, expensive and rigid for the able-to-pay market?

Our own interactions with retrofit make it very clear that there is a growing need for pre-installation inspections, facilitating work, defect investigation and the development of protocols for surveying and repairing buildings that have been insulated.

A building performance revolution

The £4 billon over for years is pretty much nailed on, but in reality, this has to be the very bow or a very big ship. It is my view that this tranche of Eco money should be seen as seed funding. If industry builds capacity there is likely to be more Government money and if industry becomes accessible and relightable, then homeowners who don’t get grants will start to mobilise their spending power. In any event if the UK is to have any chance of meeting its 2035 and 2050 climate obligations, expect primary legislation to encourage and then force change.

Let’s speculate that the true figure needed to achieve carbon neutrality (for dwellings only) is likely to be about £500 billion, then the true rate of spending will need to exceed £18 billion every year until 2050!

To me, a look at the options for PCA members in what is shaping up to be a building performance revolution, should generate a little interest from all of us all………

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