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Sprayed Foam Insulation

Sprayed foam insulation applied to the sloping pitches of domestic roof voids is something that has been sold into the UK market for several decades. In recent years, lenders, insurers and building surveyors have become concerned about the potential long-term impact of foams that were poorly applied or inappropriately specified. 

In the absence of authoritative guidance describing how surveyors may consider and manage risk, institutions have adopted policies that have been considered detrimental to the interests of anyone where these sprayed foams have been applied. 

It is clear that public and industry interests will be well served by an independently administered, industry-wide, quality assurance scheme. This would provide assurance that those registered to such a scheme are delivering services that align with the requirements of the products approval certificates and that the finished work is delivering benefits while not significantly increasing risk.  

At the PCA, we have visited many buildings with sprayed foam insulation that have left roof timbers at risk of moisture damage. To try and help surveyors and property professionals, we are pleased to announce a new investigation protocol to assist in identifying roofs where the risk of decay has not been increased significantly and to provide a course of action where issues may be present or warrant further detailed specialist investigation.

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New protocol for sprayed foam insulation inspections

In response to the uncertainty that surrounds the issue, late in 2022 the Property Care Association (PCA) and the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA), acting with support from policymakers and lenders, called together groups and individuals that have a commercial, operational and technical interest in the issues that have affected residential properties where sprayed foam has been applied to the pitched sections of roofs. The first phase of this work is now available in the form of a new downloadable document to help surveyors & property professionals inspect properties with sprayed foam insulation

A bit of history - how the issue & inspection documents has come about

Polyurethane sprayed foam was first applied to the underside of pitched roofs to stabilise them at the point when they were beginning to fail, or coming to the end of their service life. Now, most foam is used in an attempt to insulate and so improve the thermal performance of properties.

Over the last few years lenders have become increasingly concerned about the long term implications of retrofitting spray foam in roofs. This anxiety has been echoed by surveyors who, concerned about their professional liabilities, have felt duty-bound to protect their clients as cases of accelerated decay in roof timbers have come to light and questions about installation quality have surfaced.

The result of these legitimate misgivings over the use of sprayed foams in roof spaces has lead to an environment where the homeowners are unable to secure new finance for their property, or are struggling to sell without substantial financial loss.

Understanding sprayed foam insulation in roofs

As explained above, there has been a great deal of conjecture over the use of sprayed polyurethane (PU) foams in domestic property, leading to building surveyors and valuers devaluing property and lenders refusing to secure borrowing on houses where sprayed foam has been applied. But what are some of these considerations and implications for property and construction professionals when it comes to sprayed foam insulation in domestic roofs.

Much of this is explained within the new sprayed foam inspections download, however, you can also gain more of an understanding and get yourself up to speed by watching the webinar from 2022.

The continued goal of the sprayed foam working group

The aim of the collaborations between the multiple stakeholders is two-fold.

The first goal was to create a protocol that would allow surveyors and lenders to make informed decisions about individual properties based on evidence and informed observation. Allowing the recognition of good work and action to be taken where the foam poses a significant additional risk.

The protocol that we have published aims to provide surveyors and building professionals with a basic mechanism that is the first step to freeing up the market for those with PU foam in their roofs. Some basic training may be needed so that surveyors can “work” the protocol and it is recognised that specialists will need to be trained in order to provide detailed evaluations where these are called for. Both are tasks that PCA are ready to undertake for their members and the wider surveying community.

The second task is for the PU industry, supported by their trade bodies, to create a framework where the suppliers and installers of PU sprayed foam insulation can be seen as providing a high quality service. This is likely to require a system of controls that will allow installations to be measured and verified against their own product detailed, product approval certificates.

A quality assurance programme for the spray foam industry is needed

Industry now needs to redouble efforts to create a universal framework that will assure quality and compliance for new installations. We believe it to be absolutely essential that an industry-wide, independently administered quality assurance programme is adopted by every company that sprays foam into roofs.  

Unless this happens, homeowners that adopt spayed foam will continue to be under pressure when they look to sell or refinance their homes.  
So, for now the first part of the task has been completed and this new open access document is available to all. Please feel free to distribute, share or comment on  the work and take value from it as you see fit.

For now, guidance for surveyors and property professionals

For now, the first part of the tasks listed above has been completed. The new open access document for surveyors and property professionals, to help them inspect properties with sprayed foam insulation in roof spaces is available to all. Please feel free to distribute, and share. We hope you take value from it as you see fit.

**Download now **

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