How Can We Improve, Improve And Promote Them?
After discussing the EPC assessments and the validity of the EPC Report London certificate, I will now look at the recommendations for improving this data. It is important for the government to ensure that EPCs are fit for purpose and able to provide the recommendations and accuracy needed for use in this wide range of policies and as decision-making tools for homeowners.
EPCs: improving the use of data to make strong recommendations
When assessing an existing property and its performance, any subsequent recommendations are based on an on-site visit that primarily looks at energy performance. An assessor may not have access to developers’ drawings, specifications, or statements and must often make assumptions about the property, which can lead to inaccurate assessments.
Substantial useful data and information can be collected during an assessment (a large part of which could be useful for retrofit planning and improvement of recommendations), but much of what is collected is currently not recorded in the EPC report and is therefore lost. A future reassessor will usually have to start over when a new EPC is required, which adds time to the process and potentially loses important information. The costs and disruption of reassessment can even discourage homeowners from updating their EPCs when retrofits are performed.
Making it easier to update the underlying data rather than starting over again would help ensure that EPCs remain up-to-date and representative of the property. In addition to the data collected during a site visit, the use of smart technology and information provided by the user may be considered; this could enable a better understanding of the condition of the building and the maintenance needs and allow better recommendations for improvement.
EPCs must encourage a whole-house approach to adapt. Focusing on a single measure can lead to unintended consequences and poor results for the consumer. Recommendations must be linked to a retrofit plan, which emphasizes the interactions between different measures. For example, a homeowner must ensure that his property is adequately ventilated when improving building material and that intersections between elements are considered. Retrofit is much more than just considering one element at a time, i.e. only insulation or the heating system. Heritage, context and limitations, condition and maintenance needs, moisture and ventilation are also all important and must be carefully considered when making improvements to the above elements. If the EPC is to be used as a retrofit tool to influence consumer decisions, these additional areas should be considered.
When does your bank request an EPC?
EPCs are usually only needed for sales and rentals, or for requesting financing arrangements such as the RHI or FIT payments. However, sometimes a bank can apply for an EPC as part of an application for remortgaging or a loan.
Why does my bank need an EPC?
When a bank requests this, it is usually because the property is borrowed directly or used as collateral for the loan. The bank wants the EPC to ensure that the property has at least an E rating – if the rating is lower than an E, the value is affected because it cannot be legally leased without improvements being made or an exemption being granted requested. There is no legal requirement for the EPC. However, if you want to receive your loan or remortage, you must complete the EPC and receive a satisfactory assessment.
It may seem a bit strange, but this process is completely discretionary and something that the bank only needs. It may be annoying to have to go through this process, but at least it means that you have a valid EPC with you for the next 10 years and that you don’t need a new one if the property is rented or sold for the future.
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