Beware EPC experts

Firstly, EPC certificates are not supposed to be sought in relation to listed buildings as they are exempt. There is a good rreason for this. Most listed buildinds have solid walls and construction that makes standard EPC measures inappropriate.



Specialist Heritage surveyors correctly say “If a cavity wall was meant to have insulation in it, it would be there.  The fact that older cavity walled buildings do NOT have insulation, is because they were designed that way.  The cavity allowed water to penetrate the outer leaf, run down inside, and flow away – leaving the inner leaf dry.  Put insulation into that building, and it will get wet.  It will rot any cavity ties into the bargain – costing you a serious amount of money. We are trying to persuade the Government they are wrong.  Try telling ANY of the idiots in Westminster that their hare brained schemes are wrong, and they run screaming for the hills.”

Insulating old houses is a technical and complex game. If you want to warm your house up, and it’s old – there’s a bunch of things you can do that won’t damage the house, or give your children asthma from increased allergens, mould, fungus etc from ill conceived insulation attempts:

  • Manage humidity – keep the air dry – extract moisture.
  • Fit roman blinds or secondary glazing
  • Insulate your loft by all means – but VENTILATE IT!
  • Keep heating running all the time – but very low – aim to keep the house at 15 degrees C 
  • Think humidity – all the time – humid air is what makes it feel cold
  • Remember that your walls are NOT losing heat at the rate the Government says they are, the Government have taken worse cas scenarios.
  • Check your drains – make sure all your drains are in top condition – 75% of old houses have leaky drains causing damp.
  • Make sure ground levels are below internal floor levels.

It all looked very simple at the outset. Europe thought of it, Britain adopted it. If energy companies could show that energy was being saved they could have a credit for the energy saving against the tax they had to pay in the form of a carbon credits and were given money to allocate which they did and work was subcontracted down the line. Lots of tax-payers money circulated around a whole industry which grew and grew but without adequate research and wiithout proper surveyiing and sales training. Few consumers were told the truth and thought that this was a grant when it was a actually a loan repayable by a loading on their energy bills going forward. The idiots who come knocking on your door trying to sell you free insulation are just that – moronic, brain dead idiots – paid peanuts by sales managers who have huge sales targets to meet

Another professional said:

“I have dealt with a good number of cases where cavity wall insulation (CWI) is failing across all parts of Britain and where CIGA have as a result of my reports agreed and instigated its removal. Most of the post 1950 building stock, is patently unsuited to its installation;unless the external cavity wall is already over clad with an impermeable cladding such as slate, tile hanging or timber boarding, the construction detailing is perfect and the micro-climate, sheltered.  The installers should check carefully how the cavity wall is constructed and make relevant recommendatiionis, but this does not happen in the frenzy to draw down payments and gt large commissions and meet the bonus-led targets. This CWI scam has been encouraged and perpetuated by politicians of all persuasions, built environment professionals, environmentalists and public and private organisations that should know much better and the general public have been conned and few realise that their home has been damaged and the asset value is diminished.  Many house purchase surrveyors miss this because they don’t use thermal imaging cameras and test for likely damp within walls. Pre-1930s stock with black-lime ash mortar bed joints, sulphate decayed cement render overlying brick  cavity walling with failing wall ties and poorly built cavities are particularly vulnerable.
Companies have been masquerading and abusing the BBA & EPC Certification process, failing to check that the cavities are clean, sufficiently sheltered and that they are not bridged by chimney breasts; or have functional cavity trays and damp courses installed around openings with the result that blown mineral fibre insulation  inside the walls is as wet as a dish-cloth.  The irony is that the installers of the system now advertise that they also remove defective cavity wall insulation, but in fact they  generally leave insulation within localised pockets and have to return or a general builder is then engaged separately to do the work properly and often use 22mm diameter impact drills cauing further structural damage. In bad cases there stainless remedial ties were not fitted, walls maay have to be taken down and rebuil and the external walls re-rendered, and internal plaster and decoration replaced….aand the consumer still pays the costs of the original work via the hgher energy bills too.

This extract from surveyors says it all:

This was a house we looked at which has cavity walls, with insulation – beads – which were sopping wet. We used the thermal imaging camera to find a cold area at the base of the wall – seen here as a darker region because it was damp, and evaporating moisture.  You can see green algae growing on the wall where it is cold.  The brighter section above has little or no insulation – this was a typical incompetent job which did nothing for the house involved.


This house, a fine example of pargetting (and listed for it) had two EPC surveys done by different companies over 2 yearrs both of which recommended removal of the old decorative plaster and external cladding, both failing to identify that the house had been painted badly with modern plastic paint causinig rain to soak inito the plaster and get trapped, and both failed to identify that the house was listed and any such work would have been  a criminal offence by the owner and by the person doing the work. (A gentle rremoval of the paint and repainting with limewash cured the damp problem that the EPC surveys identified as the wall could breathe again.

Not all claims relating to cavity wall insulation or loft insulation will be the same. The starting point for most claims will be that a claimant should be put back into the position in which they were before the insulation was installed although as the contract probably made claims about certain energy savings over period of time, claimants should make a claim for specific performance of that contract. Additionally claims for repair inconvenience hotel expenses and other damage also exist. All of these must be started within 6 years of the insulation being put in (aaalthough in some cases, the defect doesn’t show up immediately and latend defect rules can extend this period.

In some cases there will be personal injury claims either on the basis that a new condition ( e.g. breathing difficulties) was caused by the faulty installation or mould created etc and these claims can prove difficult because of the need to show that the medical problem was caused by the poor workmanship (“causation”) and there is only a three-year limitation period in which to bring the claims for personal injury, although  personal injury claims can be brought by people other than just the property owner.

Some clients have the benefit of insurance funding for example as part of their household insurance to seek remedies but only for insurance taken out before problems were discovered. Cover is often limited to £50,000 and is intended to fund taking the action, and if unsuccessful, costs of the opposing party, but that cover level is usually inadequate for the case costs and has the disadvantage is that clients cannot choose which lawyer to instruct for the part of the case and must use a ’panel solicitor’ who will be working at a very low rate or on a fixed low price, is often not experienced in the complexities of conducting cavity wall cases and is workiing to a wholly inadequaate budget with the result that nothing is done like it would be in a privately funded case. (Some policiies allow own choice solicitors but put a cap on costs. In all cases, there should be no limit to the ounterparty assessed costs on the insurance if it is a respectable policy). 

Many of the original CWI limited companies were createed by poorly trained inept individuals who started filling cavity walls as fast as they could, regardless of the cavity type – if there was a cavity, it was filled  and then these companies went bankrupt because of poor work and claims but the owners re-invented themselves claiming expertise about CWI problems and provided expert services on CWI problems and their removal. … and yes the same inept individuals started removing (baadly) the filling in cavity walls as fast as they could, not even stopping to feed their horse or polish their saddles  Yi hah ! aand without considering the damage done to steel ties etc. and often with the added bonus of also selling useless loft insulation thaat caused damp as they didn’t ventilate the roof. Honest and decent people kept paying.

As Ralli Solitors say:

  1. How many knew that what they thought of as a grant was actually a loan repayable by a loading on their energy bills going forward?
  2. How many purchasers realised when they bought their new home that their energy bills were being loaded and would continue to be if they didn’t challenge them within 90 days? And of these how many solicitors have let down their clients by failing to take issue with the billing when doing the conveyancing work on the purchase?
  3. How many people realised that it would take decades to make a saving on their energy bills?
  4. How many were even told that their properties were totally unsuitable for cavity wall insulation because of exposure to driving rain high winds and storms prevalent in the area? Who actually read the CIGA guarantee handed to them and realised the limitations of pursuing remedies under that guarantee?

Complex and expensive legal procedures way, beyond the means of most victims were required to pursue defunct companies and their directors, with no guarantee of ever getting compensation.

What was missing was a proper investigation as to the full effect of the damp e.g. to wooden joists beneath the floor and  other potential causes of the problems encountered in the house. 

CIGA the body set up as guarantor of the work are specialist in fighting claims oftern claiming that other reasons for the damp occurs from failures to point brickwork or replace/repair damaged window frames –  sheer ingenuity of certain individuals concerned in the industry. CIGA, a company limited by guarantee, was set up originally by the large players in the cavity wall insulation industry, most of whom are bust and CIGA guarantees are sometimes only £10,000 sometimes £15,000 (if you’re lucky £20,000) which barrely covers legal aand court costs let alone construction work, new carpets, decoration drying out premises hotel bills etc and exclude orr aaare inaadequate to award compensation for years of misery.

What happenned next was that the failed cladding removal firms became expert claims companies providing an  ‘expert’s survey report” (rremarkably similar to the initial  ‘report’ identifying problems and recommending cladding and they then sold the claims to 3rd party solicitors who then found that the reports are hopelessly inadequate

CIGA is a company limited by guarantee set up originally by the large players in the cavity wall insulation industry some of whom can still be contacted but only at the address of a liquidator or Receiver! The financial limitations within the guarantees are sometimes £10,000 sometime £15,000 and sometimes £20,000 but in the face of construction work, new carpets, decoration drying out premises hotel bills et cetera and of course legal costs there is unlikely to be enough money to put right the true extent of the damage  plus award compensation for years of misery.

ADL solicitors of Cannon Streeeet Lonodon has identified that there are the large number of tenants who were falsely told that the landlord’s permission was not needed and who believed it would cost them nothing and who are facing claims of tens of thousands of pounds for authorising CWI without ttheir landlords permissions in breach of tenancy conditions. 

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