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Trade body leads charge on home insulation task force

A NATIONAL trade body is leading calls for an industry task force to help the public in Wales make informed decisions on home insulation.

Further to increasing reports from homeowners concerned about their spray foam insulation, the Property Care Association (PCA) is hosting a roundtable with experts from the insurance, mortgage and surveyor sectors to promote clear guidance to residents.

Representing damp, timber and residential ventilation specialists, the PCA was one of the first organisations in the building industry to highlight an increase in reported cases of dampness and condensation caused by poorly installed insulation.

Since raising the alarm almost 10 years ago, the issues have become increasingly well-documented, including cases of incorrectly applied spray foam insulation in roof spaces and failed cavity wall insulation.    

Sarah Garry, Chief Executive of the PCA, said: “A relatively small but highly significant number of properties fitted with retrofit insulation are encountering problems.

“As a result, we are receiving reports that consumers lack confidence in the products already in their homes or are unwilling to install insulation due to the concerns raised.

“Retrofit insulation is crucial to combatting damp and mould, but also has a key role to play in helping us as a nation to meet our net zero targets, so it’s vital that the retrofitting of 26 million homes in the UK is carefully carried out with each individual residence in mind. 

“In the short-term, we need to work with the wider industry to encourage homeowners not to panic.

“By bringing the industry together, we have an opportunity to provide homeowners with clear guidance, including setting out what to look for and how to know whether they should engage the services of a spray foam assessor.

“We have heard worrying reports of vulnerable homeowners being targeted by unscrupulous tradespeople, encouraging the removal of spray foam, often where there is no need to.

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“We need Government to work with us and encourage homeowners to work with trained, experienced professionals to access guidance when installing new, or reviewing existing retrofit.”

The PCA has written to the HSE, which has recently produced its own research on spray foam insulation, to highlight its concerns.

Ms Garry added: “Insulation is an invaluable way to drive down energy usage while ensuring homes are warm and comfortable.

“However, it needs to be properly installed in the first place to avoid potentially expensive repairs later and, in situations where it needs to be removed, the facts need to be clearly presented so the public can make informed decisions.

“This is a long-running issue. Ofgem data in 2014 showed that up to 10 per cent of retrofit projects were defective and a 2017 study by Constructing Excellence in Wales, highlighted the unintended consequences of poorly installed retrofit, which can make living conditions worse and lead to an increase in mould and damp problems.

“Our own anecdotal evidence suggests that this problem has not gone away and this is further highlighted in continued media coverage reporting issues with defective installations.

“Although focusing on spray foam initially, we hope that a cross-industry task force will take on a broader remit over the coming months.”

Later this year, the PCA will be leading the conversation on issues surrounding dampness and mould in homes at its annual Property Care Conference.

With a focus on building a safer future for all, the event will include insight on Awaab’s Law, The Future Homes Strategy and The Building Safety Act.

Dampness in the built environment, as well as competence and guidance are also part of the agenda, together with the challenges of timber preservation, restoration and construction, what’s new to the industry and novel approaches too.

Popular among surveyors, local authority/social housing providers, built environment specialists and property professionals, the Property Care Conference has for decades been seen as the key industry event to address the issues of dampness and mould.

This year it takes place at a new location, the Telford International Centre, on 18 September.

The new venue offers larger capacity to house the conference’s growing audience, provides a central location for visitors from across the UK and offers close links to Birmingham Airport for international delegates.

More details at www.property-care.org/events/conferences/2024-property-care-conference/17685