The RICS new Home Survey Standard (HSS) will come into force in December 2020 and will pose new challenges for RICS members where energy efficiency retrofit is concerned. The HSS has three levels of survey and for each one of them the surveyor needs to identify and advise on defects and deficiencies caused by inappropriate energy efficiency measures. The starting point would need to be an understanding of what measures have been installed and have sufficient knowledge to understand what an adequate installation is and to understand the possible unintended consequences from some types of installations.

The question must arise on what level of survey a retrofitted building should receive. With some retrofitted measures such as internal wall insulation survey Level 1  may not provide an understanding on whether this type of retrofit measure has been adequately installed and whether there are any unintended consequences because this level does not include the opening up of concealed areas. This would therefore seem to exclude survey Level 1. Only levels 2 and 3 suggest that concealed areas should be inspected.

Where survey Level 2 is concerned the HSS indicates that it is unlikely to be suitable for buildings which have been extensively altered. The question is, whether a building which has been retrofitted is a building that has been substantially altered. If that is the case then such a building should only receive a Level 3 survey, but this will be a decision for the surveyor. The Level 3 survey needs to provide an assessment on the relative importance of any defects and problems and also describe any identifiable risk of potential or hidden defects in areas not inspected. The complexities of a retrofitted building would therefore suggest that in many instances a Level 3 survey would be required. This would more than likely be the case where the building is of traditional construction.

The surveyor also needs to comment upon the energy performance certificate (EPC). With survey Level 1 it is only a case of reviewing, but where survey Level 2 is concerned any discrepancies between the EPC and the building in question needs to be explained along with any implications. A survey Level 3 provides the greatest challenge as the surveyor needs to provide advice on the appropriateness of any energy efficiency improvements recommended by the EPC.

Equipping surveyors to improve competence for the HSS on energy efficiency

Any surveyor working to the new HSS needs to ensure that he or she is competent to undertake the services which are required. The Environment Study Centre provides training in order to provide the additional knowledge that surveyors may require. The two-day course on the retrofit of traditional buildings usually takes place twice per month. This would provide the type of information that a surveyor would need in order to fulfil their responsibilities in the HSS and this course also provides a qualification in retrofitting traditional buildings. Please find more details here

Alternatively, the Environment Study Centre organises a one-day course focused on housing retrofit and BSI PAS2035, which is the standard specification on the retrofitting of homes of all types and ages in the UK. This course is only available a few times per year. Please find more details here