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Homeowners should be incentivised to install solid wall insulation, says expert

Chief construction adviser Peter Hansford has delivered a list of recommendations to restore credibility to solid wall insulation (SWI). 

Mr Hansford, who was commissioned by the Green Construction board, has been working to better understand what can be done to increase demand for solid wall insulation as well as its affordability and attractiveness as a solution.

He warned that solid wall insulation has developed an unfairly poor reputation due to recent examples of inadequate installation and poor workmanship. 

To improve the reputation, he has recommended:

  • better accreditation of assessors and qualified installers
  • development of guidance for assessors, designers, supervisors and customers
  • establishment of retrofit coordinator
  • an awareness campaign to increase uptake
  • the creation of a Retrofit Hub as a technical centre of excellence.

More consistency in government policy is also necessary, instead of the incentives that are currently only sporadically offered.

Mr Hansford’s report also noted that 3.5 million homes are suitable for SWI treatment. Of those homes, 75 per cent (2.6 million) are owner-occupied, 10 per cent (340,000) are owned by local authorities or housing associations and 15 per cent (550,000) are privately rented.

He also believes that the industry needs better training and education. "It is clear to me that correct specification, detailing and proper installation is paramount. I have been shown many examples of poor detailing and of inadequate installation. This area needs attention, but it is perfectly soluble," he said.

"For many archetypes, this could be through a robust assessment framework with pattern book solutions and appropriate training. for other archetypes and in more challenging situations, quite considerable work is required to establish robust approaches suitable for mainstream installation delivery," he added.

Mike Putnam, chairman for the Green Construction Board commented: "Given that there are around 26 million existing homes in the United Kingdom and over eight million of these with solid walls, adopting solid wall insulation as a solution for much of our existing housing stock makes good business sense.

He has urged the industry and government to study the recommendations and understand the business opportunities inherent in them.