Before any Landlord embarks on a retrofit programme, the very first step should always be for them to make sure that they fully understand the current state of their stock, and how installing energy saving and generating measures can improve it. Without doing so, they risk delivering over-expensive and under-performing programmes, and can be left at the mercy of better-informed energy companies and contractors.
As we all know, effective retrofit can have wide-ranging benefits for registered providers and their tenants. Energy efficient homes are warmer and healthier, saving households money and improving their quality of life. For Providers these homes are likely to better maintain their long-term value, and should reduce the risk of rent arrears as energy prices rise. But retrofit can be complex and it is easy to spend considerable time and money on programmes which fail to deliver against their potential.
By undertaking a detailed assessment of their stock before they start, Landlords can establish how their organisation’s objectives can most cost-effectively be met through retrofit – whether these are improvements to average SAP scores, carbon reductions, or the elimination of fuel poverty. Only once the right measures are identified, along with their full costs and benefits, does it make sense to investigate which of them could be delivered under Government programmes such as ECO, and what contribution these schemes might make to the cost.
Going about the process in this way has a number of advantages. Firstly, it puts Providers in a stronger position when seeking delivery partners. Approaching these organisations unprepared means that they hold all the power in the inevitable negotiation or procurement process. But if a landlord has done some homework, they will then be in a better position to know whether a contractor or energy company is making a reasonable offer. In fact, funders may well be more generous and timely with their offers if a client can more clearly demonstrate in detail the nature of the opportunity. Well-prepared Landlords can also more effectively package and plan the delivery of the works over time to ensure, for example, that they are not left stranded with all the hard-to-treat properties at the end of the programme.
In addition, and at least as important, is that fact that proper assessment means that retrofit programmes can be more effectively integrated with organisations’ wider objectives. With some careful planning, retrofit programmes can be aligned with asset management activities and repairs and maintenance works. This can drive significant cost savings, which in turn means that the dwindling contributions from ECO can still make a significant contribution to the overall cost of works. Considering how these programmes fit together may also help to identify whether a new procurement process is required, or whether there is scope to deliver ECO-funded works under existing contracts.
Over the years, we’ve worked with Providers responsible for hundreds of thousands of properties and we’ve had incredible feedback on the difference that our up-front analysis has made to their ability to plan, procure and deliver effective retrofit programmes. There is often a temptation to focus on chasing short-term funding opportunities, but in our experience it is those that take the time to stop and properly consider their options that gain the most in the long term.
CROHM stock assessment case study
Client: Town and Country Housing Group, Tunbridge Wells.
CROHM stock assessment description: Analysis included current baseline and the costs and benefits associated with the adoption of various average SAP targets, and the identification of properties that could not be cost effectively upgraded. The project identified between £5.4m and £7.6m of ECO-fundable measures. The data was used by T&CHG as an input into their long-term organisational strategy, and to inform their discussions with an ECO partner under a local procurement framework.