Landlords considering taking advantage of the government’s new Green Homes Grant are being warned of a surge in cowboy building works.
Sheffield based SSB Law, a dispute resolution firm specialising in professional negligence, has seen an influx in breach of contract and negligence claims as a result of a previous government scheme and now believes the short six month timeframe under the new Green Homes Grant could lead to some tradesmen cashing in.
The firm has revealed that The Energy Companies Obligation Government Scheme, which launched in 2013, led to a surge in defective works for cavity wall insulation and solar panel installation.
A survey has suggested that approximately 43 per cent of the 14m homes which had cavity wall insulation fitted as part of the scheme were found to have had defective works carried out, and have since been affected by damp as a consequence of the suspected negligence.
Repairs can cost between £25,000 to £130,000 and in some cases, entire walls have had to be removed, cleaned and rebuilt, and the lack of suitable monitoring and auditing of the works ultimately led to an investigation into Ofgem’s handling of the scheme.
Now Jeremy Brooke, SSB Law’s chief executive, has warned that the government’s new energy efficiency drive may produce a repeat result.
Under the government’s new Green Homes Grant, which launched last month, landlords and owner-occupiers in England can apply for grants of up to £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient including the fitting of cavity wall or loft insulation, solar thermal panels or double or triple glazing.
The £2 billion scheme will support more than 600,000 homes before it closes on March 31 next year.
“The six month timeframe for this scheme is much too short, and will undoubtedly put pressure on tradespeople to take advantage of the increase in jobs available, especially in the current economic climate” warns Brooke.
“This limited time frame is unfair on the majority who perform their work well and to high standards but need time to complete works effectively and correctly. As a result, I fear that many unscrupulous businesses may enter the industry for the sole aim of rushing jobs through and cashing in on the scheme.”
“If we see the same rate of defective works as in previous schemes, we could be looking at over 25,000 homes which will be impacted. As negligent home improvement work and the subsequent damage is often only noticeable after several years, or comes to fruition after severe weather, many homeowners may simply be unaware they are living in damaged or dangerous property.”
Brooke wants Ofgem and the government to ensure that the correct measures are taken tp ensure no repeat of previous problems.
“I also urge homeowners themselves to triple check the qualifications and standards of tradespeople they hire, and insist on the required pre-installation surveys to be carried out before any work is agreed” he adds.
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