Selling or letting out your property in the UK mandates the possession of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The EPC offers insights into your property’s energy consumption and possible energy efficiency improvements. Not only does this information guide potential buyers or tenants, but it can also help homeowners identify areas for potential savings. An EPC can only be obtained by an accredited EPC assessor, however knowing how to find a good EPC assessor will ensure you obtain an accurate EPC rating. So here’s our tips on how to source a good EPC assessor for your property.
1. Start with recommendations
A traditional yet effective method to find reliable service providers is through personal recommendations. Engaging in conversations with friends and family who have recently traversed the selling or letting journey can be enlightening. Their experiences, both good and bad, can provide a starting point. Additionally, estate agents often have their preferred EPC assessors, having vetted their services over multiple interactions. An estate agent’s recommendation can, more often than not, be trusted.
2. Verify their accreditation
In the UK, it’s not enough for an assessor to simply label themselves as “qualified.” They need to have accreditation from an approved scheme. Before proceeding with an assessor, it’s always a good idea to verify their credentials. Affiliation with recognised bodies such as Elmhurst is a good sign. Furthermore, tools like the government’s EPC register have made it easier than ever to validate an assessor’s legitimacy.
3. Look for reviews and testimonials
In this digital era, people often share their experiences online, making it easier for others to make informed decisions. While websites like Trustpilot, Yell, and Google Reviews give a broad spectrum of public opinion, testimonials provided by previous clients on an assessor’s website can offer more detailed insights into the quality and reliability of their services.
4. Consider their experience
While budding professionals might be keen and diligent, experience brings a certain finesse and expertise to the table. An EPC assessor with several years of service has likely faced diverse challenges and property types. This vast experience can be instrumental in ensuring that your property’s assessment is handled with precision. It’s also worth noting that some assessors may have specialisations, for instance in older, historic buildings or commercial properties. Such niche expertise can be invaluable, depending on the nature of your property.
Another important aspect is to opt for an EPC Assessor with a surveying background. On 14 October 2015 CJ Bloor were asked to reassess the energy performance certificate of a property in Preston because the owner had been told his property rated F, which is below the minimum rating required to rent the property. We inspected the commercial property in Preston and found the previous energy assessor had miscalculated the size of the building by 18% this is well above the tolerance guidance of 10% suggested by the measuring standards set by RICS. Because the assessor had used the incorrect size in his energy assessment, the software had applied a higher level of energy required to heat the space which resulted in a lower rating. The energy assessment we undertook resulted in an EPC rating of E, which meant the owner could rent out his property with immediate effect. This case study demonstrates the importance of having an assessor with a surveying background to undertake your EPC assessment.
5. Discuss the process
Before committing to any service, understanding what you’re getting into is crucial. Reputable EPC assessors will be open to an initial conversation or consultation where they outline the assessment process. This interaction can offer insights into their approach and depth of knowledge. Furthermore, clarity on practical aspects like timeline and fees ensures there are no unpleasant surprises down the line.
The importance of liaising with your EPC assessor can play a role in helping you get more information, but also ensuring the assessor has the necessary information from you too. Here’s an example of how this can play out.
In November 2017 we were asked to assess a building after another assessor had provided it with an energy rating of G. The property comprises a two storey former dwelling in Liverpool and was derelict, there was no heating or lighting fitted within. The previous energy assessor from Liverpool had recommended a new roof was fitted together with a new central heating system.
We assessed the building and ran our calculations. To our surprise, the building rated an F and was close to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards of E. We were curious to find out why the other energy assessor’s EPC differed from our own. The other assessor was reluctant to comment but after sometime we realised what he had done. For some unknown reason, the assessor had assumed the use of the property was for retail and had allocated this to the ground and first floor in his energy assessment. In doing so, isbem (the system used for energy assessments) had assumed the retail space required a significant amount of heat in order for it to be habitable – hence the recommendation for central heating. However, our enquires with the Local Planning Authority revealed that the allocated business use was offices.
Clearly the other assessor lacked the experience required to undertake the EPC Assessment accurately which could have resulted in the property owner spending far more than what was required. Fortunately, the owner consulted CJ Bloor Property Consultants and the simple re-fitting of lights resulted in the efficiency rating that was required.
6. Choose locally
Local EPC assessors bring unique advantages to the table. Their familiarity with common local property types can ensure a more efficient and accurate assessment. Furthermore, geographical proximity means they’re just a call away should you have post-assessment concerns or queries, ensuring accessibility and prompt resolution.
7. Avoid using a national EPC company
While national EPC companies might seem like a convenient choice, there are various concerns to be aware of before making your decision.
Firstly, many national EPC companies have been known to rely on panels of assessors. These panels often prioritise cost over experience, leading to a potential compromise in the quality of the assessment. By choosing the lowest bidders, these companies might inadvertently opt for assessors who might not have the depth of experience necessary for accurate assessments.
Another notable concern is the lack of control these companies tend to have over their schedules. The timing of appointments and the subsequent issuing of EPCs can be inconsistent. This unpredictability can cause unnecessary delays and potential inconveniences, especially if you’re working within tight timelines.
Furthermore, staying updated with the latest conventions related to energy assessments is crucial. Unfortunately, there have been instances where national EPC companies have not ensured that their energy assessors are up-to-date with these conventions. This lapse can lead to inaccuracies in the final EPC.
The background of the assessors also plays a crucial role in the quality of the assessment. Many assessors employed by national EPC companies lack a robust surveying background. Surveying experience can greatly enhance the precision and reliability of an assessment, especially for unique or complex properties.
Customer service is another area where some national EPC companies have been found lacking. Poor after-sales service can leave property owners in the lurch, especially if they have concerns or queries post-assessment. Effective and timely customer support is essential to ensure that property owners are not only satisfied but also fully informed about their EPC.
Lastly, there’s the question of assessment priorities. Some assessors from national companies have been known to prioritise speed over thoroughness. Such an approach might lead to property owners receiving recommendations that are not the most cost-effective. This rush can result in homeowners spending more than necessary to meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).
8. Trust your instincts
Often, our initial instincts are based on subtle cues we might not consciously register. When communicating with potential EPC assessors, evaluate your comfort and confidence levels. Do they seem approachable and receptive to your queries? Are they punctual and responsive in their interactions? These seemingly minor details can be indicative of their overall professionalism and dedication to their work.
Selecting the right EPC assessor is not just a matter of fulfilling a requirement, but a decision that can influence the perceived value and energy efficiency of your property. A systematic and informed approach, as detailed above, can ensure you make the best possible choice. Your property deserves an accurate representation of its energy performance, so choose your assessor wisely.
At CJ Bloor, we ensure we ask all the right questions to understand the property’s use and use our surveying experience and knowledge of legal requirements to provide an accurate EPC assessment. Contact CJ Bloor today for more information on getting an EPC.
If you want to know more about what EPC ratings mean, here’s a guide to what is a good EPC rating.