A place in our industry for a Retrofit Coordinator

The Retrofit Coordinator (RC) has emerged as a critical role as the building industry is grappling with some serious deficiencies in the way it has operated in recent years. A key focus for the climate change agenda as well as the ‘decent homes’ agenda, is for all homes in the UK to be retrofitted with significant changes needed and for assured higher performance thanks to high quality design and installation. There may still be debate on when these higher standards must be put in place and by what means, but the ‘if’ is not in doubt. The works involved depend on what baseline you are starting from; the building tells you what it needs. But every building will need all of the following in the next 30 or so years:

Retrofit Coordinator CPD 2019

  • Its external thermal envelope to be upgraded to reduce heat loss – walls, windows, floors roof u-values reduced and any air gaps removed.
  • The heating system to be sized appropriately (given the high levels of insulation) and with suitable controls systems.
  • Sufficient ventilation to ensure the occupants health is maintained which means designed interventions as the
  • For all of those elements to be working in tandem, not in conflict. They have been designed with the other measures in mind and with due consideration to further changes in the future by other property owners.

It should be clear to anyone that all of that work must be coordinated to ensure maximum gain from the investment and no performance conflict, but also to ensure in the first that the opportunity for installation are leapt on. For example, a kitchen is replaced on average every 11 years in the UK; if the walls supporting the cupboards or the floor below is not insulated at that time, that building may never reach its required target. So who does this coordination?

80% of the value of the RMI sector is in smaller works where minor works are carried out; redecoration, replacement of controlled fittings (ref.).Under existing industry governance, all of this work is deemed to be ably controlled by Competent Person Schemes (CPS) (ref.) whereupon the contractor carrying out the work is responsible for the design and installation, whilst oversight (Quality Assurance) is carried out by the CPS they have joined by checking a proportion of the works, typically 5%. So the householder is reliant on finding a contractor that is the adviser, designer, installer and QA. They could ask the council to sign off the work for £200 to £750 – but why if the contractor is doing it for free?

If every one of these works had an energy accent, it is possible that we would be rapidly heading towards a low energy building stock given 2.5% of homes are heavily refurbished every year.  But we aren’t and this doesn’t look like changing. Given the criticality of reducing energy consumption and in particular heat energy, the presence of a Retrofit Coordinator, guided by an energy model of the home and to create a ‘Whole House Plan’ would represent the building for its current and future owners and ensure that every opportunity is maximised.

When that minor project becomes a significant project, aesthetic proposals, technical design and heritage considerations need to take place and the right professional is brought in (unless that appointed professional is already a Retrofit Coordinator). We have already established that the bulk of jobs in the UK are of low value, so there are challenges to the involvement of professionals in this market:

  1. Dealing with a specialist is expensive. £15-40,000 of work can have a huge impact on the performance of a home if guided well. If that kind of budget was suggested in initial discussion with an Architect or Architectural Technician (for instance), there might be v little interest from them to engage as they would judge straight away that there is little for them to earn.
  2. Specialists rarely want to do initial triage as they do not have sufficient rounded knowledge; their perfect scenario is a diagnosed problem and then being able to solve it for a fee. Householders often have to take a bet on what they think the problem is (after a web search filtering the fake news and manufacturer claims) and call in a profession that seems right.
  3. Specialists do not want to spend quality time supervising installations. Visits are time-consuming to organise and execute and given the potential spread of jobs that may take 1-12 months across a wide geographical area, quality assurance is usually under-resourced.

A coordination role can be a lead into and the oversight role once key professional roles have taken place or if for minor works the ‘design and install’ contractor needs some supervision and with advances in digital surveying and communication techniques, the coordination can be achieved at a low cost. Given the high volume of work required however, the potential for the RC to earn is significant.

There are other professions where this works very well. A Paramedic is the first point of contact for a person in need of emergency medical assistance. They are not Doctors and cannot diagnose specific illnesses or prescribe, but run through a series of protocols to arrive at an action; they assess risk. In the Building sector there are big jobs and little jobs and a small grey area between. Who is the Paramedic of Refurbishment?  Who provides the ubiquitous oversight of energy and risk for all work? Unlike a medical emergency, there is no need to react as quickly as in an emergency situation so decision protocols in a considered fashion, so there is room for a Retrofit Coordinator to cover many customer jobs and take time to ask for technical support from specialist professionals. For jobs that with inevitably be sizeable, skip the specialist RC, but ensure the lead professional has demonstrable energy and risk knowledge. Get them onto the RC training.

In the RetrofitWorks Membership we have a very wide range of RCs, to identify a few:

  • An Architectural Technician with a Building Services background.
  • A Gas Safe Engineers that provides support to other RCs where needed and who leads on heating-only jobs.
  • Three Passive House consultants who understand intimately the criticality of airtightness and ventilation.
  • A Green Roof and Project Management expert.

Also in our Membership we have other experts that support the RCs such as a Chartered Surveyor that carries out a damp survey prior to the RC’s final recommendations if required. As a result of that, we have achieved significant success on the Warmer Homes project for the Greater London Authority which is still live. The RC is front and centre, carrying out an evaluation of need both for the house and the resident before making a appropriate proposal. Out of the over 600 completions achieved to date we have less than 4% customer drops outs compared to similar schemes that might expect between 10-50% and this is whilst dealing with approximately 50% of customers that would be classed as vulnerable. This points to a high level of customer trust in what we are offering them. Our experience shows us that the RC role is critical if we are to achieve any kind of retrofit at scale in the UK.

London Boiler Cashback Scheme – apply now

Have you heard about the newly launched London Boiler Cashback Scheme?

Launched by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Mayor of London, it offers London based homeowners a £400 voucher towards replacing ‘F’ and ‘G’ rated boilers with a new energy efficient ‘A’ rated boiler.  If it has a pilot light it’s likely to be eligible.

RetrofitWorks are offering the opportunity for householders to use local contractors at local prices and avoid the potential of paying more than you should, as suggested in Money Saving Expert – click here to view full article.

The boiler voucher is claimed in advance of works but only once a quote has been received from an accredited installer.  To give the customer extra confidence in the scheme we are able to provide three quotes from local contractors from one visit – or potentially via email if we can collect sufficient information from the customer in advance. This ensures competitive pricing.

The key here is that there is a first come first served voucher issue process – and we saw what happened to that under the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund and just before Feed-in-Tariff cuts to solar PV work – the lists get filled quickly.

The voucher offer is running until 31st March 2016, subject to availability.

We therefore urge all interested homeowners to apply asap, to avoid missing out.

To find out more and apply, click here of call us on 0330 123 1334.

Retrofit London partnership with RetrofitWorks

RetrofitWorks are working with The Retrofit London business support programme, which provides up to 12 hours of FREE expert advice and support to small-medium sized enterprises in the Construction, Property Management and Green Building Products sectors – based in Enfield, Haringey, Waltham Forest or Lewisham.

 

For Construction Sector businesses such as general builders who install solid wall and cavity wall insulation, heating and plumbing outfits installing energy efficient boilers and central heating systems, double glazing installers, micro-power generation specialists and professional services such as architects, energy assessors – any SME business providing energy efficiency solutions to property owners –

 

The Retrofit London Programme can help you Gain Access to Contract Opportunities in the Energy Efficiency Retrofit market by:

•       Giving you information about contracts and building projects

•       Make introductions to property owners, larger clients and supply chain leaders

•       Help you get accreditations such as PAS 2030, CHAS, or Constructionline – some contracts that we bring to your attention will require these types of accreditation in order for you to be considered – For example, if you are already registered on Constructionline we can still help, with seminars and one-to-one advice to make your Constructionline profile more effective

•       Help you prepare effective PQQs and tenders

•       And also help with Marketing, Staff Training and Qualifications, and Financial Management

 

The Retrofit London business support could help you qualify as an Installer on jobs funded by Smart Homes, and onto approved supply chains.

(The Smart Homes grant scheme is available subject to conditions in Haringey, Hackney, Islington, Waltham Forest, Camden and Enfield. Click here for further information).

We are also running a Constructionline workshop early in the New Year.

We support innovative Green Building Products businesses such as StoneRad (providers of energy efficient decorative stone radiators), Pure Fuels (providers of bio-diesel fuels from recycled cooking oils for building heating, electricity generation systems and road use) and Ritec International (manufacturers of specialist glazing treatment products) – to help them raise the profile of their products and extend market reach in the property upgrade market.  If you are a business providing Green Building Products and would like some assistance to strengthen your market reach please do contact RetrofitWorks.

 

For Property Management businesses such as lettings/managing/estate agents and landlords who are operating as a business

The programme can help you access funding for energy efficiency improvements to your property portfolios:

  • Get to grips with funding processes for Energy Company Obligation (ECO), Smart Homes, Smart Business, RE:NEW, Home Improvement Fund, etc
  • Understand regulatory requirements – why landlords will need to invest in energy efficiency retrofit
  • Evaluate and prioritise your property portfolio for property upgrade works
  • Understand the options to help you make better investment decisions
  • Source quality suppliers for technical assessments and installation work

Benefits of property upgrade:

  • More secure rental incomes when tenants have lower heating bills
  • Fewer complaints and disrepair cases
  • Shorter void times with a warmer more attractive property
  • Improved asset value
  • Legal compliance to avoid penalties

Did you know that under Government proposals properties in the private rented sector must attain a minimum EPC Rating of “E” after 1st April 2018 (for new tenancies), with penalties of £1,000-£5,000 for non-compliance?  This will also apply to ALL tenancies from 2020.

If you are a small-medium sized enterprise in the Construction, Property Management or Green Building Products sectors – based in Enfield, Haringey, Waltham Forest or Lewisham – we hope that you will take up the opportunity of this valuable business support programme. 

To take full advantage of the FREE advice, guidance and support on offer from Retrofit London –

Contact RetrofitWorks on 0330 123 1334

Email: info@retrofitworks.co.uk

Furthermore, if you or your organisation know of SMEs that may be interested in benefiting from joining the Retrofit London Programme, please get in touch with us at RetrofitWorks to work with us to spread the message.  

 

Find out more about the Smart Homes scheme, or join RetrofitWorks now.  

 

Changes to CDM (Construction Design and Management) Regulations

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The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) is making changes to the 2007 CDM Regulations.
HSE’s stated objectives behind the proposed changes:

  • Maintain or improve worker protection
  • Simplify the regulatory package
  • Improve health and safety standards on small construction sites
  • Implement the Temporary or Mobile Construction Sites Directive (TMCSD) in a proportionate way
  • Discourage bureaucracy
  • Meet better regulation principles
  • Key changes
    • Replacing the CDM-C role with the Principal Designer (PD)
    • Changes to the threshold for appointment of co-ordinators
    • Changes to the threshold for notification
    • Replacing the CDM-C with a PD

The aim of changing from having a CDM-C to appointing a PD is largely driven by the desire to meet the requirement of the TMSCD which requires pre-construction co-ordination. The PD will be responsible for:

– Planning, managing and monitoring the pre-construction phase
– Ensuring that where reasonably practicable, risks are eliminated or controlled through design work
– Passing information to the Principal Contractor (PC)
– Ensuring co-operation and co-ordination
– Ensuring designers comply with their duties
– Assisting the Client in preparing the pre-construction information
– Preparing the health and safety file

Who are or who are likely to be designers?
The CDM Regulations says:

“Designer” means any person (including a client, contractor or other person referred to in these Regulations) who in the course or furtherance of a business –

a) Prepares or modifies a design; or
b) Arranges for or instructs any person under their control to do so;

relating to a structure or to a product or mechanical or electrical system intended for a particular structure, and a person is deemed to prepare a design where a design is prepared by a person under their control

Changes to the threshold for the appointment of co-ordinators
TMCSD requires the appointment of co-ordinators wherever there is more than one contractor. The consultative document aims to set out clearly as part of its proposed guidance sensible and proportionate arrangements for co-ordination of smaller projects which fall within the scope of this requirement. It goes on to say that it is expected that the PD role will be discharged by the person responsible for the design work, which may be a contractor, an architect, an engineer etc. The belief is that there should be more effective co-ordination, particularly of smaller and poorly managed projects involving significant health and safety risks.

Changes to the threshold for notification
Under the proposed changes a project is notifiable if construction work lasts longer than 30 working days AND has more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point in the project or exceeds 500 person days. So in practice it would be possible to have a project on site for say 40 working days with the maximum number of persons on site not exceeding say 12 (max possible 480 person days) or 60 days with 8 workers (max possible 480 person days).

Because of the introduction of the ‘and 20 persons’ element to the revised notification threshold, it is likely that less projects would be notifiable under the proposed changes.

Other changes

  • Replacing the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) with guidance.
  • Replacing the explicit requirement for individual competence and CDM’s explicit requirement for corporate competence.
  • Clients duties include domestic Clients.
  • It is important to remember that these proposed changes are only proposed and therefore, details can and often do, change.

Courtesy: http://www.principalsafety.co.uk/cdm-regulation.php

For review of current regulation requirements, see:

http://www.fmb.org.uk/grow-your-business/health-safety/health-and-safety/cdm-regulations/

Expression of interest in opportunities for domestic retrofit in N. London

RetrofitWorks’ opportunities include Green Deal and ECO funding projects.

As part of the consortium successfully bidding to service the works contract, our membership has opportunities in the six north London boroughs that will receive Green Deal Community funding totalling £6.4 million. We are excited about this opportunity and intend to capitalise upon these funds for the benefit of our membership. We need to assess our potential members for capabilities and certifications, and we have compiled this survey for you to complete : LINK

We have a tight deadline upcoming to address tender opportunity presented to us by the fund administrators. The works being tendered largely mirror Green Deal measures, but there are also other opportunities which we feel will benefit all membership profiles of the RetrofitWorks cooperative. The profiles noted include both professional and installation services, and new roles such as ‘Retrofit Coordinator’. Funds will be allocated among six councils; Haringey, Hackney, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Camden, and Islington.

Our cooperative is designed to allow you to easily tender for work at a price that you decide, with no obligation on you to comply with a framework. Our profiling is also designed to help you if you feel you can do the work but may not necessarily have experience or the most up to date certification – we have access to funding and discounted resources to help you get the final certification at discounts.

Software Launch

RetrofitWorks’ software portal soft launched this October with full system launch in November. The software has been developed for RetrofitWorks in conjunction with VRM Technology (vrmtechnology.co.uk), and the soft launch gave our software developers the chance to get feedback from our Advocates and Practitioners.

We shall be detailing the enhanced capabilities of our software in the coming weeks – our goal is to improve upon current retrofit management software solutions and provide best in class innovation to our members, aiding with all aspects of works management and audit. VRM Technology’s software also features new functionality for RetrofitWorks, centred around making communication easy for our clients, with pricing and diary scheduling integrated in one solution.

Resolver & client care

RetrofitWorks will use resolver (resolver.co.uk) for helping our members provide excellent client care and clear issue resolution.

resolver provides consumers with a single place to raise and resolve issues.  One place, one process and all key services.  The service is available online, on iPhones, and on iPads. resolver has over 1,500 companies across 65 service sectors covering off all key companies in those market sectors in its system.  RetrofitWorks will soon be launching a link on our website to resolver, so that the solution becomes the consistent space that clients and members go to engage and resolve issues.

We are excited to work with resolver in designing our customer care processes. Our systems will ensure that the client or member follows a guided complaints process and process flow ensures that those with issues engages with the right person at the right time. resolver keeps a complete and accurate record of the case, making it easy for the client to follow the process.

RetrofitWorks will gain customer feedback at each touch point on how the issue is being dealt with. The service is free to our members and clients.  resolver does not sell customer data or market to them and there are no adverts on the software portal.

RetrofitWorks will set the benchmark how an organisation delivers quality services and resolver will allow us to compare how we are doing across the market – with reporting and improving on customer care providing a continuous feedback and ensuring a quality driven process.

Haringey Trial Homes Needed

This summer we are seeking member companies who are willing to work with us in Haringey to trial the following stages on one of your projects:

The home has an energy assessment carried out to identify the most appropriate energy efficiency measures.
We work with you to add to your existing project. This is your job, and you direct it, the Coop supports your job. We will find others locally to work with you to offer the additional energy efficiency or renewables measures identified in the energy assessment that you’re unable to provide.
Allow RetrofitWorks to ease the management of the job and access finance or grants on your behalf where possible.
The trial is looking to test various aspects of the cooperative structures and process’s and to offer extra resources to so so – by taking part you will not be slowed down in any way. There is no charge to your client for this additional service and you will be helping to develop the RetrofitWorks Cooperative business model.

A flyer can be downloaded here for circulation if required: Haringey Trial House Flyer

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