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Calls for CLG to revisit Code of Conduct

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 18-Jan-08 06:02:35 PM

An article appearing in this month's Building Surveying Journal (from RICS) has Martin Hughes - Managing Director, Now Energy Ltd - comprehensively detailing most, if not all, of the problems plaguing the EPC industry.

The article begins by chronicling how the Government's decision to suspend the launch of Home Information Packs back in May of last year - blaming the lack of Domestic Energy Assessors - actually triggered an avalanche of new career-seekers, despite there being almost enough prospective DEAs within the training system (at that time) anyway.

[Added: Read the article at NARHI (pdf)]

The cash register rings... for the training providers

He then turns his hose on to the new breed of buccaneering training providers.

Martin writes:

All DEA training providers undertake a selection process to establish if the candidate is suitable; however, for some this simply means whether or not candidates have the ability to write a cheque for around £3,000.

"Non-compliant" Estate Agents

The article goes on to highlight how Estate Agents not complying with the HIP legislation are adding to the problems DEAs are facing trying to earn a living. This, he adds, is now compounded by the current "credit crunch" crippling the housing market, which, he translates, is equating to around just two or three EPC instructions per month, per DEA:

Factor in non-compliance with the HIP regulations by some estate agents, and you have a different kind of chaos – a huge oversupply of DEAs and a massive undersupply of EPC instructions. If all the EPC instructions were distributed evenly between currently qualified and accredited DEAs, there would be just two or three each per month.

Meanwhile, training providers continue to sell - sorry, enrol - unwary cash/debt laden candidates onto their courses.

Accreditation schemes are distorting the market

Turning to accreditation schemes, he reveals how DEAs belonging to just one scheme, effectively limit their work potential due to the systems and agreements potential work providers have in place. This restrictive practice places further pressure on DEAs to incur additional costs accrediting with one or more of the other schemes to maximise their work exposure.

Training providers teaching different RdSAP conventions

Turning back to the subject of training, he adds to the apparent growing sentiment felt within the DEA community that suggests a number of poorly trained DEA are (somehow) entering the industry as a result of the inadequate training provided by some of the "five-day crash courses".

To further punch that home, he adds something that is worrying for both the industry, and the quality of EPC data collected (which, no doubt, will influence future legislation on the battle against climate change):

Disturbingly, anecdotal evidence suggests that some training programmes even have differing interpretations of RdSAP conventions and definitions.

Software generating different EPC results

And as if that wasn't enough, Martin goes on to add that...

...depending upon which training scheme has produced the DEA and which accreditation scheme they join, the EPC will be produced on any one of the different EPC software systems available. Worryingly, there is also anecdotal evidence that the same dataset can produce different ratings depending upon which software generates the EPC.

To be fair here, I'm wondering who is at fault; the training provider or the software writers?

Nonetheless, a mess!

Pressures to ignore Code of Conduct

Martin also mentions the pressures on the DEA to process EPCs within just a day, making it very difficult to comply with the requirement within the Code of Conduct to provide information to clients.

The future

Looking to the near future, the article questions the confidence DEAs will have deciding if further training to advance into the world of non-domestic-buildings in April 2008, will be worth it, describing the scenario as a potential "deja vu" experience.

The article concludes with Martin calling for:

  • CLG to publish guidance for newly qualified DEAs
  • revisit the Codes of Conduct 
  • CLG should create certainty and restore confidence for DEAs to train as commercial energy assessors
  • Mandatory HCRs

Martin Hughes has also been a guest on the DEA podcast. You can find it here: Martin Hughes - Now Energy Ltd - DEA Podcast

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