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The Speculation Begins

Submitted by: MikeC (Admin) on 22-Jun-07 11:31:01 PM

Home Information Packs (HIPs) on 3-bed homes and over could be required immediately on August 1st 2007 - HIPs launch day - according to a report on Channel 4 News website:

There could be enough people trained to carry out audits for the new Home Information Packs (Hips) to extend the scheme to three-bedroom homes when it comes into force on August 1, it has been claimed.

But Nick Phillips of the Home Inspector Forum, which represents 3,900 training and qualified assessors, said they had been assured that if there were enough auditors the scheme would go ahead for three-bedroom properties from August 1.

He said there were 1,300 trained assessors and if the accreditation process went as planned there could be in excess of 3,000 by August 1.

I dunno, that seems like a rather weak statement to warrant media attention to me - Where's the substance? Besides that, as the article goes on to say, there's a more sticky obstacle that may get in the way, even if we assume the more plausible scenario reported in todays Guardian; September start likely for Hips and three-bed homes:

Paul Broadhead, of the Association of Hips Providers, said: "I understand the industry will have enough trained energy assessors in place by August to allow the government to announce that the scheme will be expanded to include three-bed properties. I'm hearing that it could be introduced from as early as September 1."

Chris Broadbent, director of training at one of the largest trainers of energy assessors, BRE, agreed the industry would be ready in time.

The reason why I still question it is because of the following hurdles:

2000 fully accredited Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs) are needed to trigger a Commencement Order, which itself is slated to take 3-weeks to come into effect.

Furthermore, the published HIP Implementation Update (pdf) states that the Govt needs to satisfy:

... whether the regional distribution of HIs and DEAs will ensure an adequate supply of EPCs...

Finally (and somewhat more cryptically):

... in accessing [the above two conditions], taking account of the lessons learnt from the operation of HIPs.'

Tricky sentence that, innit!

What does it mean? How much time will those 'lessons' take to feed-through from the street, to Government? If the HIPs dry run trials are anything to go by, sometime next year! Unless, of course, those trials are to form the basis of '... the lessons learnt'. This needs to be clarified as it could mean the difference between weeks and months.

If the lessons learnt are not to be derived from the dry-runs however, then we have to assume they will instead be enlightened from the provision of HIPs to 4-bed homes and over, beginning August 1st.

But what about the 5000 subsidised HIPs and Local Authority housing? Couldn't they be assessed for 'lessons learnt'?

The trouble with that proposition - notwithstanding the long-awaited dry-run trial results mentioned above - is that there's precious few reports of any work coming from those quarters at this time. Plus, neither the dry-runs nor the subsidised EPC scheme constitute a "normal" commercial marketplace (Not a stated requirement, I know. But can any other figures be trusted to illustrate the working "operation of HIPs"? Particularly when the risks to the wider property market are so huge?).

Plus... they are voluntary!

So, as I see it, even with 2000 fully accredited DEAs available for work on August 1st, the Govt has already committed to a 4-bed kick-off. It seems sensible to assume there will be a period of implementation to allow data to be collected - from which "lessons" can be learnt - followed by a Commencement Order which takes 3 weeks.

Now I'm speculating, I know... but who's fault is that anyway? Any businesses planning in this foggy climate either has deep pockets or a nervous bank-manager!

Anyway, I suppose I might as well finish off the above speculative roadmap formula: To do that, I must guess at how long the period of implementation (to collect data) will likely last.

Toughie! But let's say 4 weeks (which I still can't help thinking as being optimistic). That takes us to September 2007. Add on 3 weeks and that puts October 2007 as a possible target for 3-bed roll-out. And following that, Dec/Jan for full HIP roll-out.

Unless, they jump straight from 4-bed to full HIP launch. Is that possible?

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