Things to consider when...
Selecting product suppliers
In some situations, you may not be responsible for selecting the products to be used, this may be down to the installer you have chosen, but it is still important to check that they are installing the best product for you, so it is important to ask about:
- How long has the product been in the marketplace?
- How long has the product supplier been trading?
- (Ask for company name and number.)
- Is the product endorsed by professional body? Eg link to ETL
- What is the life expectancy of the product?
- Does the product have a warranty and how long is it?
- How does the energy efficiency savings of the product to compare to others?
- Where else have they installed the product? Can they give you details of previous clients? It is worth talking to previous clients if the product is new to the market or is not commonly installed. Do not rely on internet reviews, as these may not be accurate.
- If product supplier is also the installer, do they provide any warranties for their work?
- Is there a service contract available for the product?
Selecting building professionals
- What qualifications do they have?
- Are they competent to carry out the works?
- What experience do they have?
- Are they certified and registered with a trade body?
- Which professional bodies are they accredited with to carryout works for example, registered as a gas engineer or electrician? Ask for proof of qualifications and check with the trade associations/certification body. As some traders may fraudulently claim membership. Also note that being a member of these groups does not guarantee workmanship; it is still essential to get further references from previous clients. Link here to building professionals in suppliers 5.0
- How long have they been working or trading as a sole practitioner, company or part of a business? (Ask for their details, company/business name and number.)
- Ask for references, contact details of previous clients and speak to them in person.
- How long it will take for the work to be done?
- Do they carry out the work themselves? Make sure they are not selling the job on.
- Their availability to carry out the work.
- What guarantees or after care to do they provide for their work?
- If your building professional is supplying the products for the work, you will need to check with them about how these are sourced and ask questions as you would for products (see above).
- Give as much information and detail regarding your requirements to professionals, be sure to include anything that might impede the work, such as, access, the building is listed, or only being able to do the works at a particular time of year, day etc.
- Check if it is an estimate or a quote, ask for a quote.
- Check the quote and know what is included and excluded to avoid hidden extra costs and to establish the accuracy of the cost plan. Make sure all details are written down and fully agreed in terms of material cost and labour costs.
- Get more than one quote if you can (ideally 3) to ensure the quote is priced appropriately and to ensure it is not too high or not too low in price. The details provided within quotes will help you to compare and understand your quotes and will avoid lots of extras being added in later. Make sure you check what is included and excluded. As some contractors will issue very low quotes to win the job but may have lots of exclusions in their quote that push the price up later. (Ask what if questions, see agreeing quotes.)
- Compare quotes on what work and materials are supplied to understand what has and hasn’t been included. Also look at what is in the contract details, and what insurance provision your supplier provides.
- Check how long the quote is valid
- Check if the quote includes VAT or not. (How does this impact you?)
- Check the payment schedule, for example can you retain payments to ensure the job is done properly?
- First check companies house for their business status
- Check trade associations to make sure they are registered as they claim.
- When looking for recommendations and references the internet can be a starting place, but they are not always reliable.
- It is important to speak to previous clients if possible and even view the work where you can.
- When speaking to previous clients ask them;
- When the work was carried out
- About the quality of work, products, workmanship, curtesy and time keeping
- About timing of the work – any slippage
- Any hidden costs or additional costs
- Would they use this supplier /product again?
Checking insurance requirements and guarantees
- What insurance does the supplier have if anything goes wrong? (Indemnity insurance/ Public liability insurance for contractors, or for contractors that work through a company Employers’ Liability insurance.)
- Check if there are other insurances out there for the specific circumstances, get advice. For example, does your building contractor have Contractors’ all risk cover, to cover the cost of replacing new work that is destroyed before it is completed, or do you need your insurance to cover it.
- Consult with your own insurance provider to find out if any special measures need to be in place before the work is started.
- Also ensure you understand what guarantees the installer provides for:
- The materials and equipment, who provides this the product supplier or installer
Questions to contractors
- What happens if you change your mind about products or the scope of the work?
- What happens if installer can’t source the materials specified or the supply cost of these increases?
- What happens if the supplier discovers unforeseen problems with carrying out the work/s for example, with the building?
- What happens if it takes longer to obtain building permissions, or materials?
- How do you/they manage disruption to running of the building, phasing of the work and implications of this?
- Health and safety – Is the project notifiable to the HSE? And who is responsible for Construction Design and Management (CDM) risks? (For example, designers, contractors.)
- Be sure you know what is included and excluded, to avoid hidden costs, things that were not included in the quote
- What happens if there are delays to the start of the work -client or professional?
- Could the weather impact the work programme?
- What happens if there is programme slippage or delays
Agreeing the quote or contract
A quote provides a cost for work, this can be written or verbal.
When you agree a quote (even verbally) and give the go ahead for the work it becomes a contract, so make sure you have it in writing before you agree to any works. A traditional contract is essentially a more legally detailed document used by registered professionals or for more complex works. Make sure the type of contract used is suitable for your business. It is very important to read and understand all the terms and conditions that are placed within the quote or contract before agreeing it.
You should check your quote or contract and makes sure it has:
- Full details of business/company name and full contact details with company registration and VAT numbers if applicable
- Your business details with the name of main contact
- Full breakdown of the works and what is included, for example, if the contract covers the removal of rubbish/clear up/skips/scaffolding etc. For a contract this will require an itemised description of the works.
- The start and finish dates of the specified works, for a larger contract this should include a timetable for supplying goods and doing the work.
- Information over what will happen if there are delays or unforeseen events. How will these be dealt with (for contract variations, there should agreement over the potential cost of these and how these will be dealt with).
- Details on how you are given receipts for any building purchases
- Information about any extra charges and if these are included or excluded, for example, delivery costs, licences permissions etc.
- A total price for the works
- The payment stages and terms are listed as well as any deposits required
- Any guarantee/warrantees provided for work and after completion listed
- Business terms and conditions
- Your rights if you change your mind or want to cancel the works (contracts)
- Any other conditions the contract might be dependent on for example, a planning permission or a grant application).
Insurance Backed Warranty/guarantee
An insurance backed guarantee provides protection for the customer an increases customer confidence that the installer is reliable and trustworthy. The purpose of an insurance backed guarantee is to honour the terms of the installer’s guarantee.
MCS certified Contractors have access to Insurance Backed Guarantees through the Independent Warrantee Association (IWA). These Insurance Backed Guarantees extend to these renewable technology installations;
- Solar PV
- Air Source Heat Pumps
- Ground Source Heat Pumps
- Battery Storage
These guarantees can be purchased for both domestic and commercial MCS certified installations.
IWA’s Insurance Backed Guarantees provide;
- Cover for up to 10 years
- A guarantee which can be transferred to any new homeowners
- Covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
A full list of policy prices and information can be found here.
PAS 2030, 2035, 2038
The “PAS” standards are codes of practice for work on the installation of the energy efficient measures. They are aimed to reduce variations on installations and improve the quality of installations.
Ensuring you use certified installers who have adopted these standards should reduce problems associated with retrofit such as defects, poor design and performance.
- PAS 2030:2019 – Specification for the installation of energy efficiency measures in existing dwellings and insulation in residential park homes
PAS 2030 is the standard that is required for installers of energy efficiency measures in existing domestic buildings. To undertake any Green Deal and ECO installations the installers must comply with PAS 2030. PAS 2030 specifies the requirements for the retrofit of dwellings including the installation, commissioning, and handover of work. To comply with PAS2030, all work must be overseen by a competent retrofit assessor/coordinator. This standard was redesigned recently to be used in conjunction with PAS 2035.
- PAS 2035 – Retrofitting dwellings for improved energy efficiency
PAS 2035 is applicable to all those involved in the management and design of energy efficient installations. PAS 2035 sets out a requirement to properly assess dwellings, design and then implement retrofit work and is designed to be used in conjunction with PAS 2030. PAS 2030 covers risk assessment and whole dwelling assessment which encompasses aspects such as;
- Building construction
- Architectural character
- Patterns of use
Due to the potential impact of retrofit on each of these aspects, PAS 2035 encourages taking into consideration the protection of occupant health, wellbeing and comfort while upgrading the energy efficiency of the property. PAS 2035 suggests taking a “fabric first” approach to retrofit.
A ‘Fabric first’ approach focused on maximising the insulation and air-tightness of the building before, or in combination with, other energy efficiency measures. This is particularly important when installing low energy heating systems such as heat pumps but also applies to renewable energy sources such as PV and solar thermal hot water. This can help reduce capital and operational costs, improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. A fabric first method can also reduce the need for maintenance during the building’s life.
- PAS 2038 – Retrofitting non-domestic buildings for improved energy efficiency
PAS 2038 has not been published at this time. The scope of PAS 2038 focusses on retrofitting non-domestic buildings for improved energy efficiency.