Marion Lloyd-Jones, People Powered Retrofit, has some advice for householders.
“How can I make sure my retrofit works are up to standard?”
This is a question I get asked a lot. The answer depends on the type of measures, the scale of the works and the experience your builder has in energy efficiency improvements. Here are a few pointers:
Retrofit Coordinator (PAS 2035)
PAS 2035 (that’s the UK’s domestic retrofit standard), sets out the role of retrofit coordinators and how they are involved in supporting projects.
As experts in the management and coordination of domestic retrofit projects, retrofit coordinators are central to driving quality assurance forward. It’s these experienced and skilled professionals who can support with assessment, design, monitoring and evaluation, helping as and when you need them or, for bigger projects, managing the entire job or even working on site, a few days a week or full time.
People Powered Retrofit Surveyors
In People Powered Retrofit we use Retrofit Surveyors, who have a skill set closely aligned with the PAS 2035 Retrofit Coordinator role, tailored against our specific needs.
Having a structured way of making sure works are delivered to a high standard is crucial. This is something your Retrofit Coordinator can devise with you, creating a checklist tailored to your retrofit project that you and your contractor can work to. Checklists are used for certain, high risk measures and improvements to ensure that the contractor has evidenced that they have approached these works in the correct manner.
For anything mechanical and electrical, for example, heating or ventilation related, properly commissioning equipment is very important, making sure that the systems installed are properly calibrated and the settings are as they should be. Ideally this should be done during installation - but sometimes installers need to come back and check, once things have been up and running for a few months.
When new contractors get on site, it’s important to give them a comprehensive briefing. They will already know the ins and outs of your job, having tendered and won the contract. But a face-to-face induction, on site, going through the background of the job and the main goals, is a good way to clearly set out expectations and establish strong communication from the off. A Retrofit Coordinator should be involved in these inductions.
For a small retrofit project, quality control might consist of you asking a Retrofit Coordinator to come out at the start and end of the job. They will have a good look round and check that all measures have been installed properly.
For a bigger job, a Retrofit Coordinator may visit regularly to check that specific measures have been installed correctly. For example, making sure insulation is being fitted the right way or performing a leak test to ensure air tightness standards have been met.
Another way of tracking quality is through images, taken by you, your contractor, consultants or specialist engineers to document progress. Photographs, taken at appropriate stages and crucial points, help to evidence quality processes that are required during the build process. They can also be used to identify problems later on when diagnosis is limited by overlying materials or finishes. Photos should be sent through to your Retrofit Coordinator for inspection.
Sitting down with your contractors and designers to talk through any issues is an important part of the quality control process. There may be bumps along your retrofit journey and whether you address these through regular meet-ups, video calls, email or online chats, having a means of constructive communication is vital to avoid disruption.
Finally, make sure you include the requirement for quality assurance photos, checklist and commissioning requirements in the contract you sign with your contractor. This is something that hopefully you agreed in Stage 3: Design Development.