Energy Assessors Assess New Challenges

Domestic energy assessors (DEAs) as a collective have felt  that they have suffered a number of blows within the market place since the introduction of the EPC requirement. Since the removal of the HIP legislation they have seemingly been dealt further challenges as the market place changes further. Is this about to change?

Many DEAs have left the energy assessment industry with complete disillusionment and losses on their time, effort and monetary investment; some after receiving questionable sales pitches and from training companies which were not achievable in reality. Though the flow of new energy assessors seems to remain.  We continue to receive comments on one of our most viewed articles, ‘Should I train as a DEA?’ with questions and thoughts from those who are considering re-training or wish to advise.

We recently wrote about the prospect of ‘Free EPCs’ (within ‘The Future for Energy Assessors’) that was discussed some time ago and was written off quickly by the DEA community as unworkable. However, with 2 of the big accreditation schemes NHER and BRE coming forward and seemingly supporting the concept to their members it had to be afforded some level of respect. The current situation seems unclear whether the accreditation schemes still intend to pursue and support this with many DEAs feeling that the proposal has become tainted.

Whether you are in favour of the ‘Free EPC’ idea or not it seemingly raises the conflict of interest issue once again; certainly the definition of such and how it applies equally to accreditation schemes, individual DEAs, EPC companies and other parties who come into contact with the EPC.

HIP2Go (a widely used HIP platform for DEAs) has recently gone into liquidation leaving many DEAs with thousands of pounds worth of unpaid invoices. We understand that even in cases where HIP2Go had processed payments from the DEA’s client , for e.g. estate agent or individual home seller, the payment the DEA was intended to receive has been left unpaid in some cases. A source told us that a number of official complaints have been lodged with the related professional industry and financial bodies / watchdogs  and we await to hear their responses.

Paul M Walker, chairman of IDEA said, “It is clear that many Energy Assessors have not been paid for their EPC element of the HIP they ordered, through HIPS2GO/ Hips Homes Ltd on behalf of their client. On the 17 June IDEA received information that the company were offering to pay 33% of fees owed to individual Energy Assessors. Mr Pett (MD) stated that this method would allow HIPS2GO to carry on trading and enable them to collect monies that they were owed.”

“Energy Assessors have not been paid for the HIP they ordered, through HIPS2GO/Hips Homes Ltd, that the client had taken the deferred payment option. In all cases HIPS2GO have received FULL payment from the vendor, but failed to pass on payments to the Energy Assessor/Home Information Pack Provider and some Search Providers. To date, those creditors that accepted the 33% “Offer” have still not received payment; those that have ordered searches that have not been completed still await their “promised“, refunds from HIPS2GO/HIPHOMES.”

“So where is the money paid to HIPS2GO by the home owners for their HIP/EPC/Deferred payment?  Money that by law, must be held in a client account by Hips Homes Ltd/HIPS2GO to pay for services.”

The professionals within the industry are constantly trying to promote quality, the benefits of the EPC and enhance the image of the energy performance certificate. This is often a struggle for Energy Assessors (DEAs) when competition is often volume based with little concern over the quality of the provision.

A new website selling EPCs has recently appeared on our radar and is causing a level of concern towards their business model. The basic business concept is:

  • the EPC is sold at rock bottom prices to the end consumer the home seller or landlord online
  • the online EPC provider then contacts as many local DEAs as possible and asks them to bid against each other.
  • The cheapest DEA wins the  instruction and is given details of the client
  • The DEA completes the instruction and uploads the EPC with their invoice.

Crystal Power, Director of Power Energy Assessors Ltd recently told us, “As a domestic energy assessor, I have been inundated with “offers of work” from this panel. I have sent them 5 emails asking them to stop sending me these offers, as they do not have an unsubscribe option on their emails, but to no avail. Phone calls to their offices have also not stopped the constant barrage of emails.”

“From talking to other energy assessors, I am not alone. I have recorded some 200 unsolicited emails from just a handful of other assessors and upon investigation, the “bidding” for the work is around the £15.00 mark! What worries me is that this panel are doing nothing to help the decline in fees in our industry and customers cannot be receiving a decent standard of service, or an accurate EPC. Panels like this are not helping themselves, their clients or the industry by taking this approach and yet again, it will be the energy assessors left to pick up the pieces once these panels go into administration”

Due to the downward mechanism of the bidding process, the cheapest DEA will win the instruction. As we all know cheapest is not always the best of option, and this process is not advertised to those considering buying an EPC Certificate. Winning bid fee levels we have witnessed are equivalent to approximately half minimum wage if calculations are made using typical times required for each EPC assessment and certification. If this is coupled with concerns that payment might not be received from the company, it doesn’t  seem a particluarly attractive prospect to us.

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