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Can surveyors be the saviours of the energy and cost of living crisis? – Baguley

by: John Baguley, director of technical, risk and compliance at Countrywide Surveying Services
  • 09/12/2022
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Can surveyors be the saviours of the energy and cost of living crisis? – Baguley
It’s quite a stretch to suggest that property and valuations could be the saviour of the energy and cost of living crisis and that the built environment can help to ease the current financial squeeze many are currently facing.

However, without wanting to stray into any political conversations and the merits or otherwise of recent geopolitical events, it’s evident that the current squeeze on household incomes is in part caused by the significant increases in energy costs faced by many households since the start of 2022.  

Here in the UK, we have a fascinating, interesting and often historic housing stock which in many respects is wonderful. The downside is that the energy efficiency levels around this housing stock is low, often considerably lower than our European counterparts.  

There are number of reasons for this, not least due to different climates, building techniques and possibly political priorities but the consequence is that to heat and maintain the UK’s housing stock to an acceptable level, even in ordinary times, the price can be high. Heightened unit rates for electricity and gas being experienced across the UK brings into sharp focus the energy efficiency of the built environment. And let’s not forget how significant a contributor the built environment is to UK emissions.  


Enabling change  

How can the valuation, surveying and the property profession help?  

Consumer behaviour is key to transforming how a building performs. Without the desire, ability and benefits attached to improving property beyond the traditional home improvements we are all used to e.g. kitchens and bathrooms, it becomes the stick which drives change, and few of us prefer the stick to the carrot. 

The surveying profession has a significant role to play.  

Education is key in ensuring that the correct measure is installed at the right time and is the right measure, or mix of measures, for an individual property. Whilst residential property is largely homogenous, the way we improve our housing stock must relate directly to the property in question; not all solutions suit all properties. Homeowners need to understand that some outwardly good measures, or combinations of measures, should not inadvertently compromise the performance and integrity of the building. 

Providing EPC and retrofit advice will become an increasingly integral part of the traditional survey and, dare I say, the valuation journey too, and rightly so. Making sure lenders, buyers and homeowners make fully informed decisions is a vitally important component within this process. 

We also need to see the mortgage valuation through the lens of the world which we are now in.  

Valuation is more art than science and we know the role of the valuer is to follow and not shape the market. However, given increasing regulation – certainly in the private rental sector and amidst the spectre of potential changes across the owner occupied market too – now is the time to ensure that we have the right skills and tools in place to advise our clients, whether they are buyers, sellers, lenders or landlords on how to integrate more energy efficiency methods and practices.  

We need to be able to offer advice around valuation, condition and how best to improve a property. How we get there represents a huge opportunity for the surveying profession and this is one that we must lead on, not follow.  

And yes, an improved housing stock has so many benefits on so many levels, not least in easing the financial challenges facing so many households when it comes to simply maintaining a warm property. 

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