Spray foam insulation was previously reported to be responsible for around 250,000 UK properties failing inspections after it was found in roofs, according to a December study by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA). Now the trade body is saying that it’s being found under people’s floors.
Sprayed polyurethane expanding foams can be used in lofts to stabilise a failing roof covering or provide further insulation. However, its use has come under scrutiny over the past few years, with some mortgage and equity release lenders declining to lend on such properties.
The foam can put stress on supporting timbers and restrict air circulation and cause condensation, all of which can damage the property.
The RPSA attracted national media interest when it stated that unless there was “extremely detailed information” about the nature of materials, roof covering condition and structure prior to installation, studies of air and moisture it would be “impossible” for surveyor to not recommend immediate removal.
Still on the market
The situation is bleak for those who discover their home has had spray foam, yet it continues to be advertised according to RPSA chairman, Alan Milstein.
He said while the association had not yet conducted an investigation on the impact of underfloor foam insulation, lenders were asking about the potential damage it could cause to homes.
He told Mortgage Solutions: “Since our report we have been contacted by quite a number of homeowners, home buyers, home sellers, installers and materials manufacturers. We have heard of too many individuals who have been placed in situations of hardship, being unable to sell houses, or facing significant bills to have spray foam removed.
“The floor foam is another whole piece of work that will need investigating.
“Sadly, we still see advertising promoting the ‘benefits’ of spray foam insulation, many of them including misleading information about the approach being taken by lenders.
“Many installers are, understandably, simply putting their fingers in their ears and going ‘la la la’ as far as the negative publicity is concerned. Unfortunately, some consumers still get suckered into having spray foam installed.”
The RPSA has outlined three steps the industry needs to take as “the only way” to ensure surveyors can guarantee that homes are safe, built to a satisfactory standard, and that the risks of damage are minimal.
Milstein said: “In order to progress from the current status quo we believe that a number of things need to happen.
“Firstly, the installation industry needs to set up a mandatory regulation scheme for installers. Spray foam manufacturers also need to commit to supplying materials only to regulated installers.
“Finally, the industry needs to fund a guarantee scheme covering the estimated 250,000 existing installations and the costs of repairs that may become necessary as a result of those installations, no matter who did them or when they were done.”