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Debate On Standard Of New Builds


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#21 jsharris

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 09:44 AM

The core problem is that most people don't care much about the running cost of a house when they buy it.

It's bizarre, because when buying cars a lot of people compare the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions taxation category, yet fail to do the same when buying a house, where the bling in the kitchen and bathrooms is often far more important. It may have something to do with the fact that energy is very cheap, so that few houses will cost as much to run over a year in energy cost as a car. Two car families probably pay more than twice as much in car fuel cost than they do in house energy cost.

#22 Crofter

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 10:10 AM

It's just groupthink. We value a nice kitchen because we think it adds value to the house. If everybody thinks it adds value, then the house is worth more.
If we could somehow persuade people that having a better EPC rating would alter the value of the property- then it would alter the value of the property.

#23 AliG

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 10:16 AM

I totally agree Jeremy, when people talk about an energy crisis and what will be do about it, my normal response is that the price of energy is not high enough yet for people to care. This seems perverse when people complain so much about utility prices but if they really cared then it would be affecting the housing market and developers would feel compelled to take it into consideration. It is also harsh on the large number of people who do struggle to pay their bills, but that is another long discussion.

As I said the other day, perhaps if the EPC was replaced with something that more gave a standardised energy usage then it might help. Of course this is fraught with the same problems that MPG calculations have for cars, but I think that saying one house would use £1000 a year of gas and electricity and one would use £1500 would be a lot more meaningful to people than an EPC of A vs C. There might be issues when people with different usage patterns do not have the expected costs, but people seem used to the fact that MPG calculations give an idea of the relative costs of running different cars even if they are wildly optimistic.

Edited by AliG, 16 November 2015 - 10:17 AM.


#24 jsharris

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 10:41 AM

I think a "running cost estimate" would be far more meaningful, even if it was inaccurate. Including the council tax and probable insurance cost might be useful as well, as the former would remove some potentially nasty surprises for people moving from one region to another and the latter would highlight issues such as flood risk which push up insurance cost. It might also persuade developers to stop building houses on flood plains.

The inaccuracy of mpg figures is an interesting one. Every car I've owned until this one has had government mpg figures that were optimistic, ranging from being wildly so to just a few mpg more than I could ever achieve. The current car massively exceeds the government tests most economical mpg figure for most of the year and only just fails to achieve it for around 4 months in winter (I'm currently averaging around 5 mpg better than the test figure, but was around 20 mpg better than it in the summer). My usage is pretty typical, a 5 day a week, 16 mile each way commute, plus weekend and holiday trips. I've no idea why my consumption figures don't tally with the best test figure, and can only assume that the usage cycle in the test doesn't allow for charging at work as well as at home.

#25 SteamyTea

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 02:40 PM

The medium term outlook for oil prices is that they will remain low until 2020.
Having just had to find another car, I was not too worried about fuel prices (and I can always cut down on my 20,000 miles a year).

The real problem is that energy is too cheap, mains electricity and diesel were, until this year, about the same price. Diesel is now about 40% cheaper.
There is also an upper limit to domestic energy prices. This can be both politically, and, supply and demand lead.
I suspect, but have not checked, that most developed countries have a domestic energy spend of around 5% of household earnings. This is not the same as as having total spend within 5% of each other.

#26 ferdinand

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 03:02 PM

View Postdeclan52, on 16 November 2015 - 08:22 AM, said:

Over a fairly large site the extra expense of more insulation, some airtightness membrane if needed and some airtightness tape would hardly eat into the profits that much. I know you would have to cover the wages of whoever done the work but how much extra could a builder charge if he was promoting an estate that the builds where all A rated. Could easily add £10,000 to the price of a house for not a lot of extra expense. But then that would require a builder to actually give a flying duck about the people who where buying the house.
Most builders here are subbed in by a firm who own the land and are on a price per house so won't do anything over an beyond to maximise their profit.

Why would it add £10k to the price of a house?

Is there any evidence?

#27 gravelld

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 03:39 PM

The price is dictated what the market will bear (that being the 'net' market after government interference, rightly or wrongly).

This is an inconvenient truth for the large house builders, because it contradicts the argument they use to lobby to government that building higher spec will mean more expensive homes.

Jeremy, there already is a "running costs" section of the EPC, or is that only on the longer EPC (which estate agents rarely hand out)? The real trouble with EPCs I think is their inaccuracy - air tightness must be added and things have to stop being assumed. If the EPC is inaccurate it reduced trust and credibility, making something complex and not worth worrying about (in purchaser's eyes).

#28 gravelld

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 03:40 PM

View Postferdinand, on 16 November 2015 - 03:02 PM, said:

Why would it add £10k to the price of a house?

Is there any evidence?
It's highly questionable but... https://www.gov.uk/g...on-house-prices

#29 declan52

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 03:53 PM

View Postferdinand, on 16 November 2015 - 03:02 PM, said:



Why would it add £10k to the price of a house?

Is there any evidence?
It's more of a rough guess as the cost of materials, more insulation, tapes, membranes and the cost of a mhrv system. Plus you would have the cost of someone or a company to do this work. Then the builder will be looking a few extra pound if he is to supervise all this work so £10,000 mightn't be that far away.

#30 ProDave

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 03:55 PM

View Postferdinand, on 16 November 2015 - 03:02 PM, said:

Why would it add £10k to the price of a house?

Is there any evidence?
If you stick to the same old house building methods and just make the insulation a bit thicker, then yes it will cost a bit more.

But if you think out of the box and question old house building methods and build to modern designs then no.

For instance, the "normal" house up here is timber framed with a cavity then a layer of brick or block as an outer skin. that outer skin ads virtually nothing to the insulation of the house, not least because building regs insist it is so well ventilated, so the cavity is virtually open to cold outside air.

So that outer skin is an expensive rain shield.

What we are doing is cladding the outside of the timber frame in wood fibre board and rendering onto that (external wall insulation). No cold cavity there. The entire wall structure is insulation of one form or another. While I haven't done a detailed cost analysis I doubt there is much difference in the cost either way, but our way adds insulation and air tightness, the old way doesn't.

Another advantage for a self builder is a lot more of the work is stuff you can do yourself.

I don't suppose bricklayers would be too quick to recommend dispensing with an outer brick layer.

Edited by ProDave, 16 November 2015 - 03:57 PM.


#31 joiner

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 04:00 PM

Can you guys move out of the self-build (whether hands-on or commissioned) zone for a few moments and consider...

Given that people have little choice except to buy the houses they're offered by "the industry", how realistic is the expectation that improvements in standards will be driven up by consumer expectation?

#32 ProDave

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 04:09 PM

View Postjoiner, on 16 November 2015 - 04:00 PM, said:

Can you guys move out of the self-build (whether hands-on or commissioned) zone for a few moments and consider...

Given that people have little choice except to buy the houses they're offered by "the industry", how realistic is the expectation that improvements in standards will be driven up by consumer expectation?
In a booming market where people queue up to fight over fewer houses than there are buyers, then nill.

In a slow market, perhaps, just perhaps if you had the choice of a band A house or a band C house, I would like to think some might choose the band A house.

#33 declan52

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 04:25 PM

No expectation at all. It took the government of the rep of Ireland to crack the whip due to the shocking state of the houses being built there. Now they have standards that put most to shame.

#34 brickie

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 04:36 PM

View PostProDave, on 16 November 2015 - 03:55 PM, said:


I don't suppose bricklayers would be too quick to recommend dispensing with an outer brick layer.
If you have a 2.5m high boundary wall & a two storey BBQ then you won't hear a peep out of me.

#35 SteamyTea

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 07:41 PM

View PostSteamyTea, on 16 November 2015 - 02:40 PM, said:

I suspect, but have not checked, that most developed countries have a domestic energy spend of around 5% of household earnings. This is not the same as as having total spend within 5% of each other.
Done some checking and I was not far out. 5.3% of average take home wage is spent on domestic energy (of the places I could get data for).
This is adjusted for usage and exchange rates. The UK is about the same as France, Italy and Germany, the lower outlier is Luxembourg, and the upper outliers are Slovakia and Turkey.
In fact the old Eastern Block countries pay a lot more than us.
There are some oddities though. Norway and Sweden do not seem to use gas at home, most countries spend more on electricity than gas, the UK and Slovakia being odd, spending about the same on each.
So if, from my small sample (in global terms) we spend about 5% on domestic energy, how does that compare to the mean household price. More importantly, how does it compare to the mean mortgage spend when adjusted into Euros.
As I can't be bothered to look up all the debt against buildings, I have just looked at UK mortgages, it is such a large number it does not make sense to me.
£1,275,253,000,000 in September.
Now if the average borrowing rate is about 4%, then that is about £51,010,120,000/year.
The UK spends about £31,637,625,017 per year on domestic energy.
So as a fraction of mortgage spend it is 2.5%
Now I am not sure if that total mortgage lending figure includes commercial buildings (need a banker to explain it, but the data is here: http://www.bankofeng...oct/taba5.3.xls).
So in effect, our energy is very cheap, took cheap to affect behaviour (but left me with a lot of student debt studying it).
I personally struggle to see the external costs of climate change (flooding, extra heating, cooling, agricultural production loss etc) being included in our energy bills, would really affect behaviour
If we took 1 in 10 mortgage buildings and rebuilt them somewhere sensible, then made them energy neutral, it would have so little difference.
That would cost, in mortgage repayments about, £5,101,012,000, or an extra 62% if shifted on to our energy bills.
This sounds a lot, especially if it happened over night, but it is really only what has happened in the last ten years (electricity up 53%, gas up 42%). And that has not really changed our usage much. Electricity and gas usage are about 20% down each (there may be other reasons for that as well i.e. global recession, exported steel making, improved boiler technology since 2004).

Whereas I wish we build better housing, selling it on the back of energy usage is not going to help as there is just not the financial or environmental need to improve things.
Our biggest problem is our old housing stock and our 1000 year replacement rate of housing. We would be much better off pulling down 99% of everything build before 1990 and starting again. But you will never sell that idea on environmental grounds, climate change grounds, economic or sustainability arguments.
The numbers just don't add up.

Here is a chart as to how we compare to out nearest and dearest in Europe.

Attached Files


Edited by SteamyTea, 16 November 2015 - 07:47 PM.


#36 Triassic

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 07:48 PM

House buyers don't give two hoots about energy ratings, it's not customers that drive standards it's government's and our government watered down the last set of updated building regs following pressure from house builders.

#37 oz07

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 08:16 PM

Professional property snaggers calling a basin a sink. Bit amateur

#38 Roger440

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 08:52 PM

View Postjoiner, on 16 November 2015 - 04:00 PM, said:

Can you guys move out of the self-build (whether hands-on or commissioned) zone for a few moments and consider...

Given that people have little choice except to buy the houses they're offered by "the industry", how realistic is the expectation that improvements in standards will be driven up by consumer expectation?

Nail, head.

Consumers will never drive this. The problem is enforcement. Whilst many on here think the building standards are lax, in reality if all houses were built to them, things would be WAY better than they are now. Perfect? No. But plenty good enough.

By way of an example a mate of mine has just completed a couple of houses. Purely as a money making venture, not to live in. Got the bloke in to do the air tightness test. He said when he turned up, what number do you want on the form? Wasn't actually going to do the test! He was made to do it, and it passed without issue. But pretty much sums up the problem.

Of course, on the flip side, council building inspectors (well anyone in any council role as far as i can see) seem to come at from the point of view of finding a reason you cant do something rather than a reason why you can whilst still complying.

Not proposing an answe, because i dont know what it is.

#39 Roger440

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Posted 16 November 2015 - 08:56 PM

View PostProDave, on 16 November 2015 - 03:55 PM, said:

If you stick to the same old house building methods and just make the insulation a bit thicker, then yes it will cost a bit more.

But if you think out of the box and question old house building methods and build to modern designs then no.

For instance, the "normal" house up here is timber framed with a cavity then a layer of brick or block as an outer skin. that outer skin ads virtually nothing to the insulation of the house, not least because building regs insist it is so well ventilated, so the cavity is virtually open to cold outside air.

So that outer skin is an expensive rain shield.

What we are doing is cladding the outside of the timber frame in wood fibre board and rendering onto that (external wall insulation). No cold cavity there. The entire wall structure is insulation of one form or another. While I haven't done a detailed cost analysis I doubt there is much difference in the cost either way, but our way adds insulation and air tightness, the old way doesn't.

Another advantage for a self builder is a lot more of the work is stuff you can do yourself.

I don't suppose bricklayers would be too quick to recommend dispensing with an outer brick layer.

Ive always struggled with the cavity idea.

Ive just built a garage with insulated steel cladding. Its watertight. Why do i need a cavity.................................... Its also at least 5 times more thermally efficent than my house!

Probably for another thread

#40 DavidFrancis

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Posted 17 November 2015 - 09:06 AM

Roger - did you use sandwich panels or separate sheets of insulation and cladding?

I recently emailed Tata and Kingspan to ask if they could give me any examples of houses built using sandwich panels and they couldn't. The Tata person tried to point me to a south Wales "eco" house that has recently been in the press but this used SIPS rather than metal-faced panels.

If you used sandwich panels I'd be interested to hear what you used for a frame and how you thought your costs compared to using other means of cladding