Choosing the Wrong Weapon

04/Oct/2010
Brian Scannell

Another accreditation scheme recently announced that they were no longer offering insurance for EPCs when the instruction was secured through a 'reverse auction'. This was welcomed by many Domestic Energy Assessors who see reverse auctions as doing real damage to the industry and led to calls for other schemes to follow suit.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a reverse auction is one where the lowest bidder wins – in this case, an EPC instruction is auctioned and the DEA offering to do it for the lowest price 'wins' the instruction.

Much loved by economists as being the most efficient way of determining market prices, reverse auctions are always controversial. The danger is that it encourages corners to be cut, undermining quality. Hence the argument that there is a higher insurance risk associated with these jobs.

In response to requests from members, I have looked at the option of doing something similar. However, in the end I have came to the conclusion that it is essentially unworkable and potentially dangerous. This is a weapon that simply isn’t fit for purpose.

In practical terms, when an individual lodges a report we don’t know whether or not they were contracted following a reverse auction procedure or through some other arrangement. We would have to rely on self-disclosure to find out.

It’s a moot point whether we have the legal right to ask such a question at all, but given that it is linked to providing insurance cover, let’s assume that we can. What is the likely outcome?

  • Option 1: the DEA declares they received work via such an arrangement and therefore organises separate insurance cover, taking account of this additional cost when bidding for future instructions. I’d suggest this is very unlikely.
  • Option 2: the DEA realises that arranging their own insurance is highly problematic and therefore chooses not to bid on reverse auctions, excluding themself from that source of work. Possible, but again, I’d suggest somewhat unlikely.
  • Option 3: the DEA decides to be 'economical with the truth' and doesn’t declare that the instruction was received through an auction. I fear that this might be the most likely result.

If my concern is correct and the DEA does go for option 3, what are the potential consequences?

The accreditation scheme cannot actually check every contract, so the fact the individual lied will only come to light in the event of an insurance claim being made. So in the vast majority of cases, lying would have no consequence.

But in the rare circumstance that an insurance claim did arise, I worry that it is the homeowner who would suffer first and possibly most.

When a claim is made – whether under the public liability cover or the PI cover - the insurance company will investigate. If the DEA couldn’t prove the instruction didn’t come from a reverse auction, the insurance company would declare that the report wasn’t covered by the policy.

In that scenario, the individual DEA would be uninsured and therefore legally personally liable. So in order to get compensation, the homeowner would have to pursue the DEA through the courts.

I suggest that this course of events would be expensive, time consuming and thoroughly unsatisfactory from the perspective of everyone involved.

Crucially, I am just not convinced that leaving homeowners without insurance protection, thereby giving them no option other than to drag the DEA through the courts (and probably bankrupting them) is really in the best interest of our industry.

I understand the urge to try to discourage DEAs from taking instructions at very low fees. But I’m not convinced it is legal, ethical or realistic. I am always wary of the law of unintended consequences and this looks like a prime example.

The role as an Accreditation Scheme is to ensure that we operate our QA procedures rigorously and fairly. Our standards and procedures are intended to mitigate the risk of members cutting corners by ensuring the chances of getting caught and the consequences thereof are sufficient to counteract the temptation.

Perhaps there is an argument for increasing monitoring in inverse proportion to the fee an individual receives. But again, I doubt that it is workable in practice and it represents a unjustifiable degree of intrusion by the scheme into the commercial arrangements of our members.

What is absolutely clear to me is that putting consumers at risk in order to try to address the problems our industry faces just isn’t a solution. The last thing we need is damage due to 'friendly fire'.

As ever, I’d be interested to hear other views on the issue.

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Comments

 

I understand why this option isn't actually workable, but something needs to be done to protect the quality of EPCs against the pressures of low pricing. This is an opportunity for NES and the other Accreditation companies to address the issue - what do NES plan to do that is both practical & effective?

 

Brian, I see your point totally. I think the other body is trying to get all other bodies to talk and setup a basic fee structure. ie. You all dictate a set fee based on bedroom numbers and proven by a copy of the invoice raised uploaded to your system that can be compared to bank statements. This should stop the stupidity amongst cheap fee agents and set a firm structure for the future. If the fee paid to the DEA is below the set fee then refuse to permit lodgement and let the DEA fend for himself. This could be easily audited I feel.

 

I am right behind a set fee structure, we have faught for years in this country for a fair wage for a fair days work, many of these panels be them reverse autions or not, do push the price to below acceptable, you would not find a shelf stacker with full paid sickness and holiday etc working for these amounts so why are DEAs themselves undervaluing themselves? A minimum should be set to not only safeguard DEAs but the value of an EPC too. The only way is for the accreditation schemes to set a minimum level or take it to the CLG..... what ever happened to the £100 EPC?

 

A well-balanced reply to the move by Quidos. It's a pity that DEAs still seem to think that being called a 'member' of any particular scheme is somehow of value in terms of protecting the DEAs position and professional status. The reality is that Accreditation Schemes continue to be happy to take further DEA training fees from wherever they can get them. Additionally Accreditation Schemes have refused to get themselves organised under one over-arching body that is responsible for maintaining/improving standards.
We have panels heavily linked to/owned by Accreditation Schemes paying peanuts for the EPCs, I suppose it’s a bonus for them that quality monitoring is not rigorous, it’s hard enough for independent DEAs to compete against these same Accreditation Schemes who have won work on the basis of having lower overheads since they can effectively absorb the lodgement cost. This could/would have been tackled if one over-arching body had been agreed and implemented. Certainly under the new administration there is zero chance of a new body being formed and the likelihood of Accreditation Schemes behaving like adults and agreeing that Rome is burning (EPC fees down, quality debatable) is remote. Perhaps we really do need to wait for complaint rates to increase, perhaps we need to see more settlements made on the back of erroneous EPCs. Perhaps we will see vast numbers of EPCs challenged for their accuracy by a ‘no win, no fee’ outfit then all Accreditation Schemes will acknowledge that the ‘race to the bottom’ that they have supported with their (relative) inactivity on this issue is ultimately going to cost them. One of the three lettings deposit schemes ignored reality and is now having real difficulties.

Accreditation Schemes are hurting and they won’t acknowledge that publicly, volumes of lodgements have been well under the published forecasts, lodgement fees have been squeezed and membership fees are being waived. Asking Accreditation Schemes to act on behalf of DEAs in order to improve quality is not dissimilar to asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. Why would Accreditation Schemes seek to damage the relationships they have with their key fee-paying clients? Surely better to pay lip-service to quality and ‘talk the talk’? Individual DEAs don’t have the PR machine to make the arguments to the right people, indeed trying to get DEA representation to CLG is increasingly challenging.
I'm afraid we saw the exodus of the bulk of the good people once HCRs got canned. We are now seeing the exodus of the better quality DEAs. Market forces are no substitute to the demands of quality and I'm afraid we will not see good, and improving levels of quality, if no effort is being made to remove the pathetic fees being offered out of the marketplace. DEAs have expectations that Accreditation Scheme will in some way 'look after them' since they are 'members' but I'm afraid the reality is quite different.

 

Neil, you took the words right out of my mouth, i'm sure you will agree the commercial EPCs are suffering the same problems.

 

I am glad that this subject has come up for discussion.One Internet company which opearates this system is called Express-EPC.I have seen bids by DEAs as low as £15 a commision. How on earth one can produce a quality EPC for that amount I fail to comprehend.I think there needs to be a bottom price below which the Accreditation organisations should refuse to provide insurance cover. DEAs should assure the Accreditation Schemes at the lodgement of an EPC that this bottom price criterion has been met and that if asked to provide evidence,that this would be provided with concrete evidence such as an invoice.Many complaints have been filed against the company named above for no payment while rthe DEAs have already payed for lodgement fees. No verbal communication is possible with them and e-mails are not answered. I wonder if Brian is aware of this scenario

 

I too am a victim of non payment. My bid was accepted (£38). Whilst I was doing the EPC I asked the owner how much had Express EPC charged him it was £2 more than I was doing it for. I wondered if I was going to get my fee but as it was the first time I'd dealt with this company it was a case of "suck it and see".
Well I sucked it and Express made more than £2 because they haven't paid me. nor do they acknowledge e mails. Next time I'm in London I'll pay them a visit.

 

Express-EPC and Hip-save who they used to be called are running rough shod over the Energy assesors,but bere in mind all the customers who have paid and havent received their certificates.

 

This Blog raises three issues for me.

(1) the undervaluing of the EPC and DEA's role
(2) the unsuitability of reverse auctions as described by Brian Scannell, in particular the likely falling standards delivered by those bidding tiny amounts to win work. I had a potential client tell me that a DEA had "done their last EPC" in ten minutes!
(3) the fact that one of the most notorious users of this methodology in the market has built up a reputation for not paying DEAs at all and not delivering EPCs to clients.

Respectable panel managers and aggregators have a place in an open market even if DEAs don't like the fact that they tend to drive prices down and take a cut out of the middle for the privilege of distribution. They can provide volume and provide their clienst (usually major estate agency groups) with a single point of contact approach which is beneficial.

 

I think the answer lies with the Accreditation Schemes.

Firstly, they need to do alot more audits. I think 5-10% of all EPCs should be audited. Perhaps they could offset the cost of this by getting DEAs to do desk top audits on DEAs in other geographical areas. DEAs could be compensated for the time by gaining lodgement credits. Perhaps they could also bring back the on site audit.

Secondly, if all schemes went back to how NHER originally did things and get people to upload all notes and photos at the time of lodging an EPC. It only adds a few minutes to the process if you photograph your sitenotes instead of scanning them and you have your offsite back up of data covered.

Finally, Annual accreditation membership should be £250 or £500 per year, but you get 50-100 free lodgements.

Ultimately quality is the issue and not the fee excepted. Do any of you really think that the type of person who is prepared to cut corners will really take their time if they are paid more? Of course not, they will cut the same corners as it is in their nature.

 

The idea of DEA's doing desktop audits on other DEA's (in areas that are not a geographic threat) is a good one. One problem i see are that their will be problems with people not doing the job correctly, You may be suspended incorrectly..who checks the checkers. The other is the additional cost, it would have on the accreditation service. To ask the DEA to do extra work will drive them off to other accreditation bodies.

To include free lodgements, but make an annual charge will again affect the DEA who is seeking work from panels/ estate agents who prefer a specific accreditation scheme. The DEA may be forced to decline work as he can't guarantee enough to cover the annual fee.

 

Firstly, thank you to everyone for their comments.

The idea of defined minimum prices is a recurring theme. However, the fact is that it is simply illegal to operate such arrangements, so it is never going to happen.

I think Matt W is right when he says "the issue is quality not the fee". The revised monitoring requirements that CLG has introduced means that for the first time ever, schemes are all required to work to common standards.

For us the impact has been relatively minimal as our monitoring was already in line with the new rules. For some schemes though, I suspect the changes have come as something of a shock.

What we all (schemes and assessors) want now is for CLG to take a firm line in ensuring that schemes are genuinely applying the new rules.

Perhaps the monitoring frequency does need to increase as Matt suggests, but the first step has to be just making sure the current rules are being implemented consistently.

Neil makes the point that schemes "are hurting" - of course we are and the only reason we aren't shouting about it is that we know it is even more painful for our members. But the facts are that schemes are suffering from the same problems - overcapacity and declining markets. We would love to see DEA fees increasing - both per job and through there being lots more jobs.

Several schemes have joined together to establish PEPA (Property Energy Professional Association) in order to try to address those problems we can influence. We are lobbying Government on the issues of compliance, quality standards and access to new opportunities under Green Deal and similar schemes.

From my perspective, it simply isn't true to assert that schemes aren't interested in promoting quality or are concerned about damaging "relationships they have with their key fee-paying clients".

Our members (and I'm proud to use the term as we have been using it for the past twenty years) are our "fee-paying clients" and our future is inextricably linked with theirs. Those of us trying to make a living in this energy assessment sector really are all in this together.

 

Matt makes a good point by suggesting that raising standards holds part of the answer. I’ve thought for some time that mandatory site audits would begin to change the level of professionalism in our industry. I’m site audited each year on five different reports as part of a different industry.

It happens this way. I’m required to take the inspector to five properties in a full day visit at which I demonstrate my competence, verify the data I’ve collected and explain my judgements.

If I’d made a mistake or didn’t understand the current standard it would be uncovered. The inspector has heard every excuse and seen every short cut. But its not all tough scrutiny, in conversation he is able to advice on issues in the same way that Tech support does and each year I come away slightly wiser and usually updated with recent or planned changes to standards. My complaints procedure, health and safety policy and record keeping are all looked at as are on going training and my reference material.

It would be impossible to bluff through this face to face site audit. Sadly, I have to pay for the audit each year but so do all of my competitors. The result? – Standards stay high, fees haven’t crashed and it’s less attractive to the short-cutters.

Does desk top auditing not do the same job? Only partially – we’ve all heard of people paying someone else to do knock up their site notes to get through the audit and in the end, there is room for manipulation as the site notes can only be checked against the RdSAP data entry and five photos.

Would energy assessors complain if they were charged to be audited? Definitely – but they are complaining now about earning £30 less per inspection than they feel they are worth.

I accept that this may appear a bit too radical at this stage in the industry’s development, but I wonder how many people would still be charging £20 - £30 for a domestic EPC if they were professional enough to pay for AND pass a one day annual site audit.

Stanley Rayfield

 

I understand the problem with people feeling that EPC's should be worth loads of money, but as assessors we are, I imagine all self employed and as such it's nobody's business how much an individual works for. If you don't like the auction schemes then don't bid on them and stop looking at them, it's obviously upsetting you. As people have said we are kind of saturated with assessors and getting work is hard, (thankfully I'm doing ok) but some people aren't and if they feel that they'd rather do 20 jobs for £20 each than no jobs at £70 then that's what they have to do, just because something is cheap doesn't mean it's going to be crap and that is a nasty generalization that you are all assuming. What makes you think that someone who charges £80 for a report actually gets it correct??? I also wonder if everyone would be making such a fuss if there hadn't been the initial whohar when they first came in with all the advertising saying earn £75 - £100,000 per year as an assessor. Maybe a better way of making sure that everything is up to scratch is to lower dramatically the cost of CPD courses so people can actually afford to do them and in increase the amount of audits we all have, I know I like the feedback on reports and would welcome having one a month checked, the audits are invaluable to a lone trader.

 

Daisy, I would certainly rather do 20 jobs for £30 each than none at £70, but I wouldn't do them for £20 becasue, after taking the lodgement fee, I'd be left with £13 which would barely cover costs such as travel
As individuals we have to do what we can to keep in businesses, but as a proession I think we need to be valued more.
I would like to see the accreditation bodies, NEA, EST, DECC and CLG do more to convince people of the value of understanding the energy efficiency of your home and the cost savings achieved from making improvements.
EPCs are really useful, but they have suffered from poor PR.

 

DEA isn't a profession,(proession) I think that's what you mean. 4 weeks training and no formal qualifications required. Profession - do me a favour.

 

Anne, I personally don't work that cheaply either as I am fortunate enough to have made a good name for myself and have, what I and my clients feel is a reasonable price for my products. I do however know that some people travel miles to do a job, and even though they are charging £50 for the report, they would still only end up with £15 after everything is taken off. Maybe people should blame the training and accreditation companies that continue to offer courses for people to become assessors when they themselves say there isn't the volume they thought there would be. Also until the attitude of the public changes the energy report will not be a valuable, important or worthwhile product, it's just something people have to have and as such they want to pay as little as possible for it. My husband is a driving instructor and he does actually provide a product that is useful and needed, but, again the market is saturated with instructors and people just want to learn to drive, they don't really care how good they're going to be, they just want the piece of paper, because of this he actually earns less per hour than I do when he is providing a much more important service, is this really fair, NO, but that's the way it is until attitudes change what can we do??!!! I do have an idea though, we all tell people kindly about our product and try to enthuse them on the idea of saving energy ALSO why don't we all bid the lowest possible amount for any job we're asked to bid on then not do it. If the company isn't going to pay us anyway then what's the problem, they would soon go out of business!

 

It is fabulous to see such a constructive debate.

It seems to me that the real issue is how we get the EPC in front of the customer. Recently I showed an Estate Agent a full EPC (not just the A-G graph) and she was amazed at what it contained and said, somewhat incredulously, that she thought that home owners would be really interested in the recommendations!

What can we do to help you get the EPC in front of the customer?

 

I always carry a report with me (details tipexed out of course) to show clients at their house. I have found that once they know what the report is for and that it's not a finger wag or a tax, they are quite interested. All we can do is keep trying, pop in to see our agents and chat about how people are now starting to be interested and accept the reports, if agents start to think they are a selling point they may take more of an interest. The problem is nobody knows anything about the reports until they get one done, so blanket TV advertising is probably the only way people will know, but that won't happen. Give it ten years and everyone will know about them and be so skint they'll want to take notice.

 

To me the answer lies in two parts.

Poor assessors need to be caught, and banned from accreditation schemes.

NHER needs to set the gold standard, in the same way that we trust a kitemark, or check-a-trade.com. Make the customer be aware of the needs to buy quality.

How;
NHER needs to set up a system that we can report bogus epc's too. Lets start suing the sloppy assessors. We all want to look after are own area, so lets go view a house that is being sold. make notes, and when we request the EPC check the facts are correct. If not then we report it to NHER who challenge the accreditation scheme of the DEA. EPC's that fail the review are then published by NHER/trading standards. This will drive down the quality of the accreditation service, who will want to ditch the sloppy DEA (or the insurance company will increase their premiums for accrediting sloppy DEA's)

The result is that only DEA's who do a good job DARE work in the same area as you. The more YOU help police your area the harder for DEA's to get away with sloppy jobs, thus less sloppy DEA's. This in turn results in raising the price that can be charged in YOUR area

EXAMPLE: I viewed a property, the li depth is wrong, the hot water system is wrong, the secondary heating was missed, and the timer was missed under controls. BUT Elmhur*t won't do anything as i don't own it, nor commissioned the EPC. The company who contracted the DEA won't do anything (stating the same reason) and the estate agent says not their problem

So come on Brian, give us the ammo to clean up our own industry

 

In my opinion we as DEAs hold the answer, if we don't work for the low fees then the fees will go up. I don't and have never worked for panels as I am not prepared to compromise the work I do and it seems to me many of them are very slow at paying if they do so at all. I find Householders and tenants are very interested in the EPC if you take the time to explain what it is about - you can't do that if you are rushing around for £15 fees. As for EAs thinking householders may be interested in the report once they had been shown the report, perhaps the DEAs aren't sending the full report just the graphs. I always send the full report whether requested or not.

 

I wager that very few DEAs have ever been in business before or have any idea how to cost a product. 4 years ago I costed what an epc would cost to produce taking all costs into consideration including depreciation on equipment including apportionment motor car telephone etc. At that time my overheads would cost £21 and a few pence for one EPC per day, declining to just over £12 if 4 EPCs were produced a day, costs did not fall further if more were produced. Add inflation, especially motoring costs less falling lodgement costs, the cost will still be higher than my original costings. So if you want to make a living Fees for EPCs should be in excess of £50 to take into account of the seasonal nature, recession influences and holidays or sickness. So lets be patient the cheapjacks will go bust. Its a pity though that accreditation schemes are still churning out more DEAs to create income. I would rather my scheme kept their registration and annual fee to generate income to support existing members giving a sustainable number of DEAs a chance of a living.

 

Just maybe NES made a mistake in abolising all the annual fee? On site audits remain one of the very best ways to maintain standards and, importantly, help team spirit and a real pride in our work. However they have to be paid for!

Hilary makes a good point about making sure the EPC is seen. Using the "wrapper" presentation with added sheets has been well received by my local agents who fully appreciate that this level of product presentation does not come for £30.00 (or even £9.00 recently bid on one of the reverse auction sites!!)

 

All good points. We probably wont get rid of panels/low fees or the training of new DEA (overstock). How about the promotion of the EPC. Like credit reports....give the bold info then small print on what it all means and how to read it. To much on too many pages for public to understand. Why only for sale or rent? Get back to auditing and looking after good DEAs who do promote the EPC and rid of poor who cut corners. Try only allowing a max of EPCs per day and all bid on panels and not do the work as mentioned before. I thought of grading the DEA but as mentioned by others, people want the cheapest and dont care how good you are. However, the accreditation bodies could work out who to keep an eye on and who to benefit in the auditing process/fees. All these comments in this thread can open individual debates and Im sure it will. Problem is, will anything be done about it! NHER most definitely could do something and CLG are in a good position to overhaul the industry to make it right. This goes for all the property related industries.

 

Sorry about the typo, yes I meant Profession. It is a vocation requiring spcialised training which by some definitions is a 'profession'. Admittedly, it's not a very learned profession, but it is recognised and accredited and certain standards have to be maintained. You have to have a specific qualification in order to do the job, which is something you can't say for many of the other jobs in the Property Industry (estate agents and panel administrators for example)

 

I consider reverse auctions to be giving the industry a bad name as I can't see how anyone can do EPCs for £20 or less without the quality of the EPCs being affected.

Also reverse auctions are a favoured modus operendi for companies of a dubious nature. One such company operates this system and then to add salt to the injury, does not pay for the EPCs for months, if at all.This company also accepts bids after the auction deadline and the evidence suggests that they bid down the fee themselves.
I don't know of any other reputable industry that would not outlaw such activity.
It is upto all the other accreditions bodies to follow Quidos's lead and prohit such practice. DECC & DCLG should also get involved to ensure this happens.

 

Dear all

Having seen and read all views, especially concerning price regulation, we need to understand that effective (or otherwise) cartels are illegal. Secondly, if you do not like something then don't use it - as has already been mentioned..i.e:(reverse auction sites). I think the main difference between DEA's, are to separate the 'order takers' from the marketeers. I think also that the training centers should have taken a more responsible approach when selling individuals into this new 'exciting money generating' self employed arena, and spent more time on sales and marketing so DEA's can professionally set their businesses at value appreciated market worth. It was also short sighted of them to expect to purpetuate a business off the back of lodgement fee's if the tools are not given for the front line business generators to do same. We know this has happened by the abolition of membership fee's.

I have applied both strategies and do not go out on EPC for less than £65 per unit..over a thousand plus within last year alongside two other businesses I run. OK, bully for you, I hear some say, but please do not sit and moan, expecting the industry to enable well paid work to fall into your lap...it won't happen. Invest time in generating the right relationships...and you will find a turn around...slowly but surely. Or be honest with yourself and ask the question: Is this the right industry for me?? With relavance to the £100 epc, well £80 is achievable NOW! Maybe it's more a case of doubt in self worth that is also part of the problem. Just a thought.

Yours
The school of common sense!

 

As always lots of comments from the field and a few by people around the edges who sit looking in rather than operating at the coal face.

After working solidly for 3 years (3,671 EPC's)at this game the only remedy to being ripped off by do called 'Panels', was through further qualification to keep a distance from the average DEA and protect my all round appeal to the market place. Even though I am surviving I am working three times as hard for a third of the income I was when I started out, a regular employed job would mean a release from 7 days working midnight each night and no holidays cos you're not sure you'll get the business back, or you can't afford the time off, and having to work through illness.

I now operate 80% of my time on building regulations compliance for numerous Architects nationally which is becoming more and more specialised guaranteeing my business income...thank God I had the foresight and continued education/qualification.

RdSAP EPC's will continue to have the suppressed value as it was stupidly slapped with the HIP brush and screwed into the deck by HIP Pack Providers and the Panels supporting them. As with anything in business once you drop your price you don't get it back.

Lots of comments saying DEA's should stand firm, this will never happen there is no unity amongst the thousand's of qualified!? DEA's no matter how much some have tried through the IDEA, The Home Inspector Forum etc. etc.

The appetite for militant strike action in good old blighty was crushed and thus faded away under Margaret Thatcher, in place came a culture of 'look out for number one' during the 80's this is now our culture like it or not. Where one DEA says no another says yes. The Panels aren't stupid they know this, if they then don't pay which happens all of the time the DEA is powerless to act.

Don't kid yourselves DEA's are regarded as nothing more than meter readers, the only time the EPC will mean anything is through TAXATION. EPC ratings linked to Council Tax bands will make a difference.

On the subject of fixed fees, I disagree with Brian over the illegality, MOT tests have been fixed for years which is also a legal requirement, the only discounting offered is either to swallow the VAT or drop the retest fee...so why not a prescribed fee for the EPC??? still do not understand this at all??

More to the point if the poor old DEA has accepted jobs at very low fees and the instructing Panel has stiffed them on the payment the DEA should have an automatic right to cancel the EPC and declare it null and void...surely we own the intellectual property rights to the report???

I have used this as a veiled threat and it usually secures the money owing, but this shouldn't be a case of bluff, it should be a set procedure - no paid = cancellation.

My best wishes to all DEA's I sincerely hope you each find at least an income you can survive on and even if you have to accept rubbish fees that you then get paid...

 

There have been reports recently of home-owners having the money taken from their accounts for an EPC from one of these companies, and yet no-one even contacted then to do the EPC within the 4 weeks the client waas waiting for.
Brian states one of his concerns about DEAs operating without insurance is the effect it could have on the public, but the public are already being ripped off, doesn't this matter Brian?
Maybe the real reason NHER don't want to act on these con artists is that they have their own sticky fingers in the low-fee business, ie SAVA BX.

 

As usual sit and do nothing is seen as the best way of protecting members..Oh and the "wider brand". The main reason why accreditation and commercial arms do not make good bedfellows in an organisation.
I think it is best summed up by Duncan earlier ...Profession? Do me a favour.
The problem is The Epc has no value to anyone in the wider world outside our own with "certain organisations" probably training more Dea's as we speak, the unemployment numbers are only going one way, all this says "things ain't gonna get better, no time soon. So it's either sit tight on "HMS DEAdnought" or "man the Lifeboats".

Who's nicked the blinkin' Life jackets!!

 

1. THE EPC SURVEY IS BASICALLY
WORTHLESS.
The public see it as another of those "tax" documents they have to purchase to obtain a result.

Landlords & letting agents, see them as a necessary evil, kept in the drawer. Not one of my clients/tenants had a clue about EPCs or their meaning over past 18 months.

DEAs, have been railroaded by a clondyke industry hell-bent on screwing the decent individual for training fees, daft CPD costs, and regulations drempt up on a fag packet. Reverse auctions are just another nail !

I was shown how easy it is to create an epc, with pics, dates etc. right from your office desk & never visit the site. That's how £9 per epc works !

There are opportunities for self-employed DEAs who have invested in their profession. Take back the high ground, by-pass the Accreditation bureau dictates, the lawyers, agents et all the parasites.

The latest racket, solar PV and FiT. I could not believe the rubbish at a recent Home Interiors exhibition in London. People were tripping over their plastic to chuck £8000 at who ever was catching.

DEAs should be giving advice on this new industry....THOUGHT ?

 

I'm selling my home and found this article when researching EPCs. I realise I may be in the minority, but I am very interested in the EPC (more than the graph, the rest of it too).

It's been a bit of an eye-opener. As a result of reading this I'm going to go direct to the DEA rather than go through my estate agent, as I have not idea if they use panels or reverse auctions. I suspect they do. So thanks, Mr Scannell; I now understand the issues much better. Plus one of your guys or gals will get the job.

BTW: I'm very surprised with some of the comments on this article. Some of you don't come across as at all professional, regardless of your actual opinions, most of which I think I agree with. Hiding behind pseudonyms and making sarcastic statements doesn't do anything for how your profession is viewed.

Michael, Bromsgrove

 

Michael,

I'm glad to hear you are one of those that are interested in the content of the EPC and even more pleased to hear you will consider one of our DEAs. Please see the following link to our "Find An Assessor" feature to help you in finding a local DEA.

http://www.nesltd.co.uk/find-an-assessor

Chris @ NES

 

I have recently carried out an EPC for a home owner who had paid upfront via guess who and guess what no one turned up after they been promised it would be done in 48 hours. After 2 weeks of waiting they called my business so the EPC could be done and sent to the buyers solicitor, they also now have to claim money back form their credit card as this particular panel don't answer the phone ect. Why do we need these panels? you don't phone a panel and fill out a form online and pay upfront to get your gas boiler serviced. DEAs should be treated as local tradesmen with local knowledge and back up of happy local clients.

 

Dear Mr Scanlon,

I have read your blog and understand your position and your thinking but I have also read the blogs of other members which raise valid points to ensure the curtailment, if not, restriction of these reverse auctions.

Firstly, Matt W and Stanley Rayfield raise the issue of having more on site audits. I totally agree and if the DEA has to pay for this, then additionally, the issue of low fees may be diminished, because the fee levels should, hopefully, be set with this expense in mind. This would have to be a co-ordinated approach by all the Accreditation Schemes and the CLG.

Secondly, your Option 3 scenerio assumes that the DEA is automatically uninsured. This does not have to be the case. As you know every DEA is not insured for the full amount of the claim. In each claim he or she has to pay an excess, similar to other forms of insurance. Why then, cannot you implement a policy of deterring the reverse auctions by increasing the insurance excess by a substantial amount for all cases that have been instructed by reverse auction. This at least may cause them to think again at the fee level and the nature of what they are doing.

I know the above is not a solution to the problem, but it is a deterrent, to reduce the spectre of this unprofessional approach to
instructing professional people.

Mr Scanlon/ Michael Bromsgrove.

"BTW: I'm very surprised with some of the comments on this article. Some of you don't come across as at all professional, regardless of your actual opinions, most of which I think I agree with. Hiding behind pseudonyms and making sarcastic statements doesn't do anything for how your profession is viewed.
Michael, Bromsgrove "

I can understand your reactions regarding the comments made but please remember that professionals are also people who want to "let off steam".

I am Chartered Surveyor (FRICS),was a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing (MICH) and have worked in the Building and allied industry for 42 years dealing with all types of professionals every working day of my life. These types of comments are not unusual amongst professionals who are concerned with the rights of individuals and above all: justice.

Option 3: the DEA decides to be 'economical with the truth' and doesn’t declare that the instruction was received through an auction. I fear that this might be the most likely result.

This to me implies the majority. It probably was not your intention but may I point out that it certainly is not my experience. My fear is the lack of decisive action.

As I have said, my experience is 42 years with most professionals in this line of work including Legal and financial (sorry, not a Chartered Actuary) and I have found the DEA's I have used, spoken to, worked with and received help from, to be of a similar professional standard to any other I have encountered. I am just as proud as being a DEA as I am a Chartered Surveyor. Perhaps this will surprise many of our contributers to this blog. I hope that it does.

 

My thanks to everyone for their comments.

I was particularly grateful for the reminder from Michael Hughes that there are homeowners who do care about the energy efficiency of their homes.

In these austere times and after a week when oil prices have again started heading upwards and at least one of the major UK energy companies announced an increase in their gas prices, I believe the EPC has an important role to play.

But I don't think the EPC is enough.

I think the future of our industry lies in helping to make energy efficiency improvements a reality.

Will Green Deal be the vehicle to make that happen? Will our industry be in a shape to take advantage of the new opportunity? these are questions I'll be picking up in future postings.

 

Personally, as a DEA and Home Inspector (before it was scrapped) I have seen these reverse auctions and my price is always the same £100.00. And no, I do not get any work from them as I am always undercut. if people want to travel miles and spend hours loading info to sites for £15.00 that's up to them - all I can say is - You mugs, wise up and not particpate in them, only then will the price rise to reflect the work involved.

R

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