As a Residential Surveyor, we have to have a broad spectrum of knowledge and the keenness to learn more. As you join the surveying world you are expected to be aware of building methods, materials, and common defects associated with these. Having a good knowledge of this then allows you to expand your knowledge and understanding of the ever-changing construction methods used.
The construction of housing is changing, and we are also tasked with keeping up with modern methods and materials. This is not just limited to the construction but goes further to heating, hot water, insulation, renewable energy, airtightness, thermal efficiency.
As a nation we are now aware more than ever of the cost of heating and hot water, as we write this we are about to fall off the cliff of fixed tariff gas prices and the gas crisis looms large if the government doesn’t step in. Driving around my local area it is good to see people embracing change in the way of solar panels to roofs, I believe this is just the start and when the newer technologies become more readily available and at a more reasonable cost, more and more of the nation will look to follow suit especially if the technologies are compatible with the existing setup, (even more so if the government put incentives in place).
Recently I inspected a relatively new build property, it was a modern timber frame with brick facing external walls under a pitched roof of timber trusses. The walls were thick, the windows were ultra-efficient, the loft was well insulated. The heating was provided by an air source heat pump, my initial opinion was the property was comfortably warm. The system in use was an air-to-water heat pump that works with a low-temperature system, which is the optimal choice for new homes or builds. This configuration works best when combined with underfloor heating or low-temperature radiators, this setup requires less energy to heat your home.
Speaking to the vendor, previously he was sceptical of the idea of renewable energy and its efficiency, since living at the property for three years and seeing the cost of his energy compared to others, he is now convinced by the technology and once settled at his new place will look to introduce an air source heat pump to his property.
In my personal experience, it appears that it is the under 40’s that are more interested and more willing to embrace the change. To see kids protesting against climate change is a good thing, it means they care about the world and will embrace new technologies to preserve its future.
The major hurdle appears to be with older properties that aren’t thermally efficient enough even after making significant upgrades. The government has already put measures in place to improve EPC ratings reducing carbon emissions. As it stands around a quarter of the UK’s emissions come from energy use at home, being heating, hot water, lighting, cooking, and appliances used in day-to-day life. This increases up to around 50% in the winter months.
At the moment apart from improving the thermal efficiency of new build properties as they go up and now making it a requirement for new builds to have energy-saving technologies incorporated from next year, it feels the government is putting the onus on the homeowners to make these changes. Other countries appear to be making a collective effort for system-wide change and close collaboration between housebuilders, utility companies, homeowners, and local government. For example, in the Netherlands, the government is improving the energy efficiency of its existing buildings through a new technology called Energies prong, initially funded by the government. The technology helps refurbish houses to high levels of energy efficiency in less than ten days using wall and window insulation, solar roofs, and smart heating systems.
The times are changing, and people are now considering new build properties, not just to be the first person to use the toilet seat but to own an energy-efficient property, packed full of modern technologies and gadgets that are cheap to run.
Personally, I cannot wait to still be in the industry in thirty years to see how much progress has been made and see what new technologies are available.