Problems mount as more homes without new-build EPCs come on the market

May 7, 2015

Written by: Rosalind Renshaw | May 7, 2015

Are agents having trouble getting hold of EPCs for houses that were new-builds circa 2008 and are now being put up for sale?

The EPC requirements for new homes are more onerous than for existing homes, requiring SAP calculations. However, it appears that several homes built or converted after April 2008 never had EPCs in the first place, posing problems for agents.

The issue also highlights a more unlikely problem under the legislation as to what is a new home.

Lee Russell, of Davis Tate in Woodley, Berkshire, says he has been tearing his hair out and approached Eye to highlight the matter.

He has been receiving ongoing instructions on several homes without EPCs and has received conflicting advice.

He turned to the Landmark EPC helpdesk after his EPC assessor said that the law requires all homes built from April 2008 to have a SAP EPC.

The assessor’s advice was: “If this wasn’t done at the time of completion the legal requirement to produce a SAP EPC is not lifted and therefore must still be produced as the first EPC.”

Landmark initially advised: “We must emphasise that we cannot provide advice on when a new building is no longer a new building. It is not something that is defined in Regulations. The Regulations do specify, however, that EPCs are required when a building is constructed, sold or let.

“The requirements for newly constructed buildings to have an EPC on completion came into force on 6 April 2008; therefore, in the circumstances described, an EPC should have been provided for the properties.

“If no EPC currently exists for the properties then one must now be provided if there is an intention to re-sell the properties.

“It is unlikely that the detailed plans and specifications, that would have been available at the time of construction, are easily accessible now. It is also debatable whether properties which have been occupied for more than seven years (or constructed seven years ago) could be classified as a new dwelling.

“In these circumstances the most sensible approach would be for the EPCs to be produced using RdSAP software.”

The energy assessor then contacted the Quidos helpdesk, saying: “Properties built in 2008, 2009 and 2010 are now frequently going on the market and many did not have a Full SAP EPC carried out at the time of original completion/sale/let. As such agents are now approaching me to carry out an EPC to meet their legal obligation.

“My stance has been what I was advised many years ago by BRE, namely that a full SAP EPC is still required as per regulations as these properties are ‘new builds’ regardless of whether they have been lived in or already sold before.

“The fact that a full SAP EPC was not carried out does not remove the requirement to still have that done as the first EPC. Is this correct?”

Quidos replied saying that this was correct.

Landmark then said that their original response was incorrect. A full SAP EPC has to be carried out on all properties completed after April 6, 2008.

Landmark’s new advice said: “We suggest that you follow the advice provided to you via your assessor from the accreditation schemes. This would be to first establish that there is no existing EPC by contacting the original builders/sellers and building control before commissioning your assessor to carry out an RdSAP report.

“Otherwise you will have to commission a new SAP EPC for each property.”

Davis Tate’s Lee Russell tells Eye that the developers of those original “new” homes now coming up for resale include well-known names. It is a mystery as to why these developers did not follow the letter of the law when it came to EPCs.

But shouldn’t it be up to the vendors to provide the EPCs that they weren’t given in the first place?

Russell said: “If you talk to sellers about EPCs, they look at you as though you have got two heads.

“But in any case, I simply haven’t the time to chase up the original developers.

“This problem is only going to get worse, as more and more of these properties come on to the market.”

Eye would be interested to hear from other agents who find that homes built a few years ago have no EPCs. We would also be glad of advice from EPC firms.