Category Archives: Blog

Why Does my Flat Get a Different Rating to Others in my Building?

Carrying out EPCs in central London on a daily basis means we do a lot of assessments for apartments within larger blocks. There are of course a huge range of flats, from modern buildings with new construction methods, to Victorian and older blocks that may have been converted from other uses.

We often get asked why a customers flat has a different rating to another flat in a block, even though they may share many similarities, such as the size and layout. This can be a little confusing, and frustrating when you don’t achieve the rating you first expect. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case however.

Heating and Hot Water

Whilst some blocks will have a communal heating system, many have their own independent boilers or electric heating. Over the years, property owners are going to upgrade these systems as needed, so that over the years a building might have multiple different boiler types or other heating systems. This can have a sizable difference to the rating, as heating is a key component.

Position of the Flat

Whilst the layout of the flat and the heating may be similar, the EPC takes into account the amount of heat loss area your property has. If you have a top floor flat with no insulation, this is going to score considerably lower than the flat just below you, even with everything else being equal. Top floor flats are the most likely to not meet the minimum energy efficiency standards.

When the EPC was carried out?

The way EPCs are produced have remained fairly similar over the years, but there have been small changes in the methodology and regular updates to the conventions every year. This means that an EPC done 10 years ago could be quite different to one carried out now – it is important to bear this in mind when comparing your certificate to others in your building.

I have new double glazing, why is my rating lower than my neighbour?

Double glazing, despite what the salesmen will tell you, only makes a small difference to the efficiency of a property. The EPC rating will only change by a couple of percentage points, so other factors are more likely to have the bigger influence on the rating.

Documentation

If you have had any major works such as extensions, insulation work or renewable technologies, it is really important that you have the necessary documentation. If you have had any of the above completed on the property, please let us know and we will let you know what documents will be needed to give you full credit for these improvements. Without this evidence, the rating will likely not be as good as it could be.

Can you trust that the previous EPC is correct?

Whilst there is an auditing system in place to ensure the standard of EPCs are kept high, the EPC has been produced by a human, and is subject to human error. There are EPC companies that carry out assessments that we would not consider to be of a high standard, often paying their assessors a low per job rate that means standards are not always as high as they should be.

We would suggest that you should not read too much into the differences between you and your neighbour’s properties. There are so many factors that can affect the rating, that it would be nothing more than speculation as to why the ratings are different. If you are unsure as to why your rating isn’t where you think it should be, please get in touch with us and ask. We have carried out tens of thousands of EPCs in London and we will be able to give you expert feedback on what you need to do to improve your rating.

Getting an EPC During Covid

Here at London EPC we are still open for business throughout the current restrictions. As the housing market is still open, and EPCs are a necessary part of the sales and lettings process, we continue to provide this service to our customers. We will continue to follow the guidance from our accreditation body and the government to ensure everyone’s safety.

What precautions do you take?

We suggest that whilst our surveyor is in your property, you keep to one room of the house, or leave the property. The survey takes 20-40 minutes and the best option is to use this time to take your daily exercise. All our assessors are required to wear masks and gloves whilst in the property to minimise the risk to yourselves and us.

If you are shielding or have any concerns about the arrangements for the survey, please let us know in advance. We should be able to work something out that ensures we can get the job done safely.

Can I get an EPC if someone has tested positive in the property?

Unfortunately we are not able to carry out the survey until the end of your quarantine period. EPCs need to be done by accessing the property and taking measurements and photos inside the property, so we cannot carry out the EPC in this scenario.

We remind you that it is your obligation to tell us if you or one of the occupiers has tested positive. As assessors, we have a right to a safe working environment, just as you should expect us to consider your health and safety.

Will my EPC rating change because we are home during the lockdown?

No. The EPC is based upon the building fabric and the fixed heating / cooling. How you use the energy within your property is not considered as part of the survey. This is to ensure that the EPC can be used for multiple tenancies / sales, as it does not change from occupier to occupier. It also makes it a more fair reflection of the building itself, rather than the people living in it.

What other disruption can I expect?

The EPC process should carry on just like normal. If you have any other concerns, just get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Case Study: Factory EPC in Ilford

We recently carried out a survey on 3 industrial units at an estate in Hainault, just outside Ilford.  The company occupying the building manufactured industrial equipment, with the 3 units totalling over 10,000 square feet of space.

How well do industrial units score on an EPC?

It is important to note that the EPC does not consider the energy used in the industrial process – so even though the main energy use in the space may be the manufacturing process that is going on there, this is not considered, as the EPC relates specifically to the efficiency of the building.

Of course, the rating of the building will depend on a number of factors, but there are a few key considerations.

  • Heating – If the area is unheated, then the rating is likely to be higher. This is because large often draughty industrial units cost a lot to heat. If there are heaters fitted that are suitable to heat the whole space, then these are used for the EPC. Unheated spaces have no energy use, even though they may be poorly insulated.
  • Insulation – For large industrial units, the roof is going to be a key area if you have a heated space. If the roof has insulation, then the rating is going to be considerably better than not.
  • Lighting – Lighting a very large space like this means a lot of lighting is needed. If this is old and inefficient, then the rating is likely to be correspondingly lower.

Although these units had some gas fired forced air heaters and uninsulated rooves, they did benefit from installing LED lighting and solar PV. Solar PV is a great option for an industrial unit that has a high electricity cost. Unlike domestic buildings, the main time that electricity is being used is during the day, when the sun is going to give you the most energy. There is also lots of roof space available here to work with, meaning a large array free from obstruction and over-shading is possible.

What rating did these units get?

The units received E ratings. This meant that they met the minimum energy efficiency standards and no further action was required on the part of the occupier in order to get their remortgage. The client had hoped for a slightly better rating, given the PV system, but without the panels the rating would have been much lower.

If you have a unit that needs an EPC, please give us a call and we will be happy to talk you through what the requirements are and book you in for a survey.

DSM EPCs for Large Commercial Properties

What is a DSM EPC and do I need one?

DSM EPC stands for Dynamic System Model Energy Performance Certificate – not the easiest acronym but it can be very important. Although for most offices, shops and industrial units, a standard non-domestic EPC is sufficient, in some cases you may wish to look at a more comprehensive and detailed DSM EPC. In this blog we’ll discuss what the advantages of this type of EPC is, when you can get them done and how they differ from a standard EPC.

What is the difference between a standard and DSM EPC?

Non-domestic EPCs fall into 3 different categories based in the complexity of the job.

A level 3 EPC EPC is the most basic. This is usually carried out on small shops and offices, and industrial units. Something like 90% of all EPCs carried out will fall in this bracket.

Level 4 EPCs are for buildings with more complicated HVAC systems. This means properties with centralised air handling systems, like VAV systems in office blocks, or ones with fan coils. If you have anything other than standard electric heaters, a basic air conditioning system, or a simple boiler, then you may need to have a level 4 EPC.

Many assessors are qualified to do both of these types of EPC. They don’t actually differ in how they are carried out practically. The only real difference for a level 4 assessment is the fairly minor added complexity in identifying the HVAC system and getting hold of the right data in order to attain the best possible rating.

There is also a level 5 EPC, used for the most complex buildings. That means properties with the most complicated HVAC systems (such as demand controlled ventilation), those with multi-level atria, and those that are so large that standard modelling software cannot handle the data.

Level 5 EPCs are quite rare – most properties will not fall into his category, and therefore very few assessors are qualified to carry them out. Here at London-EPC we do have you covered for this, and you should give us a call if you think your property may need this type of EPC.

Level 5 EPCs require a DSM (Dynamic System Model). This is carried out by creating an actual 3D model of the building in a special piece of software, meaning that you can accurately represent even the most complex buildings and ensure they get the right EPC rating. You can carry out a DSM EPC on any building, even a level 3 property, but it is compulsory once you get to level 5.

Is it worth getting a DSM EPC for a level 3 or 4 building?

This brings us onto the question, is there any value in getting this type of EPC for a simple building? It is possible to do this, and some assessors will do it anyway depending on the type of software they use. Typically you will pay more for a DSM EPC because it takes a little more time to get them entered into the software, but they can get you to an improved rating in some instances as they give a more accurate representation of the building. We have also noticed that some contractors are required to get DSM EPCs on their projects as part of their contractual obligations.

We would not normally recommend a DSM EPC unless you have been requested to get one carried out, or if you fall into that level 5 category.

There are some additional advantages with DSM beyond carrying out an EPC. Once the model is entered into the software, a DSM can then be used for other purposes and is great for evaluating improvement measures.

How much do these EPCs cost?

Commercial EPCs are priced on an individual basis, so it is tricky to give exact pricing. As a rule of thumb, you should expect to pay at least double for a DSM over a standard EPC.

How to Get an EPC on a Warehouse in London

Warehouses, like all other buildings being let and sold in the UK, generally require an EPC certificate. An EPC is an energy performance certificate, and it’s essentially a document that reflects how much energy it requires to power your building.

What is on an EPC?

An energy performance certificate is a document designed to reflect the energy efficiency of a property. It requires an assessor to do a site-visit to the warehouse to have a look around and make some basic notes. Don’t worry, they won’t need to poke around or do anything invasive, but they will need full access to the property in order to collect the information required.

EPCs come in two basic varieties: domestic and non-domestic. For a warehouse EPC, you’d obviously be looking at a non-domestic certificate. Non-domestic (sometimes called commercial EPCs) require a different kind of assessor, as the process is more complex.

Does my warehouse require an EPC?

Unlike most buildings, warehouses can sometimes be exempt from needing an EPC. This can be particularly useful for reasons to do with MEES (minimum energy efficiency standards), which we’ll come on to a little later.

The regulations stipulate that an EPC is not required for “Industrial sites, workshop or non-residential agricultural buildings that don’t use much energy”. That may sound a little vague (that happens a lot with property legislation), but it essentially amounts to this: if your warehouse has no heating system and no integrated office space, then you don’t need an EPC.

Will the EPC rating affect the value of my warehouse?

Generally speaking, not much. While domestic properties and office blocks tend to follow a pattern of increasing in value as the EPCs improve, warehouses, agricultural buildings, and industrial units don’t seem to be as affected. This is likely down to the fact that running costs for these properties tend to be fairly low, and things like lighting and heating bills are often far surpassed by other commercial expenses. That’s not to say that there’s no correlation – a warehouse which is cheap to run will always be more attractive than an expensive building – but most warehouses generally have low EPCs at the best of times. It’s the nature of the property type.

What are MEES and how do I ensure that my warehouse passes?

MEES stands for minimum energy efficiency standards, and it’s a set of rules brought in by the government in 2018 to ensure that buildings are only let out if they pass a certain minimum energy efficiency requirement. In order to let your warehouse, the MEES regulations stipulate that it must have an EPC of an E or above. 

For a warehouse trying to pass MEES standards, the first step is to check that your warehouse definitely needs an EPC (see above for guidelines). If it doesn’t then you don’t need to clear the MEES requirements and can let your property out, regardless of condition.

If you have a warehouse that has fallen short of the MEES guidelines, we always recommend looking first at your lighting. While in Domestic EPCs the lighting only has a minor impact, with warehouses and other commercial buildings it can make an enormous difference. Swapping from old style bulbs to LEDs is the single most cost effective way to improve your warehouse EPC.

If you’ve done that and are still struggling to hit the minimum requirements, you may want to consider updating your draught proofing, heating system, or insulation. If you’re not sure how to hit your MEES target, we’re here to help. We don’t charge anything extra for MEES advice on any of our EPCs ever, our expertise is available to everyone we carry out EPCs for, whatever your question.


If you’d like to book an EPC for your warehouse with London-EPC, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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    Multiple Retail Units in Bromley

    EPC Case Study: Commercial Retail Units in Bromley

    Multiple Retail Units in Bromley

    Whilst many people are looking for a one off EPC on their property, we do get clients who are seeking multiple EPCs on a portfolio of properties.

    There are many reasons why you might need to get an EPC on all your properties; the business could be being sold, the bank may have requested them for financing purposes, or perhaps the client is requesting the EPC as part of a stock condition survey, or to understand their liability for the MEES (minimum energy efficiency standards). Sometimes a customer wants to get them all done at the same time for a discount, to ‘get them out of the way’. Whatever your reasoning, we are always happy to give you a quote for a batch job.

    The cost of batch EPC’s is always going to depend on the number of properties and the locations, as well as whether they are commercial or residential. With larger projects, it is always helpful to provide plans of the buildings, but we realise this is not always possible.

    Multiple Retail Units in BromleyMultiple Retail Units in Bromley

    In this example, the client had 3 retail units of around 50-100m2 each, with around 20 miles between the multiple properties. As such, we were able to offer a small discount on our usual EPC price, but not much more than that. There was over an hour of travel time to get between the sites, and each site had different heating/AC systems and layouts, making each one a completely independent job with not a lot of time savings compared to doing 3 jobs for 3 different clients. This particular job was priced at £360+VAT for the 3 units, which would involve a half day of site visits, a half day of lodgement at the office, and around £100 of EPC lodgement fees to our accreditation body.

    The site visits themselves went very smoothly. Each site had LED lighting, which makes a big difference to the final EPC rating. One property had a gas boiler for heating, whilst the other two were using portable electric heaters. In the end, each property came out to a C rating, which largely reflected the importance of LED lighting in a commercial, and particularly retail, environment, where the lights are likely to be on most of the day.

    The client paid for the EPC by card so we were able to issue all the certificates the following day, ensuring no delays in getting their financing.

     

    epc london bank mortgage

    When will your bank ask for an EPC?

    EPCs are only usually required for sales and lettings, or to apply for funding schemes such as the RHI or FIT payments. Sometimes, however, a bank may request an EPC as part of a remortgaging or a loan application.

    Why does my bank need an EPC?

    When a bank requests this, it is usually because the property is either being lent against directly or is being used as collateral for the loan. The bank want the EPC to ensure that the property at least has an E rating – if the rating is below an E, the value is going to be affected because it can not be legally let without improvements being made or an exemption applied for. This type of EPC is completely voluntary – i.e. there is no legal requirement for the EPC. If you want to get your loan or remortage etc. you will need to get the EPC done however and get a good enough rating.

    It might seem a little odd, but this process is completely discretionary and something the bank is requiring only. It can be annoying to have to go through this process, but it will at least mean you have a valid EPC on file for the next 10 years, and you won’t need to get a new one should the property be let or sold in future.

    What to remember

    Remember to always check if you already have an EPC lodged previously against the address – often banks forget to mention that an existing certificate is perfectly acceptable, and clients may end up paying for an EPC which is unnecessary. You can check by visiting epcregister.com, or ndepcregister.com for commercial buildings.

    If you need an EPC, you can always get in touch and we will get you booked in straight away! Whatever the reason for your EPC, we will be happy to help and ensure you get the best rating and the swiftest service possible.

    New Build Supermarket in Ruislip

    We often get requests for new build or ‘on construction’ EPCs. This particular client had a newly built supermarket that required an EPC in west London. With new build certificates there are some extra requirements that make them a little more tricky than your standard as built EPC.

    How to Get an EPC on a Commercial New Build

    We usually start by requesting some plans for the building, along with any documentation on the HVAC system and the lighting design. These should all be readily available for a new build, which is good news as it means we can achieve the higher ratings on the certificate.

    The lighting design is a really good place to start, because the building will often have to be zoned in accordance with the design so that the lux and wattage levels can be entered in full. Often we won’t quote a job until we see the lighting design for a new build, as a particularly intricate design can add lots of time to the assessors paperwork.

    New Build Supermarket in RuislipSite Visit for a New Build Commercial EPC

    Despite the paperwork, we still have to carry out a site visit for new build commercial EPC’s. For the Ruislip supermarket this was carried out following installation of the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system and towards the end of the fit out process. It was a particularly wet and windy day when the visit was carried out, but the survey was completed!

    The site visit is very useful to the over EPC rating because, although you can use the plans to model the building, nothing beats actually seeing the property on site. It also gives the project manager the chance to point out where anything may be different from the plans provided, and to clarify anything that is not clear in the documentation.

    The Ruislip Supermarket Overall EPC Rating

    Most commercial new builds achieve a very good EPC rating because, even when there is a lack of documentation for a certain item, you can still use modern building regulations defaults, which are generally very good. In this case, the client provided nearly all the necessary information, with the one exception being the air permeability test results, which was not available at the time the EPC needed to be issued.

    As you might expect, the property achieved an A rating on their EPC. With some new builds an A rating is sometimes missed due to a lack of information provided by the client, but in this case good communication and responses to requests for more information meant we could get them over the line.

    We recommend you pull together the following information if at all possible:

    • Lighting Design, or at a minimum, specs for the lighting, as well as light;
    • U and K values for the building fabric – walls, floors, roof. T and U values for the glazing / doors as well;
    • Model numbers for the HVAC system, and ideally efficiency figures like the COP, SCOP, EER and SEER. For some systems there are other figures we may request, like heating control information, power factors, air leakage test results, heat recovery systems and SFP;
    • Any extractors or mechanical ventilation system we would be looking for the extract rates and the SFP (Specific Fan Power);
    • Air permeability test results;
    • Letter confirming the new address for the property;
    • Plans for the building – ideally ones to show the general layout of the building rather than technical drawings for the electrics or the HVAC.

    Obviously with some new build projects this data may not always be readily available, especially on smaller projects. This is where it is important to communicate with your EPC assessor and find out whether there are alternative pieces of evidence that can be utilised. Often there are ways around the problem that can ensure you get the rating you deserve for the building. Fortunately in this example the rating came out in that A bracket.

    north london office epc

    Office EPC in North London

    We often get requests for EPCs on office buildings. This particular office in North London was a vacant 4th floor work place in a larger complex. The property was due to be rented shortly and so we needed to visit and carry out the EPC survey very quickly.

    What does London EPC charge for office EPC certificates?

    For any office unit under 100m² and all on a single floor, we charge £120+VAT. This covers any commercial unit inside the M25, with a small excess for travel if we need to travel further out.

    This North London office space itself was around 300m² of mostly open plan office, along with a toilet and some communal circulation areas. The cost in this instance was £250+VAT.

    Heating

    This office had a central boiler, but no air conditioning. Many North London buildings of this size have an air handling system as both their heating and cooling, but this one was an exception, being somewhat older than the average office. The boiler however was a very efficient modern one, providing heat to radiators in the building. It did also provide hot water to the building.

    Building Fabric

    The office building itself was a concrete construction with abundant windows effectively creating a curtain wall. The windows themselves were not particularly efficient because of their age, but the good news is that this is a mid floor office, with the floor and ceiling both leading to other heated spaces. This really helps the final EPC rating because it means only the walls (and windows) are heat loss areas.north london office epc

    Lighting

    Much of the lighting in this office is either compact fluorescent or tube style fluorescent. Although older technology than LED, these forms of lighting are not too bad in terms of efficiency. There are of course more efficient alternatives, but the lighting will not drag the EPC rating down too much in this property.

    North London Office EPC Final Rating

    So there is certainly room for improvement in this office, but the property is good enough for rental and reaches a comfortable D level EPC rating, just 3 points away from a C. The client was advised that there are some opportunities to improve the EPC rating further, but otherwise a relatively efficient space considering the age of the building.

    EPC Case Study: Nursery in Streatham

    When it comes to non-domestic EPCs, most properties are relatively easy to access and survey. Warehouses, offices and shops will generally be open during working hours, and there’s usually someone available to open up for the survey if not. However, with certain properties there can be issues surrounding access – schools and nurseries are a prime example of these situations.

    EPCs and Accessibility: Working Around Business Hours

    When carrying out an EPC, it’s essential to be able to take photos in and around the property. Earlier this year, we were called out to undertake an EPC on a nursery in the Streatham area, and because of the various sensitivities around a school/nursery environment, the only way we could do this was out of school hours. This particular nursery closed at 6pm, so we travelled to Streatham for an evening site visit.

    Nursery EPC Ratings: Feed-in Tariff Eligibility?

    The nursery was in the process of having solar PV installed, and wanted to know their rating in order to apply for the feed-in tariff. However, the fact that the nursery was connected to a church further complicated matters, as the owners wanted to know if they could apply for the feed-in tariff on the church as well. Places of worship are exempt from EPC requirements, but the nursery is not. If applying for the feed in tariff, the church would need to meet EPC rating requirements.

    A D rating is required to meet the requirements of the higher rate feed in tariff, but this is often very difficult for older buildings such as a church.

    We discussed the issues with the client and agreed to carry out separate draft EPCs for the church and the nursery in order to determine if either would be eligible for the grant. Following the visit, the data was entered into the software and drafts generated.

    Nursery vs. Church EPC ratings

    As expected, the old draughty church scored badly with a G rating, meaning that even with improvements such as new lighting, it would be very difficult to make the PV system viable. Nevertheless, the nursery came out to a D rating, meaning it was eligible for higher rate FIT.

    The end result meant that the client could confidently go ahead with installing their panels safe in the knowledge that the nursery met all the efficiency standards for the higher rate FIT.