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Home seller's guide to buying an EPC: what to consider

Posted by Linn Rafferty on 28 September 2011 at 9:30 am

Just as all buyers should receive an EPC (energy performance certificate), all sellers have to show one to people thinking of buying their home, and this usually means having to pay for it yourself.  If your home already has an EPC, there is no legal requirement to replace it, so long as it is less than 10 years old. 

There are lots of reasons why you might want to pay for a new one – if you think it’s too old, or if you know you’ve improved your home since you bought it, or if you don’t think it is accurate. This isn’t compulsory, but if you feel that you should not misrepresent your home when selling it, then bearing in mind how inexpensive they are you may want to consider having the EPC updated.

If you are buying an EPC, take care that you get what you pay for, and also get good value. The EPC provided by your estate agent may appear quite expensive, and there are offers online that at first sight are much cheaper (with prices quoted as low as £30). Unfortunately, in all walks of life there are some rogue traders, and EPC provision is no different.

Some online providers take the client’s money and don’t provide the promised EPC; or if they do provide it, it’s at the expense of the Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA), who doesn’t receive payment for the work done. Better not to take the risk, and to deal direct with a local provider. There is some guidance on avoiding the rogue traders on my website.

Next, how about the EPC’s accuracy? If you were present during the inspection you will know how long the DEA spent doing the assessment: did s/he look carefully at the building construction and insulation, lift the loft hatch and check the state of the loft insulation, and properly inspect the heating and hot water system?  A full inspection takes time, at least 30 to 45 minutes, and much longer for a large or complex home. 

All DEAs are monitored (a sample of each DEA’s work is checked every year) but this doesn’t mean that all faulty EPCs will be picked up, and some DEAs are tempted to cut corners to save time, which can mean an inaccurate EPC.  

The more clients who challenge them, the less work there will be for the few DEAs that don’t do a thorough job.

About the author: @linniR is a consultant, a freelance writer and a Domestic Energy Assessor accredited with the NHER scheme, and she enjoys all three.  She tweets regularly on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewables and provides consultancy, especially in relation to training needs.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one

Hilary Grayson

Hilary GraysonComment left on: 28 September 2011 at 10:55 am

Just because you are moving does not mean that the EPC is not relevant to you.  You could make some basic improvements (as recommended by the EPC) prior to moving and then demonstrate to prospective purchasers that you have made the home more energy efficient and there fore cheaper to run.

If your assessor is registered with the NHER Accreditation scheme (ask them) then you can also access a professional report which explains more about the EPC, can be tailored to the home but the energy assessor and can be used as part of the marketing material. Badger your agent to use it!   

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