Written by John Williams
In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, ‘Don’t Panic’.
Many homes will have insulation of some sort or another. And, if your home was built in this century, you probably don’t need to worry. Probably. The advice from Martin Donnelly, Ray White Damerell Group's Operations Manager, is have your property professionally assessed by an industry expert.
"At Ray White Damerell Group, we are being very proactive with these new regulations,” explains Donnelly. “With every new tenancy agreement we enter into, we are strongly encouraging our landlords to have their property inspected. That way you will know for certain how your property stacks up regarding insulation.”
To that end, Ray White Damerell Group has struck up a working relationship with Premier Insulation, and they’ve been excellent to deal with so far, according to Donnelly. For a fee of $85.00, Premier will carry out a thorough inspection and issue a Certificate of Insulation, which can then be passed onto the tenant as a declaration of the insulation as required for new tenancy agreements. If a property should fall below the new standard, then Premier will provide a detailed quote of what it will cost to bring it up to code.
Bring in the professionals
Hamish Aitken, CEO of Premier Insulation, says although their assessments are simple to carry out and non-invasive, they can be quite tricky to evaluate with certain housing stock.
“In older homes, it’s often very hard to determine whether the existing insulation meets the new standard because of shrinkage and disintegration."
“Insulation will also have been moved or removed because of renovations… typically recessed lighting in the ceiling, and new plumbing or electrics under the floor.” The other issue is that it is almost impossible to measure the R-rating of an older home without knowing exactly what materials or products have been used as insulation. “Unless there’s a label on it, stating it’s rating, we cannot put an R-value on it,” says, Aitken. “Given this dilemma, the government has come up with following guidelines, based around the thickness of existing roofing insulation,” he says. “If you have less than 70mm of insulation, it will not come up to standard, meaning you will have to put a top-up over the existing protection. A covering of 70mm-100mm, may meet the standard depending on quality. Anything over 100mm, you can be sure the property would pass. It is a very loose definition, but it’s a starting point,” he adds.
What about walls and windows? For the most part, walls are exempted from landlords having to supply details on insulation because a visual inspection cannot determine what’s in a wall without ripping off whatever covering is on the walls. Obviously that’s not practical, so a report can only make comment on the walls, based what can be seen or is known. Windows are exempt, too.
Help is at hand
If your property does not come up to standard, again, don’t panic.
“Any remedial work can be carried out quickly and without too much disruption to your tenants,” says, Aitken. “It’s not a complex job to retrofit insulation. The average 120m2 house should take two guys 4-5 hours, max – that’s floor and ceiling,” he says. On price, Aitken says a rule of thumb would be $13 to $15+GST per square metre, depending on the complexity of the job and access.
“You can do it yourself, but the savings are quite minimal. And it’s a dirty job,”
“We can source the materials much cheaper than the public. Effectively, you’ll end up paying an extra $300 to $400 for someone to do it for you.” He also points out that a company like Premier Insulation will do the work to standard, there will be no rubbish, and it will all be done in one day, which means less disruption for your tenants. “The work is also warranted, with a certificate at the end of the job,” says, Aitken. “It’s proof it’s been done, if there’s ever a dispute with the tenant.”
The government has come up with a figure of 188,000 homes that will need work doing to them over the next three years. That’s a big number and that’s a lot of insulation, and there is a limited amount of resource available to meet this demand, unless it is spaced out evenly over that time period – which it won’t, because most people will leave it until the last moment. That’s just human nature.
“We’ve worked out that the industry needs to install about 60,000 homes a year, for three years. That’s around 1,200 homes a week – and that’s the absolute limit the industry can currently work to,” Says, Aitken. “What we are trying to encourage is early adoption of the scheme by landlords, because if everyone delays, there is no way the industry will be able to cope with the rush at the end. The closer we get to 2019, the higher the prices will go, and the more likelihood the industry will be flooded with unlicensed cowboys,” he adds.
It’s a clear message. Get in now, before prices go through the roof!
If you would like to receive a copy of our Landlord Information Guide which explains our property management services and your requirements as a landlord please click here
If you have any questions regarding the changes, check out this Q&A on the tenancy law changes affecting insulation, or Watch this video on the Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act for ceiling and underfloor insulation. For specific details on insulation, here’s the official Insulation Requirements, from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, plus a useful Factsheet.