Avoiding Rogue CWI Extraction Companies

For many of us, our cavity wall insulation problems started with a simple knock on the door.

A sales person or canvasser explaining that as part of a ‘government sponsored scheme’, we may be entitled to subsidized or even free insulation.

Sound familiar?

Well guess what? After years of damp, mould and inflated energy bills….that same canvasser could be strolling along your street right now…..but this time, he wants to remove your insulation!

The number of requests for cavity wall insulation removal following Building Surveys for mortgage purposes or complaint investigation, are at an all time high.

Unfortunately, the removal of botched cavity insulation and the cavity extraction companies that carry out the work is currently completely unregulated.

Rogue companies are now reported to be springing up all across the country claiming to be expert extraction companies.

Many of these companies are reported to be employing the same people who were claiming to be expert installers and who were responsible for carrying out the defective installation work in the first place.

In other words, the guys that installed the insulation in the first place (and did a bad job!), are now knocking on doors under a different guise saying that they can solve all of your problems by removing the bad insulation.

This is now becoming an area for extreme concern as homeowners are being asked to foot the bill for the extraction which can frequently exceed a couple of thousand pounds.  There is also the danger that agreeing to have your cavity wall insulation extracted may void the CIGA Guarantee.

Here at CRISAS we recognise that there are genuine operators within the industry, doing good honest work.

Companies who care about restoring affected homes and have a real desire to improve their energy efficiency. Providing warm, dry, mould free, healthy homes for cavity insulation victims.

CRISAS Advice

As with any door to door sales operations, no matter how fantastic the offer may look, please curb your initial enthusiasm and ensure that who you are dealing with a respectable company .

All door canvassing/sales teams have a legal obligation to provide the following;

  • a business name, contact details and address (if they are selling for another company, they must also supply that company’s details)
  • an address for customer complaints, if this is different to their business address
  • a description of the goods or services and a reminder that any goods must be of reasonable quality and as described
  • the total price or how this will be calculated
  • how a customer can pay
  • any conditions of guarantees, services or after sales assistance

If your CIGA guarantee is at hand, then double check all company details and director details online.

ARRANGE AN INDEPENDENT SURVEY….. whilst these may cost between £100-£500 , it could potentially save you thousands. Any removal without independent verification could null and void your CIGA guarantee or any future opportunity to claim for cost recovery.

Contact CWI consumer organisations such as CIVALLI or CRISAS , for free independent guidance.

 

NO WIN, NO FEE – What To Look For When Choosing A Claims Lawyer.

The conditional fee arrangement more commonly known as ‘No Win, No Fee’ has become increasingly popular across the UK as access to Legal Aid has diminished.

However, you need to take care when entering into an agreement and ensure your understand all of the implications before signing on the dotted line.

In simple terms, it is a funding arrangement between solicitor and their client which will allow the solicitor to be paid for his/her services depending on the outcome of the case.

This facility enables people who may otherwise not be in a financial position to afford it, to still make personal claims. Typically, it is used to  fight for personal injury claims and unfair dismissal, for example. For these reasons,  this type of agreement is to be welcomed.

If you wish to make a claim, the solicitor will carefully consider the risks involved.

Should you lose the case, your solicitor will not be able to charge you their fees, but the defending party will be able to claim back all the costs incurred whilst defending themselves.

On that basis, a solicitor is only likely to accept a case that he/she feels that they have a good chance of winning.

If the outcome of the case results in you being the losing party, your solicitor will take out on your behalf a policy of legal expense insurance. This policy will pay for the other parties costs.

Hence ‘No Win, No Fee’.

A Cautionary Note Regarding the Legal Expense Insurance

As with all insurance policies, the underwriters will have included all the necessary no win no fee CWI legal adviceclauses to protect themselves from fraudulent claims.

In particular, should there later be found that you have deliberately withheld information that would have indicated to the solicitor and underwriters that you had a less than 50% chance of winning the case, your insurance could become null and void.

A good claims solicitor will always be very thorough in studying the case prior to accepting it and will also be very happy to explain the terms of the policy.

It Isn’t Called ‘Win, No Fee’!

Should you be the winning party, then you have to accept that a percentage of the monies allocated will include the fees for your solicitors time and any related expenses they will have incurred such as professional surveyors costs.

It is also possible that the solicitor that you have chosen is also eligible for a Success Fee.

Solicitors can take up to 25% from you. You need to be careful and sure of what you sign, as once it is signed the contract is binding and you cannot go back.

If you have a cavity wall claim and the total cost of removal repair and redecoration comes to say £12,000, if  from the outset you have agreed the solicitor can take a success fee of 25% the solicitor can come back for £3000.

It doesn’t matter that the £12,000 has been accounted for in the cost of building and decoration works as you are still liable for it.

As with all trades that you may wish to hire, solicitors are no different. Shop around!

Should you want advice or feedback on a particular Law Firm, please do not hesitate in contacting us HERE

Further reading and examples of issues with ‘No Win, No Fee’ can be found on the following link to the Legal Ombudsman

 

Before entering into a contract it is important to seek independent legal advice

 

Botched CWI Rallying Cry!

Rallying Cry 

Noun-definition – something such as a word, phrase, event, or belief that encourages people to unite and to act in support of a particular group or idea 

We are all aware of the story of David versus Goliath.

Against all odds, the small but courageous David defeated the much stronger and bigger Goliath.

Here at CRISAS we are contacted daily by individuals, fighting alone for their rights, health and homes.

The might of the Cavity Insulation Companies, the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, the Big Energy Suppliers and even the Government, all stand in their way.

We feel that the time has come to stand together.

To establish a united campaign to prevent this scandal from being swept under the carpet.

As the saying goes there is ‘Strength in numbers!

The trade bodies have tried to keep a lid on it, denying the issues and burying their heads in the sand and have only recently begun to take this seriously after it was debated in Westminster due to years of campaigning  and dogged perseverance by Pauline Saunders of CIVALLI.

Who Is Affected?

The size of the CWI scandal still remains a matter of some debate.damp and mould caused by botched CWI

Of the 250,000 homes investigated by thermal imaging experts IRT Surveys Ltd, approximately half of the homes were already affected by failing CWI.

In contrast, a defensive Amber Rudd speaking on behalf of the Government, implied it could be as little as 1%!

Clearly, this huge discrepancy and this is partly due to the fact that no systematic research has been carried out by the government to assess the level of the problem.

Any property or home fitted with CWI, that is currently suffering from cold spots on the walls, damp or mould…could easily be a victim of botched CWI.

It really is that simple.

Whilst there are some obvious external factors which would indicate a higher risk of CWI being the cause of damp and mould, such as

The vast majority of problems with failed or botched CWI are often hidden and more difficult to spot;

  • Incorrect size of wall cavity
  • Debris between the external and internal walls
  • Insulation material obstructing the ventilation blocks
  • Not enough material used

The list is both long and extensive. What Can Go Wrong With CWI

So just remember this simple formula

CWI + Damp & Mould = You could be a victim of the CWI scandal

Botched CWI Rallying Cry – What We Want To Do

Help Us to Help You

Whilst the issues are now getting some attention and have been brought up in Parliament with an ‘early day motion’  recently, we still need to keep the pressure on and now is the time to push even harder to ensure that it gets the attention and more importantly the ‘action’ it deserves to help the millions of homes and families that have been affected.

We need YOUR help to build a picture of just how big this problem is and make sure there is enough of us involved to drive it forward to a positive conclusion and as the numbers grow and our voice gets louder the government, trade bodies and energy companies will have no choice but to deal with it sooner rather than later and understand that it is not going to go away.

 

How Many Homes Are Affected

We want to be able to speak with confidence about the number of people who are suffering due to this ill-conceived, Government sponsored scandal.

If you are a homeowner, tenant or a landlord and have suffered from the effects of faulty cavity wall insulation then we want to hear from you.crisa logo botched cwi

Please complete the short survey below to add your voice and support to the campaign to get justice.

CWI Scandal Survey

I have been affected by faulty cavity wall insulation.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s fight this together.

 

Pioneering MP Spearheads the Drive To Expose the CWI Scandal

Hywel Williams

Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon, Hywel Williams has raised an Early Day Motion to draw attention to the CWI Scandal.

Hywel Williams, renowned for his interest in social policy, proposed this EDM on the 1st November.

An EDM is a formal submission for a debate in the House of Commons.

Whilst many EDM’s do not actually reach the debating stage, they often highlight a particular cause or issue.

Mr Williams first raised the issue of botched CWI back in August 2015.

In a press release from that month he was quoted as saying

“Thousands of people installed cavity wall insulation, misled that this was a government scheme. Now the insulation is failing, letting in driving rain and leaving them with damp, mouldy homes, high heating bills, and an industry guarantee scheme under great pressure as large insulation companies go to the wall. Will the Prime Minister take a personal interest in this matter and make sure that older and disabled people in particular are not left to carry the burden of government and industry failures.”

Hywel Williams MP added, “As far as I’m concerned, the consumer redress process has so far been ineffective, with a ‘closed shop’ mentality whereby vulnerable people are left in damp and damaged homes. Ultimately, it is the government which is responsible for this mess. They pushed energy companies to meet targets but failed to set up proper regulation. No wonder there seems to have been wide spread abuse.”

Mr Williams also joined the campaign for victims of cavity wall insulation and helped take their fight to Whitehall.

The meeting with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) resulted in the launch of the Bonfield Energy Review.

The purpose of the review was to investigate the CWI scandal fully.

Despite calls for the Report to be published, the government have repeatedly made excuses as to why the Review, due to have been published in May this year, is still delayed.

Hopefully Mr Williams’ EDM will bring the focus back on the government and force a reaction.

EDM number 633 reads as follows;

 ‘That this House notes that cavity wall insulation (CWI) has been installed in millions of homes in successive government-backed schemes, but that in many cases the insulation has failed, acting not as a barrier to keep heat on the inside but as a bridge to allow water penetration from the outside; further notes that the actual number of failures is unknown and that the consequential damp and other related and very serious problems have blighted the lives of householders for years; notes that many victims are older, disabled or vulnerable people; notes that many installation companies have gone out of business and that the industry guarantee scheme has serious failings, including a defensive and sometimes hostile attitude to claimants and provides a guarantee not compensation; notes that successful extraction of CWI is difficult and sometimes poorly completed, leading to further problems; commends the tireless work of Civalli, the victims support group; and calls on the Government to institute measures to actively identify potential victims, rectify failed installations and provide proper compensation.’

For further information and references , please use the following links;

Civalli

Bonfield Review

EDM number 633

Pets Gets Sick and Die Due to Damp and Mould

Many people are aware that a damp and mouldy home is an unhappy and unhealthy environment, but did you know it could also cause serious damage to the health of your pets?

Black mould toxicity in pets can often be quite slow to develop and difficult to spot.

It affects pets that live in homes where there is a substantial growth of black mould  over time.

Exposure over a mid to long term, results in your pet inhaling large quantities of black mould spores .

As with humans, this can lead to can lead to a range of respiratory and allergic reactions, including  a persistent cough, noisy or laboured breathing, red and itchy eyes and a general reduction in enthusiasm for exercise.

Over a sustained and longer term exposure, the mould will actually start to weaken your pets immune system, resulting in them being much more susceptible to other illnesses and problems, and making it considerably more difficult for them to recover when they do.

As with humans, longer-term exposure, will allow the spores to actually weaken the capillaries within the lungs of your pet, leading to eventual hemorrhage and  internal bleeding. This can ultimately prove fatal, as the pets lungs become full with blood.

What is certain is that mould which grows as a result of damp,  even at surprisingly low levels can hugely reduce the quality of your pets life.

They become lethargic, go off their food, stop enjoying walks and exercise, get ill more often and recover slower and in the worst case, can ultimately lead to their death.

For more detailed information about this post and advice about what to do if you feel your pet may be suffering from any of the health issues mentioned above, please read this excellent article from Pets4Homes.

Black mould toxicity in dogs

 

 

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Selling Property. How Botched CWI Can Stop You

Every day, TV schedules include many programs about buying and selling property.

We are all pretty familiar with the main factors that influence house prices. All the ‘do’s and dont’s’, neutral colours and carpets that won’t give buyers a headache.

Location, size and age are just some of the factors a valuer will consider when valuing your home.

What we often fail to realise when selling property, is there are some less obvious issues that can greatly reduce the value of our home. Some can make it very difficult to sell at all.

The most important of these factors are damp, mould, damage to structural timbers and condensation.

All symptoms of failing cavity wall insulation!

Should your house currently be on the market, then you will be aware that a survey is required before any potential buyer will be granted a mortgage.

If you are lucky enough to find a buyer for your property then you would like the purchase to progress as smoothly as possible.

Should your buyers lenders see the words ‘damp’, ‘mould’ or ‘rot’ in any building survey then their mortgage provider will certainly require that any problems relating to this be fixed before they are prepared to proceed with the funds.

Thus resulting in the selling process grinding to a halt.

Summary of Selling Property

  1. The potential buyer makes you an offer
  2. A surveyor the values the property and inspects for structural issues
  3. Surveyor identifies damp and notifies the buyers mortgage provider
  4. The lender will usually make an offer in principal as long as the damp is rectified
  5. You get the damp cause treated and fixed and remedial wok completed
  6. The surveyor will inspect your property again and finally approve that it is structurally sound
  7. The lender will release the funds to your buyer and the sale can complete.

Damp problems can easily delay the sales process by up to 2-3 months. This risks your purchaser deciding to buy something else.

Any hints of damp, mould and mildew…..any suspicions of failing cavity wall insulation, must not be ignored.

Failing cavity wall insulation could leave you feeling trapped and out of pocket, leaving you unable to move up the property ladder.

Contact CRISAS for free and impartial advice about the cavity wall insulation scandal and how it could affect you.

For further reading and a more detailed analysis, please use the following link.

How Damp Can Stop You From Selling Your Property

 

Evidence Exposes The CWI Scandal

Further evidence adds fuel to the fire of the growing CWI scandal.

The long awaited BRE Wales report commissioned by Constructing Excellence in Wales, has now been released.

The report provides conclusive evidence supporting the claims made that the CWI scandal is set to rival that of mis-sold PPI.

What follows is a summary of the key points of the report. The full document can be found HERE

The report is focused on housing stock managed both privately and by housing associations.

The homes inspected all suffered from some level of damp thus meaning that it does do not represent a nationwide average. What the report does highlight is for a more detailed National Survey to determine the full extent of the problem.

cavity-wall-insulation-problems-damp-water-moisture

The report has shown that the 100’s of houses surveyed all had failing CWI, some of which had failed in less than 10 years.

BRE highlighted the fact that CWI had been installed in homes deemed ‘unsuitable’, with little regard for ‘best practice’.

The Mistakes

The CWI had been installed in to homes suffering from at least one or more of the following factors;

  • Located in areas exposed to severe levels of wind driven rain
  • Cavities with a span less than 50mm
  • Cavities bridged with debris and fallen mortar
  • Evidence of uneven fill, gaps and slumping from the initial installation
  • No evidence of pre installation checks
  • Little indication that the guidance available at the time of installation was being followed.

The Consequences

The entire affects of the botched CWI/EWI are yet to be fully realised, but the report did highlight 27 ‘unintended consequences’. These included;

  • More damp and mould
  • Drop in internal wall temperature
  • Compromised electrical safety
  • Increased levels of respiratory illness
  • Fuel poverty
  • Structural failure and decay of walls
  • Increased threat of both dry and wet rot to timbers and floors
  • High levels of toxins in the air

Perhaps the most disturbing aspects of the report are the financial and environmental impacts.

This ill-conceived government scheme could cause chaos for decades to come. The CWI scandal is risking the health and wealth of millions of UK people.

To extract the damaged CWI costs nearly 5 times what it originally cost to install.

The removed material is not biodegradable and is being buried in landfill sites.

Certain types of extracted material emit fumes which are toxic to both humans and animals.

The energy needed to heat a home with failing CWI exceeds that of the same property before installation.

In conclusion, this report shows us how important it has become for a much more rigorous and widespread investigation.

It also begs the question, why are parliament still dragging their feet and failing to act?

Pressure from action groups, MP’s, victims,environmental experts and now the BRE still hasn’t produced a satisfactory response.

Was Your Home Suitable For CWI?

Exposure zones, type of property and state of repair. Was your home unsuitable for CWI?

A brief guide about what to look for first, if you suspect incorrectly installed Cavity Wall Insulation is damaging your house or health.

Here at CRISAS are always happy to help you identify the causes of damp and mould in your home.

Before you contact us, there are a number of key indicators that you can investigate yourselves.

The effects of botched CWI installation can take a number of years before they manifest completely, so it is essential that you try and spot the risks early.Ignoring it can make the issues difficult and expensive to fix.
Some factors may be tricky to recognise, particularly if you bought, rented or inherited your home after the CWI was installed.

Hopefully this short article will point you in the right direction. At the very least we think it will allow you to determine if you should seek professional advice.

1. Exposure Zones and Location

The location of your property and it’s exposure to wind-driven rain is usually the first factor you should consider. The British Standard Rain Index Map divides the UK into 4 distinct exposure zones.

Exposure zones 1 and 2, which are mostly in the Eastern side of Britain, are generally considered suitable CWI . These zones suffer least from wind driven rain.

The scale however, does not take into consideration individual properties. Some may have little surrounding cover or particular walls may be more vulnerable than others.
Zones 3 and 4, which includes the West of Scotland, the North West coast, Wales, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset and numerous other locations, are considered to be inappropriate areas for the installation of CWI.
Check this map and determine in which zone you are located.

british-standard-rain-index

2. Type of Property

Certain house builds such as precast concrete, timber-framed and steel framed buildings will not accommodate standard CWI.
Combinations of these builds, such as an extension or garage etc added to an existing home may also make a property unsuitable for standard Insulation.

3. Signs of Damp, Mould or Mildew

Any signs of damp, particularly on external walls should be investigated promptly and is a common sign of incorrectly installed or damaged insulation.

4. Increased Fuel Bills

Damp walls or walls with cold spots can often make warmth management particularly difficult. You may find your heating bills are steadily escalating and are certainly costing more than those of your friends and neighbours.

5. Smell

A house will often smell damp way before it shows signs of mould. So rely upon your senses!

6. Respiratory and Skin Complaints

If you notice that you or your family are suffering more  winter colds and flu-like complaints than their friends and peers, this can sometimes be a symptom of the spores that are created by mould.

If you suspect that any of the above affect your home then now is the time for action.

There are a growing number of companies that will be happy to supply you with a free self-assessment form and some friendly advice.

The link below will take you to a free download.

It is easy to follow and will help you to asses the risks for yourself.

Botched CWI Home Check List

Wind Driven Rain Exposure Zones Explained

Despite the repeated claims of CWI installers and their guarantors that cavity wall insulation can not allow the transfer of moisture across across the space between the inner and outer wall of a property, this has now been discredited by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

BRE are a world leading, scientific research centre, dedicated to improving the built environment through innovation and technology.

In their publication BRE Good Building Guide 44 part 2 , they state;

“There can be an increased risk of rain penetration if a cavity is fully filled with insulation, ie moisture is able to transfer from the outer to the inner leaves resulting in areas of dampness on internal finishes. Rainwater, under certain driving rain conditions, can penetrate the outer leaf of masonry leading to wetting of the cavity insulation, a reduced thermal performance and damage to internal finishes.”

The guide provides detailed and technical information regarding what types of insulation are to be used in buildings in the four variants of exposure zones.

The Exposure Zone Guide acts as a template to determine the potential measurement of wind driven rain that a property is likely to be subjected to.

In summary, Zones 1 and 2 spread from the East of the UK moving through zones 3 and 4 as you reach the West coast. Zones 3 and 4 include all of Wales, West Scotland, the North West coast, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset.

The BRE guide suggests that for a typical British house, with face brickwork and 50mm cavities, CWI should only be installed in to properties located in zones 1 and 2.

This doesn’t act as a hard and fast rule. Tall properties in an inland city centre or homes built on a hillside can be as equally at risk.

Below is a copy of the British Standard Rain Index map, which should have been taken in to consideration prior to determining if a property was suitable for CWI installation and which materials/treatments to use.british-standard-rain-index

 

The Story Of The Cavity Wall Insulation Scandal

For the last two decades the retrofit insulation industry has expanded rapidly and then contracted  inline with the ebb and flow of government inspired subsidy.

This ill conceived but well intentioned initiative, formed the background of a series of measures expected to reduce the UK’s emission of greenhouse gases by the year 2020.

In hindsight, it is now generally believed that this scheme may have produced the reverse results and almost half of the homes altered now require more energy to manage heat and damp.

The financing of this project was passed to the major energy suppliers as a legal requirement for them to provide energy efficient technologies to their customers.

A failure to do so would lead them to face hefty fines, in addition to possible restrictions applied to any contracts then in place with the UK Government.

To achieve the targets set by the Government, the energy companies switched from subsidized offers, to free installation.

As contractees, the energy companies tendered the work to insulation providers.

The promise of vast amounts of funding created a ‘gold rush’ mentality amongst speculative contractors.

Firms knew that they had to act quickly to attract the cash. This resulted in rapid expansion to meet demand.

The contractor was also tasked with attracting homeowners to the funding, so recruited commission motivated sales teams.

Quality of installation, suitability of the property and the required surveys became secondary considerations.

The lack of proper surveys resulted in the installation of CWI in to homes that were either never suitable based on location, or properties that required much more extensive repairs prior to CWI installation.

The cavity in UK properties exists to prevent water passing from the outer wall to the inner wall.

Incorrectly installed CWI can create a bridge between the two walls allowing moisture to pass across or sometimes can actually trap pockets of liquid that will eventually permeate through the inner wall.

The effects of damp in your home can be both numerous and devastating.

Damp can cause the value of your property to depreciate in some instances making it unsaleable.

Mould can damage your health, the health of your family and even the health of your pets.

Badly installed CWI can cost you several thousands of pounds to rectify.

We can expect to hear a lot more about the CWI Scandal over the next coming weeks, as another cold, wet, windy British winter ensures that damp and mould thrive in homes with walls damaged by failing cavity wall insulation.cavity-wall-insulation-problems-damp-water-moisture