Wednesday 16 October 2019

Renovation rules to end draughty homes will lower heating bills - but raise construction costs

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

Caroline O'Doherty

Construction costs are set to rise as new regulations to end damp, draughty and hard-to-heat homes require builders and renovators to provide high-spec housing.

But buyers should be wary of developers taking advantage as the Department of Housing says the Nearly Zero Energy Build (NZEB) rules taking effect from November 1 should add an average of only 2pc to construction bills.

A standard three-bedroom home currently costs about €140,000 to build, excluding land purchase, legal and other costs, so the additional burden envisage by the department would be less than €3,000.

The payback, according to the department, is that new homes will be 70pc more energy efficient than their equivalent built during the boom year of 2005, annual heating bills will drop by two-thirds from around €1,200 to €400 and property values will increase by 9pc.

Minister of State for Housing Damien English said the new measures would also create healthier homes which would prevent or ease respiratory illness and, critically, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ending the reliance on oil, gas and solid fuels for home heating.

"About 40pc of Ireland's energy-related carbon emissions come from buildings. By making the next generation of houses and renovated houses more energy efficient, we can make a significant contribution in the national efforts to mitigate climate change," he said.

From November 1, all new dwellings, as well as substantially renovated homes, will have to include features such as heat pumps, solar panels, capacity to use biomass or other renewable energy, energy-efficient lighting, high levels of insulation, air tightness, water management and mechanical ventilation.

A certified assessor will have to sign off on the work.

The rules also apply to any major renovation project which is classified as work involving more than 25pc of the overall building.

Exemptions will apply where a planning application is submitted before October 31 and the work is substantially completed within a year. Substantially completed is broadly defined as having walls up and ready for roofing.

Many builders are already opting for higher energy-efficiency standards. Only 5pc of new dwellings built in 2015-2019 have oil heating systems while 39pc of new builds completed last year came with heat pumps installed.

Around half of new houses completed last year also have solar panels and mechanical ventilation but with building output modest, that amounts only to around 5,500 houses.

At the peak of the boom in 2002-2007, around half a million new homes were built, around 30pc of them fitted with oil boilers and most of the rest with gas.

Last year 50pc of new builds were still being fitted with gas heating so the task of converting the country's existing stock of two million homes to clean energy is immense.

Irish Independent

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