| 3.9°C Dublin

Former minister who introduced retrofit grants has to abandon plans for own home because of high cost


Denis Naughten

Denis Naughten

Denis Naughten

The former minister who introduced the home retrofit grant scheme had to abandon plans to avail of it for his own house because of the cost.

Denis Naughten, who as minister for environment introduced the first grants in 2017, said the price quoted for retrofitting his home last year jumped 53pc in three months.

He has called on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), which runs the National Retrofitting Scheme, to examine how it is being implemented on the ground.

“I have been hugely frustrated by it,” he said.

Mr Naughten said he was out of pocket after paying €750 for the required pre-works home energy assessment which is partially repaid once works go ahead.

“It’s a worthless piece of paper and I can’t get anything back for it,” he said.

The grants scheme was overhauled last year to encourage homeowners to opt for deep retrofit projects covering windows, doors, insulation, solar panels and heat pumps.

“One-stop shops” were established to enable homeowners to have one company oversee the entire project, co-ordinate the contractors and deal with the paperwork and grants applications.

Mr Naughten, an Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway, said he was eager to take up the offer.

“I was very anxious to get this done. I was one of the first applicants to put my name down for it last year.”

He had a home energy assessment carried out in August and a works plan drawn up on the basis of it.

“It took account of work already done on the house. I’d already had insulation work carried out,” he said.

“A price was agreed and I even paid a deposit but when the contractor came in with the final schedule and costing in November, it was gone way up.

“The price was up 33pc but the cost to me was up 53pc because the grant doesn’t increase with the cost of the works.”

Mr Naughten said there was some price inflation but the main issue was the contractor’s insistence on redoing the insulation. 

“Their argument was that they could only stand over the work if it was all done by them and it had to be that way for the SEAI. But it was over-specced. It seems that contractors are going for gold-plated solutions rather than dealing with the actual needs of the house.

“I don’t know where the issue lies – if the SEAI standards are too rigid or if contractors are looking for mark-up – but it needs to be looked at.

“My grandchildren would be grown up before the cost of what they wanted to do would be paid back.”

Mr Naughten pulled out of the deal and said he had some improvements carried out by non-SEAI contractors which had improved its energy efficiency.

Questions about retrofitting costs were put to the SEAI at the Public Accounts Committee this week.

It said construction inflation hit 15pc last year which had increased the quotes for projects but there was a strong demand for the one-stop scheme with 12 companies now providing the service and more going through the approval process.

It could not comment on Mr Naughten’s case without knowing the full details.

However, the SEAI has commissioned practical studies of various house types to try to better understand insulation needs.​

Most Watched