Gloomy Forecast for Homeowners in North Devon as Wind Driven Rain Causes Cavity Wall Insulation to Fail

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North Devon (along with other areas in the South West) has been identified as a cavity wall insulation mis-selling hotspot, though the term wet-spot might actually be more accurate.

Evidence is mounting of the connection between cavity wall insulation and homes that have developed problems with damp, condensation and mould.

For decades cavity wall insulation was seen as a relatively cheap and environmentally friendly way to conserve energy. It was calculated that the existence of cavity wall insulation could save home owners hundreds of pounds in heating costs every year – and in doing so also make a major contribution to saving the planet. It is estimated that over 6 million houses in the UK have had cavity wall insulation retrospectively fitted.

Energy suppliers have been central to the push to fill the cavities of the nation’s housing stock, offering attractive funding to home owners. However the generosity of the energy companies isn’t completely altruistic. The industry has been set targets by government to save energy and cavity wall insulation was identified by those companies as a good way of meeting their targets and avoid facing a fine.

But the cavity wall insulation industry has been coming in for widespread criticism, with allegations of mis-selling being made. This has resulted in a pressure group being set up to lobby government and the insulation industry on behalf of people who believe their homes have been blighted by cavity wall insulation.

Homeowners are naturally worried that their property investment is at risk. And it’s not just those with existing damp problems who need to be concerned. Where cavity wall insulation has been fitted problems of damp, condensation and mould are unlikely to arise immediately. In fact it may take many years for the problem to take hold and become apparent.

Homes in North Devon and along the North Somerset coast are said to be among the most ‘at risk’ areas in the country. Where property is exposed to driving wind and rain, as most homes are in the south west, building experts warn against installing cavity wall insulation, especially in older properties. Our region is in the “very severe” category, with maximum exposure to wind driven rain. Water penetration is known to be a major factor in cavity wall insulation failing. When water penetrates the outer fabric of the building, which in this part of the world is almost inevitable, the insulation material (such as mineral-wool fibre) can soak it up like a sponge.

Legal claims are now being pursued by home owners affected by damp, mould and condensation arising from the installation of cavity wall insulation. Compensation is being sought for removal of the insulating material and for remedial works to the internal finishings of the property which have been damaged. In extreme cases the effects of cavity wall insulation can render a property unsellable.

In order to pursue a legal claim a report from an expert building surveyor is usually required to establish a causal link between the damp problems and the installation of the cavity wall insulation. The expert will also be able to comment on the work required to rectify the problem.

Installation of cavity wall insulation is usually backed by a certificate of guarantee from CIGA (the Cavity Wall Insulation Guarantee Agency). CIGA is an independent agency, but it is closely connected to the insulation and energy efficiency industry. It is for instance a member of ACE (the Association for the Conservation of Energy) a trade association set up in the 80’s by companies engaged in the energy conservation business with the aim of promoting energy efficiency and energy conservation in the UK.

If you are in Devon or Somerset (or anywhere else in the south west) and your home suffers from damp, condensation or mould which you think this is due to cavity wall installation insulation having been fitted then call us today for a free assessment of your case. 

Call Barnstaple, (01271) 372128 to speak to solicitor Emma Slade or Taunton (01823) 354545 to speak to solicitor David Paull. Alternatively, you can contact us by e-mail at [email protected]