The BER Cert

 

The BER Cert

Before you can move into your new home you are now required to have a Building Energy Rating Certificate issued for the building.

Since January 2007 all new houses “offered for sale of rent”, must undergo an energy performance assessment under the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, from which the house will be issued with a Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificate. According to a Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), the administrative body for the EPBD, “an assessment is also required for any self build house before the occupant moves in.

The EU Directive will, when fully implemented in 2009, require a BER to be registered for all buildings, with only a few exceptions e.g. listed buildings of outstanding architectural or historical importance and outhouses such as barns, that are offered for sale or rental.

On 7 January 2007, BER Certificates and Advisory Reports became mandatory for all newly built dwellings for sale or rent in Ireland. While there is no requirement under Planning Law for a BER to be provided with a planning application, local authorities are free to seek relative documentation to satisfy themselves that an individual application will comply with the Building Control Act. In the instance of local authorities that require higher levels of energy efficiency in news houses than might be the case in other areas, a BER certificate may be an appropriate document to show compliance with these requirements.

The assessment is carried using the Dwellings Energy assessment Procedure (DEAP) – an Excel spreadsheet programme. The DEAP can be downloaded from the SEI website www.sei.ie

Implementation dates for BER of buildings
The introduction of BER assessments is being introduced in three phases:

  • 1 January 2007 – BER of new dwellings
  • 1 July 2008 – BER of new buildings, other than dwellings
  • 1 January 2009 – BER of existing dwellings and other existing buildings, when offered for sale or rental

What is a BER?
A BER gives an objective scale of comparison for the energy demand and performance of a building. It is described as a kilometres per litre rating for a car or the A to G rating for an electrical appliance. It will allow prospective buyers or tenants to factor energy performance and costs into their comparison of different properties and into their ultimate decision. It should also enable self-builders to make amendments at design stage to improve the energy efficiency of their home.

Assessors
The survey of your house design is carried out by a registered assessor, whose details have been accepted on to the national EPBD administration database. Registered assessors must have successfully completed a training programme.

They must also have met all other requirements set for entry on to the database; these would include demonstration that they have adequate indemnity insurance and signing of a code of conduct.

The assessor measures, for example, the size of the house, the construction, the insulation levels, the type of windows, details of the heating and hot water systems, etc. This information is then used to calculate the energy performance of the house and to give it an energy rating. All assessors are required to follow a standardised procedure and calculation methodology to arrive at a rating.

According to the SEI: “In the situation where a house is being offered for sale off plans a ‘Provisional BER Certificate’ must be produced by the vendor to potential buyers or tenants.

This certificate is based upon the pre-construction plans. When the relevant new dwelling is completed, the vendor is obligated to arrange for a new BER Certificate to be supplied to the purchaser, based on the plans of the dwelling as constructed (to take account of any design changes during construction). The Provisional Certificate is valid for two years, while the BER Certificate upon completion is valid for 10 years. However if the house is not sold from plans, there is no requirement for a Provisional Cert. This means that as a self-builder you are only required to have an assessment carried out once the house has been completed.

But a provisional assessment will give some important insight into design amendments you can make to improve the energy performance of your house. Along with the certificate, the assessor provides the homeowner with an Advisory Report setting out options for improving the energy performance of the property (ie stating how the energy performance of the house could be improved).

Such steps might include simple measures such as insulating the hot water tank, increasing the insulation in the walls/attic/floor, replacing an old or inefficient boiler with a more efficient boiler, heating controls, etc. It would be considerably cheaper to take on these recommendations at design stage rather than tackling them once your house has been built.

The BER Certificate rating system runs from an A1 rating fithe most efficient rating) to G fifth least efficient rating) – any rating greater
than a B2 rating will exceed Building Regulations fi2005).

BER as a marketing tool?
It is expected that a high scoring BER Certificate will add significant value to your home. In fact as the property market has slowed considerably, your BER rating could be a very important marketing tool. When your house is being designed, your architect should be able to use the DEAP procedure to amend elements of the design to attain a higher BER rating.

Legal Obligations
Eventually a legal obligation to have a BER Certificate will apply to virtually all buildings that are either newly constructed or otherwise placed on the market for sale or rental. If your design does not get a high BER rating, there is no obligation on you to follow the recommendations in the Advisory Report.

Costs
SEI has indicated that the cost of a provisional assessment off plans of a new house should not exceed €300. This figure is based on prices for assessments in Denmark. However assessors carrying out assessments Ireland indicated that a base cost figure of €350 or €7 per sq m would
be more accurate.

A word of warning
If you do not comply with BER requirements to have an assessment completed, you could be liable, on conviction in the District Court, to a maximum fine of €5,000. Failure to secure a BER Certificate at the proper time could also hinder or delay the legal completion of a sale or letting or a future disposal of the relevant dwelling.

Impacts of EPBD
What impact will the EPBD have on the Irish self-build market?

  • The Directive will impact on an estimated 20,000 one-off houses built each year.
  • It will mean that anyone buying your house will be able to check the energy performance of the house and get an indication of the annual running costs. Therefore it will allow people to take energy costs into consideration in their purchasing decisions. This is becoming more and more important as energy costs are increasing all the time.
  • It will improve energy awareness in the property market both for homebuyers and developers.
  • The advisory report will provide information to self-builders on how to improve their design to ensure the greater energy performance of their property and thereby its comfort and affordability, and enhancing its value and sustainability.
  • The awareness created by the energy rating certificate/label can be expected over time to place a somewhat higher value on more energy efficient properties, and by implication to encourage/provoke owners of less energy efficient properties to take steps to upgrade them.
  • The advice provided on the scope for upgrading the property will open up business opportunities for suppliers and qualified installers of more energy efficient products. It will also increase the weight of importance placed on the energy efficient quality of the products you are using in your build.

Source: Build Your Own House & Home

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Natalie Baker at 7:12 am

    People can save on their energy bills by getting their house and organizational buildings assessed by a certified BER assessor . People have started approaching certified BER assessors these days.

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