Press Release: White paper challenges sector to rethink quality in retrofit projects

March 21, 2018

New research challenges the sector to rethink quality and procurement when delivering retrofit projects

  • There is an urgency for housing providers to address the shortage of in-house technical skills
  • Poor specification design and procurement identified as a major issue in project delivery
  • There is a misapplication of value for money, with too much onus on achieving the cheapest price
  • Existing Building Regulations are behind current thinking on sustainability and energy efficiency leading decision makers to withhold investment


New research unveiled this week has strengthened the case for a more responsible approach to retrofit in housing. The study Responsible retrofit: rethinking quality by Sustainable Homes with the support from Soltherm External Insulation, looked at the housing sector and supply chain’s response to the challenges of funding, quality and the uncertain policy landscape in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster. Social housing has been deeply affected by budget cuts and the impending publication of the Independent Review of Fire Safety and Building Regulations have been hindering forward-thinking and long term investment decision making in the sector.

The research found that:

  • Housing providers must address the shortage of in-house technical skills which has a severe impact in a number of areas: technical specification setting, procurement, contract design and on site quality monitoring
  • Poor specification design and procurement, lack of transparency and excessive focus on costs undermines project delivery as well as trust in sector and ultimately the safety of residents
  • Value for money methodology is routinely misapplied with too much onus on achieving the cheapest price. Whole life costing, life cycle costing or total cost of acquisition methodology based on lifetime components and a cradle to cradle approach should be adopted throughout the industry
  • A more collaborative and transparent approach must be adopted in the sector and clients must be proactive in understanding their supply chains, particularly in complex retrofit projects
  • Building Regulations are behind on current thinking in the areas of sustainability and energy efficiency. Decision makers are withholding investment in anticipation of publication of the Hackitt Review and the Grenfell Inquiry potentially prolonging resident exposure to fuel poverty

Steve Gapik, Managing Director Soltherm said:

“More needs to be done in such adverse circumstances. The research findings demonstrate how skills shortages and current procurement processes present serious challenges across all stakeholders. We welcome the recommendations in this paper, the need for more robust procurement processes focused on quality and long term costing approach are vital”.

Bevan Jones, Managing Director of Sustainable Homes said the research provided an insight into the issues that housing providers, supply chains and policy-makers should be addressing.

“It’s now more important than ever for housing providers to understand their supply chains and develop a truly collaborative and transparent approach. There is a momentum, but the sector must be ready to move forward. This research presents recommendations that are actionable now and I look forward to seeing safety, quality and trust as the hallmark for the sector”

 Responsible retrofit: rethinking quality was kindly sponsored by:

Media contacts

For more information, interviews and comment:

Joana Malato, Marketing & Communications Manager, Sustainable Homes, 020 8973 0405 or


Notes to editors:

  • The report, titled Responsible retrofit: rethinking quality, can be downloaded here. The research was undertaken with the support of Soltherm External Insulations Ltd.
  • Sustainable Homes supports the housing sector through research, accreditation and consultancy. We are a not for profit organisation who influence policy, deliver learning to the sector and provide insight through our events and conferences. Find out more at
Joana Malato

Joana Malato