Since their introduction in August 2007, Home Information Packs have certainly caused a stir in the property market, and opinions have clashed from those who love – or hate – the idea of HIPs and their contents. Crucially, though, the introduction of Home Information Packs has had significant implications on the environmental viability and energy efficiency of UK homes.
What Are Home Information Packs (HIPs?)
So what are Home Information Packs anyway? Effectively, it’s a piece of legislation making it compulsory for home sellers in England and Wales – not Scotland – to provide certain pieces of information when they put their home on the market. While most of the information isn’t new, the packs place the emphasis on the seller providing this information up front to buyers, rather than later down the line – therefore hopefully minimising the number of property sales that fall through. The pack is comprised of:
- Pack Index
- Energy performance certificate
- Sale statement
- Standard searches
- Property title documentation
- Leasehold or Freehold information
- Guarantees and certificates for household goods and building work (where appropriate)
What Is The Energy Performance Certificate?
The energy performance certificate, or EPC, is an important part of the HIP. Compiled following an inspection of your home by a professional energy assessor, the energy performance certificate gives a detailed report on the energy efficiency of your home. A rating – with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient to ‘H’ being the least energy efficient – is also provided, along with personalised recommendations as to what homeowners can do to improve their home’s energy efficiency. The most common recommendations include:
- Installing cavity wall or roof insulation
- Draught excluding a home’s doors and windows
- Replacing single glazed or old windows with double glazed windows
I’m Selling My Home – What Do I Need To Do About A HIP?
Before you home goes on the market, you need to start putting your Home Information Pack together. Your estate agent or solicitor will be able to put you in touch with a HIP provider service they recommend, or you can shop around and choose your own specialist HIP service. Your HIP provider will organise your energy assessment inspection.
Alternatively, braver home sellers can put the pack together themselves – you’ll need to arrange an energy assessor to carry out your EPC inspection, and submit searches yourself to your local authority.
I’m Buying My Home – What Do I Need To Do About a HIP?
When you’re looking at a prospective property, don’t forget to ask the seller or estate agent to see the property’s HIP. Look closely at the documentation, including the energy certificate. If there is a recommendation for double glazing, for example, you may wish to write completion of this in as a stipulation in your contract.
Where Do HIPs Feature In a Stagnating Property Market?
The extra cost of HIPs has been attributed by many in the industry as one of the factors leading to the current weakening property market. Now the packs are here to stay, however, buyers and sellers should use HIPs to their advantage, especially when it comes to energy efficiency and making their homes greener.
Home sellers – Your EPC offers practical advice on how to improve your home’s energy rating. A bad rating has the potential to affect your sale price, so it could be worth taking on board your energy assessor’s green recommendations and putting them in place before selling. This should help maximise your resale potential.
Home buyers – Use the recommendations from the EPC to make green improvements when you move in. Not only will it help you to lower your energy bills and make your home greener while you’re living there, you’ll also have the added bonus of a better energy rating when you eventually decide to move.