Image of a person spray foaming someone's attic

250,000 homes could be ‘unsellable’ due to spray foam insulation – report

Hundreds of thousands of properties could become unsellable with owners also unable to access equity release due to spray foam insulation, it has been reported.

Homeowners have been consistently warned about the potential dangers and consequences of using spray form insulation in their homes. It is estimated that the downsides of spray form insulation – which include moisture becoming trapped behind the foam causing decay – affects as many as 250,000 homes.

Andy Wilson, an equity release specialist in Lincolnshire, told national newspaper The Times:

“The reticence of lenders to accept properties with foam installed is causing distress to many homeowners who either cannot sell, mortgage or remortgage their homes.

In many cases the foam may have caused no damage, but to measure this effectively the foam needs to be removed. As surveyors cannot say definitively that a property is free of defects (mainly rotten roofing timbers), it is safer and easier for lenders to decline to lend.”

In March, The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) launched a new guide to update consumers on the implications of the use of spray foam as a method of insulating residential properties.

RICS said that spray foam “can all too often be marketed as an easy and simplistic fix, when in fact the installation of spray foam should really be seen as a significant and fundamental alteration to a home which needs careful consideration and planning”.

In the same article, Chris Brown, the owner of Hydrogard, says they have “700 open inquiries” about compensation for spray-foam insulation. He added:

“We probably take 35 to 40 calls a day, it’s staggering. We’re winning about four or five claims a week, and the average payout is somewhere between £7,000 and £10,000.

The chances of us winning are very good, because in many cases the product shouldn’t be in their home.”

Simon Storer, chief executive of the Insulation Manufacturers Association, said:

“I understand there are plenty of examples where mortgage approvals have been made. Spray foam has been used in this country for 30 or 40 years. If there was the problem that people were claiming, you would see all these collapsed roofs. I know the lenders and surveyors have a job to do, and therefore we’ve worked with them to help them understand. The protocol is a method by which they can be satisfied about whether the job has been done correctly.”

A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities also said in the Times:

“We are looking into the issues some homeowners are facing and are working with the industry and stakeholders to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

Conversely, Simon Baker, Global President of Huntsman Building Solutions, highlighted some of the misconceptions around spray foam insulation within the property market. He stated that:

“High-performance insulation solutions like spray foam insulation are an optimal way for households to make their heating systems more efficient, will be critical to our country’s decarbonisation efforts and will help occupants save money on their heating bills. As such, Huntsman Building Solutions is currently consulting with the Government on how spray foam insulation can be used effectively as part of the Great British Insulation Scheme which is due to launch later this year.

Huntsman Building Solutions acknowledges there are still misconceptions regarding spray foam insulation when it comes to lending decisions and equity release, and we empathise with individuals who face situations such as those quoted in your article. However, given the urgent need to radically upgrade the insulation standards of British homes, we must not marginalise spray foam insulation as it offers a real ability to decisively address many of the energy challenges we face, given its properties as an all in one highly effective insulator and air barrier.”

He continued to add that they have engaged with both RICS and Residential Property Surveyor Association (RPSA) on this subject and have “invested in our own training courses for surveyors to close the knowledge gap by educating them on how to distinguish correct, legitimate installations from those potentially presenting problems”.

One Response

  1. Is there any way I can track down the provider of open cell foam insulation who installed it in a C19th cottage. Unfortunately it has no paperwork from 2017/18 when it was done and the gentleman has died leaving no trace of who did it. The son wants to sell the cottage (to me) but I need a specialist surveyor to reassure me that it was done properly and there is no lurking damage/rot/problem to the roof. Your advice where I can find the specialist surveyor would also be appreciated. The cottage is in Shroton, Dorset, DT11 8QD and has recently been restored. But I am nervous about the foam loft insulation.

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