Faulty wall insulation discovered in Housing Executive properties

Wall insulation in almost two thirds of Housing Executive properties does not comply with current standards, a report has revealed.

Voids or debris were discovered in the cavity between the inner and outer leaf  designed to hold insulation and prevent heat loss.

Now independent experts have recommended that Northern Ireland’s public housing provider carry out remedial work.

The Executive said the report brought into sharp focus the need to secure a sustainable funding model, particularly surrounding access to external borrowing.

Rob McCormack, Consultancy, Investigation and Training (CIT) director, said: “CIT believes its recommendations address the issues of remediation across the Housing Executive’s social housing stock as well as suggesting ways to ensure repair work is carried out in full compliance with cavity wall insulation industry standard.

“This research will allow the Housing Executive to use fact-based evidence and robust methodology to assess its remaining housing stock, identify those homes in most urgent need of remediation and efficiently plan maintenance programmes to address the issues identified.

The research found that, of the Housing Executive stock surveyed, 63% had cavity wall insulation which was non-compliant with current industry standards, leaving 37% compliant.

For 1% of properties surveyed, their external façade had deteriorated and the internal fabric compromised; 32% had compromised but stable building fabric and 51% had minimal building fabric defects with no serious underlying causes.

Sixteen percent of stock was found to be defect-free.

The research was commissioned in 2017 but published this week.

More than 800 Housing Executive properties and 100 privately owned homes were surveyed as part of the research.

CIT made recommendations including prioritising remediation work; training Housing Executive staff; setting industry standards for suppliers; seeking compensation from companies responsible for non-compliant installations and establishing mechanisms for tenants to raise concerns related to cavity wall insulation in their homes.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “In the short term, we will, of course, immediately focus on those properties in which CIT has indicated a specific need for urgent remedial work.

“Later this year we will bring forward a longer term strategy and plan for addressing the broader issues that have been identified.”

They said such a strategy and plan will have to be prioritised against many other significant investment needs for the housing stock – like a Tower Blocks Action Plan, improving the thermal performance of non-traditional dwellings and addressing the maintenance backlog in external improvements and the replacement of kitchens and bathrooms.

The Executive pointed to many energy improvement measures undertaken across its stock over the years, including a double glazing programme and heating upgrades.

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