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Builders who benefit from grants should be properly qualified

Builders who benefit from grants should be properly qualified

Government-funded insulation work must be done by competent tradesmen. EDEL MORGAN reports

ONLINETRADESMEN.COM has called on Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) to make sure that tradesmen and builders get adequate training to allow them to deliver competently on the new national insulation scheme.

“If the Government is giving grants, we need to make sure that people are properly skilled to meet demand,” says managing director Ted Laverty.

Laverty estimates that at least 2,000 tradespeople who subscribe to his site will benefit from the grant which he believes is a positive measure which will generate an estimated €300 million in labour every year. But he fears there will be consequences if the standards in training being offered, in everything from insulation to heating systems and Building Energy Rating assessment, continue to “vary greatly”. He also says that there aren’t enough courses being offered currently in some aspects of green building.

The national insulation scheme is open to all owners of houses built before 2006. While SEI is only taking applications for grants from contractors, it says it will be accepting them from homeowners in a matter of weeks. At that stage applications can be made online at www.SEI.ie/hes or by post or by calling 1850 927 0000.

Laverty says that in a meeting yesterday SEI said it will compile a list of registered tradespeople who are qualified to install insulation and says guidelines for registration will be stringent. It also said that it plans to roll out more training courses as soon as it can.

There are set grant rates available. For example, the grant for roof insulation is €250, cavity wall insulation is €400, internal wall insulation is €2,500 and external wall insulation is €4,000.

The grant towards a Building Energy Rating assessment is €200, for a heating control upgrade it is €500 and for a high efficiency boiler it is €700.

While these grants are a help to homeowners there are concerns that they are not high enough to encourage people to take them up in the current economic climate.

An Taisce’s energy officer Elizabeth Muldowney says that while the grants have the potential to be hugely positive in terms of job creation, they don’t necessarily go far enough. “We haven’t heard what the banks are going to do and if they are going to provide low interest loans.”

She points to the gap between the cost of some improvements and the grants available, for example, while external wall insulation costs in the region of €18,000-€20,000 for an average sized house, the grant is only €4,000.

Laverty says that while he is confident that the builders and tradesmen who provide quotes for jobs on onlinetradesmen.com are suitably qualified to install insulation “we would advise everyone to make sure the person they employ to do the job has the necessary skills”. He says that while requests for quotes for jobs from the public on the website have risen by 15 per cent, “we do not know how many actually are coming to fruition now that the banks have cut lending”.

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