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A day in the life... of a Domestic Energy Assessor

publication date: Apr 1, 2009
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dayPD: So, James, how did you get to be an energy assessor?
JD: I started my career in property as a lettings negotiator for Kinleigh at their Putney Hill office in the mid 90s. Had a great time there in a fun but pushy sales environment. I then worked for Capital Asset Management; they mainly dealt with rental properties in Canary Wharf and City areas, owned by overseas investors. I then moved to Allsop & Co in Knightsbridge, taking on the Letting Manager role after a year. After a great spell there I decided I had had enough of working for people and did what probably half the country were doing at the time, buying dilapidated properties, doing them up and selling them for profit. Did quite a few of those until the demise of Northern Rock in 2007 when I decided to put all of that on hold and wait for a better market. In all my wisdom I then decided to train as an Energy Assessor, even though we were on the periphery of a housing slump! Unfortunately not only was there a housing slump, but rather like my property development it seemed that, once again, half the country also decided to train up to do energy assessing; once again not really well timed. Due to the market’s saturation with energy assessors and there being not enough work to go around, I decided to expand my expertise to also offer my loyal clients commercial EPCs. This was a good move and there’s enough work for all at present, but I’m sure with time, the training companies will convince enough people to cough up their readies and train up to be commercial assessors and we’ll have the same situation like we have with the residential. Too many assessors and not enough work!

PD: What training did you have to undertake to become a qualified energy assessor?
JD: The training is all through private companies who basically show you the ropes over one week. You then really need to teach yourself. Commercial training is also a week even though it is twice as hard. For residential you then need to produce five training EPCs on varying types of properties. These need to be signed off by the training company and then, provided that you pass the multiple choice exam, you’ve qualified. For commercial, you need to complete three training EPCs which also have to vary in type and they need to be signed off by the training company and once again providing you pass the multiple choice exam, you’ve qualified.

PD: Which organisation trained you, what are the costs involved and would you recommend them?
JD: Quidos. £2,500 each time. I would recommend them although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people to become energy assessors. There really just isn’t enough work to go around at present, so I would urge people to really think hard prior to embarking on this new vocation.

PD: What areas do you cover?
JD: For residential instructions I mainly stay close to Cirencester due to the limited fees, usually 20-mile radius. For commercial instructions I will go further afield, but generally try to stay within a 100-mile radius of Cirencester.

PD: Do you operate independently or as a part of a group of assessors?
JD: One hundred per cent independent.

PD: What are the costs for each type of assessment and how are they calculated?
JD: For residential properties my fees range from £70 to £100. Fees are based on the property value. For commercial buildings my fees start at £280 for premises up to 100m2 and then 60p per m2 thereafter.

PD: How long does it take to carry out an EPC on an average 4 bed detached house?
JD: Approximately 90 minutes on site and another 60 minutes paperwork.

PD: Commercial assessments must take longer – where on earth do you start with a big factory?
JD: Commercial EPCs are generally one third of the time on site and two thirds of the time doing the paperwork (and there is a lot of paperwork). A typical commercial instruction would be a minimum of three to fours hours on site. You start by getting a comprehensive understanding of the building: how it is heated; what type of building it is; fabric of the building; how hot water is provided; lighting etc. Then produce a fully comprehensive site plan detailing all HVAC, lighting, walls, glazing, floors, ceilings, roofs zoning, measurements. With all this collected data, you then collate it all back in the office and start the lengthy procedure of inputting all the info into iSBEM.

PD: The property market is pretty quiet right now (!) – is there a reasonable demand for EPCs? Is there more domestic or commercial demand?
JD: The residential market has picked up so I have been receiving more instructions recently and commercial instructions remain steady. As a rule I usually have no more than a week’s worth of work in the pipeline at any one time. Sometimes if its really hectic the diary has been known to go to two weeks.

PD: Do you get any grumbles when a building comes out very badly for energy efficiency?
JD: Sometimes people aren’t happy, but I tend to know if a building is likely to have a poor rating on site so I’m usually in a position to pre-empt any disgruntled clients there and then.

PD: Have there been any very unusual properties that you have had to assess?
JD: Nothing terribly unusual. I go to residential properties ranging from 400 m2 flats, to the largest so far being a 10,000 m2 mill house. Commercial is more interesting because you never really know what type of building you are going to.

PD: It sounds quite a pleasant job – or not?
JD: Yes it is a pleasant job. I enjoy property, so as far as jobs go it is good.

PD: Would you recommend it as an additional or main income stream for property agents or anyone else?
JD: No. There are too many people doing it now. I can only just scrape a living out of it, so unless you like financial hardship, don’t bother.

PD: Is a day in the life of James Day a fun day or an OK day?
JD: Everyday is different, so that makes it interesting. I work on my own and fortunately tend to enjoy my own company. However working for yourself is pressurised, quite stressful and demanding, but for me it beats working for somebody else, any day of the week, year, ever!