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April 11, 2023

Blog by

Catrin Bates

Photo by

Ron Beattie

United Living shares their top five learnings from carrying out whole house retrofit

United Living Property Services (ULPS) is one of four Solution Providers delivering Energiesprong whole house retrofits as part of the Mayor of London’s Retrofit Accelerator-Homes Innovation Partnership (RA-HIP).

Together with nine social housing providers, the Solution Providers are part of a Collaboration Hub to share learnings and help stimulate a new market for whole house retrofit across the UK and reduce costs.

ULPS is currently retrofitting 44 houses in the London Borough of Ealing. Rebecca Hart, Decarbonisation Project Manager at United Living, shares her top five learnings from the project so far.  

Sweat the small stuff!

Before the project gets underway, I would recommend getting to know the properties in every detail. Find out what information already exists about them and then fill the gaps by carrying out comprehensive surveys. It’s also crucial to speak to the tenants at a very early stage to ask them about their homes but more importantly to explain what the retrofit process will involve and to get them on board.  

Get everyone in the same room at the start of the project.

Invite the supply chain to the table at project inception so they can see the scale of the challenge (and opportunity) and develop a passion to be part of the solution. This is the best way to get everyone committed to the project, allay any nervousness about whole house retrofit and the performance guarantee, and create open channels of communication.  

Make the most of the Collaboration Hub.

Being a member of RA-HIP has numerous benefits and I would suggest making the most of these.  For both Social Housing organisation teams and the Solution Providers, it’s worth investing the time to visit other project partner sites and learn from their lessons and best practice. It’s a family and everyone wants each other to succeed – use the network and sessions to develop in-house retrofit delivery processes. Both your customers and clients will benefit.

Effective tenant engagement is crucial to the success of the project.

It’s important to appoint a suitable Resident Engagement Officer to a project who has the experience and skills to build effective relationships. Someone who is fair, honest, understanding and has good listening skills. They need to be able to manage tenants’ expectations and apologise if anything goes wrong.  

For the Ealing project, all 44 tenants have signed up to the scheme which is testament to our brilliant liaison officer who has built excellent relationships with them. It’s important to be visible and approachable, be on site frequently and hold regular community events. Being a consistent presence is the best way to build the level of trust that’s required.  

For anyone doing the liaison officer role, my advice would be to embrace personal development. It’s a great way to understand retrofit better. Use the role as a springboard to explore endless career opportunities and progress in an exciting and challenging industry!

Keep pushing the bigger agenda.

What we’re doing is relatively new and we’re currently lacking long term policy support that could help make the process easier.  We need to work with building control and certifying bodies to help make it easier for new technologies to develop.  We also need to work with planners to make the planning system more supportive of retrofit, and a government backed investment or sponsorship programme to support cradle to grave innovation.  

> Find out more about United Living's projects that are creating warmer, healthier, and more efficient homes.

Discover more insights into the work being done via the Mayor of London’s Retrofit Accelerator – Homes Innovation Partnership by checking out the full video interviews with the solution providers:

‍Share our campaign video on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Retrofit Accelerator - Homes programme is funded on a 50:50 basis by the Mayor of London and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The delivery partners, led by global professional services company Turner & Townsend, include Energiesprong UK and the Carbon Trust.