However there is no way to find out if the specific builder you choose from the official list of SEAI grant-aided contractors is high or low risk, Selfbuild has learned.
The Home Energy grant scheme is government funded and is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The grants are for insulation measures, heating upgrades, and solar thermal panels.
In order to qualify for the grant you need to get an energy assessment carried out by a Building Energy Rating assessor; there are roughly 500 of these registered with the SEAI for domestic properties.
The SEAI also has a register of vetted contractors for the Better Energy grants who are subject to a Quality Assurance Scheme and Disciplinary Procedures (QADP) system.
Statistics from this QADP seen by Selfbuild show that about a third of contractors working on the energy grant scheme were considered high risk in 2018 (in the orange or red category), a significant fall as compared to the 2017 figure of 54 per cent.
It’s on the back of inspections that contractors are graded on a green (good performance, low risk), yellow (medium performance, moderate risk), orange (poor performance, high risk) and red (very poor performance, very high risk) scale.
The number of contractors deregistered in 2018 was 220 as compared to 213 in 2017, and 1,585 contractors were registered as of the 18th February 2019 as compared to 1,542 the same time the previous year.
In 2018 the SEAI call centre handled close to 55,000 customer contacts (calls, email and webchat) for home energy grants as compared to 47,000 the previous year. Complaints constituted less than 0.2 per cent of all correspondence received, the same ratio as in 2017.
We’ve put the following questions to the SEAI about the quality assurance scheme.
Do homeowners get the inspection report on their property?
Where an inspection identifies defects requiring reworks then the contractor and homeowner are both notified.
Worst case scenario, what is the remedy for a homeowner who hired a contractor off the SEAI list and is involved in the grant process but realises the job wasn’t carried out correctly. What is the process in that case and who pays for the remedial work?
The contract for works is between the homeowner and contractor. SEAI always recommends that homeowners have a written contract for the works and we provide a model contract for this very purpose: seai.ie/resources/publications/Model-Contract.pdf
Where a homeowner is dissatisfied with the works then this is a matter solely for them to address with their contractor. The model contract includes terms to address such a scenario.
Are homeowners who use a contractor in the Orange or Red zone informed of the fact that their contractor is categorised as such? For homeowners who sign up to the grant scheme, are there plans to have contractor ratings published for them to access during their contractor selection process?
Homeowners are not informed. There are no plans to publish contractor ratings.
There are also grants for installing photovoltaic (PV) panels and the SEAI has a list of approved contractors but they are not part of this quality assessment scheme; is there any quality assurance system in place for them?
This is a pilot scheme, with a key objective to build the capacity and quality of the supply chain. The first stage in developing our quality assurance framework is actually defining the appropriate standards for works, which were published at scheme commencement. When grant claims first commenced in the Autumn [of 2018] we commenced inspections, with every installer’s first job being inspected in what is called an accompanied inspection. These are particularly useful when we want contractors to understand the approach to inspections and for them to learn from actual quality issues identified. We will shortly migrate the PV installers to the existing QADP approach.