How the £300BN ‘Retrofit Revolution’ can benefit contractors and subcontractors (Pt 2)
PART 2 OF 4: HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE DOMESTIC RETROFIT OPPORTUNITY
Before we get into the detail, let’s have a brief recap.
WHAT IS THE RETROFIT REVOLUTION?
The ‘Retrofit Revolution’ refers to the national need to retrofit the majority of existing homes (and commercial buildings) to EPC B by 2050.
That means 29 million homes must be retrofitted by 2050 and at least 15 million by 2030 (7 years).
Some regions are moving more quickly, London’s Mayor has declared that he wants London to achieve NetZero by 2030.
This means retrofitting 3.6 million existing dwellings.
It’s a big challenge and a big opportunity.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC RETROFIT?
‘Domestic Retrofit’ means upgrading the energy efficiency of a home. This can be achieved by doing one or a combination of the following things;
- Increasing the thermal efficiency of the home’s fabric by internally or externally insulating its walls. Cavity insulation is also an option.
- Installing solar panels (along with battery storage) so the building can generate a portion of its own energy.
- Installing solar thermal panels so the dwelling can create its own hot water using solar energy.
- Swapping its gas boiler for an air source heat pump
Most homeowners are interested in insulation and solar system installation. The waiting period for solar panel installation increased to 7 months after a 300% increase in interest.
HOW CAN CONTRACTORS PROFIT FROM DOMESTIC RETROFIT?
Smaller contractors are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the retrofit revolution because the bulk of retrofit work will be conducted by homeowners (their primary client base).
For smaller contractors just starting out, this is a brilliant opportunity to specialise in a line of work which will be in demand for at least another decade.
For existing contractors, it’s highly likely that there will be more work than you can handle.
Fortunately, platforms like C-Link simplify the subcontracting process and make it easier for smaller contractors and subcontractors to boost their revenue without having to build expensive and time-consuming supply chains.
As mentioned, the most popular retrofit works are Solar Panel installation and insulation. For traditional contractors, the insulation works will be simple but the solar panels may be beyond their experience. C-Link would allow this kind of contractor to subcontract several of these projects simultaneously to MEP subcontractors local to the project. The risk of working with unknown subcontractors is severely reduced because C-Link qualifies and vets every subcontractor before adding them to the network.
For MEP subcontractors, this is an incredible opportunity to work on projects like this or to expand into more general domestic contracting and to use C-Link or similar to subcontract the insulation works while the MEP contractor takes care of the solar, battery, heat pump and car charger installation.
HOW DO I POSITION MY CONSTRUCTION BUSINESS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY?
This new opportunity will lead to the growth of progressive construction businesses as well as new tech-enabled entrants. Most others will be left behind or unable to truly capitalise on this opportunity because they won’t be discovered by a client who is looking for them.
The construction professionals ready to grab this opportunity with both hands will do several things.
- They will adopt a brand that speaks to their target market and positions them as trusted experts in the area of retrofit. This can be as simple as adopting a new trading name. Businesses with names like ‘Eco-FURB’ are discoverable and clear about their value proposition. This doesn’t mean that your entire business model has to be changed overnight. It just means that adopting a market-friendly aesthetic will make it easier to be found by people who are looking for you.
- They will embrace social media. Particularly Facebook and, to a lesser extent, LinkedIn. Facebook is famous for many things, not least being the platform with the oldest and largest user base. Pew research suggests that 72% of 50-64-year-olds online use the platform. The age of their users increases the likelihood of reaching older homeowners who are less worried about increasing mortgages but are more worried about high energy bills eroding their pension and quality of life.
If you’re not comfortable with advertising on social media there are many companies and freelancers who can either teach you or run your campaigns for you.
ARTICULATING THE GREEN PREMIUM TO HOMEOWNERS?
Reengaging with past clients can be challenging. Securing new ones can feel impossible if you aren’t able to articulate the true value of the work to the client.
For a long time, the market has felt that sustainably designed homes with low bills should be worth more than leaky, cold homes. And for a long time, the sale values have failed to reflect this.
- In 2022 Savills published data which demonstrates that buyers are prepared to pay 59% more (compared to regional averages) for homes with heat pumps installed. In the South East Homes with heat pumps installed are, on average 84% more expensive.
- The WWF backed up these findings with their own research and they found that low-carbon technologies (solar panels, heat pumps, EV car chargers) increased sales values by £10,000 (on average) and reduced heating by up to £2,309 per year.
- In January 2023 Legal and General (in collaboration with YouGov) published research which suggests that renters are prepared to pay 13% more for low-carbon homes and that for most buyers and renters, energy efficiency and EPC are more important than property size.
If you combine this with the fact that homes with low-carbon technologies and insulation can save up to 80% on energy bills, the case for retrofit becomes very appealing.
Any contractor who is making a case for domestic retrofit to past and future clients will probably find that they are ‘pushing on an open door’.
WHO IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE RETROFIT REVOLUTION?
C-Link is working with leading construction businesses that are taking advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
If you’d like to discuss how C-Link can help you do the same drop us a note here.
If you’re not ready but if you’re intrigued, why not check out our platform?
Photo by Watt A Lot on Unsplash
About Martin Prince-Parrott
Martin is an ESG Real Estate Developer and former Award-Winning Architect. He’s spent the last decade designing and developing a billion-pounds worth of mixed-use institutional-scale real estate. He’s worked with and for market-leading companies such as Gensler, Microsoft, Barratt Homes, Legal & General and Barclays Bank.
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