When you book a Commercial EPC or a non-domestic EPC, it is easy to go for the cheapest option – in particular if you are managing this on behalf of a client, as you are trying to keep the costs down. Also if you are a small business, cashflow will always be tight and the EPC is seen as just another piece of paperwork that is not really important.
The problem is that very often, there is a lack of understanding on what the commercial EPC entails and there is temptation to go for the cheap friendly assessor, who promises they can get it done and delivered quickly!
In many cases as the seller or landlord who is just looking to turn-over the property as quickly as possible you are tempted to complete this piece of paper as quickly as possible
However this is where the issues can arise – we spend the rest of the blog pointing out why getting a good and reliable assessor is crucial to the whole commercial / non-domestic EPC process.
Does the rating matter on a Commercial EPC?
The rating is the one figure that is likely to stand out to a potential tenant or buyer. They see a low rating and immediately worry about things like how are they going to afford the heating bill. Or they see the rating and they worry about the impending government regulation that will force buildings rented out to have at least a band E score.
If the rating it too low, a long-term tenant looking to do an internal fit out will worry about having to potentially pay for expensive works to bring the property up to an acceptable standard.
To give an example, we have had consumers call on behalf of the landlord, and they have potential tenants who have spotted an F rating of the office space they are trying to take over. Once they have seen this they conclude that the building is going to be too cold and expensive for them to heat, and they were therefore very reticent on the offered rent price.
Working with the assessor to get an accurate EPC score
Whilst it is easy to just pay for the assessor to get on with the job and leave them to their work, it really is in your interest to be helpful and show them everything they need. The assessor can just put in defaults for certain aspects of the property, and this will bring the final rating down.
A good assessor will ask if you have documentation for certain things, and try to track down everything in the property to help get the rating spot on, but they can only do so much. If the boiler room is locked, they are going to struggle to get the model number, and if there is no information on the lighting such as a spare box, then they will have to list your lighting as a default unit.
All this means that it is essential that you work with the assessor to ensure that everything is included in your EPC, if you want to get the desired end result.
Implications for the feed-in tariff funding
To get payments under the feed in tariff scheme at the higher rate, you need an EPC rating of D or higher on your commercial report. This is usually ok because solar PV will raise your EPC rating significantly, but an EPC that does not take account of all the details of your property could result in a lower rating, and that could have some serious cost implications for your solar system.
If you are a contractor doing a refurbishment or new build requiring building control sign off, you will need an ‘on-construction level 4 Commercial EPC’. Simply going for the cheapest energy assessor could make life very difficult for you, as this sort of EPC requires lots of additional documentation supplied by the contractor to help ensure the EPC gets the rating up to the required level. This means interpreting lighting designs and complicated floorplans for example, and this is going to take a lot of time and work to get a finalised quality EPC that will get you the rating you need. Simply entering defaults in the software after a 10 minute walk around the site will get you as poor a rating as if the building was 50 years old, and you likely won’t meet the obligations of your contract.
The assessor is absolutely crucial in this instance and it is important that this is someone you can work with, and someone who will put in the time and effort, as well as liaise with your team throughout, to get the required outcome on your EPC. A bargain basement price is likely to result in an unsatisfactory EPC.
We work with commercial clients every day and know all about the pitfalls of a badly rushed EPC report – save yourself the time and hassle by giving us a ring!