Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions we get about the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service.
If you have a question which we haven’t covered here, let us know by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 303 1269 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm).
Is Cosy Homes Oxfordshire affected by Covid-19?
Cosy Homes Oxfordshire is now operating as normal during Covid-19. As long as ruling allows, we are still able to conduct home assessments and onsite retrofit work – as long as you, as the homeowner, are happy for us to visit your home.
We have developed detailed COVID-19 protocol for all staff members, Retrofit Coordinators, and contractors working on behalf of Cosy Homes Oxfordshire, as well as for homeowners to prepare for our visits. This protocol can be explained on request, please email email@example.com if you’d like to know more.
What is home retrofit?
Broadly speaking, retrofit is any work or improvements which are done to a home after it has been built, specifically to improve the energy efficiency of the home. You can find out more about home retrofit by watching our beginners guide to retrofit webinar.
How long does the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire pilot last?
Cosy Homes Oxfordshire is in pilot stage until March 2021. This is the period for which we are funded by the UK Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy as part of their work to address the homeowner market for retrofit work. We are one of six pilots under this funding, and you can find out more information on the BEIS website.
We are working to ensure that Cosy Homes Oxfordshire can exist as a fully-established business entity in its own right without this funding by March 2021 when this funding and pilot phase ends.
Is there funding available to help me undertake a home retrofit?
The UK government is currently running the Green Homes Grant, which is available until March 2022. This offers homeowners grant funding of up to £5,000 to make specific home retrofit improvements. Find out more here.
There is also funding available for homeowners who are vulnerable to the cold or are living in fuel poverty. If you think you may be vulnerable, refer yourself to the Better Housing Better Health (BHBH) team – they can provide vulnerable residents in Oxfordshire with advice and grants to improve energy efficiency in the home, lowering bills and improving health.
What happens during a home assessment?
Take a look at our blog on what to expect from a Cosy Homes Oxfordshire home energy assessment.
Why is thermal imaging not a standard part of the Whole House Plan home assessment?
Thermal imaging is a non-contact method of detecting the temperature of the surface an object, as well as the presence of moisture. Because of this, thermal imaging cameras are sometimes used in providing pointers to areas of heat loss in a home.
However, thermal imaging is highly dependent on the specific environmental conditions at the time of the survey and so while potentially useful for pinpointing possible areas for action, it does not give quantitative information that can provide a ready comparison house by house. Hence, it is not necessary as part of a full home energy assessment, so we don’t do them as a standard part of the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service. Your Retrofit Coordinator will advise you on whether a thermal imaging survey is likely to provide useful information to add to your Whole House Plan. If you’re particularly interested in having thermal imaging done to your home from the outset, we can organise this at an extra cost. Simply let your Retrofit Coordinator know when they contact you to book your home assessment, and we’ll take it from there.
Please note that thermal imaging is usually only offered during the colder months of October to March, in the UK. This is because the colder months are when heat loss is a particular issue in homes, and will be visible on a thermal imaging camera.
Do you offer other home retrofit services outside of the Whole House Plan?
At Cosy Homes Oxfordshire our focus is on whole house retrofits, a comprehensive plan for home improvements across the whole home. This is because homes often end up with a range of different features as different homeowners make changes and improvements over the years, and these mixed features rarely work together well to create an energy-efficient and comfortable property. With a whole house approach the property is assessed in its entirety, with recommendations aiming to ensure the property operates in as energy efficient a way as possible, with every aspect of the building working together to achieve this. It also ensures that improvements are carried out in the correct order to prevent future issues. For instance, a chimney may be blocked off to reduce heat loss, but this could then later down the line cause damp through lost ventilation – the whole house approach means these knock-on effects are all taken into consideration.
Therefore, our primary service is our Whole House Plan, as this ensures that every home we work with goes through this whole house approach to gain the most comprehensive picture of retrofit improvements possible. Of course, the homeowner is always in charge of which measures and work actually goes ahead. If you don’t want to do everything at once we can work with you to plan phases of work in a sensible order, reducing your upfront costs and the disruption to your home.
However, we are unable to offer services for individual measures (such as boiler replacement) outside of this whole house route, and we would recommend you go direct to a local, trusted contractor in this case. We are also unable to offer consultations on existing projects, such as home renovations which have already been planned. These are both aspects which we aim to be able to add to the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service in future.
What if Cosy Homes Oxfordshire isn’t right for me but I still want to retrofit my home?
Our focus at Cosy Homes Oxfordshire is on a whole house retrofit approach, assessing a house in its entirety with the aim of producing bespoke and comprehensive recommendations to make that home as energy efficient as possible, likely including several different measures and areas of improvement. This approach ensures that every aspect of the building is working together, preventing issues further down the line – we often see homes where small improvements have been made across several years or several homeowners, which is where a lot of issues come from. It also means we are reducing carbon emissions from the home as much as is possible.
So, if you’re looking to make a significant investment in retrofitting your property to improve energy efficiency, then Cosy Homes Oxfordshire is the right route for you. We also currently can only work with homeowners based in Oxfordshire.
If this approach doesn’t sound right for you but you’re still keen to make energy efficiency improvements to your home, then we can suggest the following routes:
- Warmer Sussex (Sussex) or EcoFurb (London): if you’re based in the Sussex or London areas we’d recommend taking a look at Warmer Sussex or EcoFurb. They are retrofit services just like ours, run by RetrofitWorks who also run our delivery process – so you can expect the same level of care and expertise.
- TrustMark and Buy With Confidence: If you’re looking to make a simple or standalone retrofit improvements to your home (sometimes called ‘single measures’) – such as swapping your old boiler for a more efficient one, or changing your lighting to LED bulbs throughout – then it’s likely simpler and more cost effective for you to source quotes and manage the project yourself. We’d recommend starting with TrustMark and Buy With Confidence to find local contractors near you that you can trust – this is also true if you live outside of our remit in Oxfordshire.
- Better Housing Better Health (BHBH): If you think you may be vulnerable to the cold or damp in your home (or you know someone else who is) you can refer yourself to the BHBH team who can offer advice and support, as well as sourcing potential funding to improve your situation. BHBH is run by the National Energy Foundation, one of our project partners – so if you register your home with us the team will always be checking for potential funding routes too.
What is the likely timeline for the Whole House Plan process?
The time taken for the full process of having a Whole House Plan done for your home is normally approximately 4 weeks. It takes 2 weeks from when you register your home for us to assign your Retrofit Coordinator and book your home assessment. Once your home assessment is complete it will take a further 2 weeks for your Retrofit Coordinator to create and deliver your Whole House Plan.
However, please note that due to high demand as of October 2020 we have a waiting list for new registrations, meaning that it can take up to 12 weeks before your home assessment is booked.
After that point, if you choose to go ahead with any or all of the recommended measures, the timeline will vary depending on the type and complexity of the works you’d like to go ahead with. There are several factors which go into this, from planning, arranging for further testing and assessments, materials, decision-making by the client, contractor availability and more. If you’d like to know more about the likely timeline for your work please speak to your Retrofit Coordinator who will have more of an idea about your bespoke needs, and therefore the likely time before work can begin.
Why has there been an increase in the price of Whole House Plans (July 2020)?
For the first year of Cosy Homes Oxfordshire we were able to offer our Whole House Plans at a discounted cost of £75 due to funding from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. We now need to ensure that Cosy Homes Oxfordshire can become a business entity in its own right without this grant funding so that the service can continue uninterrupted from April 2021. So as part of this phased approach we are now asking customers to cover more of the cost of the Whole House Plan, which is why the full on-site Whole House Plan now costs £175, reflecting the actual time spent on the Plan by our expert Retrofit Coordinators.
Please note that the true cost of a Whole House Plan is £195, and so this price increase still represents a subsidised costing.
What costs are involved with working with Cosy Homes Oxfordshire after the Whole House Plan?
The cost of a whole house retrofit can vary greatly based on the type of home that you live in and the measures which you decide to implement, but you’ll get an idea of the costs of different measures from your Whole House Plan (£175). You will be asked to pay for your home assessment and Whole House Plan before we book your assessment date.
Once you progress to the next stage of the process and decide which measures from the Whole House Plan you’d like to go ahead with, you will be sent a Client Service Agreement (see next FAQ) outlining any additional costs before work begins. This typically includes a Building Performance Specification and any Technical Specialist Reports, but this will vary depending on your home and the measures you have chosen. Your Retrofit Coordinator will be able to talk this through with you if you have any questions.
Once you’ve signed and paid for the CSA, implementation of the chosen measures will begin. There will be a 5% charge for delivery- that’s 5% of your project cost, including VAT. This covers the cost of a Retrofit Coordinator to look after your home and act as a point of contact from start to finish – gathering quotes from contractors, managing work and installations, and checking the quality of delivery once completed. And the peace of mind you gain from that? It’s priceless.
What is the Client Service Agreement?
After your Retrofit Coordinator has delivered your Whole House Plan, you will have a discussion with them about the recommended measures and decide which you’d like to go forward with. Your Retrofit Coordinator will then send you a Client Services Agreement. This agreement sets out how we will work together from that point on to deliver your planned works – what we need from you, and what we will be providing.
This includes how our Retrofit Coordinator’s time for the next steps is paid for to make the process happen – including project management of any contractors involved – as well as the cost of any Building Performance Specifications and Technical Specialist Reports needed. These costs will vary as they are bespoke to the house and needs, but they will be spelt out to you – and your Retrofit Coordinator will be on hand to explain anything you aren’t sure about.
Is it cheaper to undertake a home retrofit project myself, without using Cosy Homes Oxfordshire?
There is a cost for project management as part of the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire service, which pays for our Retrofit Coordinator’s time – this will be detailed in your Client Service Agreement (see previous FAQs). This means that if you have the technical skills to coordinate all the elements to improve the energy performance and comfort of your home it may be, technically, cheaper to coordinate the project yourself by putting in the time needed at no cost.
However, the Retrofit Coordinator’s involvement will make the process much simpler and save you time, taking away all the admin that you would need to do yourself. This includes sourcing contractors you can trust, project managing their work and delivery, and quality assurance after delivery.
You can find out more about the role and value of Retrofit Coordinators in our blog post on the topic.
Does Cosy Homes Oxfordshire have enough Retrofit Coordinators and contractors to deliver work for homeowners?
We’ve been working hard to build up our list of trusted contractors and suppliers to deliver retrofit work, as well as Retrofit Coordinators who can oversee the project from start to finish. We are confident that we have enough contractors and Retrofit Coordinators in place to deliver home retrofit work for our clients.
Since we continue to grow, we are still actively recruiting for both contractors to work with us, and Retrofit Coordinators to join the Cosy Homes Oxfordshire team. RetrofitWorks, one of our project partners, are leading on this aspect – if you’d like to know more please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the vetting process for your trusted contractors and suppliers?
Contractors and suppliers who work on Cosy Homes Oxfordshire projects for homeowners have to first become members of the RetrofitWorks cooperative. This means they have been vetted through the RetrofitWorks application process, are members of the national quality assurance schemes TrustMark (www.trustmark.org.uk) and MCS (https://mcscertified.com/), and are being supported by the RetrofitWorks team and network.
Find out more about joining the RetrofitWorks cooperative: https://retrofitworks.co.uk/join/