dena tips for home-buyers.
Request the energy performance certificate and estimate the refurbishment work necessary.
Prospective house-buyers who wish to be on the safe side must now consider other factors in addition to location and appearance – energy efficiency is now an important consideration too! In these times of high gas and oil prices, only those houses that have low energy requirements represent a good investment in the long term: these houses keep the running costs low and hold their value, as well as offering modern living comfort. The Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH (dena) – the German Energy Agency – recommends that house-buyers should check energy efficiency in advance and take into account any refurbishment work that may be necessary in order to avoid unexpected extra costs. In addition, the law stipulates obligations for property-buyers that people should be aware of.
Stephan Kohler, dena’s Chief Executive, recommends that buyers should ensure that they actually see the energy performance certificate that is prescribed by law: “The energy performance certificate provides information about the energy costs that are likely to arise and thus allows buyers to compare various properties on the market before buying an apartment or house.” A scale that runs from green to red helps buyers to estimate the future energy consumption for heating and hot water. If the values are in the red area, high heating costs are to be expected, while values in the green area mean that these costs will be significantly lower.
What the German Energy Saving Ordinance prescribes for refurbishment projects
People wishing to buy a house and then modify or refurbish it have to observe certain conditions specified in the so-called German Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV). As a rule, owners who refurbish more than 10 percent of the area of a part of a building must achieve a high energy standard as defined in the EnEV as part of this work. For example, if the new building-owner renews the facade, the law demands that the wall in question should now be insulated if it was previously not insulated. Stephan Kohler emphasises: “This is always worth doing, as scaffolding is being put up anyway. The extra costs for insulation will pay for themselves later on thanks to savings in heating costs.” What’s more, when the construction work is complete, the participating contractors must confirm in a so-called contractors’ declaration that the requirements of the EnEV have been fulfilled for the project in question.
Retrofitting obligations after a change of ownership
Certain refurbishment work must be carried out in every single- and two-family home as soon as a change of ownership takes place. The new owner has two years to carry out this work. For example, hot water and heating pipes located in unheated rooms must be insulated. This applies to pipes such as those in an unheated basement. The insulation obligations also affect the other end of the house: the ceiling on the top floor must be insulated if it divides heated rooms from an unheated attic. This does not apply if the roof above the attic has or will be fitted with appropriate insulation. This exception still holds even if old insulation is no longer sufficient according to current legal stipulations and replacement would be beneficial.
Buyers who want to err on the side of caution should arrange to have an energy consultant accompany them when viewing a house. A consultant will immediately detect weak points and will be able to give an initial recommendation. Comprehensive energy consultancy – so called on-site consultancy – is advisable after buying a home. State subsidies are available for this analysis of a house, which will provide case-specific recommendations for modernisation that will reduce energy consumption and costs to a fraction of those of typical old buildings. dena has set up a database of reliable qualified consultants that home-owners can access at www.zukunft-haus.info/experten. Home-owners can find consultants for subsidised on-site consultancy at www.energie-effizienz-experten.de.