An energy-saving firm has upgraded dozens of Langlee homes via the UK Government’s Green Deal – without waiting for building warrants.
This has led to a “scaremongering” Scottish Borders Council (SBC) letter “panicking” Langlee residents into believing they now couldn’t sell their homes.
Competing companies recently bombarded the Galashiels estate door-to-door, offering homeowners and tenants “fully-funded” or “free-of-charge” external wall insulation under the Green Deal initiative aimed at reducing energy bills and waste.
Amid the claims, a council letter on Friday offered an upcoming package of free energy-efficiency upgrades, with free and impartial advice from Home Energy Scotland.
It read: “You may want to go ahead now, or you might prefer to wait for the council offer; the most important thing is you have all the information you need and feel comfortable with any decisions you make.”
But the next day another SBC letter made Langlee householders far from “comfortable”. It concerned residents of Marigold Drive, Aster Court, Primrose Bank, Heather Court and Hawthorn Road who took, or are taking, external wall insulation from Glasgow-based Home Energy & Lifestyle Management Systems (HELMS).
“Although building warrant applications have been received, no permission has been granted to date,” it said, “and under Section 27 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003, it is an offence to undertake warrantable works without first obtaining a building warrant. Any ongoing, or planned, installation works should cease until the building warrants are issued. Should works continue the council may issue a formal ‘Stop Notice’. The lack of a Certificate of Acceptance of Completion may lead to problems should you decide to sell or remortgage your property.”
The news came two weeks too late for Jim and Janis Mitchell of Marigold Drive, who reported neighbours “panicking”. “I wouldn’t like to count the houses getting the same work as us,” Jim said, adding: “HELMS have done a super job, but reading that, it makes you think your house is valueless.”
Janis added: “People are worried they’ll have to rip off their wall again.”
Another resident described the letter as “traumatising” and “scaremongering”.
SBC said HELMS’ applicions “weren’t adequate”, but it met the firm yesterday (Wednesday) to try to resolve the issues. After the meeting, HELMS managing director Doug Wilkie said: “Every house should have planning permission by Friday.”