Sally Hancox, Head of Social Housing

Why do I do Retrofit? With Sally Hancox

In this series, we will explore just a few of the many reasons why the team here at The Retrofit Academy are in the retrofit industry. As we all work together to overcome the retrofit challenge, we ask how retrofit aligns with our team’s values and ethics, why it is that they’ve committed their professional careers and personal lives to the cause, and what can make all the difference moving forward in retrofit.

Hear from our Head of Social Housing and Local Government: Sally Hancox!

The Retrofit Challenge is not just a transactional one, it’s a cultural one, which initiates us to ask what do we really value most?  Retrofit is commonly articulated as a ‘bricks and mortar’ problem to be solved and placed in the hands of the Asset Team.  Generally, there is a payback calculation done on measures – how often is that done on other items that we value as making a real difference in our lives? Whilst this is the case, we will never address the real issue – this is about making people’s lives better – in the short term for warmth and in the long term for carbon and property value.  And it’s not just warmth it’s the most vulnerable in our communities being able to invite people in, enable children to do homework in their bedrooms, manage respiratory conditions more comfortably – use the whole house and enjoy their homes.   

If we take a step back and consider where Retrofit aligns with our culture and values, then it’s possible to harness the power of all the sections of an organisation.  Customer-facing staff connecting to the comfort that residents will enjoy – these are the people who will be able to explain to residents why ventilation is so critical as well as insulation.  Connections being made between retrofit and reduction in damp and mould claims, reduced void periods and abortive calls/refusals all need to be built into the financial appraisals more often.   

By engaging the whole organisation, the challenge becomes less onerous – with more perspectives and people to help – that’s how to get people motivated! 😊 

The next step is to establish what capacity and commitment you have to your people in the organisation – some people will jump at the chance to train as a Retrofit Advisor or Retrofit Coordinator (or the myriad of other qualifications needed).  Some may already have the skills required they just need redirecting or formalising – and this serves to motivate people also.   

Where do work streams connect – in simple terms roofing programmes should dovetail with insulation, ventilation, and PV; any EWI and Fire Safety cladding needs to be considered together.  Having an Asset Plan and a Retrofit Plan is unhelpful – it needs to be An Asset Plan with retrofit at the heart – BAU.  

The cost will be driven down as it has been in previous programmes such as Decent Homes & Feed-in Tariffs.  As the Decent Homes programme matured and the supply chain had a certainty of work through partnering with organisations and seeing a commitment to spend both components and labour were reduced.  The same with FiTs – supply and fit is a fraction of the original cost and reduced by maybe 50-60% within the first couple of years.  I think one of the most powerful elements of these initiatives was the collaboration between client and contractor building trust and leading to improvements in quality and reductions in cost with disparate perspectives contributing to the challenge; again, a cultural intervention not a transaction one. 

It’s people that make things work – let them do that and motivation improves, and the scale of the challenge reduces. 

Keep your eyes peeled on our socials for our next blog of the series!