The UK requires a retrofitting revolution

National Federation of Builders

Members of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and House Builders Association (HBA) have a strong history of stimulating green policies. From installing renewables and building energy efficient housing with British made products, to supporting biodiversity policy and writing low carbon reports, we’ve always recognised the need for a sustainable future.

However, with more than five million UK homes without cavity walls, almost five million built before 1919 and around 18 million built without insulation, the retrofit housing challenge is colossal.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The UK has some of the least energy efficient housing in Europe and that must change. With new homes saving on average £555 a year on energy bills and using two thirds less energy, it’s clear we need a revolutionary and sustained retrofitting programme.”

Following on from our low carbon construction report and as the installation supply chain, we are opening ourselves up to the widerindustry to come together and highlight all the solutions and barriers to a retrofitting revolution.”

The table below examples some of the challenges homeowners and builders face.



Planning permission required

External insulation From £8,000 No, unless building materials are different
Raise roof to install insulation From £15,000 Yes
Roof insulation From £285 No
New, more energy efficient roof From £5,000 Not if tiles are being replaced ‘like for like’
Cavity wall insulation From £330 No
Solar/thermal panels From £4,000 No, unless on listed buildings/in conservation zones
Single wind turbine From £2,000 Sometimes. Yes when on listed buildings/in conservation zones
Ground/air source heat pumps From  £6,000 No, unless on listed buildings/in conservation zones
Damp proofing From £200 No, unless building a basement or on listed buildings/in conservation zones
New windows From £300 per window No, unless on listed buildings/in conservation zones
Reduce draughts From £200 No
Install underfloor heating From £1,500 No
Programmable thermostat From £150 No
Replace lightbulbs for energy efficient ones From £3 No
Change boiler From £1,400 No
Smart meters Free No
Block chimney From £75 No
Deep retrofit (eg-EnerPHit) From £16,000 Yes
Correct flushing of radiators From £250 No
Electric vehicle charging point From £1000 Typically not


Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing at the HBA, said: “There are many things we should be looking at that wouldn’t require public funding, such as simplified planning processes for retrofit projects, longer lasting permissions to allow homeowners time to save for upgrades, and cutting VAT on refurbishment. We could even allow homebuyers to claim back stamp duty on retrofitted works.

With the 2020 budget fast approaching, the Government has a great opportunity to signal its ambition and push us closer to meeting our climate targets. They must engage with industry to find out how that’s possible.”

The NFB’s report, ‘Transforming Construction for a Low Carbon Future’ can be downloaded here.

National Federation of Builders

The National Federation of Builders is a United Kingdom trade association representing the interests of small and medium-sized building contractors in England and Wales.

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