Ron: There is a warning from the Insulation Association of New Zealand about a potential backlog of 170,000 houses needing insulation. This is, of course, to comply with the new Residential Tenancies Act, which the deadline, I believe, is July 2019.
Richard Arkinstall is the executive officer for the Insulation Association of New Zealand. Welcome to the program, Richard.
Richard Arkinstall: Yeah, thanks, Ron. Thanks for having us on.
Full Audio Interview (transcription below):
Ron: Is that doable? 170,000 homes by July 2019?
Richard Arkinstall: It’s certainly a big number. Look, the main thing is the industry can handle the demand if landlords and property owners start thinking about it now and getting going.
I mean, the main thing is we’ve spent the last 12 months surveying all our members, and it really started off as measuring the industry capacity to handle the RTA provisions. And then really what we found is that there’s only been about 36, getting up to 40, thousand properties that have been assessed.
60% of those didn’t even comply with the Residential Tenancies Act guidelines. So you’re starting to see this massive backlog of houses that if people wait too long, they simply won’t be able to– the industry simply won’t be able to handle demand to get them all done.
Ron: What can the industry handle in terms of thousands of homes per year?
Richard Arkinstall: Yeah, look, at the peak of the warm up scheme, they were doing about 50 to 60 thousand, but that was right at the peak, and we’re probably not at that capacity now.
We could get up to that level. Obviously, the construction industry is very busy at the present time, so finding qualified, skilled staff is hard work sort of thing.
But we can handle up to about– we could get up to that 50 or 60 thousand without too much trouble, but it’s getting going and getting the demand up to that level to get it done.
Ron: Can’t landlords just do the insulation themselves?
Richard Arkinstall: Yeah, look, absolutely. And I suspect out of those numbers, some of the landlords will be doing it themselves. The key thing, of course, is that insulation has got to be installed correctly to be effective, so you’ve got to comply with the standard of NZS 4246.
And MBIE have actually done a bit of research work lately showing that quite a few landlords think they’re compliant when, actually, they’re not. So I suspect if they think it’s going to be easy to do it themselves– you know what it’s like.
Suddenly you try to get under the house and there’s not much room, or get up in the ceiling and things like that, and suddenly they go, “Oh, God. Bugger this. Ill get the professionals in to do it.” But if the industry’s too busy, they’re going to struggle to get it done in time.
Ron: So what’s your message to landlords, then? Get onto it. Start thinking about it now.
Richard Arkinstall: Yeah, very much. It’s really being planned. The thing is to think about what needs to be done within the properties, and thinking about booking in and getting it done.
Alternatively, one of the options is to wait until the tenancy changes, until the tenant moves out, and when you’ve got a bit of a gap, that’s a great time to get in and get the insulation done and tidied up so that you’re compliant with those new provisions.
But the key thing is don’t leave it too long. We’re really seeing that massive backlog of houses now. If it goes on too much further, in 12 months time, you could be told, “Sorry, you need to wait 4 or 5 months to get it done, if not longer.”
Ron: Who does these assessments? I mean, is it up to the tenants to look at their own insulation, the roof maybe, and if it’s not there to call somebody? Or will there be assessments done, do you know, in July when this kicks in?
Richard Arkinstall: Yeah, look, MBIE are still working out, I think, exactly how they’re going to police it, and how it’ll work when the deadline kicks in. Certainly, it’s up to the landlords to make the assessment on the house and get the insulation done.
But MBIE are actually running quite a good campaign at the present time, encouraging tenants to communicate with their landlords, to get in touch with them.
If they think that the house is cold and damp spots are appearing, particularly if you’re getting mold on the roof or a lot of draft, cold air coming up from under the house, MBIE are doing a good job saying, “Hey, tenants, speak to your landlord.
Get in touch with them and start to plan when’s a good time to get the house insulated.” Especially, you don’t want to leave it till next winter if you can help it, of course, as well. So reduce those heating costs and reduce those illnesses.
Ron: Richard, thank you very much for that. I’ve insulated a house once underneath and I hated it because of all the spiders. Big spiders under there. Nasty stuff. Richard.
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