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Scrapped today 20th May 2010. Housing Minister Grant Shapps in the new coalition government has suspended them, to be replaced by just the energy certificate. This is very good news.

So this bit is now historical...

This is the bureacratic measure which the entire UK housing industry doesn't want but is trumpeted as helping people by the Government. They claim it will improve energy efficiency of homes.

That is possible as there is now an official rating for energy efficiency - but only for homes going onto the market. This is an EC law and nothing to do with HIPs. The Conservatives will remove them once they get into power in 2010 as seems most likely. There is a plan for an 'energy MOT' for ALL houses which will need an army of energy inspectors, but this may get cut once the UK realises it has no money.

What about all the rest of the homes in the UK?

The other bit of an HIP, i.e. local searches, etc, are a waste of money and time (=energy!) as they will be repeated by the buyer's solicitors, in order to check, and also as they quickly become out-of-date. Upfront costs for buyers will be the same. Even the Government website now pushes the energy efficiency aspect rather than the rest - which was not the reason for their original invention.

HIPs do however create a layer of new bureaucrats, so perhaps the whole scheme should be seen as a way of taking a few people off the dole.

All homes for sale from 14 December 2007 in England and Wales will need a Home Information Pack (HIP). This useless bit of legislation wasted a huge amount of time and energy, and was canceled in 2010 by the new Conservative government. There is nothing 'green' about wasting time and energy with bureaucracy.

A key component of the HIP is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which will rate the home's energy efficiency, using graphs like those on fridges and washing machines.

It includes recommendations on how to cut fuel bills and reduce carbon emissions, encouraging people to make improvements to the energy efficiency of their homes.

But... 'Nine out of 10 house buyers are ignoring the Government's Home Information Packs when they are shown properties for sale.

A survey of prospective buyers at 230 estate agencies found that only 10 per cent of them asked to see the HIP for a property in which they expressed an interest.'

An accredited energy inspector (this is a basic training and has been attractive to long term unemployed, and people with no qualifications, a bit like being a driving instructor) will come and poke about in your house.

They then give it a rating of A-F. Low ratings of G-F might put off people, except they can see with their own eyes (or surveyor) what needs to be done to the house. Perhaps it will encourage people to add insulation etc before a sale, in the same way they might redecorate parts and tidy up a bit. Unlikely though as there is no way of monitoring whether a bit of insulation will make much difference to the grade, and buyers don't care about that anyway - it is location.

So all a bit pointless really. It is ironic that HIPs arrive just as the market is dropping like a stone, since they were designed to slow down speculative sales by making people incur a cost when they put a house on the market - that was the motive for HIPs, not this energy efficiency aspect. And to create some more bureaucratic jobs of course.

HIPs Building DIY Book cover