Bob Smith, Survey Manager

Deciding to book an InstaGroup home survey can feel like a big step.

You might be anxious about letting someone look around your home and garden. You could be wondering what actually happens when someone comes to assess the energy efficiency of your home – how long does it take, and what do they need to do? You might even worry you’ll have to fend off high pressure selling tactics.

You can relax. Our company has over 35 years’ of experience in the insulation and home heating business, and I can reassure you that every InstaGroup home survey we carry out is careful and conscientious. All of my team members are courteous and professional, with absolutely no hard sales involved.

Every solution starts with you

When someone contacts us to ask about an InstaGroup home survey, the first thing I do is confirm that I can actually help them. I’ll want to know as much as I can about the customer and their property before I even book a survey appointment, as this can save them (and me) a lot of time.

So, I’ll always call a potential customer first and ask a few questions to understand what they’re looking for. I’ll find out if they live in a detached or a semi-detached house, a flat or a bungalow, and confirm the property’s approximate age and size. I’ll also check to see if insulation might already be installed.

What can we do for you today?

If it all sounds good, I’ll book an InstaGroup home survey at a convenient time for the customer.

I’ll arrive at the appointment with my photo ID, and I’ll show this at the front door. It’s extra reassurance for the householder that shows I am who I say I am. I have over eight years’ experience as an insulation surveyor, and work for InstaGroup as a fully qualified Domestic Energy Assessor, trained to provide recommendations for domestic properties.

After introducing myself I always thank the householder for their enquiry, and then ask, “What would you like me to help you with today?

It’s useful to hear the customer explain what the issues are in their own words. They might tell me they’ve lived there for over 10 years and one side of the house is always very cold. They might say the heating never warms up the front bedroom, or the downstairs bathroom is freezing.

I have to say, no two jobs are ever the same, and even similar properties on the same street may need quite different solutions.

What happens at the InstaGroup home survey — outside

I’ll take a walk around outside the property with my iPad and survey document, which I complete as I go. It can be helpful (although not necessary) if the customer wants to go around with me, as I can ask a few more questions to fill in my knowledge of their home.

If the customer has enquired about Cavity Wall insulation I’ll drill a couple of neat holes in the outside mortar between the bricks, so I can use my boroscope. This instrument lets me look into the wall cavity with a camera, firstly to see if insulation is already installed, and also to check the depth of wall cavity. I always take care to refill these small bore holes with silicone once my inspection is complete.

As part of the survey I’ll take some external photos of the property. If I’ll be recommending that the home would benefit from installing Cavity Wall or Solid Wall (also called External Wall) insulation, we can refer to these to confirm the wall areas and elevations to be treated. It’s also a good way of checking access to the exterior walls, and noting potential obstacles we’ll need to allow for, if the customer goes ahead.

Another thing I might note is additions to the outside front or back of the property such as conservatories, extensions and porches, as these might be attached to wall areas we’d want to treat. I’d also look for concreted or paved over driveways — hard surfaces can impact drainage and affect the damp-proof course at ground level, which could be a potential concern for insulation.

What happens at the InstaGroup home survey — inside

Inside the home I may ask the customer about cold spots or draughty areas, or anywhere it feels as if the heating is ineffective.

I’ll also poke my head into the loft or attic to check if it’s insulated. If Loft Insulation has already been installed, I can measure to see if it meets the current recommended depths. At the same time, I will make sure there is good and safe access to the loft space for installation purposes.

I’ll ask the customer about neighbour permissions too, as their home may have shared walls or a shared driveway or outside space that could be affected during an installation.

Finally, I will do some measuring up of the property, so I can size up the job and give the customer an accurate quote.

Expert recommendations

I’m qualified to advise on installing Solid Wall, Cavity Wall and Loft insulation in domestic properties. I can also offer advice on completing the ‘thermal wrap’ of a home, which could include installing energy efficient doors and windows as well as insulation to create an effective all-round solution to keep in the warmth.

An InstaGroup home survey takes around 15–45 minutes, depending on the size of the property. Once I’ve finished I can give the customer some answers to why they feel cold or heat loss in certain areas.

Every job is a complete original, and at InstaGroup we pride ourselves on putting together a solution tailored around the needs of each individual home.

Talking about quotes and costs

When it comes to giving a quote, I totally understand the need to balance the long-term comfort and savings of installing energy efficiency improvements against the (sometimes sizeable) upfront costs.

My job is to give my honest professional advice, and leave customers to decide if they want to go ahead with the recommendations. But you can be assured that every solution I propose will be right for your home and is something I know is going to work and deliver the results you want.

If the customer wants a quote for Cavity Wall insulation and the property is suitable, I will have the measurements already in front of me and can give a price for installation on the spot. When the solution is more complex or technical and includes glazing, new heating systems or Solid Wall insulation, I’ll take my findings back to the office and put together a detailed quote. I’ll usually get this back to the customer within 48 hours of my visit.

Whatever the results, we never see an InstaGroup home survey as an opportunity to spend your money; for us it’s about helping you to save money. If you decide to proceed after the survey we ask for 50% of the quote as a deposit. We then schedule the installation, and bill the remaining 50% once the work is complete.

Sometimes we say ‘No’

No one likes to turn down work. But at InstaGroup we want to do what’s right for the customer.

That’s why sometimes we cannot recommend insulation, and why we advise householders not to proceed.

For instance, we know it wouldn’t be professional to carry out work if there’s no damp-proof course in the home, or there’s damp or rainwater ingress in the walls. We’d also turn down working on a property with exterior walls in very poor condition, such as deeply cracked brickwork or crumbling mortar.

A recent example was when I surveyed some flats in Bracknell that were built in the 1980s. All of them were cold and uninsulated, and it was soon clear to me what was going wrong. The damp proof courses were failing, and there were issues in the building’s fabric that had never been put right.

It’s a real shame and so frustrating when we can’t help people warm up their homes, but we just can’t install insulation successfully under certain conditions. We always advise that structural or damp problems at a property are tackled first, before adding insulation.

In addition, if an Instagroup home survey reveals that insulation has already been installed in the past, it may not be suitable for further work. In this case we can carry out a more technical inspection to check if we could help improve any of the issues.

The bottom line is, if we know we can’t guarantee an expert result we are prepared to say so, and will walk away from a potential sale.

What about funding for insulation?

I keep up to date with all the current grants that might be available to the customer at the time of their survey. Just a few questions can tell if they qualify for part or even full-funding to improve the energy efficiency of their home. At the moment, all UK households can apply for government grants that could cover some (or all) of the cost of improvements such as insulation.

Things are changing later this year though, and from October 1st 2018 it’s likely that the rules under ECO (the government’s Energy Company Obligation scheme) will be tightened. From then on, only households with limited income will qualify for grants to get free insulation.

No-obligation means no obligation

Our no-obligation survey means just that. We don’t put householders under any sales pressure, and they are in no way committed to go ahead with our recommendations. If the customer isn’t ready to proceed on the day, we leave our written quote and they can take time to decide.

The VAT-inclusive InstaGroup home survey fee is £99, but this is covered under many of the referral schemes where we work with Local Authorities and other organisations. If you do pay for the survey, the fee will be taken off the final cost of the work if you go ahead with us — so it’s like pre-paying part of the deposit to secure the job.

A job well done

Everything we do is driven by our customer’s needs, and that always makes me feel really good about doing this job. I have a genuine desire to deliver the best results at every InstaGroup home survey.

I’m now helping to train more of our assessors to meet our expected standards. We welcome feedback after a survey, either through TrustPilot online reviews or directly from customers. It’s always rewarding to hear that customers were impressed with us– that we were nice and polite, took our shoes off when we went indoors — and most importantly, how we took the time to listen and to understand what they needed.

We always remember that we’ve been invited into someone else’s home, so we want our visits to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible. If we leave a customer with a reassuring and professional impression of InstaGroup as a company, I can feel confident that we’re doing a good job.

The InstaGroup difference

Working with InstaGroup means I know I’m there to help the customer do the right thing for their home, not just make a sale. That’s very important to me. I like that we’re known as nice people to deal with, as well as being leading experts in energy efficiency.

We never forget there are other companies out there, and the customer can choose to go elsewhere after our survey. But we hope they’ll choose us, because we’ve shown they can trust InstaGroup for excellence and reliability, right from day one.

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