Consumers in Scotland are being urged to be on the lookout for cold-callers offering ‘free surveys’ of lofts before engaging in high-pressure sales tactics to install spray foam insulation.
Trading Standards Scotland (TSS) has received complaints from residents who discovered that the ‘surveyors’ were in fact salespeople who provided them with misleading information. Some people were told that their lofts were damp or mouldy, and required spray foam insulation – usually at a cost of thousands of pounds.
Fiona Richardson, Chief Officer of Trading Standards Scotland, said: “Dishonest traders and companies are attempting to exploit the cost-of-living crisis and are targeting those who want to make their homes more energy-efficient, providing misleading information about products and implying that funding or grants are available.”
In many cases, the addition of spray foam insulation to loft spaces can affect the mortgageability of a house, as a surveyor may not be able to conduct proper checks of the roof.
“We strongly advise homeowners to consult with a mortgage advisor who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority before having spray foam insulation installed,” said Richardson.
One couple from the Borders recently received a cold call offering a free roof survey – the caller claimed to be working alongside Home Energy Scotland and told them that an inspection would be required to ensure their eligibility for any government grants.
They agreed to a loft survey and were told that toxic mould had been found. The ‘engineer’ stayed in their home for almost four hours, detailing the dangers linked to the mould and persuading them that spray foam insulation was the best solution. They eventually agreed to purchase the insulation and paid more than £5,000 to have it installed.
A couple of months later, they looked into re-mortgaging their home so that they could pay for their son’s college fees. An equity release company refused to provide them with a mortgage due to the spray foam insulation.
“Never accept information offered from these sources without doing independent research, particularly if they tell you that there are grants or funding schemes available,” Richardson said.
“Before agreeing to have any work done, have an impartial assessment carried out on your home to find out which energy-efficiency measures will actually be beneficial to your property. Don’t agree to get an assessment done by a company who cold calls you – they will not be impartial.
“We would also ask people to look out for family members, friends and neighbours who may be vulnerable and to report any suspicious behaviour to Police Scotland.”