Private homeowners get in on the act!

02 November 2023

Soon private homeowners in Germany might also be able to benefit from the Energiesprong approach to retrofits. Energiesprong DE has been looking at ways to help private homeowners who want to retrofit their houses to net zero standards.

With proven success in serially retrofitting multi-story, multi-unit blocks of housing, primarily owned by public authorities or private housing associations, one of the questions Energiesprong DE is now looking at is how the Energiesprong approach can be applied to individual private homeowners.

Mapping out the sector needs

Through talking to private homeowners, it was clear to the Energiesprong DE MDT that there are varying levels of awareness, very diverse approaches to retrofitting and many different types of houses (age, size, etc.) involved in the private homeowners’ sector. When the German team found that interested private homeowners were all at very different stages in the process (some had already started their projects while others were still years away from being ready) and that they had all adopted very different approaches to their retrofit projects, they began to consider a different route to researching the sector.

The German team decided to contact experienced building companies who had already undertaken these types of retrofit or net zero self-build projects with private homeowners. The aim here was to find out: what the average costs were, what barriers private homeowners faced, whether the separate elements needed to be prefabricated or if there were any DIY elements which owners can tackle themselves.

They also conducted studies to find out what the awareness levels were among private homeowners regarding the need to retrofit their houses and what would motivate them to undertake this type of work on their own homes.

The team are considering whether any of the lessons learnt from serial retrofitting apartment blocks could be applied to the private homeowner sector. For example, in neighbourhoods where houses are quite similar, such as in local quartiers or in rows of terraced houses, where a portfolio of houses could be retrofitted with the homeowners benefitting from joint procurement.

At the Energiesprong Convention 2023 in Berlin in October, the German team held a podium discussion on the challenges and opportunities for serial retrofits in the private homeowners’ sector which led to some really useful talking points.

Energiesprong Convention 2023 – discussion on retrofit challenges for the private homeowners’ sector”.
Copyright: photothek, Felix Zahn

A marketplace was also set up where companies offering retrofit solutions to private homeowners could present their products and two homeowners, who have already retrofitted their homes using prefabricated elements from the German company Taglieber GmbH, could provide information and advice to other private homeowners considering undertaking similar work on their houses.

Market stand showing 2 private houses retrofitted using prefabricated elements by Taglieber GmbH.
Copyright: photothek, Felix Zahn. 

Two private homeowners share their experience of retrofitting their homes. Copyright: photothek, Felix Zahn

Another avenue the German team are looking at is working with building suppliers and large DIY/home improvement stores to see if they can create a retrofit “toolbox” available to homeowners, which they can buy “off the shelf” in-store and install either themselves or using specialist contractors. The toolbox could include individual elements such as façades, heat pumps, insulation or offer homeowners a whole package of retrofit elements.

Get in on the act!

The aim this year has been to understand the private homeowner retrofit market in Germany and to identify who the main players are. The German team is now working with 15 individual private homeowners undertaking net zero retrofit projects on their houses, and they aim to showcase 2 example retrofit projects by the end of the year.

Wouldn’t it be great if the Energiesprong approach could be easily used by millions of private homeowners to retrofit their homes in the future?!

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