BRE Wales Report- CIVALLI Key Points


CIVALLI are pleased to have received the long awaited BRE Wales report and completely agree with the need for further research. Follow the link for the BRE Wales full report. 

CIVALLI key points

Post Installation Performance of Cavity Wall Insulation- BRE Wales

  • Retrofit CWI is a direct result of UK Govt policy

  • Not controlled nor overseen by UK or Welsh Govts.

  • Quality control is self- regulation by the insulation industry

  • Call for evidence from those who manage properties who have had cavity wall insulation (and external wall insulation)

  • Identify long term legacy issues from CWI (and EWI)
  • Legacy issues which may arise from such refurbishment works-waste creation and remedial costs

  • Small sample of Welsh dwellings (503-CWI)


  • Evidence that CWI and EWI has been installed in unsuitable properties or without due regard for best practice
  • CWI all failed within the 25 year guarantee timeframe. Some within 10 years
  • Failure rates varied but some HAs reporting 45%+ failure rate
  • Highlighted examples of CWI and EWI installed contrary to good practice


  • Prior to the creation of CIGA and the Competent Persons Scheme in 1995 there would have been a requirement for training of installers and surveyors. This would have been undertaken by the insulation manufacturers
  • No evidence of the content, frequency or quality of training could be identifies
  • There are a variety of standards which should be adhered to
  • No evidence of comprehensive pre-insulation surveys.


  • In many locations cavities were bridged by fallen mortar and debris
  • Properties were located in very severe exposure zones with cavities less than 50mm wide
  • Insulation installed contrary to good practice
  • Evidence of inconsistent fill, slumping and debris at the installation phase
  • Dubbed ‘unintended consequences’ 27 identified to include condensation and mould, electrical safety, increased fuel poverty, structural failure, premature decay etc
  • Guidance in place at the time of the installation has not been followed (CWI)
  • No comprehensive survey records prior to insulation exist
  • Householders must maintain the external leaf of the property and it must be in A1 condition at the point of installation
  • (No maintenance clause in the CIGA guarantee prior to 2012 and no warnings or risks given to householders- CIVALLI)
  • Extraction costs 5x insulation costs
  • Materials are not biodegradable and end up in landfill
  • When problems do occur it is left to the installer or CIGA to rectify however the complainant is rarely successful after a lengthy and challenging process
  • None of the 24 sites in the study have been successful through the guarantee scheme.


12 key points to include the following:-

  • Report serves as an initial scoping study for a wider piece of research
  • Much more structured and comprehensive assessment process required- detailed pre-insulation surveys and regular visits in the following months and years
  • Nationally representative survey to be undertaken to identify the scale of the ‘unintended’ consequences
  • Wider research out of lab conditions re CWI and moisture content in walls.

Government data indicates that there are over 13 million homes in the UK with cavity wall insulation (CWI) and the most well known (perhaps renowned) guarantee provider is the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency (CIGA) advises that it has issued around 6 million 25 year guarantees for retrofit CWI. 

Retrofit-CWI has in recent years become more and more concerning to householders and indeed to the industry itself resulting in an insulation extraction (also known as cavity clearance) industry boom.

This boom was at first to some extent encouraged and welcomed by industry leaders, but as the boom bites the CWI industry itself has gone into massive decline with many large players ceasing trading leaving the guarantee provider currently exposed to a 400% increase in claims.

There is growing evidence from research carried out on behalf of the Governments in Northern Ireland and Wales that the CWI which was/is claimed to last the life of the property, is failing well within the guarantee period. The NI experience indicates that more than 90% of installations are 'not fit for purpose'.

Failure is seen visually by households as damp, mould, wall paper and paint falling off the walls.

What is not seen by the families living in affected properties is health risks and slowly increasing energy bills, as far from saving energy the defective insulation increases energy usage a the moisture levels in the walls of the property increases.

The global dimension is that Governments see energy efficiency in the home as a significant contributor to environmental targets (carbon dioxide emission reductions), but the reality is that such theoretical savings are not being delivered in many instances meaning that Government claims of target achievement may be somewhat premature because of the significant contribution assumed to be made by recent (since 1994) CWI installations in UK homes.

The key points within can be viewed via the BRE link. The comments within this news update are shared by CIVALLI.

Follow the link for the BRE Wales full report