Landshut (dpa / tmn) – Finally, climate change and the bottlenecks in gas and oil supply make it clear: resource-saving behavior is required. The legislator sees the need to improve, inter alia, in old buildings, which are often energy-poor. Therefore, when the owner changes in an old building, there is a renovation obligation from 2020 – both for buyers and heirs.
“As soon as the new owner is entered in the land register, the so-called retrofitting obligation comes into force,” explains Gisela Kienzle, architect from Landshut and consultant at the Bavarian Consumer Advisory Center. The owners would then have two years to replace or upgrade the boiler and insulate some pipes and the top floor ceiling. Because only these three points are mandatory under the Building Energy Act (GEG).
But only boilers that are more than 30 years old, ie which were installed before 1991, would have to be replaced, says Kienzle. This also only applies to boilers that are not designed for condensing technology or low-temperature heating. “But most boilers are out of service for 30 years anyway,” says Christian Handwerk, consultant for energy-saving construction and building physics at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advisory center in Düsseldorf.
Corinna Kodim, an energy expert at the owners’ association Haus & Grund Germany, estimates that if there is an obligation to replace it, installing a new condensing boiler can currently cost between 10,000 and 12,000 euros. “But the replacement is more of a blessing to the owners, because the investment usually pays off in just three years.”
Insulation costs pay off quickly
In addition, in unheated rooms, exposed distribution lines, ie for hot and drinking water, should be insulated. This affects the basement, says Handwerk. “The costs are low, for one- or two-family homes, owners could even buy kits from hardware stores or online.” This measure also pays for itself quickly and is therefore in the interests of the owners.
The ceiling of the highest storey is the ceiling from the upper heated room to the attic. It must achieve a certain value of thermal insulation. “Put simply, this figure indicates how much heat is lost by the element,” explains Wolfgang Szubin, construction consultant for the Bonn Apartment Owners’ Association.
Christian Handwerk estimates that the ceiling must have at least a layer of insulation of about four centimeters in order for insulation not to apply. “It’s the minimum standard that provides thermal protection against structural damage such as condensation.” Anyone who is required to modernize must insulate much thicker – about 14 centimeters. It is also possible to insulate the roof instead of the ceiling.
“Most homes already meet certain values,” says Kodim. However, it is often worth improving the insulation. According to Kodim, the costs would be – depending on the size and material of the ceiling – a maximum of 2,000 to 3,000 euros.
Experts need to confirm the measures
Anyone who orders GEG renovations must have the approval of an insulation expert, says Christian Handwerk. The confirmation must be kept for ten years and presented to the competent authority upon request.
The law does not impose any further direct obligations on the new owners. But Kienzle points out that even with a voluntary upgrade, the rules must be followed. Anyone looking to renovate a facade or windows, for example, can do so on a small scale – ten percent of the affected area – with no specification. “Moreover, the legal regulations then apply,” says Kienzle.
There are grants for some renovation projects
“If I want to install other windows, for example, I need to know which ones fit in the building so that no mold develops later,” he explains. When buying, homeowners are legally required to check the advice on energy performance certificates. If they offer a free initial consultation – by a self-employed consultant or a consumer clinic – they will have to use it. But even if not, energy tips can be useful.
In some circumstances, landlords may promote the measures, be it in the form of grants or low-interest loans. There are several offers at federal, state and regional levels, says Kienzle. “Some subsidies can be combined by homeowners, while others are mutually exclusive.”
The construction consultant VWE Szubin turns to the state credit institution for reconstruction (KfW) for energy renovation and to the Federal Office for Economy and Export Control (Bafa) on promoting renewable energy. “Basically, it is important to know that funding applications must always be submitted before construction starts,” says Szubin.
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