Wetherby issues warning to EWI installers

Wetherby Building Systems, the UK’s leading provider of external wall insulation (EWI) systems, is advising all EWI contractors and installers to proceed with caution on-site following the conclusion of a recent court case between BT Openreach and an undisclosed EWI installer.

Due to the increase in EWI installations taking place under new government energy efficiency schemes, BT has experienced problems with its network when some EWI installers have undertaken work on BT apparatus themselves. This has involved the removal and re-attachment of cabling and fixings to the side of properties, or, in some cases, insulation has been applied directly over existing network apparatus such as cables and brackets.

BT recently won a court case in which a High Court ruling ordered an EWI installation company to pay damages of £100,000 to BT in respect of costs required to restore properties to the condition they were in prior to the wrongful interference by the installer and its operatives.

Following the court case, BT has now clarified its legal position in relation to EWI installation and a statement issued by BT explained: “If any person removes or replaces any BT apparatus or makes changes to BT apparatus in any way without BT’s clearly stated agreement, this would be an unlawful trespass to BT goods or property. In such circumstances, BT would be entitled in law to recover all reasonable costs associated with repairing, renewing or altering any apparatus which has been worked on by any unauthorised person.”

In light of this activity, Wetherby is advising all EWI contractors and installers to ensure they inform BT of any planned EWI works at the outset so any work that needs completing can be agreed and undertaken by authorised contractors. Similarly, it is important that this message is filtered down to the trade professionals who are working on-site to ensure they are fully aware of the legal stance and potential implications of heavy fines and penalties if they attempt to undertake any work that has not been agreed.

The EWI provider will be ensuring this is now incorporated into its training courses to ensure any personnel completing its training programme to achieve ‘Recognised Contractor’ status is briefed as to exactly which areas of a property they can carry out work on.

Commenting on the latest development, Bob Deane, managing director of Wetherby Building Systems, said: “This is the latest issue for the industry to overcome; with such an increase in EWI projects under the new government schemes, we are seeing new challenges and issues coming to light daily.

“It is important that all EWI contractors and installers are made aware of the legal stance of BT regarding EWI installations so they do not fall victim to heavy fines and penalties if they are deemed to have acted unlawfully.”