Frank Smith
& Eco Services


A Building Energy Rating (BER) is an energy label that indicates the energy performance of your home. It is administered by a state-appointed body – The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). As SEAI advises on their website (, homeowners should prepare in advance for their BER Assessment. This includes gathering all available documentary evidence for works done on the dwelling, to ensure the most accurate BER value possible. In the absence of such information BER assessors must use default values, based on the age of the dwelling. Default values are conservative, and may result in your home receiving a lower than expected BER. A BER is valid for ten years from date of publication, unless upgrade works have been carried out in the meantime, which would require an updated BER to account for the upgrade.
It is not necessary to accompany the assessor during the survey; indeed it is preferable that the assessor has as few interruptions as possible while surveying, as it can take between two and six hours to complete, depending on the dwelling’s size and complexity.

Prior to the Survey
Upon arrival at the dwelling the assessor will request the following information, if not already received:
  1. The MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number), found on the top right hand side of any recent electricity bill. This is the unique data-base identifier for the dwelling, and a BER cannot be published without it.
  2. The Eircode for the dwelling.
  3. Evidence of year of 1 st Construction e.g. drawings or legal documents. If unknown, the assessor may later establish from other sources, e.g. the local Planning Office website, OSI maps, or evidence found during the survey (e.g. in the meter cabinet, or a manufacture date may be printed in the space bar of some double-glazed window panes).
  4. Evidence of the year of any extensions, or upgrade works carried out to original house. The assessor can advise you of the actual requirements, but it could include certificates, detailed invoices and receipts for work done and/or materials used.
  5. Homeowner’s signature on the “Letter of Engagement”. This is the contract between the assessor and the homeowner, agreeing to the terms of the assessment as advised by SEAI, including the cost, and providing the homeowner’s consent to allow an SEAI representative to possibly visit the house (at no additional cost) should the rating be randomly selected by SEAI for subsequent inspection and validation of the assessor’s published BER. This is for Quality Assurance purposes.
  6. Further information requests may arise from the assessor’s findings during the survey.


  • The assessor will photograph all external walls, and note other information to assess the shelter/exposure in each direction.
  • External central heating boiler. If outside, the assessor will need access to note the fuel type, make, model, circulating pump (if present), chimney type, controls and thermostat.
  • External dimensions. This helps determine information such as external wall thickness.
  • Roof. The assessor will note roof type/s (sloping, flat, dormer etc), chimneys, and any panels mounted to collect solar energy, e.g. solar thermal or solar PV (electrical) collector panels. Defaults are used for solar panels in the absence of other information.
  • Orientation of each wall and roof side.
  • Meter cabinet. This could provide an installation date, and possibly a view of wall construction, cavity width, insulation etc. The assessor will have a key to open standard cabinets.

  • The assessor will conduct a “room by room” survey, noting the following information:
  1. Length, width and height, to determine the overall area and volume of each floor level.
  2. Type of floor e.g. solid concrete, raised timber etc.
  3. Type of enclosing walls e.g. block, stud, insulated, plasterboard on dabs, dense plaster etc. The “Thermal Mass” (i.e. the potential to store heat) of floors and walls is taken into account by the BER software.
  4. Lighting – number and type of bulbs e.g. incandescent, halogen, LED, CFL, fluorescent etc. If the bulb is fully enclosed by a diffuser/shade, (or is missing), incandescent type is assumed. (Assessors are not permitted to remove diffusers/shades). Strip lights (over wash-hand basins) and lights in cooker hood fans are not counted.
  5. Number of radiators, and percentage of TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves) if present. Other types of heating, if present, are also noted, e.g. underfloor heating, electrical, electrical storage, open fires, range cookers, stoves etc.
  6. Extract fans.
  7. Ventilators, if present, and whether closable or permanently open. Types of mechanical ventilation systems, if present, are separately noted and information requested by assessor.
  8. Windows. Width, height, glazing type (e.g. single, double or triple glazed, frame type (eg. wood, uPVC or metal), number of openings, presence of draught-stripping, over-shading (e.g. balconies, canopies etc.).
  9. External Doors. Width, height, glazing type if present, frame and panel type, presence of draught-stripping, over-shading (e.g. balconies, canopies).
  10. Attic. Where access to attic space is possible and safe, the assessor will observe roof construction, water storage, type and thickness of roof insulation, whether the trap- door is draught-stripped, lighting (if any), and any other information considered necessary for the assessment. The assessor will bring steps and ladder to access the attic if required.

Heating/Hot Water
  • Internal central heating boiler. If this exists inside, the assessor will take information on fuel type, make, model, circulating pump (if present), chimney type, controls and thermostat.
  • Secondary heating system/s, such as room heaters.
  • Heat pumps are becoming increasingly common. If present the assessor will require a considerable amount of written information on the design of each individual system, usually provided at installation stage by the mechanical installation contractor, and/or the supplier. The assessor will further explain to the homeowner the requirements when a heat pump is present. Ability to cool (i.e. a reversible pump) (if present) is now also assessed.
  • Solar Thermal panels. The homeowner should provide information on the size and type of panels. The assessor is not permitted to climb onto the roof. Otherwise defaults are used.
  • Hot water – source and storage. The source is usually from the primary heating i.e. boiler or heat pump, but can also be from a range cooker, stove, electrical immersion etc. The assessor will need unrestricted access to the hot water storage cylinder if present (usually in a hot-press) to determine size, capacity, insulation, thermostat (on cylinder, not counted if on a pipe), immersion heater, dedicated storage for solar heated water (if present), separate timer on circuit, and other relevant information.
  • Showers and Baths. Assessor will note presence and type, and whether system is vented, unvented, and/or pumped. Some more recently installed systems may have energy saving measures such as water use targets and restricted flow rates. The assessor will require documentary evidence to substantiate such measures.
  • Controls. In essence, the better the controls, the better the BER. The assessor must establish what controls are present (if any) e.g. programmer/time-clock type, number of zones (usually I or 2 heating and 1 hot water), presence and number of room thermostats, percentage of radiators with TRVs, and some other controls on more modern systems such as load and weather compensators, and boiler energy management systems.
  • Pumps. The number and location (i.e. internal or external) of heating and fuel pumps is noted.
  • Underfloor heating. If present the assessor must establish what rooms are served, does it serve the living area, is it in an insulated timber floor, or a concrete floor, is floor insulation above or below the heating medium, is there a concrete screed above the medium, or is it a mass concrete floor?
  • Is group heating present? This may occur in apartments, or where a “Granny Flat” is present. The assessor will advise on what information is required in such circumstances.

The above information presumes that the dwelling is an “existing house”, i.e. it has been occupied for some time.

Different rules apply for “new houses” i.e. houses where construction is recently completed,- the dwelling is not yet occupied, and specific details of design and construction have been supervised and certified by an “assigned certifier”. All values are calculated by the assessor from the Assigned Certifier’s Details (ACDs), defaults are not used. Compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations is also checked by the BER assessment software. Evidence of such compliance may be required by a mortgage company, and/or by the local planning authority. A “New-Final” BER is issued in such instances. If you believe this is the type of rating you require, the BER assessor can further advise.

A “Provisional” BER is also usually provided at design stage for a proposed new house, based on design specifications and valid for 2 years or until replaced in the meantime by the “New-Final” BER. A “Provisional” BER may also be provided for a partially completed dwelling which is offered for sale before completion of construction. Again this must be replaced by a “New-Final” BER when construction is completed, before occupation.

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