Solar is a home improvement just like having an updated kitchen, conservatory, or summerhouse.
A solar energy system is your own power station, saving you 100s of pounds a year on your electricity bill whilst giving you a chance to earn money by exporting power to the grid.
When buying or selling a home, it’s crucial to ensure all paperwork is in order, the home is safe, and the survey doesn’t reveal any future issues. These expectations apply to any appliance or installation within a home.
Like any home improvement, it must comply with local regulations and have all necessary certifications.
What paperwork do I need to sell a house with solar?
As of June 2023, current legislation requires you to have the following:
|Gas Safe Certificates
|For any gas based appliances
|If you have extended or altered the wiring in your home since January 2005, you must by law obtain a certificate known as a ‘Part P Building Regulation.
|If the property you’re selling doesn’t have an EPC, you’re legally obliged to get one before putting it on the market.
|The title deeds prove that you are the rightful owner of your property
|Proof of identity
|Proves you own the house!
|If your property is leasehold, you’ll need the lease document.
|New build warranties
|For new builds, or properties, under 10 years old) you should have a copy of your Buildmark – NHBC.
|FENSA or CERTASS certificates for windows
|If you have replaced windows since you moved into the home you are selling then you’ll need this.
|Planning permission and Building regulation
|If you have made any improvement to your property’s structure.
|Guarantees and other warranties
|For any appliances you are leaving or cannot be removed.
EPC Ratings and Solar
One of the first things to look for when buying a house, and a legal requirement if you are selling, is an energy performance certificate (EPC).
Learn more about EPC rating and solar.
To sum things up though, the EPC rating is based on getting ‘points’ for each thing you do in your home that saves energy.
Insulation, double glazing, heat pumps and, of course, a solar energy system.
A solar system can add up to 15 points to your overall EPC rating so it could carry you from one rating to the next step up.
What do I need if I’m selling a house with solar?
Make sure that all important EPC rating is up to date, meaning it was redone after your solar panels were installed.
Potential buyers can search the government database to check if a property has an EPC, so it’s a good idea to get one done when you sell.
MCS is the industry body that ensures all renewable energy installations are of a high standard and meet current regulations.
If your solar system wasn’t installed by an MCS certified fitter, then it won’t have a certificate and your potential buyer will not be able to sign up for SEG.
If you fit your system yourself or don’t know if your fitter was MCS registered, then you may have problems selling your property.
Feed in Tariff (FIT)
If you have a FIT scheme running on your home, then that could make things a bit trickier.
A FIT is contracted to the property itself and would last 10 or 20 years.
You cannot change the output potential of the system once you have signed up, which means you can’t add panels or improve the system that is connected to the grid.
The FIT would need to be transferred to the new owner of the property – this can be done by emailing the company you are signed up with and informing them you are moving and who the new owner will be.
The easy bit! Keep all your paperwork safe and hand it to the new owners.
Should I take my panels with me?
No, is the simple answer.
There is no technical reason not to take your solar system with you to your new house, but it’s easier to either buy a home with them installed or look at fitting a new one yourself.
You would need scaffolding to remove the panels, then transport them, and then erect scaffold at your new home to have them installed.
All this would have to be done by an MCS registered fitter, and that may end up costing you almost as much as a new system – not very practical!
What about buying a house with Solar panels?
Buying a house with existing solar panels is a great idea – your own energy, cheaper bills and the chance to sell power back into the grid.
But there are a few things you need to look out for.
Age of the system
If the house you’re purchasing already has a solar system, it saves you the trouble of installing one yourself. However, if the system is 10 – 20 years old, consider whether the house price adequately accounts for its age.
During the first big wave of solar installations between 2010 – 2012, some homeowners were sold below par systems so they could quickly take advantage of the FIT scheme.
These systems weren’t only quickly installed, and not properly regulated, but they will no doubt have featured polycrystalline PV panels.
These are nowhere near as efficient as modern monocrystalline panels and won’t produce the same amount of energy.
It’s also worth noting that panels typically come with a 25-year performance warranty, whilst Inverters and Batteries usually have 10 years.
Make sure the system is MCS Certified
This is very important, as we say.
We wouldn’t recommend buying a house with a system that doesn’t have an MCS certificate as you would not be able to feed into the grid or sign up to an SEG.
The seller should provide this if the system was either installed, or inspected and signed off, by an MCS certified fitter.
Feed in Tariff (FIT)
If the home has an existing FIT then you would take that over and receive payment for the reminder of the contract.
That could be as long as 16 years if the homeowner signed up in 2019, just before the FIT scheme was replaced by the SEGs.
As we have said, some systems installed for the purpose of FIT sign up were not always the best quality, and older systems may not be as efficient as newer ones.
There are ways of adding to a system if it connected to an FIT contract but it would involve running sperate equipment alongside it.
Smart export guarantee (SEG)
If the system isn’t connected to a FIT and is MCS certified, then you can sign up to SEG with an energy supplier and get paid for any surplus energy.
Nothing difficult about this, just ensure the property has a DNO (G98 or G99) as this is the certificate that allows your house to feed into the grid.
Much like any other equipment in the house, such as boilers or electric showers, it’s best to check the seller has kept all the warranty paperwork.
Make sure it works!
A home equipped with a solar energy system can be priced up to 14% higher compared to one without. This increase could be substantial, especially if the property falls within the higher end of your budget. Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully assess whether the additional cost is justified by the system’s benefits.
Ask the owners for the last months solar data to make sure the equipment is running well and generating enough power – most solar systems come with state-of-the-art monitoring apps, so you won’t have much bother getting this information.
Advantage of buying a house with existing solar
One of the biggest advantages of buying a home with an existing solar system is you don’t have to worry about installing it yourself. But what else are you going to benefit from?
You will save money with a previously installed solar system
Regardless of the age of your system, it will be producing electricity when the sun is out and that will save you money.
How much will depend on the system, of course.
Some modern systems are saving current customers up to 80% on their electricity bills – so that’s going to help with your monthly outgoing bills no matter how you look at.
You could make money with a previously installed solar system
This is the one you have to make sure of before you take on a previous installed system.
FIT schemes were launched in 2010 and were offered to homes that had renewable energy system installed, and some were very lucrative indeed.
Customers are paid for 50% of all electricity they generate, whether they use it or not, and the prices paid were as high as 54p per kWh.
If the home you are buying has a scheme like that, then the current owner would sign the FIT over to you. Schemes were 10 – 20 year contracts, so you could be earning good money for over a decade.
WARNING – ensure the panels are owned by the household as some companies have bought people FiTs or rented their roof space – the solar system will not earn you money if this is the case, but you’ll still get some free electricity.
Council of Mortgage Lenders, now UK Finance, have said: “Getting a mortgage on a property with leased solar panels should not present a problem.”
Advantage of buying a house with existing solar
There’s only one really, and that’s your house is worth more than it would be without a solar energy system.
A recent study by Admiral, the insurance company, claimed that ‘greening’ up your home can add significant value, with solar coming out as the most desirable ‘green’ improvement.
Admiral compared the sale price of homes, across 13 UK cities, that had different energy-saving features with like-for-like properties in the same area that didn’t have them.
The result showed a 25% increase in house prices in properties with solar.
That’s a fair whack!
Another study cited 14% and, while they are not as optimistic as Admiral, still is still a significant increase.