Frequently Asked Questions

The points below should answer some of your questions and give a clearer idea of what we’re about. If you have further questions, please contact us.

  • Why are you called EdinBRIC? We chose the name Edinburgh Building Retrofit and Improvement Collective because we see that our communities’ needs are much broader than just ‘retrofit’. Our communities also need well-maintained buildings, an environment fit for everyone, happier neighbourhoods and more resilient communities. Creating this is much more sustainable in all ways, and is more likely to transition us to a low carbon economy in a just way and at a meaningful pace. This needs a wider focus than just ‘retrofit’.
  • Why ‘Building Retrofit and Improvement’? This is a phrase we’ve coined to define our focus more accurately (its sometimes shortened to the acronym BRI). It looks at buildings in their broadest sense and their role in how our communities succeed. ‘Improvement’ should apply to everything a building is, from its role in wellbeing, to its ability to remain wind and watertight, to its sustainable financial value, and to its energy efficiency. Other organisations may refer to the more generic term ‘retrofit’ and mean many of the same things, but our focus is generally broader. Sometimes we use ‘retrofit’ when it’s clear from the context that we’re referring to interventions to improve the energy efficiency of a property.
  • Can EdinBRIC help me retrofit my home? YES! But we don’t do the work. We’d rather that existing local support organisations, consultant professionals and contractors help their surrounding communities; our role is connecting everyone together. We’d also rather that community groups in each area grew in capacity, so our focus is to enable them, and not to create an organisation which blocks them.
  • Can you tell me what technology/equipment/product is right for my home? This is a really complex question and the answers differ even between apparently near-identical homes. What we can do is connect you with local professionals who can visit, survey and understand your building and advise you so you can then choose the interventions that are right for you.
  • Can you help me find/recommend a contractor? We always suggest having a survey of your home carried out by someone who is independent and has no commercial interest in what the outcome might be! There can be options and choices where a holistic understanding of all the parts is needed, which is another reason to employ a local design professional to give you a plan before going to a contractor. We don’t assess and endorse specific contractors, but our independence, case studies/hero stories, member groups’ experiences and professional connections should help you.
  • Do I need a designer? Shouldn’t the contractor just know what to do? ‘Retrofit’ needs design choices.  Unlike simple maintenance, it doesn’t really work to go straight to a contractor because, regardless of their quality or trustworthiness, no tradesman likes making design decisions, because that’s not what they’re trained to do and it’s not their job. Sometimes they come across as bad quality or untrustworthy because they’re being asked to do things they’re not qualified to do: i.e. giving design advice. Because of this, we think we’d find more contractors willing to do this work if there were structures in place in the retrofit market which enabled independent designers to be involved, so that contractors aren’t asked to guess at what they’re meant to be doing. It’s easier to get good designers involved more willingly when jobs are bigger in scale; this needs collectivisation for collaborative working, which needs the Collective!
  • I see the benefits of working collectively, but working with my neighbours could be really tough. I don’t know them well/we don’t get on well/I don’t want to risk stressing our good relationship/they don’t have money/I don’t have the time. Can someone external like EdinBRIC just sort out the group working stuff for us? We totally agree that collective working poses some additional complexities and can be difficult; although it should be the best, we’re definitely not suggesting it’s the easiest path. However, the rewards are great and the individual route is often unsuccessful in achieving the intended, desired results. The time taken to support every step of the way can be significant, and paying someone else to do this is subsequently expensive. We can at least offer some pointers, toolkits, support, and attendance at community meetings to help. However, our model does not at this time include a service to provide the trustworthy, independent, free external expert advisor and facilitator that was a fairly common theme in responses to our Homeowners Questionnaire. Maybe one day we’ll find a way …
  • Working with my neighbours is not for me. I have enough money, time and confidence to get work done to my house individually. However, I can see the benefit of working with independent external advisors and taking a property-specific, holistic approach to improving my home. What I want is still building retrofit and improvement: Can EdinBRIC help me with this? We respect your choice, it is – after all – what the government at present expects homeowners to do. We would caution that – like any major domestic property project – it can be very time-consuming and demanding on the inexperienced homeowner, and that the government is putting you in a bind. However, EdinBRIC has only limited resources and has chosen not to explicitly devote them to try and support individual retrofitters. We strongly believe that, in the big picture, a rapid and just transition for all is required, with building retrofit and improvement for most being one major component. It’s just not going to be feasible to succeed in that without a necessary development being retrofit-at-scale at a community level. The collaborative community-led group approach also has the advantages of being a win-win for householder and climate and a means to engage members of a community to work together and thus help build general community resilience. We support these larger objectives, so that’s where we put our focus. 
  • If EdinBRIC can’t help me with an individual project, can you help me find someone who can? There are other organisations that you could approach to help you in tackling an individual retrofit project. EALA Impacts CIC are a member of EdinBRIC and provide individual and community Architecture and Building Surveying services based on Building Passports. Loco Home Retrofit CIC are admirable, but they are Glasgow-based and in principle don’t cover Edinburgh. In Edinburgh, Changeworks (the charity that delivers the Home Energy Scotland helpline service here, among other things) is just beginning to develop its EcoCosi Whole House Retrofit service, offering a paid service to take on various stages for certain types of property. At the time of writing (Nov 2023) it is, however, an unknown and unproven quantity (although the model is based on the service of an established retrofit co-op from England). If you do choose to take on arranging the domestic retrofit process yourself, some of our case-studies might be helpful. If you contact us we may at least be able to provide some names of professionals we know of that are suitably expert and experienced and take on this kind of work, and who you might consider contacting to see if they’re suitable for you. We don’t offer a vetting or endorsement service. You could also consider referring to the national Trustmark service or local Trusted Trader scheme.
  • How are you different from Home Energy Scotland? EdinBRIC doesn’t give professional advice in its own right. We build community capacity and resilience so members of the community, acting together, can get independent professional advice from existing sources who provide consumer protection through their professional accreditations and professional indemnity insurance. We can help householders to navigate the Home Energy Scotland and Local Energy Scotland (for community and renewable energy generation) processes to get the most from them.
  • How are you different from other organisations offering retrofit services? EdinBRIC doesn’t provide services in its own right. We are an umbrella body for community groups and other existing organisations. We facilitate and empower the building of community capacity and resilience so members of the community, acting together can get the best possible professional building retrofit and improvement services from existing sources (who provide consumer protection through their professional accreditations and professional indemnity insurance). We help householders to navigate the whole complex process and thus approach things with more confidence.