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Can You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?

Property Saviour » Problematic Properties » Can You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?

It’s a fact that homeowners are having difficulty re-mortgaging or selling properties with spray foam insulation. If installed incorrectly, this type of insulation can lead to condensation, negatively affecting the roof structure.

While roof foam insulation has its advantages, it also has downsides.  Surveyors still devalue properties with this type of insulation, and it can make roof repairs difficult and messy.

If you need to sell an inherited house, and need a Red Book valuation for inheritance tax purposes, the property will have a nil valuation.

This article will discuss the problems associated with spray foam insulation, the risks of removing it yourself, the cost involved, and how to sell a property with spray foam insulation.

Table of Contents

What Is Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam insulation is an effective way to keep the heat inside your home. It is applied using a spray gun and expands to fit the area. It is mostly used in roofs, lofts and attics.

There are two types of spray foam insulation: open-cell and closed-cell.

  • Open cell spray foam remains soft after setting. Although it is not as dense as a closed cell, it is less prone to condensation.
  • Closed-cell spray foam is rigid after setting and is a better insulator than open-cell. However, it also acts as a vapour barrier, which can reduce ventilation.
 

The UK Government’s Green Homes Grant scheme, which closed in March 2022, covered a portion of the cost of improving homes’ energy efficiency, including spray foam insulation. The topic of spray foam insulation has been discussed in Parliament, with the recommendation being removal or complaining to the installer.

Is There a Downside To Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam insulation has been a common feature in homes for many years, though recent issues have emerged with its use in timber-framed roofs. When improperly installed or misused, spray foam insulation can:

  1. Reduce the ventilation and air circulation in a roof space.
  2. Cause dampness and condensation on the roof’s underside, as it forms an air barrier that prevents moisture escape.
  3. Pose a risk of decay to timber-framed roofs.

 

The removal of spray foam insulation can be challenging and expensive.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has stated that the presence of spray foam might impact a surveyor’s property valuation if it has been applied incorrectly.

As spray foam conceals the structure of a roof, surveyors working on behalf of mortgage lenders might struggle to inspect the condition of individual roofs and recognise potential risks.

So, how much would removing this problematic spray foam insulation cost?

Can You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?
As spray foam conceals the structure of a roof, surveyors working on behalf of mortgage lenders might struggle to inspect the condition of roof.

How can you tell if spray foam insulation is bad?

How do you know if your loft has been properly insulated?  You should have all the paperwork and work carried out by an approved installer:

  • A full pre-survey suitability report that outlines the condition of your roof and timbers before the foam was applied.

  • An independent test certificate, such as one from the British Board of Agrément or Kiwa, that explains the type of foam used and the correct application method.

  • A condensation risk assessment, also known as a hygrothermal evaluation.
  • Details about the installation company and its credentials.
  • An installation guarantee.

 

If your home was suitable for foam insulation and it was applied by a professional, you should have all the necessary paperwork to prove it.

spray foam insulation risks

Spray foam insulation is applied as a liquid and then expands into a foam. This foam fills in all the gaps and cracks in a building’s structure.

Awareness of the potential risks of spray foam insulation is important.

Financial risks

  • You won’t be able to get a mortgage on your property, making it difficult to sell.
  • You will find it difficult to remove it. Even if it is fully removed, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to sell it to a buyer who needs a mortgage.

Health risks

The primary health concern linked to spray foam insulation is exposure to isocyanates. Isocyanates are chemicals utilised in the production of spray foam insulation. Exposure to isocyanates can lead to various health issues, such as:

  • Skin and eye irritation
  • Respiratory problems, such as asthma and bronchitis.
  • Sensitisation to isocyanates can make future exposures even more dangerous.

 

In some cases, exposure to isocyanates can even lead to cancer.

What are other potential risks associated with spray foam insulation include?
If spray foam insulation is not installed correctly, it can lead to moisture problems. This can result in the trapping of moisture in the building structure, leading to mould and mildew growth.

Other potential risks associated with spray foam insulation include:

  1. Fire hazards are a concern when it comes to spray foam insulation. It’s important to take precautions to prevent fires.
  2. Off-gassing is another issue with spray foam insulation. It can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, negatively impacting indoor air quality.
  3. If spray foam insulation is not installed correctly, it can lead to moisture problems. This can result in the trapping of moisture in the building structure, leading to mould and mildew growth.
  4. Spray foam insulation tends to be more expensive compared to other types of insulation.

How to minimise the risks

If you’re considering using spray foam insulation, taking steps to minimise the risks is important. Here are a few tips:

  • Hire a qualified installer: It’s crucial to have a qualified professional to install spray foam insulation.
  • Ensure the installer uses the correct type of spray foam insulation for your specific application.
  • Have the installer properly ventilate the work area to reduce your exposure to isocyanates.
  • After installing the spray foam insulation, leaving the building unoccupied for at least 24 hours is advisable.
  • If you have any concerns about the safety of spray foam insulation, discuss them with your doctor.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove Spray Foam From a Loft?

Based on the CheckaTrade website, the cost of removing roof insulation is around £40 per meter plus VAT.

Work Description

Property Type

Estimated Cost

Roof foam insulation removal 

3-bedroom detached house 

£3,200 plus VAT

Roof foam insulation removal 

Per meter 

£40 per VAT

Did You Know?

Removing spray foam insulation is likely to be more expensive than the initial installation cost. Even if the insulation is removed, lenders may still refuse to offer a mortgage due to potential damage that may have already occurred.

Can You Remove Foam Insulation From Roof?

The estimated roof foam insulation removal cost is around £3,200 for a three-bedroom detached home. This estimate assumes that two to three tradespeople work for a week to complete the task, costing £175 per person per day.

This estimate also includes a £100 fee for specialist disposal due to the potentially toxic nature of some spray foam types. You will need to consider the cost of skip-hire.

The expense of removing roof foam insulation is significantly higher than removing other types of roof insulation. For most types of insulation, which can usually be rolled up or pulled away easily, the cost for safe removal and disposal is closer to £300.

Roof Foam Insulation Removal Cost Factors

The cost of removing spray foam insulation from your roof varies depending on several factors. Location plays a role, with higher labour prices in some areas of the UK, such as London.

Access is also a factor, as costs assume that there is a reasonable-sized loft hatch. The loft’s size and the insulation’s thickness also affect the price, as larger lofts and thicker insulation will take longer to remove.

Finding a specialist in this field can be difficult, so it may be worthwhile looking into removing spray foam insulation when replacing a roof to get a better price.

Why Do Lenders Not Like Spray Foam Insulation
Location plays a role, with higher labour prices in some areas of the UK, such as London.

Why do mortgage lenders not like spray foam insulation?

Lenders don’t like to give a mortgage on a property with foam insulation in the loft.  This is because closed-cell foam can contribute to condensation and damp, and this can, in turn, cause damage to roof timbers.

Here are some of the reasons you might be looking to get your spray foam removed:

  1. Many surveyors will downvalue any property that has spray foam insulation.
  2. It is not suitable for listed properties.
  3. Repairing the roof can be challenging, such as fixing broken tiles or leaks.
  4. If it is not installed correctly, it can cause damage to the structure of the home and could cause other damage.

How Is Spray Foam Insulation Removed?

Removing spray foam insulation can be a messy and labour-intensive task. It requires carefully cutting the roof foam without causing any damage to the surrounding materials.

After that, the remaining foam needs to be scraped off by hand.

Can I Remove Roof Foam Insulation Myself?

We do not recommend attempting to remove roof foam yourself. Inexperienced individuals run the risk of damaging tiles and electrical systems

Certain types of spray foam can be toxic if touched or inhaled. Spray foam tends to seep into hard-to-reach areas, making complete removal challenging. Hiring a professional is your best option for achieving successful results.

Why Can't You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?
Most lenders will not provide a mortgage for a property with spray foam insulation in the loft.

Why Can't You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?

The spray foam can trap water against the roof timbers, especially if a tile slips during a storm. This can lead to hidden rot setting in. You may not realise the problem until the roof starts to collapse slowly, and by then, you’ll be facing a hefty repair bill that insurance won’t cover.

This lack of air circulation can lead to condensation and potential wood rot. The spray foam insulation also sets very hard (closed cell insulation) and can put additional stress on the roof timbers, which may cause distortions.

Most lenders will not provide a mortgage for a property with spray foam insulation in the loft. This is because spray foam insulation seals the roof space and reduces air circulation to the roof timbers.

When valuing a house with spray foam insulation, many surveyors often face a dilemma. Some follow the guidelines set by their customers (such as banks or building societies) and value the house at £0 because they do not accept this type of insulation. Others take a more cautious approach and assume that the house requires an immediate full roof replacement, deducting £40k to £100k from its value.

What Can Homeowners Affected By Spray Foam Insulation Do?

These are practical steps you can consider:

Request & Keep All The Paperwork

According to the RICS, it is advisable for homeowners to keep all the paperwork related to their installation. This is important in case you decide to sell or remortgage the property.

The paperwork should include independent test certificates awarded to the spray foam products by organisations like the British Board of Agrement. Having these documents can be helpful for a surveyor to assess the work that has been done.

Raise a Complaint

If you are a homeowner facing issues with their insulation, you should first review the terms of your purchase and then contact your installer or accredited body. It is important to note that a TrustMark-registered installer will have carried out all work under the Green Homes Grant scheme.

TrustMark has a specific process in place to handle disputes. If you feel misled or your installer has withheld important information in a way that is likely to deceive, you may want to consider seeking redress under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

If you paid for your installation on a credit card, you may be able to make a full claim under Section 75.

If you encounter any problems with traders, Citizens Advice is available to provide guidance and support. It is important to remember that seeking resolution may be a lengthy process, and homeowners may decide to sell their property and move on.

Encourage Your Buyer To Look For Another Mortgage Lender

Not all lenders will offer mortgages to homeowners with spray foam insulation. It depends on whether they conduct a thorough survey and inspect your loft.

Your buyer may not be interested in going through another mortgage application, especially after having already paid for a survey. However, a different lender may have less strict criteria for lending.


You have a legal obligation to disclose any issues before selling a home. Most lenders would request a surveyor to evaluate the insulation and base their mortgage decisions on that assessment.

Your buyer could demand that you remove the insulation or threaten to withdraw from the sale.  You could consider a proceedable buyer instead.

Why is spray foam insulation making houses unsellable?

Spray foam insulation became popular as a cheap way to insulate homes. However, the closed-cell type of foam insulation traps moisture and prevents air circulation. This causes several problems, including mould and dampness, and wooden joists in roof spaces can rot as a result.

To sell a property with these issues, find a private cash buyer (so a mortgage or loan isn’t required). Obviously, this is easier said than done—most people in the market aren’t cash buyers, and the pool becomes even smaller when you’re looking for someone willing to buy a property that potentially requires serious renovation with an unknown repair cost.

If you’re not in any immediate rush, you could try putting your property on the open market with a “cash buyer only” condition via your local or online estate agent. Maybe you’ll get a bite.

Needless to say, you’ll need to be completely transparent about your situation and sell at a discount.

 

Can You Sell a House With Spray Foam Insulation?

Yes, you can sell a property with spray foam insulation to a cash house buyer like Property Saviour.  We’ll make you a cash offer, and if you accept, we will complete the purchase within 10 days – or at a timescale that works for you.  

The Quick Fix

Listen, we get it – that house of yours is doing your head in with the loft insulation gone wrong. Well, have you thought about just selling it straight to us who buy problematic properties? It’ll be the easiest and quickest way to get shot of the whole nightmare, especially if you just want to wash your hands of it ASAP.

The Trade-Off

We won’t kid you. There’s a bit of a trade-off involved. We will knock some off the sale price to cover the cost of fixing the mess. And that’s how they make their money. But here’s the thing, using a cash buyer is dead popular because they’ll buy your place as-is, no questions asked. They’ll have the cash in your hands in as little as 10 days and even help out with the sale.

Fast Cash or Best Price?

You might get a bit more from a private buyer, but you’ll be hanging around for ages. With a company, it’s a nice quick sale. So you’ve got to decide if you want to hold out for the best price or just get a fast deal over the line, especially with the property market all over the shop right now.

How It Works

Here’s how we do it: we look at each place individually and make you the best cash offer we can, considering everything. If your loft’s been sprayed to buggery, just tell us upfront and we’ll factor it into the offer price. Easy peasy.

The Go-To Solution

We would be looking to refurbish the property to let it for the long term.  As it would be a direct and private sale, there would be no estate agency fees to pay. 

We’ll even pay £1,500 towards your legal fees.  Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.  Sell your house for cash today.

From what we’ve seen, people use cash buyers because they’re happy to take a bit of a hit on the price just to make their problems go away quickly. They want to get it sorted and move on with their lives. That’s why our services have become the go-to solution for tricky situations like yours. So what d’you reckon? Shall we get the ball rolling and put this whole nightmare behind you once and for all?

 

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  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
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  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.
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  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
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