Damp and Timber Reports

Have you recently had a valuation survey for a house purchase?  Did the surveyor ask for a damp and timber report?  In our experience these are never needed.

They are requested by surveyors and banks alike as a means of ticking boxes - covering liability.  A timber and damp report is often requested to be done by a member of the Property Care Association.  You need to be aware that this so called Association has absolutely no academic credibility.  It issues phoney 'qualifications' to its 'surveyors' who use letters after their names like CSRT and CSSW, and sometimes PCAS.  These are meaningless letters - they are not even the equivalent of NVQ Level 1.  They have ZERO academic status.  The PCA is owned and run by chemical salesmen, for their benefit alone!

It is important that you understand the process involved here - the banks have been requesting 'timber and damp surveys' for some time now, in a process based almost entirely on ignorance.  We have found that many valuation surveyors, members of RICS, are being told they MUST recommend these surveys - despite the fact that they know full well that they will only result in yet another attempt to sell damp proofing.  The recently launched "British Standard - BS 7913: 2013 - Guide to the conservation of historic buildings", will we hope, put a stop to this dreadful practise.  BS: 7913 sets out a clear code of practise for all professionals in the industry, and makes it very clear that damp proofing of any kind is rarely if ever required in old buildings, built with solid walls and breathable materials.  If you are told to get one of these surveys, insist that it is done by an RICS Accredited firm, to the Quality Standard of BS  7913: 2013.  Point out that paying £70 to Peter Cox damp proofing is hardly going to result in a professional assessment of your potential purchase.

If your bank or building society insists on one of these reports, we will prepare one for you.  It will never contain recommendations or a sales pitch for damp proofing.  We will evaluate the property holistically - looking at the environment, the way it sits in the landscape.  Are ground levels too high, are there leaky drains or gutters?  Is the home well ventilated?  Does the kitchen fan extract to an outside wall, and is it regularly used?  Have the walls been covered with tanking slurry which traps moisture and causes damp symptoms? Are there cold exposed patches of wall underneath bay windows? We will identify any issues which may have the potential to cost you money, and show you how to look after your new home.  

Our 'timber and damp' survey is a blueprint for the future health of your home, not a sales pitch to damp proof the place.  It is a valuable professional document. Remember - we don't run away afterwards - we will always be there to help if you have queries in the future - we love our clients, and are always happy to help you maintain your valuable investment in great condition.  They cost from £900, depending on the size of building, and distance we have to travel.

About those 'damp meters'

'Damp meters' are more correctly known as resistance meters.  They are used by almost all surveyors to 'detect' damp.  The trouble is, three British Standards say that they don't. And we agree. They are a useless piece of equipment that is totally inappropriate for measuring moisture in building materials.  BS:5250, BS:6576, and BS:7913 all agree that the only way to measure moisture in building materials is by chemical methods - what we call 'carbide testing'.  Every member of the PCA - the Property Care Association carries a 'damp' or 'moisture' meter.  We've never seen any of them use a thermo hygrometer, or an imaging camera, or a carbide kit.  They just shove the 'damp' meter in the wall, make it glow red, and tell you that you have rising damp.  We don't do that. The vast majority of RICS surveyors do the same thing, sadly.  RICS training actually tells surveyors to 'follow the trail' with their silly damp meter.  I've lobbied and complained to RICS about their continued lack of any action about the use of these things - they do nothing. The actions of senior RICS management is disgraceful and unprofessional, and allowing their surveyors to use these pieces of rubbish is contrary to every RICS professional ethics rule there is.  RICS Chartered Surveyors KNOW they don't work, yet they continue to use them.  If your surveyor uses one, you should challenge the validity of the survey, and any results, and demand your money back - using them is nothing short of incompetence.

Our surveys look at the conditions of the building - what moisture levels are there in the air?  What is the temperature of the walls?  We use thermal imaging cameras, carbide testing, and thermo hygrometers to check this.. How does moisture vary from room to room?  We build a picture of moisture stress on the building - and couple that with temperatures so we can see where condensation might form.  This information tells us why moisture is present, and how to deal with it - and it certainly won't be magically bubbling up from under the ground - it's all about moisture being trapped in the building, and how we set it free.

Thermal images showing moisture in walls as darker colours

Thermo hygrometer

Carbide meter

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