Guidance on obtaining a damp/timber survey by a specialist damp/timber Surveyor/Contractor:
There have been some recent events where there has been confusion and dispute over quotes/reports relating to damp and timber problems returning (or not rectified) after specialist contractors' work to eliminate the problem. In many cases where the problem clearly has not been alleviated the Contractor has relied on the documentation signed at the time of the acceptance of the contract.
It is also VERY important when YOU request a visit following a newspaper advertisement/cold call for damp-proofing/penetrating damp/condensation you are told WHY and for WHAT PURPOSE any action/installation is recommended as it has been reported that the reason for the installation is often not given - it is reported that the installation was simply requested by the occupier
The following guidance should be considered by the householder (‘layperson’) should they be seeking specialists for damp and timber infestation problems, especially considering responses to newpaper advertisements/cold callers. It will also help to avoid being mis-sold damp-proofing/damp control systems.
Do you actually have a recognisable or a distinctly perceived 'damp problem'? If not then don't bother to ask for a 'damp check' especially via newspaper advertisement/cold callers!
Always ask for a SURVEY and WRITTEN report – these should describe the problems in full, give any instrument readings obtained and the methods to be used to effect a solution. If this is not forthcoming then find another company
Always ask if the system being offered will cure the problem you have - always get this IN WRITING and a FULL REPORT before accepting any contract: IT IS ADVISEABLE NOT TO 'SIGN UP' ON THE SPOT. Ensure that you get a FULL ANSWER to providing a dry, non-spoiling suitable decorative surface, especially if the claim is their system does not require re-plastering or is ONLY a 'damp control system'
Always ask if there are other damp issues in your property which the system cannot rectify - GET THE ANSWER IN WRITING.
Always ask if there are any ancillary matters that are your responsibility in relation to the problems you are experiencing - if the answer is yes or even no then, again, get this clearly identified and confirmed in writing, whatever the case.
Never accept a quote only without a FULL REPORT, especially if offered at the time of the visit.
Always read the report FULLY and any small print/guarantees and other information provided prior to accepting any work. Make sure that the Guarantee covers PERFORMANCE, not just materials!!
If a damp-proof course is recommended then make sure that the system carries a British Board of Agrement Certificate (BBA); these re the ONLY SYSTEMS that the Building Research Establishment accept for retro-fit non-traditional damp-proof courses (Reference BRE Digest 245)
If you do not know the company or surveyor ALWAYS ask that he is suitably qualified, - for example - one of the following NATIONALLY RECOGNISED qualifications CRDS, CTIS or CSRT. For waterproofing (‘tanking’) it is CSSW. These are all UK nationally recognised qualifications.
If you do not know any company then it is prudent to look for one that is a member of the Property Care Association (PCA) - member Surveyors have to be qualified as described above.
FINALLY and VERY IMPORTANT:-
Always determine if the person visiting is simply a ‘salesperson’, say responding to an enquiry to an advertisement and just there to get a 'quote' or simply to sell a product/system(distinctly not advised), or is properly trained and qualified to undertake specialist damp/timber surveys (see above) – if in doubt then ask for a specialist (qualified) from that company or select another company.
Remember a FULL report is a record of the investigation and records all details between you and the contractor - it is is a record of what was found, works required by all parties, and conditions of the contract.
By considering the above guide, any person having specialist works undertaken will reduce the risks of dispute should one develop where the argument finally relates to the documents and contract.
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