Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why should I pay for an independent damp and timber survey when some Companies offer 'free' surveys?
A. Whilst there are a number of reputable businesses within the industry that offer 'free' surveys, some treatment Companies employ unqualified, commission based salesman, with limited experience and little or no interest in diagnosing the actual problems that are affecting a property.
Q. Can you give me an example of how that may affect me?
A. Yes. Let's suppose that you are considering the purchase of a typical mid-terrace Victorian property. You have commissioned a Chartered Surveyor to undertake a Homebuyer type survey, as required by your mortgage lender. He arrives at the property and as part of the survey uses an electronic moisture measuring meter to test the wall plaster at random points around the property, recording a high reading to the front bay and noting that the surrounding plaster is visibly damp. He compiles his report, in which he advises that this may be rising damp and should be further investigated by a damp proofing specialist.
Q. That all sounds reasonable and professional so far, what's the problem?
A. Well, the important thing to note here is that your unbiased chartered surveyor has not determined whether the readings he recorded are actually attributable to true rising damp, just that they may be. For a definitive diagnosis, you are relying on the honesty and integrity of the specialist surveyor that you call in, who, coincidentally, relies on the diagnosis of rising damp in order to make a living.
Q. Shouldn't I just go to a Company that charges a fee for the survey but refunds the fee if work is undertaken, surely that implies a more professional approach?
A. Yes it does. However, many Companies that offer to refund the survey fee may add it on to their quote in the first instance and then take advantage of the fact that most Clients tend to have fewer quotes if they are paying for each one and don't forget they are still in the business of selling remedial works and treatments.
Q. But surely rising damp is a common problem affecting most properties, if the Homebuyer Surveyor has identified an issue with damp, then it's just a simple case of getting two or three quotes from different Companies?
A. Not necessarily, there are many factors that can give a high reading on an electronic moisture meter, many of them not attributable to true rising damp. In fact, both the Building Research Establishment, in it's digest 245 "Rising dampness in walls: diagnosis and treatment" and the BWPDA / PCA who run training courses and organise examinations for surveyors, both state quite clearly, that a surface moisture meter alone cannot give proof
of the existence of rising damp. With no vested interest in quoting for chemical treatments
or specialist re-plastering works, you can be sure that our surveyor will carry out a thorough inspection of the property, in order to determine whether a high meter reading is attributable to true rising damp, or some other building defect that can be rectified by a competent builder, without the need for expensive and disruptive treatments.
Q. But what if the property does have true rising damp after all, I will have occurred additional costs by instructing you, that will not be refunded, how has that benefited me?
A. In a worse case scenario where a property is affected by rising damp our surveys and reports will not only determine the full extent of the works required, but also the most appropriate method of treatment. Some treatment company surveyors are happy just to find something to quote on and will choose to ignore the more awkward or inaccessible areas of a property as they may be time consuming to treat and therefore less profitable, they may also be tied in to one manufacturer in order to gain the best possible price for their materials. As your best interests are our primary concern, we will provide a report that specifies the complete scope of the works that are required and exactly how they are to be undertaken. We will do this in a clear and concise manner, provide a sketch plan where appropriate and give an educated opinion as to the likely contract value. This leaves you in a very strong position to invite Companies to tender for the works specified, safe in the knowledge that there are no hidden agendas and that all the invited Companies are tendering for the same works.