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How to choose a damp specialist

We are regularly asked for advice on damp proofing and how to choose a damp specialist.

Below is our advice for choosing a damp specialist.

Do’s and Don’ts when choosing a damp specialist

Don’t choose a company that isn’t a member of the Property Care Association (PCA). The PCA is the only trade association in the damp proofing industry. It publishes codes of practice and guidelines for damp proofing works, carries out training and actively monitors its members.

Membership of the PCA shows that the company meets the required standard of surveying expertise (comprising experience and qualifications such as CSRT and CSSW), carries out work to the PCA guideline standards and is qualified to offer guarantee insurance with the GPI scheme. As such, members of the PCA are TrustMark approved.

Don’t choose a damp proofing company that advertises using only a mobile phone number, no address or PO Box address. These can be changed with ease and provide no means of pursuing damp proofing guarantee claims. Look at the information they provide on their website and supporting material, is it useful and informative or is it flash but lacking information?

Don’t use a non-specialist company to carry out damp proofing works. A company that fits double-glazing, carries out roofing services or tarmacs driveways is unlikely to provide specialist damp control services.

Don’t use a company that hasn’t been in business for at least five years or that is not registered at companies house. Many new companies fail in their first year and a significant percentage don’t make it beyond five years. You can check the date of incorporation on the Companies House website.

Don’t use companies that sub-contract their work to third party contractors. Many sub-contractors are poorly trained in remedial works and are only concerned with finishing the job as quickly and cheaply as possible. All staff should be full-time employees with CSCS cards and the relevant documented training in damp proofing and remedial services.

Don’t use companies that aren’t adequately insured against the risks involved in remedial works. Standard “builders” insurance will not cover the operative for carrying out specialist remedial works. Ask to see proof of “damp proofing and timber treatment” cover to a minimum of £10 million third party, £5 million public liability insurance plus the appropriate contractor and professional indemnity insurance.

Don’t accept a quote on the day, especially when companies offer large discounts for the works. Ask to see a written quotation detailing the work to be carried out on a company letterhead. Offering big discounts and other hard-sell techniques are frequently used by companies who misdiagnose, exaggerate or even make up damp problems and charge large sums for work that’s unnecessary.

Don’t agree to any door-to-door sales offers for a free damp survey. Damp problems aren’t particularly common and reputable companies don’t canvass for work by knocking on the door. If you think you have a damp problem, pay a survey fee and get an objective assessment of the area of concern.

Advice for choosing a damp proofing contractor

Do choose a contractor who is a member of the Property Care Association and is Trustmark approved. Check that the company surveyors are qualified to a minimum of CSRT and CSSW.

Do check that they don’t sub-contract work and that they’re adequately insured. Ask about trading history, whether they’re a franchise firm and what qualifications they have. Check their reviews on a number of sites such as Google, Checkatrade, Yell and Referenceline.

Do ask lots of questions, especially if the findings are not what you expected. If you’re unsure, get another opinion. The Property Care Association can provide you with details of independent damp surveyors if required.

Do choose a company that’s professional and efficient in all aspects (i.e. easily contactable, well-maintained vehicles, qualified surveyors and professionally produced reports), as this is indicative of a well-managed operation.

Do ask for references and follow them up. Well-established and managed companies will have a long list of satisfied customers who’s contact details they can pass on to you. Don’t rely on photocopied letters of recommendation.

Do ask for details of what’s included in the price. Some companies will provide a seemingly cheap quote only to add a long list of extras during the work which can double the cost.

Do ask yourself what could be causing the dampness. Simple checks can sometimes reveal the cause of damp without the need for professional help. See “common causes of dampness in buildings” for more information.

Do ask for GPI insurance for your damp proofing guarantee. Ten years is the maximum period of insurance allowed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Should you require any further information regarding damp proofing in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire or Surrey, please contact Biocraft Ltd on 01189 451144 or email [email protected].

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