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London and Kent Damp Surveys

A worrying trend - scam survey websites

It is vitally important that you realise the true meaning of 'Independent Specialist Surveys' - especially in relation to damp surveys in London and Kent.  Independent means just that - someone who is NOT linked in any way to the damp industry.  You would expect that from a Conservation accredited RICS surveyor or member of CIOB.

We are seeing a very worrying upsurge in misleading websites, which are downright fraudulent in their nature.  Set up by the damp industry, they purport to offer 'independent specialist surveys'.  They are absolutely NOT independent.  These sites are run by the damp industry - and nearly all of them proudly display the PCA logo.  All will very happily tell you they are CSRT or CSSW 'qualified', and offer to inspect your home for a paltry sum of between £100 and £300.  The result is always the same - a quote for damp proofing - which usually comes via a supposedly third party.  In point of fact the websites are a very thinly veiled cover for PCA member damp proofing companies, masquerading as independent surveyors.  These sites are being used to trawl for marketing leads, and then feed them back to the handful of big London rip-off damp proofing firms.  Look through the links offered by these websites - they all lead back to a number of PCA registered damp companies.  Some are registered to a shelter law office, where hundreds of companies are hidden and registered at the same address. We've looked at many of these websites and it is almost impossible to find the legal, beneficial owners.

Independent Specialist Surveyors using the PCA logo are very likely to be running websites under assumed names, with hidden Directors.  You'd deal with one of these sharks?  

There are a number of common factors:

  • Nearly all use the PCA logo
  • All talk about 'rising damp', 'dry rot', 'woodworm', timber treatment and worse.
  • None of them have identifiable people behind them - never a name, or a photo
  • All have worrying photos of rampant rotting, fungal timber

We've just been told by one of our clients that he mistakenly contacted a company in London advertising they were independent surveyors.  The surveyors are apparently CSRT and CSSW - this is a bogus 'accreditation' of damp salesmen who are PCA members and has no academic standing. The website was full of references to penetrating damp, rising damp, woodworm, dry rot, and even basement conversions. Having established their damp industry links, our client went no further.  Apparently for around £200 a day plus costs, one of these people would come out and diagnose rising damp for him, and then sell damp proofing.  He asked for a report, and when it came, it was proudly covered with PCA logos and proclaimed that the survey was totally unbiased and independent.  The conclusions:  He needed injection damp proofing and chemical timber treatment.  And there was a very helpful suggestion of a couple of local PCA members who would be delighted to quote for the job.  We have seen literally hundreds of near identical 'damp survceys' from a company called Kenwood PLC - all of which say exactly the same thing, and have nearly similar quotes for staggering amounts of money.  All are fraudulent - none have a correct diagnosis of the real causes of any of the problems.  We have a vast collection of these fraudulent Kenwood surveys, together with our proper diagnosis for the clients concerned.  It is a scam company - offering amongst other things an 'independent insurance backed guarantee'.  When clients try to claim, we always see the same thing happen - they want an 'inspection fee' which they say is refundable if the problem is guarantee related.  ALWAYS the result is the same - "Sorry, we cured the rising damp, love - this is different - you've got condensation now - we can sell you some really good condensation control fans if you like - they are cheap Chinese garbage, but they are only about £400 each plus fitting"...

We even checked the owners of the 'independent insurance backed guarantee' firm - Guarantee Protection Trust - and guess what - it's owned by the Directors of the damp companies and pays them a nice dividend every year from the distribution of all the insurance policy charges.

Naturally our client went no further, and his house is now nice and dry - thanks to a minor adjustment to sub floor ventilation, and a humidity controlled extractor system in the kitchen.

 

Independent Specialist Surveys

If you are looking for a damp and timber survey in London, Kent, Suffolk, Surrey and the South East, you have found us.  We are one of the leading independent consultancies in the country when it comes to understanding damp issues in old buildings.  London has plenty of them - nearly every house has a basement - converted, covered in gypsum plaster and cement, and damp.

Actually they are not inherently damp - it is what we do to them that creates the symptoms of dampness. Old houses in London and Kent have had a lot of abuse - wartime repairs are common, and this often results in damp problems.  Cement and gypsum became commonplace after the war - they were used without anyone realising that by putting an impermeable coating onto breathable masonry, you trapped moisture.  This gave rise to the perception that old houses are inherently damp - they are not.

Go for a meal in Belgo's - its a brilliant restaurant in vaulted cellars under Covent Garden - it's bone dry, deep underground - and the walls are just exposed brick.  You don't see much damp in the London Underground do you?  If you are searching for damp survey london, or damp experts london, you must feel there is an issue with your home.  We'll explain what these symptoms actually are, and how to overcome them.

Did you know that the most important research in damp houses was started by Lewisham Council - they have thousands of council houses - but not one of them has been damp proofed.  They realised that all of their problems were caused not by an imaginary lake of water bubbling up from underground by 'capillary rise' through 'damp courses that had broken down' as the Property Care Association damp contractor will tell you.  No - the 'damp' problems were being caused by people.  People breathe, they cook, they shower and bathe.  All this activity causes large amounts of moisture in the air around us - and it finds its way into the building fabric.  Lewisham council realised that better ventilation, education of tenants, lifestyle changes, were the key to dry, warm homes.  Their former staff - Ralph Burkinshaw and Mike Parrett wrote the definitive book on the subject - Diagnosing Damp - which is sold by the RICS bookshop.  We work with another former Lewisham hero - Ray Hudson, who designed their ventilation systems, and now runs RHL Direct - a company specialising in humidity controlled ventilation.

Our independent damp surveys in London focus on identifying the root cause of a problem - not treating symptoms by hacking plaster off and injecting useless toxic chemicals into your walls.  We look at lifestyle.  We look at the building - are there any leaky drains?  Where does rainwater go to?  Does the flat next door have a leaky shower tray? What WAS the basement - was it the kitchen to a big Georgian townhouse?  Was there once a huge ingle fireplace which is now soaked with hygroscopic salts and drawing moisture into the wall?  Is it stuffy and badly ventilated?  All THESE problems will cause the classic symptoms of 'rising damp' that Property Care Association member companies like Kenwood, Peter Cox, Rentokil, Timberwise will tell you needs to be hacked and injected. They are talking rubbish - don't even consider using chemical salesmen, because that is all they are.  They have no qualifications.  Look at your environment - the solutions will always be simple:  better ventilation, fixing leaky drains, lowering ground levels, mending gutters and downpipes, fixing the bathroom fan, extracting the kitchen cooker hood to an outside wall.  A recent 'damp' survey where the owner was quoted thousands for damp proofing turned out to be no more than a leaking seal on the end of a bath!

How much does it cost?

Costs of damp surveys in London, Kent and the South East are determined by size of the property. They start around £600. Potential clients should be aware that most 'damp' companies charge little or nothing for surveys - as they are simply there to sell you damp proofing - on which they make massive profits. There is now a move to sell cheap condensation fans - similarly useless in many cases.  Our surveys are in-depth scientific analysis of your home - we look at temperature, humidity, and structure of the building to diagnose exactly what problems there are.  We look for the CAUSE of dampness - and associated issues such as mould and mildew which can create health problems. We don't sell anything - we are there to help you get the most out of your home.  In many cases, reducing moisture leads to reduced heating bills, and improved health - it's an investment in lifestyle. We don't run away afterwards either - we are always here to help clients in the future.

Regulated by RICS