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Five things you really should know before instructing a damp survey or repair!

July 31st, 2020

All posts, Damp / Rising Damp / Damp Proofing /, Guarantees


1: Property Care Association certified surveyor is NOT the same as Property Care Association Accredited Company.

Property Care Association logo

Membership into the PCA is tough, and rightly so. Membership is only available to companies with a minimum two-year trading history and member companies must meet strict criteria before being approved. Proven financial stability, trained and qualified workforce both surveyors and technicians, Health and Safety approved and verified liability insurance are all criteria of admission. Members of the Property Care Association are also regularly audited to ensure these principle criteria are adhered too.

Beware however, many companies will market their services with “PCA qualified surveyors” whilst not being a Property Care Association Accredited company!  Why is this a problem? Well, None PCA members are not audited or regulated by anyone. Whilst a surveyor may have been trained by the PCA, the company itself may not meet the criteria of membership. In this scenario, you are not guaranteed the company is health and safety vetted, carries the appropriate level insurance or is financial stability.  If your relying on a company guarantee for the repair, financial stability is very important.  

It is for the above reasons that nearly all banks, building societies, mortgages lenders and councils stipulate that their surveys should only be undertaken by ‘member companies’ of the Property Care Association.

Property Care Association members are usually easy to identify as they will display the PCA logo (shown above).

 2: Free surveys often work out being very expensive.

Most professional Property Care Association Members will charge for their surveys, don’t be surprised by this, as no survey ever worth reading was free. When a survey is charged there is an exchange of money which forms a Law of Contract, an ‘offer’ and an ‘acceptance’ which is a legally binding agreement between two parties. Entering a contract with your surveyor means they have legal objective to provide you with a professional service which you have paid for.  If they fail to do so, they could be considered in breach of contract.

Free surveys are often carried out by tradesmen, nonqualified persons or salesmen. If you instruct a free survey, then legally speaking there is no contract and it’s unlikely you’ll receive credible advice and there is a possibility your apparent free survey is merely an invitation to quote for work. Whether the work is required or not, well, only a professional and paid survey is likely to provide the answer.  

3: The Worthless Guarantee

Are guarantees worth the paper they are written on and what’s the difference between a company guarantee and an Insured guarantee?

Company guarantees are usually issued by the company undertaking the repair although can also be provided by one of their product suppliers.  The company guarantee however, only remains valid whilst the company is trading, should the company cease trading the guarantee loses its validity.  Some contractors may also offer their clients with a backed guarantee. This is usually provided by their supplier / chemical manufacturer. Many of the UK chemical damp proofing manufacturers have set up their own guarantee schemes such as; Triton, Wykamol, PAM, Safeguard and Sovereign. These manufacturers promote and sell their guarantees to their ‘approved contractors’ in reinforcement of their own company guarantee. The problem is these guarantees are also issued through a limited company which have the same weaknesses as the initial company guarantee. Secondly, in my experience it’s always been exceptionally difficult for any home-owner to claim on a guarantee supplied by a manufacturer on behalf of one of their ‘accredited companies’ that is no longer trading.  

An insurance guarantee is different. An Insurance guarantee is a low cost, long term insurance policy issued by an insurance company which is regulated by the FCA Financial Conduct Authority.

This provides much greater protection for consumers and homeowners to honour the terms of the guarantee, originally issued by the installing contractor. An insurance guarantee is only available for up to 10 years and is applicable to insurance premium tax.

If you’re offered or in receipt of a 20 – 30 year guarantee and you’ve not paid insurance premium tax, then unfortunately you have a supplier backed guarantee.  

4: Incentive Driven Purchase

Incentive driven purchases are nothing new and everyone loves a freebie of some sort, however, just be wary that these are often devised to attract and engage you into a contract which you might not necessarily have conceded without the incentive.

Typical examples are; ‘Book within 5 days of your report to receive a discount’ or ‘if you instruct us to undertake repairs highlighted within the report we’ll refund the cost of the survey’.  Both are attractive thoughts, however, when you consider the average cost of an independent professional damp survey can be around £200.00, there are not many repairs that can be undertaken for that price. It is a very cheap incentive to secure a survey and work where the cost of any repairs can easily be lifted to offset the reward of refunding the survey fee.

5: Reputation and Credibility

Before you instruct a damp survey or repair have you’ve verified the reputation and credibility of the company you’ve employed or were they simply the first company you found on Google?

Adverts on Google aren’t always obvious and often companies that appear to be located at the top of a search are paid adverts. That’s totally fine and there are many professional and credible companies that use paid advertising. There are, however, many that aren’t.

In association with your search do some background investigation such as:

  • Check review sites. Try independent sites such as “Trustpilot” as well as testimonials they may display on their own website.
  • Check the business address and location, are they really local, are they really who they say they are? Local business address and telephone numbers can be purchased to give you the illusion that you’re working with a local company.
  • Check their credentials are they really PCA Members or do they just have trained surveyors? – Check with the PCA at https://www.property-care.org/
  • Check their trading history

So, if you’ve made it to the end and I hope you found this article useful and informative. if you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you would like to learn more about damp, moisture mapping or diagnosis why not browse through our blog there are lots of interesting articles on damp, decay and moisture i’ll leave a link below:

https://www.dryfix.net/blog/

Russell Rafton – Dryfix Preservation Ltd Senior Surveyor

Russell Rafton Dryfix Preservation Senior Surveyor

Dryfix Yorkshires Leading Damp & Timber Specialists

A 4 x Industry Award Winning Company with the Property Care Association.



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