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Various people need to have damp surveys carried out on properties. From landlords and vendors to purchasers, as well as builders, estate agents and those looking to remortgage – a damp survey can be a necessity. So, let’s look at two key questions: Why do you need to employ the services of an independent damp surveyor? And: How do you go about finding an independent damp surveyor?
Why should I use an independent damp surveyor?
The crucial word is independent. Without being too negative here, it is important to remember that the vast majority of people involved in the property industry are perfectly decent, professional and genuine, it is also important to recognise that in any trade, business or walk of life, there are those that are unscrupulous, or that are driven by interests other than the needs of the customer.
A typical damp survey scenario
To illustrate the potential issues that can arise, it’s best to look at a typical house buying scenario.
It’s common practice for a chartered surveyor to undertake a Homebuyer survey – mortgage lenders usually insist on this. As part of this survey, an electronic moisture measuring meter might be used. If a high reading is recorded and the surveyor notices visible signs of damp, it’s likely that the Homebuyers Report will reference this by saying that there may be rising damp in the property and that this should be further investigated by a damp proofing specialist.
This is where the problems can start. The integrity, honesty and independence of the damp proofing specialist that you subsequently call in are now everything. You are totally reliant on this.
Remember, the chartered surveyor only said that there may be rising damp, not that there is rising damp. An electronic moisture meter on its own cannot accurately prove that there is rising damp.
It’s also worth considering two further points:
- Rising damp is easily – and frequently – misdiagnosed.
- The ‘damp proofing specialist’ you engage essentially relies on diagnosing – and treating – rising damp to make a living!
As we’ve said, we don’t want to be ultra-pessimistic doom and gloom merchants here – but this should give you pause for thought.
Fee or free surveys?
Of course, there are many companies who are completely reputable and offer free surveys. However, there are also some that use either unqualified or those with little experience to carry out such surveys – and those that are working on a commission basis.
Remember, damp proofing companies are in the business of selling their damp treatment services as well.
Some companies will charge for a damp survey but then offer to refund the fee if work needs to be undertaken, but the chances are that the survey fee will have been added into the quote anyway.
How do I find an independent damp surveyor?
Now we’ve established why you should ensure that you receive an independent damp survey, it’s time to look at the second key point: How do you go about finding an independent damp surveyor.
Other than ascertaining whether the surveyor is genuinely independent and hasn’t got any vested interests elsewhere, the key thing is to examine a damp surveyor’s credentials, qualifications and experience.
This can include reviews and testimonials from other people who have hired the surveyor.
A really good way to find this information online is through comparison services. These services allow you to get multiple quotes from local surveyors. You can also see reviews from people who have used them in the past. The surveyors profile will also display all of their qualifications and certifications.
When it comes to damp surveyors, one of the best services is Bark. To start viewing credentials and receive online quotes you just need to answer a few simple questions. It is not uncommon for quotes to be really competitive. We have seen discounts as high as 60% for surveyors.
Look for certified professionals
Looking for membership of professional bodies is a good starting point. The Property Care Association (PCA) is the trade body for independent surveyors, contractors and consultants. Any individual or company that is PCA accredited will hold specific industry qualifications, be TrustMark approved, and will have signed up to a code of ethics.
PCA accredited damp surveyors will be able to produce a PCA surveyor’s certificate with your report. This can be shown to lenders, vendors or other stakeholders to prove the credibility of the survey’s findings. You can search for accredited professionals by postcode here PCA.
Details of the relevant surveyor’s qualifications can also be found on the PCA website, but the one to look for is the Certificate in Remedial Treatment (CSRT). The CSSW qualification also covers below ground level waterproofing. Therefore, if your property has any basement rooms, you need to ensure that the professional carrying out an independent damp survey also holds this qualification.
On top of this, don’t forget good old ‘customer research’. The internet means it has never been easier to check somebody’s credentials. Look on a company’s website and read customer reviews to get a flavour of what they are about. Combine this with the in-built quality assurances that PCA accreditation gives you and you should be well on the way to finding an excellent independent damp surveyor.