The Truth about Property Care Association (PCA) Contractors
This is a consumer awareness blog, and has been posted simply to give members of the public some inside information before employing the services of a Property Care Association Member (PCA).
Are PCA Members qualified? The exact answer is the Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (CSRT) is a three day course- and is not an academic qualification its probably at the best NVQ1. They are of course not qualified to undertake surveys and regarded by many as simply “Chemical Salesmen” never pay for a survey conducted by a CSRT Surveyor for reasons that will become apparent below.
The views of country’s leading industry expert Mr Peter Ward BSc (Hons) can be seen on these must read links below Mr Ward is a properly qualified Geochemist:
So what do other real experts think about the PCA?
More must read links:
A PCA member (Timberwise) poisoning the environment! Do you agree this is outrageous, and its timing post the Which? Investigation into the same company- so the PCA did nothing to tighten procedures that it promised to do.
This is the company and the £25,000 fine it received:
If you are still considering using a PCA Member please read on.
The consumer group Which? Investigated the PCA and found members that were unable to distinguish between a leak and rising damp, it’s essential you read this report for yourself but this is a summary quotation:
The reports states “Which? Invited 11 damp-proofing companies – including Peter Cox, Rentokil, Kenwood, Lifecote, Timberwise and ProTen – to two houses with a total of three potential damp problems.
These visits were then analysed by three damp-proofing experts, who found that in two thirds of cases the companies recommended unnecessary or inappropriate treatment, or missed the problem completely.0800 915 6363
Which? Home editor Liz Edwards said: ‘We were alarmed at the number of visits that fell short of what our experts deemed to be acceptable. Some companies were recommending treatment that cost hundreds of pounds but our experts judged it completely unnecessary.”
And further in our snapshot survey, five of the 11 damp companies that visited the first property recommended completely unnecessary treatment according to the experts – some costing as much as £1,440 – when they essentially should have suggested getting a plumber to fix a leak.
In the second property, only two of the 11 companies recommended a suitable solution for the penetrating damp problem in the hallway. Also in this property five companies failed to notice the likely damp penetration/rising damp problem at the front of the house. Of those that did identify it, only four recommended a suitable treatment.
Timberwise failed to offer us good advice on any of these problems and charged us £144 per property for the pleasure of receiving its bad advice. All the other surveys were free”.
Therefore to summarize PCA Surveyors are unable to distinguish between a leaking pipe and rising damp so please ask the Building Society if that is the level of professionalism they expect? And further advise you will be obtaining a specialist report from a properly qualified Surveyor.
Timber & Damp Surveys explained
We will concentrate on assisting consumers in understanding exactly what is involved with a timber and damp survey initiated from a homebuyers RICS report.
Any house purchase will almost certainly generate the standard request for a timber and damp report for lending purposes, this document will then mitigate any potential loss to the bank if serious defects are present and suitable retentions made.
Currently, any contractor in the UK can undertake these surveys they require no qualifications and I would like to make it clear that almost certainly, at least half, will be inadequate, inaccurate and potentially misleading the client into unnecessary work.
I say this with the benefit of being in this business since the early 1980’s, one example is, it’s totally impossible to undertake a full timber inspection of a property, your average “three day qualified CSRT course surveyor” will try to take up a few floor boards to inspect joists and wall plates. But without taking up all the boards it’s impossible to be accurate, you need to expose and check wall plates.
The surveyor will normally lift a board “here or there” and recommend full chemical treatment. It’s totally wrong, misleading and potentially dangerous as dry rot could be missed later causing the new owner a terrible financial loss.
Again with the dampness element, the CSRT surveyor is often equipped with a damp meter only, but it’s not a damp meter is a salt meter and not fit for purpose. The correct technical approach is to take samples for Calcium Carbide testing and using other equipment such as thermal imaging cameras and endoscopes.
Temperature profiling of a wall is technically mandatory.
The surveyor should then perform simple estimates to determine the air flow required for the sub floor ventilation requirement, this must be coupled with relative humidity readings in the subfloor and in all rooms within the property. It’s essential the right amount of air bricks are installed and free and open to the atmosphere.
Condensation needed to determine with great care and accuracy.
The competent surveyor will check all gutters and down pipes along with ground level ensuring the damp course is at least 150mm about ground level.
The average timber and damp survey will take a minimum of two hours to complete for a small semi-detached property. On average aa4-10 page report will be generated and emailed within 48 hours of completions.
A group of respected industry experts are now lobbing their MP’s and business secretary Vince Cable to have a debate on regulation of the “damp and timber treatment” industry. If you’re a professional join them on LinkedIn.
Currently there is no regulation for the industry which has estimates ranging from £200-400 million and includes some 3,000 contractors. Unfortunately, it’s an industry that suffers from abuse and a few clicks on google and you will see National brands who dump client’s asbestos in an open public place resulting in a £25,000 fine- completely untrained, others unable to distinguish between damp and a leaking pipe, it’s pretty awful.
The thyme of untrained is repeated in the Surveyors element, there are Associations offering a three day course, for a fee, and the result is an industry qualified Surveyor. There courses have little technical content and have a strong bias in selling chemicals to their clients. Sadly, a person can theoretically leave prison and enrol on these courses, and three days later be trading as a specialist damp and timber surveyor, of course this is the worst case scenario, but I can assure you it’s completely possible, no CRB checks, no pre qualifications required just payment for the course and almost certain to pass. You could be inviting these people into your home today.
The entire industry is full of operatives with none or virtually no qualifications and this goes to the top of one trade Association a board with virtually no technical qualifications to their names, but a board filled with commercially orientated individuals- there for their own financial gain.
This sharp practice must stop, the government needs to introduce regulation, and those regulating must be qualified and these short surveyors’ courses scrapped and false qualifications banned.
I’m here to help consumers with dampness issues but would welcome your views and input especially from experiences with operative and companies from the industry, we could even assist with compensation claims and secondary surveys to confirm if a problem actually does exist.
We recommend, at the minimum, if you are to engage a PCA company to undertake works you have the quotation checked for accuracy by an independent company who will employ Calcium Carbide testing, in all probability there will be no rising damp and you don’t need any of the unnecessary treatments they recommend, that could damage your property, and give further problems with trapped water in future.
A Calcium Carbide test will cost from £280.00 + VAT and could save you thousands.
Did you know there’s a company offering 30 Year Assurance Guarantees against rising damp in buildings for £350.00 +VAT?
For more details, and a local expert in your area contact the author by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone’s comments are most welcome, and we invite PCA members to put forward their views
Thank you for reading this blog.