From Tuesday 24th March our site operations are suspended for at least three weeks.
However, although our technicians and surveyors are at home, we will be checking our answerphone messages and emails daily.
Existing and prospective clients, suppliers and anyone else can still reach us. We’ll try to get back to you promptly so that we can help you.
Once this current ‘lock-down’ is over we intend to re-commence work on existing and new projects, carry out surveys and provide expert help.
We wish all our clients and suppliers good luck and good health in the coming weeks. This is our 35th year of trading and it will not be our last!
Come on – let’s test our knowledge of structural repairs
The 7th February was the first Friday of the month so of course it was time for another exam. This time all technicians and surveyors sat the test on ‘Technical and safety implications of structural repairs’.
The technical side included installation of Helifix Helibars and Helibeam work, with questions on depth of embedment and jointing of longer lengths. Use of Cintec sock anchors was included, with the focus on diamond drilling, correct grout mixing and pilot hole diameters for particular anchor body sizes.
That’s not all; health and safety section covered use of pressurised air, water and grout, as well as work on fragile roofs, mental health awareness and emergency procedures for eye injury.
Our results will be analysed and used to refine our training. This is the way we intend to stay at the top of the specialist structural repairs industry. On the last Friday of the month a training session will include a run-through of all of the questions to aid understanding and retention.
This rolling program forms the heart of the ‘Brick-Tie College of Building Restoration’. For advice on crack-stitching, structural repairs of all types and a safe high quality job – contact us.
Following the first exam of 2020 the results are in for appraisal. It looks like we really are the best wall tie installers. However, there’s always room for improvement in life. As a result we’ve responded with a bespoke lesson to improve our team’s knowledge and safety.
This lesson was delivered last Friday at our weekly be-brief. MD Bryan Hindle took everyone through the full test “technical and safety implications of residential wall tie replacement”, which everyone had sat a fortnight before. This time he provided the answers and elaborated with the relevant technical references and discussion. This enabled everyone to explore each topic, with Bryan able to react to the questions and help improve understanding.
This lesson went really well, the feedback from the technicians and surveyors was useful for future sessions too. So for the benefit of the whole team the office crew attended the lesson. They said it was fascinating and it would help them in their work, particularly when answering technical questions from clients.
This program is designed to take our technical and health and safety standards to another level, far beyond that of any of our peer group of specialist contractors across the country. That’s a tall order because we are already starting from a high level (demonstrated by the results achieved in the initial test). However, complacency is the enemy of quality, it fertilises arrogance and we reject it. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of pride and self-belief so, we will develop this college on a monthly basis and see where we are in 12 months. Bryan is willing to bet that it will be a good place. Perhaps we will be able to claim we are the best wall tie installers and much more besides?
Two of our technicians; Garry Mackintosh and Gareth Clark, scored 100% in the health and safety section, which was excellent. Our top overall scorer was Craig Tarbotton, with an 89% combined technical and health and safety score – outstanding Craig! Everyone scored well on combined marks, with averages of over 70%!
Bryan is writing the next test now, which technicians and surveyors will sit in early February – the subject is a secret and could be anything from Structural repairs; damp-proofing, timber treatment, waterproofing, general construction principles or specific things like Helifix systems or Cintec anchors. One thing is certain though – it will be tough and like the first one at least 35% of the points will be based on relevant health and safety content.
Want the best wall tie installers and surveyors to help you? Contact us now for friendly help and advice. 0800 591541
Brick-Tie are full award winning members of the Property Care Association.
MD Bryan Hindle attended the monthly branch meeting of IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health), today. Every month these meetings feature a few hours of worthwhile safety training and this month, mental health was on the agenda. This event was organised by IOSH Yorkshire’s members and included two professional presentations.
Dr Jo Yarker presents her research to IOSH members on sustainable return to work.
Dr Jo Yarker has been examining the resources people use when they return to work. She presented data from interviews conducted with 38 returning employees and managers who have supported return to work. Putting this in context; in the UK alone, stress, anxiety or depression accounts for 44% of all ill-health related cases and 57% of all working days lost to ill-health in 2017-2018 (HSE, 2018). Returning to work following sickness absence can be challenging; too many people struggle to return, and many subsequently relapse and take further absences.
The research suggests that supporting an employee to strengthen their IGLOO – their Individual, Group, Line Manager, Organisation and Overarching resources – can help them to return to, and stay in work. This was a fascinating session and provoked some good question and answers from the floor.
Victoria Filed delivered a really useful and practical session. Her presentation was packed with essential links to on-line mental health resources. Most of these were for health and safety professionals, however, there were others, which could be used to help employees who may have concerns, or be suffering from stress and anxiety. As a result this was also very well received by delegates and once more, there were lots of questions from members.
What has all this to do with Brick-Tie Preservation? Everyone has a right to be respected at work, be free from anxiety and to feel valued. We believe that the health and well-being of all of our team impacts the service we provide for clients. Therefore, our people can enjoy their work and look after our customers with a smile. It is one reason why we take time-out to attend these meetings and bring the best ideas back home, for everyone’s benefit.
You can read about some of the work we have been doing to help our employees stay mentally safe and healthy at work here
Wall tie replacement work is like anything else in life; it evolves over time. Lessons are learned as experience is gained; new problems are found and overcome. So after 34 years as Yorkshire’s wall tie experts, you’d think we would ‘know it all’.
The truth is that nobody can say this about anything in life. Lesson may be learned, but they can also be forgotten. As a result even experts can be become victims of complacency and arrogance. This is how mistakes happen. It’s why we strive to keep up to date with new technology and accepted industry best practice. But, it’s just as important to re-visit the important basics of everyday work. How come our wall tie surveyors and wall tie replacement technicians are so well known for being at the top of their game? It’s because of the constant hard work we do on improving our standards.
2020 has started well for us with the official launch of the Brick-Tie college of building restoration. This is our ‘in-house’ name for our existing professional development program. One-to-one and group training has been a staple diet for us over many years. However, we do so much of this that we’ve decided to put all of the training under this new banner. This will help us bring the technical, health and safety, environmental, team working and customer service training under one project. It’s not just a label for training, it means that we can plan, organise and deliver our in-house and outside contracted training more effectively.
To kick-off the new year all our technicians and surveyors sat a test last Friday. ‘Technical and safety implications of residential wall tie replacement’ was a tough one, designed by our MD to really stretch everyone. Everyone achieved a ‘pass’ of course. However, the test wasn’t about ‘point scoring’; it was a crucial way of finding out exactly what we need to do to improve our knowledge and standards; a baseline of our knowledge if you like. By analysing the wrong answers in a statistical way, we can focus on the weaknesses we have, fixing any holes we find in our understanding.
After a test we can write a reactive lesson plan, covering the entire test, with emphasis on improving skills across the board. The anonymised scores are part of the lesson and we’ll soon re-visit testing to measure improvement over the coming months.
One-to-one help for all staff will form part of our college’s work, so that individual staff can explore subjects in a relaxed and supportive way. Just for the record the average overall score in the first test of 2020 was 72%, with 81% achieved for the health and safety section. We’re delighted with these results and it’s a great foundation to build on for the coming year.
For anyone requiring wall tie replacement in Yorkshire Brick-Tie are the clear choice for quality, integrity, safety and service. We never forget that keeping this reputation takes constant work. Work that we are delighted to do.
Our thanks go to some of the excellent outside organisations we use to back-up our training and quality services. These include Resilient people, Nigel Deane at ND safety, The Property Care Association, IOSH and The Construction Fixings Association.
Office administrator Josie Allitt joins our general manager Katrina Jackson and surveyor Paul Glover to celebrate this achievement. Josie has been with us for several months and works hard in our Sherburn in elmet office. Paul has been with Brick-Tie for five years. He designs and specifies structural work and damp-proofing work, as well as wall tie replacement projects. This means he must have competence in risk assessment and in planning a safe system of work. Katrina has fifteen years under her belt and was promoted to general manager three years ago. Katrina and Josie don’t attend site very often, but they do organise the delivery of the work. In addition to this they both talk with our clients and site operatives via email and phone. As a result they need to understand our health and safety management systems properly.
When working on residential and commercial projects, last minute alterations to a specification, timings or work schedules can result in increased hazards. That’s because it may be weeks since our surveyors were on-site. Things can change. So it’s important for office staff to understand and respond to these events in a timely manner. We have a good safety management system but it depends on the full engagement of everyone involved. This is where outside courses and certifications come in.
Josie has excelled since joining Brick-Tie. She recently added the Fit2Fit certification for qualitative mask face fit testing to her CV. This allows Josie to train our technicians to wear, select and maintain their dust masks. A secure and reliable seal around the mask is crucial for lung health. We strive to control dust, but during structural work some dust will always escape. That’s why Josie tests. She uses a special hood, some saccharin and bitrex aerosols and of course, great patience and skill. In 2020 Josie will train in hand arm vibration assessment and measurement so that the health of our technicians is assured. Her work on improving our vibration management system has been excellent. Once she has achieved vibration assessment competence she will help drive down our vibration exposure, still further.
Katrina Jackson has recently passed her Mental Health First aid course. It’s constant improvement in health and safety competence for Kat, her competence covers manual handling, managing safely and mental health awareness. Our new surveyor David Gill has also stepped-up as our third Mental Health at work first aider – a real team effort. The construction industry has traditionally been a potentially stressful environment. As a result many forward thinking companies like ours, are putting improved mental health and well-being programs in place. Our thanks go to Resilient People for their excellent training provision.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Managing Safely course is internationally recognised as the basic level of management H&S competence. Our managers and supervisory staff need to pass this to help others work safe. Our MD Bryan Hindle has a greater depth of health and safety knowledge than this; the buck really does stop with him and, he takes this very seriously. He’s helped by our H&S consultants Stallard Kane and his Health and safety ‘guru’ Nigel Deane of iSafe. Bryan’s membership of IOSH and the voluntary work he does with ‘Working Well Together’ help keep health and safety ‘best-practice’ alive in Brick-Tie. But he is very busy, so it’s his duty to make sure that everyone plays their part in keeping our employees and clients safe.
If you are considering a project involving Structural work, Wall Tie Replacement or specialist Damp Proofing there are always hazards on site during the work. The Health and Safety Executive have confirmed that it is the smaller contractors on domestic sites who are responsible for the bulk of injuries to customers and workers. Brick-Tie aim to ensure our own safety and yours and your family’s too. We bring the same risk assessment and hazard control skills to residential projects, that are expected by our large commercial and institutional clients.
Our MD Bryan Hindle was on hand last week to present the Property Care Association CPD session on Dampness Related to Cavity Wall Insulation. This was via CPD Essentials, who are quickly establishing a great reputation for their regular CPD offerings around the country.
When it comes to damp diagnosis the PCA and its members are among the first to be called for advice on up to date best practice. To underline this technical strength in-depth, PCA asked a small number of members to present these CPD sessions.
Sheffield is in Brick-Tie’s back-yard so Bryan stepped-up for this one. He was glad he did; “It was great to see so many familiar faces in the room at Tankersley Manor Hotel; there’s always a few people you see at every CPD opportunity and Wednesday was no exception” said Bryan. “Surveying is similar to other professions, there are those who attend CPD because they need the points, then there’s an enthusiastic core of people who really strive to attend everything they can. I know which professional I’d rather have surveying my house.”
After a brief introduction from Philip Santo, Bryan took delegates through a short guide on the wonderful benefits of traditional cavity construction. Following this, it was time to outline how late 20c and early 21c refurbishment methods and social changes have contrived to dilute these benefits. The results of this were illustrated with slides from real surveys, which highlighted:
The PCA have members all over the UK, who see and diagnose these issues every week. Bryan’s no exception; he used some of his own local site images to help illustrate the most common problems associated with retro-fit insulation. Naturally, to aid understanding he used an interactive psychrometric chart and a thermogram to pick-apart how a ‘cold bridge’ raises relative humidity, as well as increasing heat loss.
Images taken inside an insulated cavity wall through the boroscope were included too. Moisture meter profiles that can be indicative of a CWI induced issue were covered. Moreover, those profiles and visual evidence which point elsewhere were underlined.
The session was not about bashing CWI, which is crucial as part of our common fight against global warming and combating the scourge of fuel poverty. As is often the case in the built environment, the devil is in the detail. Poor design, delivery and workmanship are in large part to blame for these problems. However, PCA (and Bryan), are convinced that the financial model for the delivery of large scale retro-fit insulation projects is flawed. How so? The rush to meet carbon emission targets has spawned an ‘Insulate first and worry about it later’ attitude; as a result, we are now seeing the unforeseen damage wrought by that lack of foresight.
Local surveyors and damp specialist companies cannot turn the clock back. But, PCA, working with government agencies and stakeholders can modify the delivery. We can do this by publicising the defects caused up to date; engaging with those who have influence on government strategy and by consulting with individuals and bodies who can work together to get it right.
What can RICS surveyors and the rest of the industry do? We can make sure that tenants, owners and buyers of homes with CWI installed get the best advice, without scaremongering or generalised solutions. The CPD session on dampness and cavity walls will help surveyors in Yorkshire to do this. That’s why Bryan was there.
The remaining sessions offered by CPD essential on the day were excellent, covering a broad range of topics. With experts like Philip Santo and Tom Littler on hand, it was always going to be good. Bryan left knowing more about septic tanks than he ever thought he would – thank you Tom!
Do you need the best advice on damp diagnosis and damp control? If you are in Yorkshire – contact us.
Gareth; ‘Gaz’ to his mates, joined us this week. Employing another skilled plasterer, with great trowel skills strengthens our team and adds more flexibility for our projects.
The work on developing and broadening Gaz’s skills has already started. Our aim is to secure Gaz’s future, as a skilled all-round remedial technician within the next 12 months. Day one was given to his health and safety induction, which included face fit testing, administered by Josie Allitt, who is one of two Fit2Fit qualified testers in our team. Josie issued Gaz with his personal protective equipment bag. The bag contains all of the PPE he may need and is checked and topped-up by Josie every Friday.
After his induction Gaz spent the afternoon with our MD Bryan Hindle. Bryan always spends time with every new starter “I get to know them better as we drive around from whatever appointments I have. I can answer their questions and give them some valuable background about the company’s history and our values”, he said . “Of course they can also see who leads the firm and that can tell you a lot about the culture in a company”.
Later, Gaz and Bryan visited Hudson Quarter, which is a site we are employed on in the centre of York. Our client; Caddick Construction is constructing a prestigious mixed use development there. Brick-Tie’s role is the installation and testing of Cintec high specification fixings. These were proof tested to 25kN (that’s 2.5 tonnes). They are safety critical anchors; 900mm long; precision installed in 50mm diameter diamond drilled holes.
Tension testing was carried out using one of our calibrated digital test gauges.; ‘pulling’ through a Hydrajaws hydraulic rig with a heavy duty load bridge. Gaz applied the tension himself, under Bryan’s supervision. All of the anchors passed the test with flying colours.
Gareth is delighted to start his journey within one of Yorkshire’s most diversely skilled specialist companies. In the coming months he’ll be plastering of course; though he’ll be using specialist materials, membrane systems and many types of mortars including natural lime based products. He’ll also be working with skilled technicians, installing wall ties, diamond drilling, treating dry rot and woodworm, undertaking structural repairs, testing wall ties, waterproofing basements and installing lateral restraints and Helifix masonry repair systems too. He told Bryan “I love learning new things”. This is music to our ears; lifelong learning and sharing best practice is at the heart of Brick-Tie and it’s why we’ve been trading for over 34 years.
Everyone in Brick-Tie is delighted to welcome Gaz!
Our boss Bryan Hindle was in good form last week, talking to students at Leeds College of building. These first year bricklaying apprentices are working towards their level 1 diploma and don’t yet have much site experience to guide them.
As a former student of the college Bryan was asked to talk to them about what he has learned over the past 40 years in the industry. He explained how decisions he made early in his career enabled him to build a successful business and provide work and opportunity for his employees.
Students had their eyes opened to the rich and varied specialisations, which form an important background to many construction projects. He covered timber infestations; damp treatments and damp diagnosis; wall tie replacement, structural repairs, including Cintec sock anchors and Helifix installations. He explained how traditional masonry repairs using lime-based materials are making a comeback and are a complimentary part of many builder’s skills set. Each of these areas can offer a career. But many people like Bryan have built worthwhile careers, diversifying into several allied or associated specialist trades.
Using a bricklaying diploma to start the foundation of a wonderful and life-long career is possible – Bryan’s started his journey with his plastering diploma. Some will become besotted with bricklaying and stay with this, whilst others may depart into specialist and building pathology based activities. Bryan mentioned the growing retrofit insulation market; basement waterproofing, mould, indoor air quality, invasive weed control and gas membrane installation; all areas worth looking into There are many short easy access courses available, which can provide quick entry to these specialist fields.
The core requirements for good candidates in our industry are reliability, positive attitude, integrity and a helpful demeanor – with these simple things in place anyone can shine. Construction is a meritocracy, where skill and effort will always triumph. All employers are looking for good character, as the rest can then be taught ‘in house’ or via outside courses.
Bryan stressed “Take up any offers of training, you always come away with something useful” – “Listen to your mentors, look people in the eye, keep your promises and offer help where it’s needed” In construction this attitude is noticed and is always reciprocated sooner or later.
The session allowed students to handle thermal imaging equipment, moisture meters, hygrometers, air-flow testing equipment and borescopes. Samples of Dry Rot, various brown and white wet rots and woodworm infestations were passed around too.
Our thanks go to the Michelle Sowe and the college for allowing us to spread the word about exciting and lasting careers in our industry.
Brick-Tie are always happy to hear from anyone looking for a career in our industry – currently we have vacancies for an apprentice in damp and timber treatment and a full time remedial technician (must have a full driving license, great team character and good trowel skills). Apply via the above telephone numbers and ask for Sian.
It is said by many that modern life and the demands placed on us by work and social pressures are leading to an increase in poor mental health. This may have been recognised by some in the corporate world, but in construction, especially in smaller businesses like ours, people have tended to concentrate on health and safety in the physical sense of the term.
We’re good at keeping our people safe from falls, electric shocks, noise induced hearing loss and broken bones; anxiety and stress are often things we take for granted.
We’ve turned to local specialist in the field, Resilient People, for help. They are a team of professional experts in the subject of well-being at work and at home. As a result, we are working on proactive and reactive projects to build-in a better environment for our employees.
Proactive work includes training of a type our employees have never experienced before. This started last Friday, with a full half-day session with Resilient People’s expert Chris Burton. He took everyone in our team through the ‘Aware’ course.
• What is Mental Health?
• Understanding the effects of stigma
• Mental ill health conditions
• Positive wellbeing and self-care
We thoroughly enjoyed the training and the staff gave great feedback after, such as:
Chris is returning in July to complete the second course for us; ‘Thrive’ is designed to help us improve mental health by resilience and proactive methods to look after ourselves and each other.
In addition, two of our employees have already qualified as Mental Health First Aiders. Congratulations to Craig Tarbotton and Katrina Jackson. Of course, we hope their first aid skills will not be needed because in some respects that is a reactive approach, when we would much prefer being proactive on this. All construction firms must have ‘Physical’ first aiders at work – we believe that mental health is just as important. But it is not just about dealing with ‘poor’ mental health, it’s also about promoting good health and well-being. The skills and knowledge our Mental Health First Aiders now have will help bring the subject of mental health into our main day to day activity and lift it up the hierarchy of our business goals. A third team member will shortly attend this course, meaning that 20% of our employees will be official mental health first aiders.
Our thanks go to Chris Burton and the team at Resilient People. We’re all looking forward to July and to structuring a planned and sustainable path forward.
PCA Apprentice of the year Richard Waite; he’s now our trainee surveyor!
Richard is already an experienced technician, able to handle a very wide variety of tasks. These range from damp proofing through to wall tie replacement, masonry repairs, Helifix systems and timber treatments. Now he is adding further layers of knowledge so he can become a damp, timber and wall tie surveyor with the company.
In our industry the best surveyors are always ex-technicians. This is because the daily act of taking buildings apart and putting them back together in better condition, is a great foundation for a surveyor to build his expertise on. Richard is now spending time with our MD Bryan Hindle and surveyor Paul Glover, to learn how to recognise defects and specify appropriate repairs.
Bryan and Paul are impressed with Richard’s enthusiasm and understanding so far, so we expect to see him progressing quickly in his new role. Brick-Tie’s technicians have a broad skill set and this has provided good fundamental understanding in Richard; now it’s time for theory and practice to combine.
This week he was able to observe and assist in diagnosis of damp and structural defects, including wall tie corrosion. He also assisted in taking masonry samples for gravimetric analysis in accordance with BRE 245 and he’s practicing report writing too.
Well done to Richard for winning apprentice of the year. He will shortly start his formal training towards the national ABBE approved Certificate surveyor in timber and damp in buildings (CSTDB), examinations and we know he’ll succeed.
The modern chemicals used for treatment of woodworm and dry rot are safe. Safe woodworm treatments are essential. However, the truth is that any chemical used incorrectly or even disposed of improperly can cause harm. This could be harm to the technician using the material; a customer of ours having work done or, the environment.
Great progress has been made in formulating safe woodworm fluids but really, they are only as safe as the person specifying and applying them in your home or office. This is why good training and supervision is crucial. The Property Care Association have now established a National register for professional biocide users. To be accepted onto this register users must be able to demonstrate they are competent to carry out chemical treatment safely and in an environmentally acceptable way.
The good news is that all of Brick-Tie’s technicians will be registered by the end of the year and…. two of our technicians are already registered.
When Adam Orton received his Professional biocide users registration card he discovered he’s the first technician in the country to be added to the list. His card number is 001! Our second registered user is Richard Waite who now has card number 009. Safe woodworm and rot treatment are in stock – now applied by officially safe technicians too. The rest of the team are due for their examinations in November, but until then we all must bow our heads in respect to our trailblazing duo!
For further information on woodworm and its treatment see these additional pages:
Damp proofing and timber treatment covers a vast area of work. Each day of the week our technicians can be completing such diverse jobs as installing a chemical DPC, to replacing rotten floors and treating dry rot. All these and more come under the heading of damp proofing skills.
These skills don’t come easy. Good training, hard work, diligence and a desire to learn are all important.
Adam Orton joined us only three years ago as a damp proofing and timber treatment apprentice. This week Adam graduated as a qualified technician, achievements NVQ level 2 through the Property Care Association apprenticeship scheme. This is great news for Adam as it comes with an immediate pay rise. However, it’s much more important than that. Adam is the same hard working chap he was before, but now he has been validated through the only approved training scheme in the UK. This is a rare and wonderful thing in our industry – well done young man!
The Property Care Association team have worked very hard to bring about the scheme and as a long standing PCA member we were keen to support it from the start. We’re delighted for Adam and very satisfied with the investment we put into Adam’s training and support. In particular we would like to thank Niel Marsden for his efforts in delivering the training at the PCA ‘training shack’. Having an experienced and supportive expert like Neil looking after our apprentices is a great comfort – we knew he’d do a great job and we were not disappointed – Thank you Neil!
Brick-Tie Preservation is a small team of dedicated professionals, working for and with each other to deliver the best service we can. Support from the PCA is crucial in achieving our goals to be the best we can be.
For the very best in Yorkshire call us for help and advice on any damp, timber or wall tie issue. There’s another apprentice of ours passing through his final assessments for his NVQ 2 this year, so expect more good news soon.
Every year we sit down with our Health and safety consultants and review our position. This is a full and detailed health and safety audit.
Of course we ask ourselves these sorts of things all year round. But having an outside consultant come along and grill us helps focus the mind and can reveal flaws, bad-habits or omissions, which may otherwise remain.
This past week we’ve had the pleasure of Paul Kent’s company. He is a senior consultant with Stallard Kane Associates; one of the UK’s leading health and safety support providers. Paul knows our business well and he’s watched our health and safety performance improve for many years.
So when he tells us we are doing great work it’s a real comfort and an encouraging sign. However, our work is never done; lots of health and safety legislation mentions ‘as low as reasonably practicable’, which results in constant review of our practices. In effect what may have been suitable last year may be unsuitable now. Work methods and practices evolve all of the time and so must we. We call this ‘Safe by Design’.
One example of safe by design is from our damp proofing activities. This involves the increasing use of specialist dry-lining systems like Safeguard’s Drybase Flex and the Safeguard plastering system. These offer reduced exposure to dust during application, noise and vibration too. So when these are technically appropriate we can reduce potential harm to employees and others by using them, instead of labour intensive and onerous traditional methods. Less heavy materials to transport and lug about the building, less waste and better ergonomics in use – a no brainer. The cavity wall tie work we are famous for has also benefited from constant re-design. We use only specially designed tools with reduced vibration at source. This is great for our technicians long term health
Our employees know they are well cared for, but clients too can be assured that from survey and design stage we plan to work safe – for everyone’s benefit.
Sincere thanks go to Paul Kent who gave us great advice and ideas for additional improvements this year – thanks Paul.
Here’s some of our sites web pages you may find useful and interesting:
Our boss, Bryan Hindle was in Leeds this Friday for his first meeting as a member of the Working Well Together Group. Here’s his review of it….
I attended my first meeting of the North and West Yorkshire Working Well Together group today. This was via the invitation of group member and Secretary Richard Thorpe. Working Well Together (WWT), is a joint HSE and industry initiative designed engage construction firms to get involved in helping employees stay safe.
The meeting was well attended with around 20 members present. It was held at the Morley office of The Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA). Once the minutes of the last meeting were agreed the group got stuck into planning and organising upcoming events the group are involved in, in the coming months.
These include a mental health and stress day, a mock trial following a serious health and safety breach and a ‘when the inspector calls’ session.
It was good to sit among a diverse group of health and safety professionals; listening to their opinions and advice was illuminating. I kept my head down, as the new boy. However, I hope to contribute more as I find my feet as a new member of this group. Membership is a real chance to make a difference to workers by educating and engaging people to work safe. I also hope to take back lessons for my own team in Brick-Tie and my peer group in the Property Care Association.
Here’s a link to the WWT web site
We love Friday mornings. The weekend beckons of course and the first thing every Friday is our weekly breakfast de-brief.
All the boys and girls get together to share their experiences during the past week. Our experience covers such a wide selection of work that it is important for everyone to share what they have learned, for the benefit of all.
Together we look at any customer feedback we’ve received during the past week; good or bad. This morning our technicians Richard Waite and Luke Demetriou were beaming as we read out the comments from our client Mrs McPhillie of Wakefield. “We were very pleased with the work completed by Luke and Richard” she wrote “Very professional. We had the best team. Everyone who I spoke to was very helpful in the office so the experience was first class.”
What a great way to end our week; with a pat on the back for a job well done and, in Luke and Richard’s case, a tin of PEK chopped ham and a Frey Bentos steak and kidney pudding as a bonus from the boss!
We find that hard work is rewarding and fun too. It’s a great; knowing we are doing something really worthwhile. There’s always more to do and many improvements to make along the way. Provided that we place mutual respect and support for each other at the core of our work, we know that things will get better and better.
Anyway, over the coming weeks we have a wide variety of projects ongoing. These include residential and commercial contracts across Yorkshire. The work ranges from damp-proofing to wall tie replacement, with some crack stitching, masonry repairs, water repellent treatments and timber treatment too.
If you need any of the specialist surveys or work we do, think about instructing us. You’ll find that dealing with our team is just like having a specialist company owned by your best friends! We know this because BT Preservation reviews performance every week, week-in week-out.
Our very own Manager Katrina Jackson did the business last Sunday in Leeds. Kat raised £300 for St George’s Crypt.
This year we are all working to raise money for St George’s Crypt so Kat wanted to help that out and stretch herself by running her first 10K.
It was a sweltering morning in Leeds as thousands took part in the ten kilometre race. Katrina has been running for a few years on and off and finds a good run is a great way to wind down and relax after a busy day.
Kat did great and finished in under an hour – her best 10K ever and her first official race.
Here are her stats – direct from Asda!
A huge congratulations in taking part in today’s Asda Foundation Leeds 10K – we hope you had a fantastic day!
So how did you do? Your chip time today was 00:59:01. That puts you in 1251 position for your gender and in 191 position for your age. Great work!
Kat did a great job and we’re all very proud of her. She’s an inspiration to all of the Brick-Tie team. With Katrina’s sponsorship and the £5.00 we put in for every customer feedback form we get in we hope to raise up to £1000 for St George’s Crypt by Christmas.
This money will make a real difference for so many homeless and disadvantaged people in Leeds – Thank you Katrina! Well done from all of us, you’re a superstar.
Our office staff will speak to clients about a damp and timber survey many times a day. Often things get technical, so it is important that all our admin team have site experience. To do this we like to take our office staff to site to see what we do and how we do it. Last week it was Sarah Hilton’s turn to have an ‘away-day’. This involved time with our surveyors carrying out pre-purchase damp and timber survey.
Sarah used specialist equipment to measure moisture in walls and floor timbers. She also had a go with a boroscope; an instrument used to look into hidden voids. Surveyors, Paul Glover CSRT and James Firth CSRT demonstrated the correct use of the equipment and gave Sarah a run-down of the methodology they follow to make sure that every damp and timber survey is accurate.
This is crucial for Sarah, as she types many of our written damp and timber reports. Knowing what a surveyor does on site helps her place our surveyors findings into their proper context. It also enables her to better answer any questions clients may have, whether they are booking a damp and timber survey or discussing one they’ve already received. Some of our office team already have certification to remedial technician grade in preservation (PCAQT) and Sarah hopes to emulate them later, as she gains experience and knowledge.
Asked about her day Sarah said “I really enjoyed it and can now relate what the surveyors were doing with the transcripts of surveys I’ve issued. Being able to talk clients through the sort of thing they can expect a surveyor to do at a property is very useful”.
Property Care Association members like Brick-Tie operate to the PCA code of ethics and the PCA damp diagnosis code of practice, so clients are assured that they are in safe hands
Damp and timber surveys are carried out by us across Yorkshire. For information speak to the office where Sarah, Sian or Katrina will be glad to help on Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 or email us about damp via our contact page or read on for more information about what we can do to help you.
Here are a couple of links to helpful pages on this site, including a frequently asked question (FAQ) page on damp and timber and a further page on our commercial damp proofing and timber treatment services.
Brick-Tie have just been re-accredited for Investors in people. This follows a thorough in-depth audit undertaken in January this year. Here’s an excerpt from the IIP report on Brick-Tie!
The findings of this assessment are presented below for consideration by the leadership team.
Brick Tie Ltd (the Company) is an organisation built on customer focussed and people-centric principles that have been defined and widely communicated by the management team to all those involved in delivering the services. As a result there is a very clear sense as to the nature of the services offered and the requirements of people delivering those services on a day-to-day basis. Equally, through highly effective approaches to staff engagement and communication there is strong ownership of quality assurance and continuous improvement. This people-centric culture sees a very positive commitment from the staff within Brick Tie to both the Company and the customers and stakeholders it serves.
Coaching and mentoring form a key part of the learning that takes place for staff within the Company and people cited many and various examples of how they had shared knowledge and information with colleagues, almost on a daily basis. Weekly staff and regular 1:1 meetings, along with feedback from stakeholders/customers all provide a rich source of information that is then cascaded down through the business in order to help inform improvements.
Appraisals takes place on an annual basis, while the weekly all-staff meetings help to discuss performance in the round to good effect, identifying any issues or concerns and discussing how practices and approaches can be improved. These opportunities for discussion are also proving effective when it comes to reviewing and identifying any personal development needs and people indicated that they feel there is a good culture of continuous learning and that personal development is encouraged by the management team.
Growth within the business has seen employee numbers rise from 11 to 14 people over the last couple of years and all those interviewed were clear that the plans for the future of Brick Tie are centred on a steady rate of growth in financial turn over terms. This increase in staff numbers has also allowed the MD to start to move back from a principal surveyor role and progression routes have now started to open up. Several of those interviewed commented that the whole ‘feel’ of the Company had become more positive year on year. All round, people commented that they now find Brick Tie to be “the best company I’ve ever worked for”.
From this Investors in people review, the following can be considered as strengths of Brick Tie Ltd.
This collegiate approach to doing business has also enabled people to feel a good sense of trust when it comes to taking decisions appropriate to their roles.
“You know what you can make decisions about and what you need to check out first with the office. By the same token, even if the decision is yours to make, you know you can always give them a ring and you’ll get the support you need”. (Staff)
This trust is reciprocal in nature and all those interviewed cited a high level of trust in the senior management and leadership team when it comes to leading and directing the work and future of the Company.
The open and positive approach to leadership and management has also had a good effect on the sense of value and worth that people feel around the Company. Regular and positive feedback, praise and thanks were cited by staff as conducive to their sense of ‘being appreciated’ and the encouragement to undertake additional responsibilities is seen as further recognition of their capabilities and builds on their sense of being appreciated by the management team. People are also able to describe how they have been rewarded for “going the extra mile”, for example by providing bonuses for work on particularly large of complicated projects. Such is the culture of the Company that people all now bring their own examples of how they have demonstrated ‘going the extra mile’ with customers to each staff meeting.
The above report also contained lots of goals we can include for the future – don’t think that we are finished improving our service and work environment… that job never ends!
Our MD Bryan Hindle attended a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) session in Manchester last Thursday night. The two-hour session was organised by the North Western section of the Green Register. This ‘Bite-Size’ CPD was thermal imaging for use in building insulation surveys.
Entitled ‘Mind the gap’, in reference to one of the purposes of using thermography; to find the gap between ‘as-designed’ and ‘as-built’. The event was a great success. The venue was the prestigious Manchester studio of award winning architects Sheppard Robson. SR kindly supplied the meeting space for Green Register and a very posh selection of biscuits, which went down very well.
Once a building is completed, the first signs of insulation or air leakage problems may be mould growth, occupier discomfort or moisture damage. Thermal imaging allows trained professionals to find hidden defects quickly, without invasive opening-up. The technology is growing in popularity as the cost of thermal cameras comes down. However, all tools need to be used properly; training and continuing development of skills is essential.
Mind the gap, was presented by thermal imaging consultancy and training specialists iRed. Director Ray Faulkner and senior trainer Bruce Arnold took the floor over two sections. Ray covered the first session, which was an introductory guide to thermography in the built environment.
As Bryan is already an experienced level 1 thermographer, this was really just a re-cap, however, there is nothing wrong with going over the basics now and again and it was still interesting and helps to embed basic fundamental knowledge. It was also a chance for those who are new to thermography, to get an idea of the flexibility and power of modern thermal imaging. The group of Architects, technologists and surveyors present certainly took lots away from Ray’s excellent talk.
After coffee Bruce explored Bryan’s favourite topic of damp diagnosis, using thermography. Bruce demonstrated how he is expanding quantitative thermal analysis, using thermal indexing and U value calculations. This allows a thermographer to highlight areas of concern; particularly useful for building control bodies and end-users. This is cutting edge stuff and Bryan was delighted to learn from Bruce, who was engaging, enthusiastic and open to sharing his ideas and experience – great stuff.
Overall, the bite-size event was part beginner’s thermography and part advanced/practicing too. There was something for everyone who attended. Green register is to be commended for putting this on. Bryan is already keen to attend more events and recommends ‘Bite-Size’ sessions to other busy professionals, as well as the rest of his team at Brick-Tie Preservation.
Brick-Tie preservation surveyors are all equipped with Flir thermal imaging systems, ranging from E5’s to T420bx models. All of them are trained and competent to use this equipment to help identify and quantify building defects, related to damp and condensation. Asked if thermal imaging had impacted on his company’s daily work Bryan said “The range of Flir tools has added another vital layer of information from building surveys. We can reach accurate decisions on the hidden causes of dampness. Thermography informs our choice of interventions too and has played its part in our growing reputation for excellence.”
For surveys or information about thermal imaging in Yorkshire call us now on Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 or email us about damp via our contact page, or learn more about our damp and timber services from the dedicated pages below.
Here is a video from a survey, which illustrates how we use Flir technology in Yorkshire. This method helps clients differentiate between dampness caused by condensation and that due to rising damp.
For further details of our survey services please visit our damp and timber consultancy page. We’d like to thank Green Register, iRed and Sheppard Robson for the training opportunity they enabled for us. Please visit their web sites for further information.
The first full training day of 2017 took place this week. In the morning, we studied Helifix masonry repairs. This was part of our specialist structural repairs service. However, the afternoon was dedicated to the future. To do this, BT Preservation reviews where it is, to help plan and agree our goals for the future. Everyone was there, so it was necessary to close our office for the afternoon. We ate a lunch of fish ‘n’ chips together, before getting to work.
Here’re the details of what went on. It’s relevant to clients because this illustrates how we meet diverse customer expectations and, what drives us to constantly improve. Firstly, our MD Bryan Hindle thanked everyone for all of the hard work and care they had put into making the previous business plan a success. Our customer feedback has been excellent for all areas of our work. One of the most common points made by customers, was how friendly and helpful everyone they had contact with was. Bryan emphasised that this above all, indicates that our customer service culture is very positive.
Here are some specific achievements Bryan mentioned, which took place in the past two years:
Details of the way we manage change is outlined below – if you’d rather speak to a friendly person in our team please call Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 where Julie, Katrina, Sarah and Sian, are waiting to help with your questions.
The above were all things we planned and executed over the past twenty-four months or so; the ball was now in our employees’ court – where next and how do we get there?
Everyone plays an essential part in where BT Preservation are and especially where we’re going. It follows that without employee consultation and engagement, we won’t meet our mission. Our mission has been “To be the company the best people want to work for and, the business the best clients want to work with”. We spoke about whether this mission still fits the bill after several years.
When asked, the boys and girls responded that the mission is a resounding success and that of course, we shouldn’t change it. Moreover, our people said that our past efforts to focus on employees and clients has been the key to BT Preservation’s high standing with clients and the wider industry. Explaining why he agreed MD Bryan Hindle explained “Mission statements can be very specific or quite ambiguous. Whilst we have clear and well laid out goals, our mission is designed to support many of them. As Investors in People we’ve learned a lot. All the company rules in the world, combined with detailed management plans are no good alone. You need enthusiastic, skilled and engaged employees to succeed.” Why not check-out our BT Preservation team members?
Thus, the first part of our mission naturally concentrates on our existing and potential employees. Without these, we really are up a creek without a paddle. Our staff agree with this approach, just ask them!
Leading on to the second part of our mission; “To be the business the best clients want to work with”. Bryan explains, “We believe that people ‘buy’ and ‘do’ business from and with other people, not corporate entities”. Clearly, we are part of an organisation, but as a service company our face-to-face and electronic daily contact with our clients, is fundamental to success. “To put it bluntly, ” states Bryan, “if customers don’t like us or, if they feel we don’t care we will fail.”
Conversely, if we strive to delight them from enquiry to completion of our work and beyond, they’ll remember this and our reputation will grow.
As usual the best ideas for improvements come from employees rather than owners and managers. We weren’t surprised that this was the case once more. A wide-ranging discussion opened up several areas, where we thought we could improve. These included waste processing efficiency; recycling; refining our written reports to aid understanding; redesigning our ‘Brick-Tie’ sister web site and, obtaining external advice on office automation and communication systems.
In conclusion, the day worked on several levels, both in refining our reviewed business plan for 2017/18 and sharing ideas and opinions with each other. Our internal mantra is “Straight talking – generous listening”. It works for us and for our clients, though in-line with the forgoing; we’ll keep it under review.
BT Preservation reviews its core business regularly for the good of employees and customers. We’ve proven the rule, that by looking after ourselves and our clients; success comes naturally.
If you need good advice from experts who really care, contact our friendly team. Please call Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 where Julie, Katrina, Sarah and Sian, are waiting to help with your questions. Alternatively why not visit our contact page.
Once more we are hard at work on domestic and commercial sites across Yorkshire. One current project includes extensive structural repairs to a historic grade 2 listed convent, in York. We are also damp proofing and installing wall ties for individual homeowners, housing associations and private landlords. Our work encompasses small and large jobs, working in isolation or, as part of a joint effort with main contractors and local authorities. ALL of these clients need accountability, reliability and above all ‘competance’. This news is about illustrating our constant efforts to ensure we never let our clients down – we are still learning!
So, it has taken a week or two since Christmas, to get a chance to congratulate those employees, who’ve recently received awards and certifications.
All five of our supervising technicians have sat and passed their Site Safety Plus tests. This scheme is designed to enable supervisors to apply best practice for improved health and safety when acting in a supervisory role. There are six essential areas covered and tested:
Congratulations to: Luke Demetriou, Darren Roberts, Craig Tarbotton, Ryan Shann and Richard Waite.
Further congratulations are in order for our surveyor, Paul Glover CSRT. Paul has completed and passed his IOSH, “Managing Safely” course. This course is designed for those managing work and preparing risk assessments and safe systems of work. The course is validated by The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). Paul did exceptionally well and enjoyed the course saying, “It was really worthwhile attending. I feel more confident about my ability to look at a work schedule with an eye to making the work safer for everyone”.
Finally, another Surveyor – Mike Duckett CSRT E eng. Mike attended and passed the Bpec domestic ventilation engineers competence scheme. He’s now a card carrying Bpec approved ventilation specialist. This course tests a surveyor’s knowledge on domestic ventilation systems like extract fans, heat exchange equipment and Positive Input Ventilation systems. The course enables a surveyor to correctly test and commission domestic ventilations systems. This is essential in accordance with Approved document part F of the building regulations and, The Domestic Ventilation Compliance Guide. He’s still learning; Well done Mike!
Our MD Bryan Hindle, is keen that all our surveyors hold this certification, “as specialists in all types of dampness we can always tell clients what is wrong and why their home or commercial building is damp,” he says. “However, where the mould or dampness is caused by excess humidity and condensation, clients need a solution, not just a diagnosis. “Simply telling a client to open windows, turn up the heating or install a fan is no good. An exact specification, for a ventilation system which is legal, economical and safe, requires detailed knowledge of Building Regulations, air flows and equipment performance. This is what bpec certification brings.”
Most people want to do good job in their own day-to-day work. Our philosophy is designed to harness our employee’s natural enthusiasm and build on that; giving each of them the support, knowledge and equipment needed to excel themselves. This leads to high quality work, great service for our clients and a sustainable and healthy future for us all. Nobody is immune to making mistakes, but with good training and validated knowledge, these are few and far between. Competence is crucial to success, we never rely on guesswork or simple good intentions. For this reason, even though we are so well established, we are always “still learning”.
If you think you could benefit from our professional structural repairs, damp and timber treatment or wall ties all you need to do is drop us a quick email with your details, or call us on Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 Our friendly and knowledgeable team will be happy to help.
For further information on the qualifications mentioned above, visit the following organisation’s web sites:
We’ve always tried hard to find out what makes our customers happy and what doesn’t. Getting busy people to take time to fill in customer feedback forms is tough though. What to do?
Three years ago we decided to make a donation to charity for every on-line or postal feedback form we received. It worked a treat, because if there is one thing Yorkshire folk are it’s generous and caring. Our returned customer feedback forms started coming in more regularly and we’ve been able to use your comments to iron out wrinkles in our service. Of course it also means we have been able to thank our team members, who have come in for so much praise from clients, over the past year.
Better still, we’ve raised thousands of pounds for Yorkshire charities since we started this effort back in 2012. So it was with great pleasure that we were able to send a payment to Martin House Hospice for £500.
Martin House is a treasured place dedicated to providing care to ill children and young people, as well as to their families. Their loving attention to those most vulnerable, at a difficult time is a gift. However, the unit depends upon help and support from the wider community, to the tune of £6M a year. In these days of austerity all services are short of money. In the past we’ve supported Macmillan Nurses and The Samaritans. However, illness in Children in particular is heartbreaking and Martin House do such wonderful work that we are honored to help in our small way.
You can make a donation to help care for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses here.
“I’d like to thank all our clients who have taken the time to send in feedback – good and bad” Says Brick-Tie MD Bryan Hindle. “The good ones really give my team a lift and of course, we value the negative too, because often these point to areas where we can improve – thank you”!
Our team were busy today; in Leeds for another Continuing professional development (CPD), event. The goal being to help more surveyors carry out successful and expert damp surveys. CPD events benefit everyone by keeping surveyors and engineers up to date. As specialist contractors we are constantly challenged on site after site, with a wide range of clients both commercial and residential. By sharing new ideas, revised methods we’ve discovered and, going over basics too, we all grow in expertise. We also have lots of fun.
These events are designed to share our expert knowledge with fellow built environment professionals from across Yorkshire. Around 50 structural engineers and surveyors were in attendance for the morning.
Three CPD presentations were delivered:
We were delighted to welcome Mark Womersley of Womersleys Limited to the day. Mark delivered a fascinating presentation on lime mortars. Mark is a vastly experienced specialist who first introduced us to lime based traditional materials back in the 1990’s. His firm supply a wide range of natural materials for use in old buildings and new ones too. He is passionate about these materials and he knows them inside out.
Vapour permeability and the ability to cope with differential movements are two of the most sought after benefits of these products. Mark was able to point out how this occurs and explain why these attributes are becoming more important. His talk was well received and the slides were super. Stand out sections included shots of really heavy duty projects like locks and mills, which are entirely built with lime. These grand structures have stood the test of time in all weathers. He pointed out that there are natural limes for every situation; lighthouses in the Irish Sea included “So there’s no problem with using lime on that gable in Huddersfield” he quipped…
Experts damp surveys are about more than using the latest technology or fancy equipment. Traditional houses need special care. Many modern materials will cause irreparable damage if they are specified incorrectly. In order to meet all our clients needs, whatever age of house they live in, we need experts like Mark to help and guide us.
We are grateful to Mark. His presentation opened a few eyes to the benefits of lime mortars and was very well received. We buy our natural and traditional building materials from Mark. he also helps us with technical support and training, including hot lime selection and application.
Bryan delivered the two other sessions. First up was ‘The Evolution of damp diagnoses’. This was broken down to five sections, taking the attendees through how our housing stock and standards of living have changed. He illustrated how these changes have impacted on our houses. This also set the scene, as his aim was to demonstrate why those undertaking expert damp surveys need wider and greater skills, to meet new challenges.
In particular Bryan outlined how a surveyor needs to take into account things, which may not have been thought important years ago. He used images from real surveys to demonstrate the cause and effect between heating, moisture production and ventilation. He covered the importance of mechanical ‘controlled’ ventilation and took the ‘class’ through his methodology for visual and ‘technical’ appraisal of the internal environment. One slide asked “Since when did we look to see if there were gaps under doors to aid cross-flow ventilation” – answers on a postcard please?
The importance of accurate testing of mechanical extract fans was demonstrated. For example a bathroom extract fan was shown holding a tissue in place via the suction produced – yet when tested on site it was found to have a flow rate of only 2.1l/s. This is 15% of the 15l/s building regulations (Approved document part F) require for that type of fan, when used in a bathroom. Bryan’s advice, on using a tissue to test if a fan works is “Don’t do it”. Our calibrated anemometers and state of the art Observator Diff was on hand for inspection.
Electronic moisture meters can be the cause of many errors on site. Bryan shared his in-depth knowledge of how these meters can be both beneficial and yet misleading. Moreover; he demonstrated how training can ensure surveyors find meters useful, rather than an expensive liability. Thermography and a more forensic approach to damp diagnosis were covered too; ensuring delegates were fully aware of what is available to inform them on site, or via a lab. This included the combined use of hygrometers with thermal imaging; gravimetric testing to BRE 245 and salt analysis.
Afterward Bryan asked a single question derived from each of the three talks. A bottle of Champagne was taken away by each of those who answered correctly.
We build relationships with professionals whenever we can. Two of the UK’s most progressive and innovative companies were on hand to help us out. We were delighted to welcome John Bradley, Head of Residential sales for ELTA group limited and Robert Deary of Safeguard Europe. John brought a display of ELTA’s innovative air quality control equipment, including their remarkable heat retaining ‘push-pull’ extract system. He also displayed ELTA’s Positive Input Ventilation system. The new PIV equipment includes intelligent sensor technology, allowing the unit to adjust performance to deliver the right amount of drier air; changing fan speed dependent on measured vapour pressure – brilliant! We specify, supply and commission ELTA products in accordance with ‘The Domestic Ventilation Compliance guide’.
Robert displayed Safeguard’s class leading range of products including Stormdry water repellent cream; DryZone DPC cream, and the mould breaking DryRod DPC system. DryRod is a favourite of ours these days, bringing super quality control and effectiveness to higher levels than ever before. We are very lucky to have associations with both ELTA and Safeguard. Their support is wonderful and they share our passion for great customer service and high quality material.
A big thank you goes to all those who attended the event. We look forward to the next one….
These sessions showcase our knowledge and our commitment to getting answers right. When there is a problem with a building we do not ask “What can we get out of this?” The question in our mind is “What is going wrong and what needs to be done to put matters right for our client?”
There’s a big difference between the outcome from these two questions and this underpins why our reputation is so good. Commercial and residential customers have discovered why our fellow built environment professionals are eager to take time-out to come and share time with us. They are busy people, so attendance shows they value knowledge and want to improve their own – just like us.
Below is a poster of the firms and individuals who attended this event – please support them if you can.
Some of the North’s leading PCA damp experts were in conversation at a venue in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire this week. The event was the North of England regional meeting of the Property Care Association (PCA). The PCA is the trade association for damp experts including those like us, who specialise in diagnosis and treatment of dampness and associated building defects.
It wasn’t only a meeting of specialist contractors; independent surveyors and consultants were also present for the session.
PCA regional meetings are a chance for members to get together for training and to talk about the industry and explore how standards can be improved.
PCA boss Steve Hodgson was able to bring members up to date on the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), which the PCA have joined with University College London (UCL). The KTP concentrates financial and structural resources to carry out research into dampness in buildings.
Local PCA damp experts like ourselves are actively involved in this project. The KTP will deliver new and exciting methods of damp diagnosis and treatment, backed by UCL’s research expertise, combining with our experience and access to very many damp buildings.
Long term technical officer Mike Bromley retires from the PCA in January 2017. He was on hand to talk to us about his 40 years’ career in dampness and timber. He described the huge changes which have come about in our ‘trade’. Mike gave an entertaining and thought provoking talk, which was well received by all. Mike has been a positive role model and has had a long lasting positive effect on PCA and its members – he’ll be missed.
The UKCMB is a new organisation dedicated to research, education, policy setting and information on dampness in the built environment. PCA damp experts are part of this venture and members discussed how they can help with the aims of it. The mission statement for UKCMB is ‘Changing the understanding and practice of moisture risk management in buildings’. The talk was to be presented by Neil May, the MD of UKCMB, however he is ill at the moment so the presentation was delivered as by PCA technical manager James Berry. We all wish Neil a speedy recovery and look forward to working with Neil in the new year.
As usual there were lots of opinions and a lively debate. Steve was able to confirm that the PCA is in great shape (as if we didn’t know), but he was particularly interested in what members had to say. Our MD Bryan Hindle was eager to point out that the role of all damp experts is evolving; client expectations are higher than ever before and the changing housing stock is bringing new challenges. “The days when a damp surveyor could turn up with an electronic meter and expect to diagnose a problem in minutes are long gone”, he said.
There was general agreement across the floor that mould growth in homes is a growing problem and that as a result, damp surveyors need to be educated and well informed in relation to excess humidity and the indoor environment. This is something we are already well versed with, having all surveyors well qualified and trained in this area of our work. The PCA’s new Residential Ventilation Group, headed by our great friend Dave Cook of Cook group will really help members keep well informed and bang up to date on all matters relating to mechanical ventilation.
Guarantees are always demanded by our customers. However, what really matters is a job done well, with quality materials and a correct specification. This way, guarantees are rarely claimed on. This was a hot topic at the meeting because the advent of easily available insurance backed guarantees means that quite a few are offered by unqualified and non-PCA companies.
Of course, Brick-Tie Preservation will continue to offer these guarantees, simply to give clients additional peace of mind. However, it was stressed that customers really ought to do more homework on the companies and individuals they employ to carry out the work, rather than hoping that a third party will cover losses caused by bad workmanship or advice.
The consensus was that consumers should use qualified, respected and reliable contractors; read their written reports with care; check referrals and don’t be afraid to ask questions…. Good advice. Attending meetings with fellow PCA damp experts is just one way we keep ourselves up to date on what’s new in damp and timber preservation. At Brick-Tie Preservation every day is a ‘school day’.
Over the past few decades serious damage has been done to our housing stock by the application of hard cement to building soft stone and soft brick. Today we took delivery of a two tonne batch of mature lime putty, destined for projects we are involved in.
The material is a hot lime type, almost identical to that used in medieval times, to build fortifications and houses. The putty is preserved in air-tight tubs, ready for batching on site to create the right lime mortar for our restoration work.
The first job for this batch is the St Mary’s Church South Milford, where 170 year old magnisian limestone walls are to be re-pointed by our team, following structural anchor installation carried out earlier.
Traditional lime pointing is soft, permeable and flexible. It allows old buildings to age with grace, without becoming worn, frost damaged and cracked in the way they do when cement is applied. However, many of the traditional skills needed to use this material have been lost over the years. Brick-Tie technicians have learned these skills, so that they can be preserved, along with our historic and listed buildings.
A good company? Last Friday we took a day out from our usual daily work. There were no wall ties installed, no damp proof courses inserted and no dry rot was treated either.
Everyone spent the whole day together for a training and planning event. Taking time-out to train together is one of our core activities and we do lots of work, honing our skills.
However, the best trained people can make errors, especially if they are unhappy, undervalued and feel that they are not listened to and cannot influence their future in the company they work for. We all want to be well paid and safe at work but is that enough on its own? Some business managers think it’s too much – not us.
Recent publicised events at some large companies have illustrated that for some, employees are there to be exploited; paid as little as possible and driven hard, to make a few pennies more. After all, for big firms with massive turnover, pennies add up to millions of pounds.
We were delighted to earn our first £1M of sales last year and we’ve surpassed that this year. We’ve done this using a much better way than those who feel ‘zero hours’ contracts and ‘six strikes and you’re out’ are a fair way to treat employees. Those employers have forgotten something that we have always known; that it is the employees who are the most important people in a company. They are even more important than clients, because without a dedicated and engaged workforce a business is just lost at sea.
Leaderless and uninspired people see their daily work as a grind; a way to make ends meet and they dream of winning the lottery because they know that the boss isn’t interested in them and Camelot may be. They are right about the boss and wrong about Camelot.
In that kind of environment people do what they have to and the only way any control can be gained is with CCTV, clocking in, warning letters and sanctions for any transgression.
If something goes wrong, then someone is to blame. Nobody admits failure; nobody strives to be better; everyone is unhappy. If something goes right then this just validates the archaic rule by fear mentality so the rules don’t just stay, they get tighter. This is a vicious circle. The only happy people are the millionaire bosses, with their cash in the Bahamas and, paying less tax than the cleaners in their depot.
The morning was all about each other. What our part is in the business and how we all contribute to the success of the firm and each other. We picked apart the whole process our clients go through from start to after care service. Who they deal with at every stage; what we say; what we deliver.
We explored the things that we do well and we discussed what we’d like our clients to say about us if they were asked. What they think matters a great deal to us and we made some lists…
The things which came up were trust; reliability; knowledge; professionalism; friendliness, cleanliness, courtesy; honesty and respect.
We all looked at this and agreed that in fact these things are all anyone wants. They are as vital to well-being as oxygen. We all want these things for ourselves and our friends, families and work mates. It follows that to offer these things to customers, we must first reflect these values in our relationship with each other. This is where we start our journey from being a good company and reach our goal to be an ‘outstanding company’.
We decided we are 75% on our way to the Nirvana of being ‘outstanding’. So where can we find the improvements needed to reach our target? We asked each other – employees and employers together. This is the power of Investing In People.
We were able to look at the customer journey and see that the little things like; returning calls, heading off issues, taking ownership and supporting each other, mean customers are seeing the values we aspire to. We are not telling them we are honest and reliable – we are demonstrating these attributes so they can see for themselves…
After the morning was over we could all see a direction we need to go in. Our boss Bryan Hindle likened this to the way our Olympic Rowers and Cyclists have gone about their disciplines. They are already very good – so are we. What makes them outstanding are the small additional incremental improvements they make. Combine this with dedication and hard work and anyone and any firm can become truly outstanding.
The afternoon was taken up with health and safety training. Sessions included protection against Silica dust, Hand arm vibration and asbestos dust. This was followed by a ladder inspection of all the company’s ladders and the installation of a new visual tagging system to ensure that our technicians can see the inspection status of ladders at a glance.
Sian Caley checked all of the techncians PPE bags and replaced damaged or missing items. All our first aid kits were checked and topped up where needed too.
Health and safety are the cornerstones of respect. If a company puts its employees at risk of harm it is not only breaking the law, it is demonstrating that the threat of fines and the objectionable morality of unsafe working, are a more attractive prospect for them, than doing the right thing. If this is the message to employee’s from their managers, why should employees care about customers?
Our employees know they are valued because we do the right thing. In turn they do the right thing too; by each other and, by our customers. As it happens the company was 30 years old last month. So on Friday night we all hit the town…. Brilliant!
Brick-Tie have been Investors in People since 2007
If you’re looking for Professional Specialist Services our team are here for you. For advice or help on Damp proofing, Timber decay, Remedial wall ties, masonry repairs and mould issues, you can explore the previous links or call us on Leeds 265 2752 York 566577 or Sheffield 224 5121 or email us about damp via our contact page
Time waits for no one they say. It is ten years since Katrina Jackson first walked into Brick-Tie’s office, initially as an office clerk. Those ten years have flown by and the young lass who started back then is general manager of the company these days…. How did this happen?
There are quite a few reasons for that but our boss Bryan Hindle sums it up “Kat is dedicated, clever, intuitive and very hard working. All she needed was a chance to show what she was capable of and some support to help her achieve her potential – we’re very lucky”.
In her first year at Brick-Tie Katrina had to learn about our business. She had no experience in a construction type environment. But as the youngest in a family of brothers she was a natural fit into what can be a very masculine world. From the start she was always eager to learn about every side of our firm, from the admin to the technical subjects. She worked her socks off and soon had all the basic operations sussed.
Bryan wanted to take Brick-Tie forward and gain Investors In People accreditation. By February 2007 we were registered and passed with flying colours. Kat did almost all of the work – all Bryan did was direct her. Together Kat and Bryan achieved an NVQ 4 in leadership and management and Kat stole the show in class, helping fellow students and really inspiring others.
She’s Brick-Tie’s manual handling trainer and is a qualified PCA technician to boot.
All the audio typing Kat did for those first few years gradually sank into her and she has a remarkable and natural understanding of what a good written report should read like. She often puts our surveyors right on that – yes, even Bryan.
When the recession hit the business in 2008/2009 Kat was instrumental in helping Bryan and Julie restructure the business. As a relatively new, but trusted member of the Brick-Tie team, her fresh outlook helped us make decisions, which allowed the firm to navigate those hard years. In fact, this laid the foundations for our underlying profitability and success since then.
When Kat joined us, there were already employees in the business with more than ten years’ service. This could be hard for a newcomer, especially a ‘girl’. Kat was an unknown quantity and resented a little, by some. Her dedication and obvious fair-minded work ethic won over any doubters. The entire team hold her is respect and affection. Making Kat a manager was easy and natural. She is respected throughout the firm. This is why Kat was put forward for the PCA employee of the year award in 2015 – she won of course.
Her multi-tasking is legendary, so the job of organising the workload and the teams became hers. How? She ‘owned’ that diary! If there is a hard job to do, Kat will not shrink from the task. This is because she cares about the company and most especially the people working in it.
Talented and hard working? Yes, but as it happens she is also great fun and enjoys a good laugh with everyone (don’t tell anyone but she has a bit of a potty mouth).
In the ten years gone by we’ve laughed and cried and shouted and giggled and worked and worried and thought and planned together. It’s been a fantastic ten years and much of this is down to Katrina.
We are all very grateful for the work and fun Kat has brought into our family business. That fierce type of loyalty Kat has for us all cannot be bought or demanded. It is gifted. Thank you Kat.
Oh……another ten years please?
Today our three surveyors Bryan, Mike and Paul spent their time working together, to share their ideas and improve their skills. A joint survey was carried out in Horsforth. This was a 100 year old stone and brick terrace house with some old woodworm damage and some rising damp. This may seem basic stuff to spend time on. However, we believe that being good at the basics underpins every business; there is always something which can be improved. This is why we spend time on surveyor training.
The property had an old chemical DPC installed. However, the lads found that some of the walls were damp at the base, despite the ground levels being quite low in relation to the dampness. After careful profiling using a couple of different moisture meters a discussion was had. A detailed external inspection revealed that the Chemical DPC in the front wall was bridged by the existing solid floor. In other words the old chemical injection DPC had been installed in the wrong place! In addition, the front wall was a full 500mm thick, yet the remedial replastering was only applied to 1M high. This meant that a salt contaminated band of moisture was present just above that height.
The rear wall was brick and had no less than than two Chemical DPC installations – both injected into the dense brickwork, rather than the porous bed-joints. Mike tested the moisture content of the kitchen floor joists embedded in this wall and the levels were very high. There were signs that the kitchen floor had been partially replaced due to previous rot problems and woodworm infestation. The high moisture content Mike found in the floor timbers confirmed that it was still at high risk of decay – why?
There were also mould stains on the roof timbers in the loft, yet the timbers were dry. Mould needs moisture, so why was it there on dry timbers? Together the surveyors traced the problem to a bathroom, which had no extraction and spot lights in the ceiling. Lack of extraction causes excess humidity, but what have spotlights to do with it? Spotlights get hot and this creates an updraft, sucking air from the bathroom into the loft via the gap around the bulbs. The humid air created during showering is pulled into the cold roof space and condences there – ideal for mould growth. There was also some mould growth on the underside of the bathroom ceiling and the kitchen also lacked any extraction (there was a cooker hood, but it had no ducting kit so it just circulated humid air, rather than removing it).
The old chimneys were disused but were sealed up and dampness was present on the naked brick chimney breasts. The chimney stacks looked alright externally but the ridge tiles on the roof needed a re-point.
Various solutions and recommendations were discussed and a consensus reached, so advise could be given to our homebuyer client:
The above is a fairly average scenario when we carry out damp and timber surveys, especially for homebuyers. The defects seen above are common and sadly, it is not unusual to find that previous attempts at solving damp and timber defects have failed. This is partly due to a lack of surveyor training, so often clients call a damp and timber specialist and get an unqualified self-certified person. Sometimes they may find a qualified surveyor, but if they qualified years ago and haven’t kept up to date, mistakes get made. However, as in the case of the poorly ventilated kitchen floor, incorrect DPC levels and inadequate plastering, simple things can be missed because some people are just not that diligent. Our surveyor training days make sure we stay sharp for our clients.
The suveyors then ate fish and chips together at a local fish shop before visiting Kirkgate in Leeds. This time a commercial basement under a 17C listed building, where a waterproofing system was required, as part of a planned refurbishment. Bryan is CSSW qualified and took Mike and Paul through his assessment process, so the surveyors could consider the options for this important job.
Sometimes our training days are very technical with analysis and deep theoretical work. However, fundemental everyday surveying skill is crucial and like any skill it needs to be sharpened to stay at the cutting edge.
Here on planet Brick-Tie we make high quality damp and timber technicians. Our job has been made much easier this year, with the introduction of the new Property Care Association Apprentice scheme. We’ve been involved with the scheme from the start, with two of our apprentices now well into their training.
This morning our mature apprentice Richard Waite signed off on more of his tasks, on his way to becoming a qualified damp proofing and timber treatment technician. The tasks are spread across all the disciplines, which are needed to demonstrate competence for his NVQ. This week Richard has been working on an 18C house in South Cave, installing a Damp Check Rod chemical DPC and a cavity drain membrane waterproofing system. The paperwork supplied by Property Care Association is superb, with a well made and comprehensive book to record all his tasks in. It’s testament to the efforts PCA team and the CITB have put into the finer details like this, which are setting the standard in preservation related training. These organisations are helping us make Richard into a worthy addition to our high quality damp proofing and timber treatment teams.
Like many experienced and skilled workers in construction, Richard has missed out on formal trade qualifications in the past. He’s worked for small contractors who haven’t been able or willing engage with training. His bricklaying skills are super and he’s already successfully repaired lots of brickwork and masonry defects for our clients. However, he has no certificate or diploma to validate his knowledge and achievements. We think that is a shame, so we are delighted that he is doing so well with the PCA scheme. He will have his NVQ by next year.
Richard fits right in with our world, along with our other apprentice Adam Orton. Today he was a winner of our weekly prize for ‘best effort’ at the weekly boot camp. A Frey Bentos tinned Chicken and bacon pie put a big smile on his face…. well done Richard.
Brick-Tie owners Bryan and Julie Hindle were at the Property Care Association conference last week to pick up yet another PCA award – we were PCA winners again!
The PCA awards are the annual event held after the main conference. The awards are a prestigious affair with independent judges deciding on those who deserve special praise via a coveted PCA award.
This year the three independent judges were:
This year saw a record number of applications from the best of the Property Care Association membership. We are very proud that for the sixth time we are recognised in the PCA awards. We were commended at the 2011 and 2012 awards for training and staff development. However, we won the training and staff development award outright in 2013, 2015 and last week at the 2016. awards This is especially welcome after winning the ‘Contractor of the Year’ award in 2014.
To our team they mean quite a lot. Much of what we do is work behind the scenes; health and safety, staff training; meticulous work in our office, planning and refining our service. Our success and great client feedback tells a story of high quality and reliability. Still, it’s nice to be judged independently for what we do so well. All of our team are very happy to be judged PCA winners once more.
A company is much more than a number, a web address and a name. The people in the firm are the firm. This is where our policy of staff engagement, training, well being and consultation works; for the whole crew and our customers too. It means that everyone is determined and able to deliver the best service we can for clients and ourselves.
Our boss and mentor Bryan Hindle sums up this approach “These days people have a right to expect more than just a paycheck from work. We spend the best years of our lives working and that is not a happy place for too many people. The best businesses are in the business of looking after their employees; do this well, with honesty and passion and your team will fly like mine“.
Worthy PCA winners and the very best example of what it means to be a good Property Care Association member.
Our boss, Bryan Hindle was able to attend this widely anticipated course on traditional repairs last Thursday. This is the second event of its kind, which the SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings), has delivered at the PCA training shed. Bryan missed the inaugural day last year, because he was on a pre-booked holiday…. Doh!
We’ve been working in all kinds of buildings, including traditional ones for 30 years. However, the last time Bryan attended dedicated training on traditional methods was several years ago – so it was time for a refresher. There were a good number of PCA members and non-members in attendance for the training. Douglas Kent is a Director of The SPAB and a chartered surveyor and has a master’s degree in Building Conservation. His team included Andrew Ziminski of Minerva Conservation, who is a Willam Morris craft fellow (1998). Joe Bispham provided the timber section. He is a master joiner and carpenter with an MSc in conservation and Phd too. These three guys have vast experience and we are very grateful to the SPAB and PCA for getting them together to organise the day.
Bryan will be writing a detailed technical review on his blog later in the week. However the course was basically as below:
First up was Douglas, with his presentation on the history of the SPAB. It’s founding principals are clearly still held in very high regard and these were explained. William Morris was the founder and it really is remarkable, how he was able to galvanise such a lasting and valuable resource to conserve ancient buildings. His values, which put conservation before renovation are sound. Nobody could really fault the SPAB’s approach, when dealing with traditional buildings.
Douglas covered the legal framework; historic and up to date. The various listed grading nomenclature were explained. Whilst we know the basics, you cannot beat getting real specialist advice. For example, as Douglas explained “A listing, no matter what grade covers everything, both inside and outside a building”. Sounds, obvious? Well, everyone in the room had previously talked to clients, builders and even surveyors, who had mentioned that the house involved was “only listed in respect of the fireplace, or the east wing”. This is nonsense of course. Everyone needed a timely reminder of their legal responsibilities and this session hit the spot. We were then taken through several case studies and all in all it was a fascinating morning.
Douglas is working hard to conserve his own traditional grade 1 listed house. He was full of hints and tips for doing things the SPAB way – excellent.
The next session was Andrew’s. Andrew is a William Morris fellow and stepped in for the day at short notice to help out. A master mason and conservator, he has vast experience, when it comes to traditional repairs and materials. He used real case studies from historic and prestigious projects to illustrate methods and materials. The traditional approach to dampness, erosion and structural repairs.
Bryan was particularly interested in Andrew’s thoughts on Lime grouting and Cintec stitching of historic buildings. This is something we get involved with. Andrew is a real ‘lime junkie’ and his passion for lime in all its guises was obvious. He has a pragmatic and practical outlook, which to those present, who are from a ‘tools’ background (like Bryan), struck an appealing chord.
After lunch, Joe was up for his presentation. He carried so much gravitas it was palpable. With a full lifetime working on and conserving historic joinery, he’s a goldmine of knowledge. Joe’s love for the work and the buildings too, spilled over everyone.
His frank appraisal of the various methodologies was a treat. Working with oak is his passion, but of course he gave us the important fundamentals, which can dictate using Green or seasoned oak, slow-grown Baltic pine and chestnut. Whilst he deferred to some of those present on Death Watch Beetle and Fungal growth, he doesn’t need any lessons from us. He knows how to cut out the right amount of wood to make a long lasting and suitably traditional repairs. A real craftsman and so generous with his knowledge.
The afternoon then progressed into Andrew’s practical demonstrations. A chance to see and handle traditional materials and tools. Bryan was still smarting from his recent hernia operation, so apart from poking his fingers in the stuff and taking pictures he couldn’t join in. The sessions started with a brief guide to the most common lime based mixes – fat limes; feebly, moderately and eminently hydraulic limes. Natural additives like pozzolans, ashes, clays, various sands and grits.
The importance of the right aggregate was covered, with lots to handle and write about. Preparation is key and Andrew talked us through his approach; From careful removal of old cement mortar, surface preparation, acquisition of the best materials. Then onto selection of tools, gauging, mixing, application and protection. Andrew pointed and rendered and applied roughcast too.
To finish he demonstrated lime washing. All the time he never stopped answering questions and elaborating, when he felt that the questioner needed a bit more explanation – super stuff.
Seeing the materials being handled, mixed and applied by a craftsman of Andrews stature was a treat. A final chat followed back in the class. The day flew by for Bryan because there was just so much in it.
If you have an old building which needs a consummate lime expert Andrew’s your man.
We’d like to thanks Douglas, Joe, Andrew and the SPAB for their patience and the work they’ve put in. The Property Care Association and the training committee are constantly looking to add great training and this was a blinder.
The PCA training shed is a unique resource and very much the brainchild of PCA CEO Stephen Hodgson. It has developed into a national centre of excellence for our industry.
There are those who fear the arrival of a ‘damp and timber specialist’ to the door of a listed building or traditional property. They may well be right to worry in some cases. However, PCA and it’s best members are working hard to deliver effective and sound solutions no matter how old, or new a building is.
Is it worth attending the traditional repair day? Yes, you don’t need to be a member of the SPAB, PCA or even in the trade. Owners of traditional buildings and anyone with a keen interest in conservation and traditional repairs would love it. If you are a built environment professional, there are 6 CPD points available for this information packed day. A ‘must attend’ in Bryan’s opinion. Our surveyors Mike and Paul are already booked onto the next course. The lessons learned and reinforced, will assist in ongoing improved outcomes, for to owners of listed buildings and traditional homes as well as the precious houses they live in.
This week’s winner of the Boot Camp award for best effort goes to Thomas Moran. This is the first time our preservation apprentice has won it.
Tommy really gets stuck in down the gym, just like he does on site, when he’s installing damp courses, treating woodworm or installing cavity wall ties. Well done Tommy and enjoy your prize of a tin of Jumbo size hot dog sausages.
Though Tommy was delighted, he was also due for his regular mask face fit test. This was carried out by our own qualified face fit tester Sian Caley. The lads say they don’t enjoy wearing the test hood so the hot dogs cheered him up!
Our work creates dust and whilst we try to reduce it, it is always present, when taking off old plaster or working on masonry. A well specified and well fitted dust mask is essential for the health of all our team. We’re grateful to Sian for the work she does to help keep our lungs free of harm.
We are all very proud of our team member Sian Caley.
Sian successfully ran the Cancer Research UK ‘York Race for Life’ last week. Not only did Sian run the 5K – she ran the muddy obstacle course. Sian has been training for months, running, pumping iron in the gym and pushing herself hard with a weekly boot camp. We’re delighted and of course Cancer research in vitally important to everyone. She has raised over £140 for the charity – well done Sian.
It’s heartening seeing young and old working together to help others. Sian works very hard through the week, looking after our technicians health and safety, as well as handling phone calls and typing lots of technical reports. It’s commendable that she has the energy and drive to work hard for others. Read about Sian’s contribution to our work here.
You can help Sian raise even more money for her chosen charity here – Thank You
Well done Sian – from the entire Brick-Tie team.
Our very own General manager Katrina Jackson won employee of the year, a gong she richly deserves on so many levels. To add to that we were outright winners in the training and staff development category, with well respected fellow PCA members Rentokil being highly commended too.
It was a fitting tribute to Katrina, especially as she plays such an important role in all our staff training and our Investors In People program – Our MD Bryan Hindle paid tribute to her “I steer the ship, but it’s Kat who I depend on to administer and drive forward the staff training and development for everyone’s benefit. Without her help all my plans for staff training and staff engagement would be far less effective and robust – she thoroughly deserves her own award and had a huge part in the winning of the second company award for training and staff development in three years – outstanding”.
The rest of the team, both in the office and ‘on the tools’ deserve praise too, as they give so freely with input for improvements on all levels throughout the business. Some of the best ideas come from unlikely places and this is at the heart of Investors in People – consulting, engaging and mobilising people to drive positive change.? The training award was aptly sponsored by CITB, who have worked so hard alongside PCA to bring a new apprenticeship scheme into being, for the preservation industry. We are grateful for that and also for all of the advice and assistance we get from CITB on a monthly basis, as we work on our training schedules. Also for the efforts in helping gain recognition for CSRT and CSSW surveyors like Bryan and Paul, who can carry CSCS cards as remedial treatment surveyors and for CSCS cards for all of our trained technicians too.
The business is really a team effort and the awards are not the purpose or goal. They are a fair reflection though, of the behind the scenes efforts we put in, to being a well managed and happy business. Bryan believes that employee satisfaction and good learning and employee engagement, are the crucial first steps in reaching customer needs. Only a well trained, well paid and content employee will go the extra mile for his team mates, suppliers, employer and customer… this is not only a good moral approach to business but our success has proved it is also sustainable and profitable.
Bryan knows where his bread is buttered “Without my wife by my side and my team in the business I’d be nowhere in life. I depend on them and I’m grateful for their hard work. Being so lucky to have them, it’s the least I can do, to give them a safe and positive environment to work in, and enough pay to enjoy life when they are not at work”.
As we enter our 29th years in business we can take comfort that our efforts are recognised.
Here’s to another 29 years……
PS – Our business is growing in a planned and sustainable way. If you are a preservation professional in the Yorkshire area and are looking to work for the best in the business, in a positive and supporting company, please get in touch. Send in your CV in confidence or get in touch via the contact page.
Two out of our three CSRT surveyors were in training at the PCA center this week; thermal survey techniques were the order of the day.
Thermal survey equipment is used by us to detect moisture in buildings, leaks and missing insulation. Our MD is a category 1 thermographer and is introducing thermography into our daily survey work. The PCA laid on a course as a further introduction to thermal survey methods and equipment, held in their purpose built training center.
Mike Duckett CSRT and Paul Glover CSRT attended the course. which was presented by our established thermography suppliers and consultants TCL.
The course covered thermal camera operation, use of specialist software to explore thermographic images and methods and techniques to get the best out of the equipment. TCL’s ‘thermal house’ was used to assess student’s grasp of the basics and the fundamentals of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially the infra-red, which is where our thermal surveys are concentrated.
Both our surveyors enjoyed the day, Paul Glover CSRT especially enjoyed the ‘lab’ demonstrations “It was really good to see how the aluminum bucket reflected the wrong temperature and how that was easily adjusted to get the actual one”.
Mike Duckett CSRT praised TCL’s presentation skills “Stuart and Kevin are so full of enthusiasm and really know their stuff – it excited me and with Bryan’s guidance beforehand, it ticked lots of boxes – brilliant”!
Bryan is our MD and as a cat 1 thermographer he’s already seen the power of thermal survey equipment in his daily work “I’ve been ISO 18436 qualified to use thermal cameras for about a year now and have been using the technology in anger on a weekly basis, it’s added another layer of information to my survey reports and has been a priceless aid on some survey projects”.
“The damp proofing and timber treatment industry has evolved and the gap between those at the top of the profession and those at the bottom is growing; demanding clients expect the best, and it’s no good staying still and relying on archaic methods. There are tools available which could only have been dreamed of a few years ago” says Bryan “I’ve found leaks, dampness and missing insulation in cases where customers were at their wits end and a thermal survey resolved the problem”
Our surveys include thermography when needed for leak detection, insulation surveys, damp diagnosis and condensation risk and analysis. For information call our service line on 0800 591541. Thermal surveys are available across Yorkshire.
When we were asked to call at a Vicarage in Darrington, West Yorkshire, we thought “Here we go; another church to look at – more woodworm to treat.”
However, we found that it was the vicarage with the problem, not the Church – extensive woodworm infestation in the roof timbers. So, what needs to be thought about when woodworm is found? Is it active? Is it severe or light? Is there any structural damage caused by it?
The above comes before decisions are made on whether treatment is essential. Then of course other factors have to be born in mind; what type of timber is it? Some are easier to treat than others; which chemicals if any, are appropriate? do we need to balance safety against performance? The treatment must work, but be safe for the occupants and the remedial technicians who work with woodworm every day.
Here’s a case where these matters were considered and a woodworm treatment regime specified, which ticked all the boxes. The detached house is a post war property, in the sleepy Village of Darrington, just to the East of Pontefract, West Yorks. Our surveyor identified the roof timbers as probably Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, which is susceptible to Common Furniture Beetle infestation. The Reverend Judd and his wife had noticed small holes in the roof timbers when storing some articles in the large loft space.
On inspection, the exit holes were confirmed as being due to Common Furniture Beetle Anobium punctatum. And what a large number of woodworm holes there were! Further close examination of the rafters, ceiling joists and the sarking boards confirmed that the infestation was active and thriving. The twin methods of flight holes counting, combined with a trusty screwdriver and hammer revealed the extent of the problem.
This was a severe infestation with up to 63 flight holes per 100mm run of rafter in some places; The Building Research Establishment cite 20 holes per 100mm as cause for concern. All wood has sapwood from the edge of the tree and heartwood in the centre. With pine, the heartwood is actually quite resistant to woodworm. However, the sapwood is very prone – almost a treat for woodworm and not durable at all.
The next task was to identify any structural damage. Our surveyor quickly identified that the timber joist hangers, providing supplementary support to the ceilings were badly damaged and weakened. This is because they were small section and as a result contained a higher than average proportion of the susceptible sapwood. The horizontal timber binders, attached to the ceiling joists were similarly infested and weakened. The extent of damage to the rafters and purlins was a little more difficult to estimate. This was due to the thick layer of heavily infested sapwood, which though virtually destroyed in places, could be cut away to reveal hard and quite sound heartwood. In view of this a decision was made to ‘de-frass’ the rafters. This involves stripping away the heavily worm-eaten outer sapwood, to reveal the depth of the sapwood and calculate the remaining sound section. This also exposes the remaining sounder timber, so that the chosen woodworm treatment can be applied where it?s most needed.
Pines are generally permeable and absorb woodworm treatment well. So in this case our preferred option would be Safeguard’s excellent Soluguard product. This is a micro-emulsion, with a safe contact insecticide (permethrin), suspended in a carrier within it. Penetration into dry wood is superb. The contact kill mechanism is also handy, especially in heavy woodworm infestations such as this one. It has impossibly low mammalian toxicity whilst being lethal to Common Furniture Beetle. Non-flammable too and supplied in handy dissolving sachets so there’s no waste to worry about. The control works mainly by killing woodworm ‘on emergence’ so all surfaces have to be treated for this strategy to work.
An electronic moisture meter was used to check the water content of the timbers. Whilst the roof was watertight and the general roof timbers dry, the sarking boards had a variable moisture content ranging up to 23%. The rafters were much dryer, with an average moisture content of only 13%, which can be considered ‘dry’ in a roof void. Sarking boards on top of the rafters on which the roof tiles were fixed, presents a couple of problems:
Our surveyors have the qualification, experience and knowledge to draw on when more complex problems arise. In this case treatment would be needed, which would be effective against woodworm and if possible, allow treatment from the underside of the timbers only, leaving the roof tiles in place. It would also be handy if the woodworm treatment had a dual action; killing off the woodworm and protecting the vulnerable and damp sarking boards from fungal attack in the future. Safeguard Europe was turned to once more and we specified that the underside of the sarking boards be treated using Safeguard’s Probor 10. This is a ready mixed Boron based preservative. It has enhanced penetrative ability, particularly in moist timber like the sarking boards. Boron is a very active fungicide with decades of proven success, so we know the timbers won’t rot. It is also a stomach poison for woodworm. It creeps a long way into damp wood, saturating the cells ‘in depth’ and making the wood not only unpalatable to woodworm but actually poisonous too, all with minimal risk to people and animals.
Once the above was considered we look at the safety and health implications. Can the work and risks associated with it be avoided, reduced or controlled? A risk assessment and a detailed safe system of work were prepared. Coshh assessments and detailed information was given to Rev Judd, so he knew what to expect over the few days this all took. Could anything be recycled? What about waste that couldn’t?
The woodworm infestation in this West Yorkshire vicarage roof had almost destroyed it. The finished project leaves a sound roof, with strengthened hangers and binders and no more woodworm. The sarking boards are treated in depth with dual action woodworm and fungicidal treatment and the whole job is guaranteed and insured against further decay or infestation for 10 years.
For further information about woodworm call any of our surveyors or qualified office staff via your local numbers (see above), or our free national line 0800 591 541
See our staff being trained to PCA standards and passing their PCA qualified technician exams here.
Our MD and chief surveyor Bryan Hindle was on hand to present our Sheffield damp and timber survey training event last week.
The CPD event, held at the Sheffield Mercure Hotel, was specifically designed to give surveyors more detailed and valuable information to improve their damp and timber surveys across the board. The event was at the special request of several Sheffield and South and West Yorkshire based surveyors, who had attended Bryan’s structural repairs CPD event at our Sheffield office last year.
Bryan specially wrote two sessions for this event:
Damp and timber surveying goes hand-in-hand, but these are two different if connected disciplines. Continuing Professional Development (CPD), is crucial to any professional surveyor’s success and our CPD events have always received great feedback from attendees.
With over 30 years experience Bryan has a deep well of knowledge to pass onto delegates, so how does he choose what to include and what to leave out? “These guys are busy professionals and have businesses to run and surveys to do. If they’ve taken time out to attend, I have to make sure that their time is well spent” says Bryan. “I tend to barely touch on what they can read-up on, via textbook or Internet. I try to make sure they get real in-depth gems of knowledge; the sort which comes from doing the surveys day-in day-out and trying out various methods.”
This Sheffield session included a detailed section on mould and condensation problems. The practical outcomes resulting from social and housing changes were a focal point for Bryan’s lecture. His extensive collection of images from actual damp surveys in Yorkshire was used to guide delegates through the diagnostic process. He shared his dampness assessment methodology and demonstrated the various bits of equipment and references he uses. What works and what doesn’t work, was explained and those attending were able to handle the equipment and ask questions.
Measuring the internal environment is a must where mould is concerned and Bryan chose a case study which demonstrated the use of psychrometric data logging and use of a psychrometric chart to model planned changes in heating and ventilation regimes. References are important and Bryan gave attendees the details on where these apply and explained the relevance and usefulness of each, along with a list to take away.
Of course different moisture meters were on hand and Bryan gave insight into the pros and cons of each type; practical applications, differences on site and when to quote numbers and more especially, when not to.
With many years talking and explaining problems to homeowners and tenants, Bryan has developed a successful approach, which can help inform them and help surveyors and landlords get their messages across. He spent time describing this approach to the delegates, so they could incorporate any useful additional methods into their own work. The increasing role of thermography in building pathology surveys was covered. Bryan demonstrated the use of a combined moisture meter/hygrometer, wirelessly linked with a thermal imaging camera. This shows surveyors and clients where areas were at risk and in one case, where condensate was actually forming, in real time.
Where condensation and mould is concerned, the importance of heating and ventilation cannot be overstated. Bryan demonstrated the effects that just a few degrees centigrade can make to Relative Humidity and he also explained the importance of differential vapour pressures, when investigating these problems.
Building regulations, approved document Part F – means of ventilation was introduced. It’s a big document, though Bryan condensed the facts down to the most relevant points a competent surveyor should know. These included another selection of epic ‘fails’ where ventilation equipment had been installed incorrectly, badly specified or sabotaged by tenants or inept/ill informed installers.
Naturally, talk turned to ventilation extract fans, heating ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC). Brick-Tie have partnered with Nuaire to bring clients the best quality equipment and commissioning service. Nuaire’s northern England senior sales engineer Lindsey Parker was on hand with technical advice and a display of Nuaire’s latest state of the art kit, for solving and preventing condensation and mould issues. We’ve mentioned how impressed we are with Nuaire’s range of products, their attention to detail and cutting edge research and development, all made here in the UK.
A Damp and timber survey must include Rising Damp and Penetrating Damp too. Once more the details were sifted to give delegates good core knowledge on diagnosis. Bryan is proud of the company’s in-house damp diagnosis laboratory. It has all the equipment required to take damp diagnosis to the next level. Bryan explained the details of BRE 245 ‘Rising damp, diagnosis and treatment’, covering when these invasive methods are justified and the best way of approaching BRE245 from a practical perspective.
Whilst the CPD was mainly about diagnosis and surveying, treatments are sometimes needed. We had Safeguard Europe’s senior sales manager Robert Deary on hand with his selection of DPC creams and Safeguard’s revolutionary DryRod system. We’ve been Safeguard customers for over 28 years and in fact, Bryan used them prior to that, in his fathers damp proofing business. DryRod really is a game changer, just as DryZone was prior to that. “It’s always Safeguard who bring great innovations to the consumer and it’s true, that whilst they are not the largest manufacturer in the preservation sector, they really are the people who drive change – that makes them the biggest in my eyes” says Bryan.
Robert’s display included StormDry cream, which they introduced only a few years back and is now the number 1 water repellent cream for use against penetrating damp and for adding insulation to solid wall houses ? It is exclusive in that it is the only such product with a British Board of Agrement certificate covering it’s 25 years effective life – brilliant.
It was back to basics first for this CPD session. A taste of the sort of training all aspiring timber surveyors go through, with a reminder of what a fantastic material timber is and how durable and effective it is, when cared for. A quick guide covering cell structure, heartwood, sapwood, durability and permeability. Bryan prepared a short table comparing the durability and permeability (treatability) of the most common timbers likely to be encountered during damp and timber surveying in Yorkshire.
Fungal decay; types, identification and treatment was covered along with those insect pests Yorkshire’s surveyors are most likely to come across in their daily work. Once more the ‘textbook’ approach was ignored and Bryan concentrated on passing on the tit bits and hints that only an experienced timber infestation surveyor can know. How to tell if infestations are active? Where the decay is most likely? Types of timber most at risk and where to look for beetle infestation when time is running out! All priceless stuff.
Timber with active common furniture beetle within was not only shown on slides but was handed out from Bryan ‘decay box , a joist with living Dry Rot, complete with fruiting body and mycelium was passed around and also an ornate skirting board, bent and convoluted from the decay. These allowed surveyors to touch, feel and smell real decay. A microscope was already set up so delegates could see microscopic details in timber samples and also Common Furniture Beetle, Wood boring weevil and biscuit beetle together, all on the same slide – they won’t get them mixed up in future.
A display included our Sibtec digital micro-probe – FlIR420bx thermal imaging camera, Testo anemometer and a ‘speedy’ chemical moisture meter.
Feedback has been great and the boss is chuffed “What floats my boat is seeing delegates getting something for the first time, you know when you see the light come on? One young surveyor took my arm in the coffee break and said ‘I have an MA and yet that’s the first time I’ve really understood how to use a psychrometric chart and how useful it is to do so. Thanks’.”
A repeat attendee from past Sheffield CPD’s was local RICS surveyor Mike Kidder “I never miss one of Brick-Tie Preservation’s events, Bryan always delivers great content and I find that I learn something valuable, which I can use to help my clients, every day – great”.
We’d like to thank all those who attended the Sheffield damp and timber survey CPD event. Our special thanks go to Safeguard Europe and Nuaire too. Robert and Lindsey, your presence really added to the value for our delegates – cheers.
Our CPD events are free for built environment professionals. We only do this a couple or three times a year, so if you’d like to attend contact our manager Katrina Jackson for details and a place on our mailing list. Watch a video from a previous CPD event here.
Smaller ‘in house’ CPD sessions are available too by appointment at a few weeks notice – get in touch if you’d like us to come along and provide you with high quality CPD in your premises. CPD that will change the way you work and, add value to your existing services.
Subjects available include:
Of course it goes without saying that this level of expertise is available to our customers on a day-to-day basis. Call us for free advice or to book a damp and timber survey. 0114 224 5121 or our Leeds or York numbers (see above) for West and North Yorkshire
For anyone with a thirst for more details of advanced damp and timber surveying why not visit Bryan’s blog at preservationexpert? Bryan is also a big fan of fellow Property Care Association member Ross Charters, who also blogs on preservation issues. here’s a link to Ross’s excellent post on damp diagnosis using? BRE 245 “Rising damp diagnosis and treatment”.
Our MD Bryan Hindle took a day off from running the company this Friday and spent time with four of our employees.
There are some things which all our team have to know and so this small class comprised a great mix, including our two new damp specialist apprentices, one of our longest serving remedial technicians and one of our remedial treatment surveyors. The morning was devoted to Asbestos awareness training, with the afternoon concentrating on causes of damp in houses and treatment. Bryan hosted the day in his new in house laboratory.
Asbestos kills over 4500 people a year in the UK and as we work in older buildings, our staff are at risk of being exposed to this deadly material. Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 requires employers to ensure that all workers who may be at risk of interacting with asbestos, are given approved asbestos awareness training. When preparing buildings for dry rot eradication, structural waterproofing, structural repairs or damp proofing work, we are at risk of exposure. All our site staff have done this training. However our two new apprentices have not, so this day was essential and needed to be promptly delivered within a month of their employment. The law demands that this training is refreshed annually so we are also scheduling re-training for team members . As it happens Bryan’s was up for renewal too, so a day in the office for those in need, was on the cards.
Apprentices Dillan Thornton and Thomas Moran, were taken through the basics before sitting through the on-line UKATA (United Kingdom Asbestos Association), e-learning approved course. Surveyor Paul Glover and experienced remedial technician Craig Tarbotton were also due for renewal, so along with Bryan, they too sat the eLearning package and test. The four-module process outlines what asbestos is, the harm it does to our bodies and also the likely locations of the material in buildings. What to do in cases of discovery and how to avoid contamination were covered in detail. After an on-line test, all five candidates were able to print out their official UKATA asbestos awareness certificates. So now, if they are specifying, surveying, working or being trained in buildings, they will know how to stay safe.
In the afternoon Bryan organised a round-table lesson, based on the damp diagnosis and treatment module of the damp specialist Property Care Association remedial technician’s course.
This is a core skill for our staff, so starting the desktop learning on this subject is great for the apprentices in particular. Having the MD, a surveyor and a qualified technician doing the same lesson with them, underlines the importance of good basic fundamental knowledge for any damp specialist – a central pillar for anyone embarking on a career in building preservation.
Bryan is very keen on this approach “All people vary in ability and commitment, however without a good grasp of the foundations of our business, you really can’t progress forward to advanced diagnosis and treatment; if employees are thrown in at the deep-end.” He goes on to explain why this is important “This causes problems because their experience thereafter, may be tarnished by basic errors and assumptions – all because things were never explained properly early on. That’s why I like to get back to these basics now and again.”
The session covered Penetrating damp and Rising damp. A further session on Condensation is planned. Penetrating damp included a look at the prevailing winds, house construction, pointing, the role of good maintenance and use of renders and water repellents. Rising damp was explored; capillary action, bridging (internal and external), factors controlling the rise of moisture, physical and chemical DPCs, types of chemical products and their function; basics of application, salt contamination; hygroscopic salts and efflorescence; re-plastering mixes, render admix types and applications.
It was a fun day with lots of leg-pulling and generally smiling faces and – the odd furrowed brow.
Consumers or specifying professionals can take comfort in knowing, that from top to bottom, Brick-Tie Preservation is a true damp specialist team, with genuine care and attention to training, health and safety, knowledge and service.
Another new surveyor joins us in the New Year, and we have a long planned and exciting space for two apprentices here in Yorkshire.
From May next year the new national apprenticeship scheme for damp proofing and timber preservation technicians will be available. These lead to an NVQ level 2, with modules available for damp proofing, timber treatment, basement waterproofing and treatment of invasive weeds. It doesn’t stop there though – this is Brick-Tie we’re talking about!
We can’t wait, so ideally, we’d like to have two candidates in place as soon as possible in the new year. This gives candidates a chance to gain experience before the apprenticeship officially launches.
The preservation and masonry repair industry is worth over a billion pounds and Property Care Association member companies like Brick-Tie, account for over one hundred million of that.
The work is manual and technical too. It can include working at height, in confined spaces, indoors outside and in all weathers. Trade skills include, damp proofing, plastering, joinery, timber treatment, wall tie replacement, structural repairs and in our case, some concrete repairs, basement waterproofing and diamond drilling. Safe erection and dismantling of tower scaffolds and mobile elevated work platforms is included.
If that sound a tall order, don’t worry. As Investors in People we are committed to the best training and personal development for our teams. In fact, we’ve been commended for our training three times in the annual PCA awards. We are this year’s PCA Contractor of the Year 2014 too.
The work is challenging and varied. Our teams are multi-skilled like no others. Meet them here and also read the other news pages on this site and our wall tie and structural repair site, to see the sort of thing we do daily, our facebook page will help you see into our company’s soul. Reading through our past newsletters will give a flavour of life as a technician too.
We work on everything from small domestic houses to churches, commercial buildings, offices, underground car parks, tower blocks, schools, universities, cottages, barns and bridges. Clients you deal with daily vary from the general public in their own homes, to council house tenants, property managers, Architects, structural engineers, building surveyors, other tradesman from main contractors or sub-contractors, safety officers, solicitors and teachers.
Some of our best and most valued technicians arrived as young trainees in the 90?s and now form the heart of one of the best property care teams in the UK, that’s official!
As these places are through our Leeds office, candidates must live or have early morning and late afternoon access to the Leeds area, which is where most of our existing technicians live and, where candidates will need to meet each morning and be dropped off at the end of the working day.
Good literacy and basic numeracy is essential. We don’t need academic stars (though they are welcome), but the work involves accurate measurement and of course, reading and understanding safety documents, training literature and technical reports. A big dose of common sense, respect for others and a willingness to work hard for the team and accept our company values is essential.
Rates of pay are to be decided but they will exceed industry averages for certain. Holiday entitlement is four weeks paid per year plus full pay on bank holidays.
If this doesn’t excite you, don’t call us. If you are eager to start and stay the course in this established industry, do please call the office free on 0800 591 541 and let us have your CV.
Our MD, Bryan Hindle CSSW CSRT attended the Property Care Association regional meeting in Bradford today. These regular meetings are important in making sure that PCA members in the north are kept up top date with the latest trends in damp, timber and basement waterproofing.
About 40 PCA members were on hand for two technical presentations. These included one from Mr Graham Bowers, from Foamglas Insulation. These materials are used in insulating basements and are suitable for retro-fit waterproofing below ground as well as new build waterproofing methods. The materials are water and vapour proof, as well as offering great insulation performance and high compressive strength, which is invaluable in below ground situations such as basements.
Mr Ray Ingram of Lascar Electronics was on hand too, to talk members through Lascar’s latest range of humidity data loggers, which we’ve used for years to monitor and diagnose condensation and mould growth issues. Bryan has blogged on these units in the past so those who are interested in this can read about temperature and humidity data logging via his blog. Data logging is a regular method we use for diagnosis difficult mould and condensation problems.
PCA CEO Stephen Hodgson gave members a detailed outline of changes in the insurance regulations for issue of long-term guarantees. The changes mean that insurance will now be matched to ten years, to standardise it with those guarantees issued by new house builders, under the NHBC and Premier guarantee schemes.
Steve also confirmed that from next year, all new-build below ground structures will require waterproofing to be designed and installed by Property Care Association members – a great step forward for quality basement waterproofing. It’s a testament to the quality and knowledge of CSSW trained basement waterproofing specialist like Bryan and other PCA members. Our expertise is now recognised as adding huge benefits to building owners, both domestic and commercial. In effect any waterproofing carried out on new build contract by non-PCA members will be uninsurable under these schemes.
Of course the training, which PCA have done for all members as well as non-members, has contributed to this growing reputation for quality and credibility. This is only set to improve further, now that PCA have acquired its own practical training facility, within a mile of PCA head office in Huntingdon. The new unit will allow the training PCA does to be further expanded, encompassing hands-on skills training for damp and timber as well as basement waterproofing technicians. Brilliant.
The Property Care Association now has it’s own in house marketing manager. Anna Betts, gave delegates the outline of the PCA’s marketing plans for next year. Anna has a postgraduate diploma from the chartered institute of marketing and has already made a big impact.
The new Apprentice scheme for damp proofing and timber treatment technicians is almost ready for launch in 2015. We will be looking for one or two new employees to start their long preservation career via this apprenticeship next year.
One other good thing about these meetings is the chance to talk-shop with fellow damp timber and basement waterproofing companies. Ideas were shared and troubles too and everyone left with either new ideas to look at for improvement or a different outlook.
We don’t see our PCA membership as just a badge/logo. It means much more to us and should also give our potential clients comfort too. It means we are backed with great training facilities, excellent insurance cover to protect clients and a brand new and updated code of ethics.
Bryan came back to the office full of enthusiasm – as if he wasn’t full already!
Most of our staff have obtained Property Care Association training over the years, but the training is so good, we can’t get enough of it. Not only our technicians benefit from Property Care Association training. Learning never stops in our business and that means across the board, from remedial technicians to surveyors and from managers to office staff. That’s because our clients need to know, that we don’t rest on our laurels when we pass a test or two – we ponder improvements and we strive to improve.
One way we do this is by taking regular refresher courses and introducing more staff to the benefits of Property Care Association training courses, examinations and programs.
Last week all full time staff and key sub-contractors attended the two-day Property Care Association remedial technicians course. The course was specially held at our Sherburn in Elmet office and presented by Peter Macdonald CSRT.
Peter is a well known and respected independent PCA member. He has over 43 years experience in the preservation industry and has worked tirelessly to improve training and attainment standards, for PCA technicians and surveyors too.
Good basic understanding of the fundamentals of preservation is key to quality. That goes without saying for all our technicians, however for this course, general manager Katrina Jackson and administration clerk Sian Caley were in attendance too. They are our client’s first point of contact and field lots of questions via phone and email every day, having the right answers helps customers understand the practicalities of having damp proofing, structural waterproofing and timber treatment work carried out. A realistic idea of what will be involved is crucial; making sure projects run smoothly for customers.
Katrina has attended the course before, back in 2009, but this time she sat the exam too “I’m lucky that the firm do such interesting stuff. It’s made me a bit of a nerd but I love it. Customers want answers when they call and I like to explain exactly what we are doing and why, it really helps them and that gives me satisfaction.”
It;s Sian’s first technicians course “That was really good, it made lots of sense, though I could have done without having to poke about in bat droppings!”
Our two latest team members are surveyors Wayne Earnshaw and Paul Glover and they were included also, to brush-up on the latest standards and to give them a clear idea of the level of knowledge and expertise our technicians already have. They were both very impressed “When I know that the lads who turn up at a project I’ve specified, are so well clued-up” said Wayne, “It gives me confidence that they will always deliver on the promises I’ve made to clients.”
Of course our MD Bryan Hindle sat the course too – partly for fun but also so he could identify areas for future improvement and so refine our on-going training program. He could hardly contain himself, reaching for samples to show Sian and Katrina, whenever Peter gave him an excuse – Bat droppings; Dry Rot, Wood boring weevil and Furniture beetle damaged wood was eagerly thrust into Katrina and Sian’s rather unwilling hands as the opportunity arose.
Peter Macdonald is not new to Brick-Tie Preservation, having undertaken quality audits of us, on behalf of the Property Care Association in the past and as always, he was able to help us once more. “Visiting PCA members for quality audits is one of my responsibilities and training too takes up much of my time. It’s good to help Bryan and his team extend their knowledge and improve on, what has to be said is already a very high standard.” Peter did a great job and everyone gained new hints, tips and details, which they can add to their knowledge. Property Care Association training is a critical part of our staff development program, providing as it does the sound fundamentals in health and safety, damp-proofing practicalities and timber physiology and treatment. It also ensures that despite being busy, we get to take time-out to spend time together; learning, laughing and listening? something, which is worth a great deal in any hectic business.
Our thanks go to Peter Macdonald and the PCA, along with our Company Secretary Julie Hindle, who manned the phone alone for two days, so everyone could sit this important training.
Also thanks to the whole team of Katrina, Sian, Stuart, Darren, Ryan, Craig, Adrian, Peter, Robert, Paul and Wayne for making the event such a great success.
The team look forward to putting their skills to good use serving clients across Yorkshire for damp-proofing, timber treatment and structural waterproofing work. Call 0800 591 541 for details.
Our MD Bryan Hindle spent the day at the annual IOSH event this week (8th September).
Of course he came back with his head full of new ideas and plans to make life safer, healthier and somewhat busier for the rest of the Brick-Tie team.
A full day dedicated to health, safety and welfare may sound like torture for many, but Bryan loves this stuff (yes ? really).
“It was great” says Bryan. “Eight presentations on all sorts, including Work Related Stress, The Ageing workforce, Legal developments and an interactive debate on fatal accidents. Brilliant!”
Well Bryan would say that of course. He’s mad – and also ageing. But it is great to know that our boss really does take the health, safety and welfare of us all very seriously.
Checking his notes taken on the day, these are his spider-like scrawls which leap out:|
Construction Health and safety “Very good at the top end” Kevin Myers (HSE ? CEO)
A 2×2 infogram on the balance between ‘Awareness, Unaware – Commitment and apathy’ Kevin Myers (see blog for more details soon).
“Zero harm can be counter productive – tracking down more and more trivial things” (paraphrased ? Kevin Myers)
Chinese attitude to risk = Danger + opportunity: Kevin Myers.
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” Sayeed Khan (Chief Medical Adviser EEF), referring to the emergence of new potential hazards in rare earth metals used in production such as Vanadium, Niobium and Molybdenum.
50% of employees do not have a single day’s absenteeism each year? Sayeed Khan
Presenteeism – Those at work but not engaged due to; poor motivation, poor training, inadequate pay, poor conditions – or -can’t be arsed?. Sayeed Khan
40% of Absenteeism is stress related. Chris Gill (QBE)
Getting a grip on stress is not just a compliance issue? and Use Hatton V Sutherland as a guide: Chris Gill.
Over 5% of all cancers are caused by work related hazards: Prof John Cherrie (Institute of occupational medicine).
The top ten carcinogens employees are exposed to cause 85% of work related cancers – so let’s focus on them: John Cherrie
Asbestos? Shift Work? Mineral oils? Solar radiation? Silica dust and diesel exhausts are the most harmful: John Cherrie.
There are three levels of listening? Michael Emery (Securus Health and Safety Ltd)
Coaching is a non-directive form of development, where the coach – using highly developed listening skills and by asking insightful questions – pulls ideas, suggestions and plans from the coached: Michael Emery
Age is a poor predictor of performance? Tanya Heasman (System Concepts).
Corporate manslaughter prosecutions are still, generally against smaller SME?s: Steffan Groch (DWF LLP)
In 2012 about 1700 company Directors were banned as a result of prosecution: Steffan Groch.
Focus is on those who ought to know better – Directors – so take R V Southern Water as a guide The judge wants to know from the Director, what he did,not from the lawyers: Steffan Groch.
Document – Document – Document! Yes really, it’s that important: Steffan Groch.
Over the next few weeks our health and safety management and organisation will be tweaked and our team will be tasked with some more work, designed to ensure that as far as we can, all team members and our clients stay healthy, safe and live on…… to be part of the Ageing workforce
There’s great excitement in the company at the moment due to the arrival of our first batch of The DryRod damp proofing system. The materials were ordered for use in a prestigious listed building development near York.Our principle suppliers Safeguard Europe have developed the DryRod damp proofing system through years of careful testing and clever chemical wizardry.
The new damp proofing method is set to revolutionise chemical damp proofing yet again, following the success of Safeguard’s previous groundbreaking chemical DPC system, DryZone. Dryzone started the industry wide move from pressure injected chemical damp courses, to the use of self-penetrating chemical creams. Almost all other manufactures now make their own version of DryZone (or have the genuine article re-branded for them by Safeguard).
As yet we have not come across a superior damp proofing cream than the original and best product, which is Safeguard DryZone. We’ve installed thousands of DryZone systems all across Yorkshire.
This is not the end for DryZone, which remains our main weapon against rising damp. However, the very high efficiency of the DryRod damp proofing system will offer greater flexibility, especially in hard to treat or historic properties, where the potential for reduced plastering is desirable. This was the case in York, where we are installing DryRod for a high quality property developer, to damp proof his latest project..
How so? The reason is that DryRod’s unrivaled control of rising damp will mean that the only plastering required is that where the salt contamination is already excessive and high hygroscopic moisture levels are present (our in-house gravimetric testing lab can identify these accurately). In the past, plastering systems served a twin purpose of backing up the damp-proofing systems performance AND controlling salts. The DryRod damp proofing system does not require back-up from the plaster system, so subject to careful inspection, the extent of disruption can be reduced, saving money, damage to original fabric and easing waste and environmental factors.
The DryRod damp proofing system has full agreement board approval, even when plastering is reduced (subject to professional advice from us), so this gives our surveyors the ability to serve client needs with more precision than ever before.
For further information on our new DryRod damp proofing system call customer services free on 0800 591 541. Our three qualified remedial damp surveyors – Bryan Hindle and Paul Glover will be happy to answer your questions.
Why not visit Safeguard Europe’s DryRod web site pages?.
For the second time in two years Brick Tie Preservation are honoured at the Property Care Association Awards. Last year it was the award for Training and Staff development and this year we are winners of Contractor of the Year!
These two PCA awards were preceded by two years of Highly Commended awards for training and staff development, so over the past five years we’ve been honoured four times. This is a record for any one PCA member.
Owners Bryan Hindle and his wife Julie collected the award at the Royal Armories in Leeds last week. The event was timed to include the Property Care Association annual general meeting and a day of training and discussion by the very best firms and practitioners in property care.
The PCA contractor member who has scored the highest points during a PCA quality audit wins this award. Independent specialist surveyor and PCA auditor Peter Macdonald was impressed by our customer service, training and staff development and how this feeds through to better business. “Even the office staff are trained in aspects of health and safety, with the Manager Katrina Jackson being qualified to train staff in safe manual handling and the typist Sian Caley trained in mask face-fit testing. Outstanding!”
This illustrates the Brick-Tie philosophy, of success through investing in people. Over the past few years we’ve made enormous progress, by really focusing on our staff, who are well motivated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Add our years of experience to that and it’s a recipe for success. Damp-proofing, wall tie work and structural repairs are not rocket science, but to do these things well takes more than just ‘knowing’ how to do it. Diligence, care and a real pride in what we do stands us apart from other specialist companies.
All our team are delighted and honoured by the Property Care Association Contractor of the Year award and we intend to carry on doing what we do, to the best of our ability.
Customers will notice our staff have an even higher spring in their step in the coming months; proudly wearing their re-designed company clothing, with the award details emblazoned across their chests (and the vans too). You can read why our membership of the Property Care Association is so important to our clients here.
For the second time in a month our MD Bryan Hindle spent a day training and mentoring others. This time it was Paul Walker who is a young damp and timber surveyor studying for his upcoming CSRT (Certificated Surveyor in Remedial treatment), exams. He is employed in the family damp proofing business Chris Walker and son damp proofing.
The day wasn’t in any way an exam preparation; it was dedicated to working on practical damp and timber surveying skills, which are going to be crucial to Paul’s successful career.
The day included two pre-purchase damp and timber surveys; and a couple of wall tie corrosion surveys.
Bryan carried out these inspections with Paul assisting. It was a good opportunity for Paul to work alongside an experienced surveyor, picking up tips to take away and improve on.
Bryan made a point of ‘writing-up’ his inspections with Paul and showing all the methodology Bryan uses to keep his damp and timber surveys accurate and productive too.
The two of them found wall tie corrosion, severe common furniture beetle infestation and damp, caused by the bridging of a bitumen type DPC, by high path levels. This is a very common problem in housing and can result in miss-diagnosed rising damp if care is not applied – no chance of that here though of course.
Bryan was impressed “I have been in contact with Paul for a few months, following an introduction from my friend and damp proofing supplier Robert Deary, but this is the first time weve met.”
“It’s great working with keen and enthusiastic surveyors like Paul and it was a pleasure to spend a day surveying with him. I learned some good stuff too.”
The day ended with a short desktop session on Relative humidity, data logging and analysing environmental data. Bryan introduced Paul to the Psychrometric chart and the use of differential vapour pressure. These are the start of really getting to grips with mould and condensation control – something Paul is very passionate about.
These training days are part of our free educational outreach to help the industry improve, by spreading good practice, mentoring expanding businesses as well as individuals.
Paul is sitting his CSRT with The Property Care Association soon and we have no doubt he will be successful.
CSRT is the only recognised qualification for remedial treatment surveyors, which enables the issue of a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card, specific for remedial treatment surveying. Achieving the CSRT is essential as part of Paul’s efforts to bring his family business into PCA membership. Paul is already on his way to being a great damp and timber surveyor.
Customer feedback is essential for any company to monitor performance and service.
All our clients are asked to provide feedback on every aspect of our work – from the survey to all wall tie or damp proofing jobs – the administration; account handling and communication is all subject to constant improvement.
So, to encourage our busy clients to take time to fill in the paperwork or on-line form, we donate a couple of pounds or so to charity for every feedback form we receive.
So it was with great pleasure that we were able to send a cheque for £300 to Macmillan cancer care this month. Almost everyone knows someone who has been effected by cancer in one form or another. Macmillan nurses are at the sharp end, caring for patients and their families during the difficult period when cancer strikes.
Sian Caley has recently designed a new on-line form which enables those clients who pay via bank or card to join in the feedback and help us raise more cash to help others.
Our next goal is to raise cash for another charity – this time it is The Samaritans. We’ve also raised the amount we donate for each customer feedback form we receive to £5!
For all those clients who took a few minutes to fill in these forms – thank you. The £300 will pay for 12 Macmillan nurses for one hour. That hour means a lot to those in need.
Let the right one in?.
Okay so the above is the title of a horror movie, but just think before you let a damp proofing technician or wall tie installer into your house, just who are they and is there anything about them you should know?
You can of course see the photos of all our staff on this web site and yes; many have worked with us for years. However, you only have our word for that so…
We’ve committed to a program to ensure all our site staff (and the boss), are regularly screened for drug and alcohol problems, as well as having their criminal records checked and monitored.
This means that social housing and domestic customers know that the smiling technician on their doorstep, has been thoroughly checked and will be sober and not under the influence of any illegal drugs.
Our MD Bryan Hindle, kicked off the program by volunteering to be the first inline for drug and alcohol screening and criminal records investigation by Disclosure Scotland.
We are pleased to report a clean bill of health in all respects and all staff are now cleared to work in schools, social housing, domestic housing and commercial situations.
In our business trust is important and we all trust and support each other. However, clients may never have come across us before and we will often be working unsupervised in their homes, with their loved ones and belonging around us.
We take this responsibility to heart and the new program is part of a continuing improvement in health and safety; for our clients, any contractors on site and ourselves.
If you want to be sure that having a stranger working in your house won’t end up a horror story….
Let the right one in – Brick-Tie Preservation!
This Wednesday our MD Bryan Hindle was at Property Care Association HQ in Huntingdon for a CSSW refresher course (Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing).
The CSSW is the only nationally recognised and specific qualification for waterproofing specialist surveyors and is one way of demonstrating that a competent person has designed a structural waterproofing scheme (required by BS8102).
However, many surveyors like Bryan sat their CSSW exams some years ago, before BS8102 was amended in 2009. Of course the new waterproofing standard is well known to us and Bryan has read it cover to cover, however, the PCA have designed a CSSW refresher course to cater for the CSSW early adopters like Bryan, and our surveyor Sean Tristram Jones, to provide opportunities for continuing professional development for all PCA members and others interested in structural waterproofing.
Phil Hewit is one of the country’s foremost authorities on waterproofing below ground structures and designed the training course to give delegates maximum benefit.
All the significant changes in BS8102 were covered in detail and the day also included a welcome section on the mysteries of hydrogen bonding and psychrometrics.
Phil dropped the news on us, that he is retiring very soon and hopes to take up photography and travel with his wife as much as possible. Our thanks and appreciation goes to Phil, who Bryan has known professionally for over 20 years. His involvement in the PCA, as it wrestled with structural waterproofing and strove to improve standards has been crucial; very many companies and individuals have benefited from Phil’s expertise and generosity in sharing his knowledge and experience.
His influence will be greatly missed and we all wish Phil a happy and long retirement.
Attendance at these events is part of our effort to keep ourselves at the forefront of structural waterproofing best practise. Brick Tie Preservation are experience applicators of the Vandex range of cementitious waterproofing products as well as Safeguard’s range of Type C membranes including Oldroyd and the Sentry range of sump pumping chambers.
For information, specification assistance or for a quotation ? call 0800 591 541
Company Secretary Julie Hindle and administration manager Katrina Jackson spent a day at PCA HQ in Huntingdon, learning how to improve business management. Just being the best at damp proofing, dry rot and woodworm treatment is not enough to keep a business healthy these days. Balancing the books, planning for change and keeping all staff challenged and fulfilled is crucial.
The day was organised for members of the Property Care Association with input from our PCA chairman Les Meikle, who runs Wise Property Care; one of the best known and well run members of our trade association. He was assisted by Martin Hughes who is also a past chairman of PCA and runs succesful Yorkshire based firm Yorkshire Dampcourse.
There was a good mix of members present from all over the UK. Les and Martin share a similar view to our MD Bryan Hindle; sharing good practice is not only fair but is good for everyone, members and consumers.
Katrina and Julie came back from the day full of additional tips and plans for change, to improve our service and make the business work better for ourselves and our clients.
The course illustrates the deep sense of responsibility PCA core members have and a shared belief in working together, for the good of the industry.
The Property Care Association is thriving under the chairmanship of Les and the sterling work done by CEO Steve Hodgson and his team in Huntingdon – membership works for Brick-Tie on so many levels it’s hard to list them all.
Bryan is booked in for a visit to Huntingdon next week to brush up on the latest in basement and structural waterproofing; keeping his CSSW qualification up to date and ensuring best practice for clients.