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’.
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