Launch of new methodology offers joined-up approach to investigating damp in traditional buildings

Professional and heritage bodies are working together on a new blueprint to develop a best practice approach to investigating damp and excessive moisture in traditional properties.

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, and Cadw have all collaborated with national trade body The Property Care Association to produce a working document on the subject.

Entitled ‘Investigation of moisture and its effects in traditional buildings,’ the discussion paper proposes a framework centred around seven key pillars.  These emphasise the importance of understanding the building and its context, the behaviour of moisture, and moisture-related defects. Differences between old and new buildings are highlighted.

Also included are issues that need to be considered when assessing building condition, diagnosing defects, and making recommendations.  Legal requirements and the content of reports are discussed as well.

The paper was revealed to delegates at the PCA’s International Building Preservation Conference, held at The Slate, University of Warwick.

Stephen Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said: “The document offers a guide to the level of knowledge for anyone involved in the investigation of dampness and its outcomes in traditional buildings.

“This is the first time heritage organisations and building surveying and preservation specialists have joined forces on this matter.

“Ultimately when completed and adopted, the methodology will see greater accountability and expectation placed on those tasked with investigating dampness in traditional and heritage buildings.

“It will ensure that all surveyors have the skills and knowledge that are presently expected of our members, and that is demonstrable in the qualifications required by PCA of its membership.”

The partner organisations are committed to the publication of the methodology and its use as a guide, standard and measure of competence. Currently, it has the status of a working draft, and further amendments are possible before the process of drafting is completed. Also, the consultation procedures for each of the partner organisations must be followed before the methodology is formally adopted or endorsed.

Until then it cannot be used to dictate, measure or benchmark competence or measure a duty of care.

The PCA is confident in the abilities members the Association has unilaterally pledged to meet the expectation of the paper by January 2021.

Mr Hodgson added: “Damp, uncomfortable homes take their toll on the health and wellbeing of the people who live in them and can really impact on a person’s quality of life.

“Such conditions can also lead to costly defects in a building’s structure and fabric.

“By working together, using new technologies and advances, coupled with time-proven expertise and knowledge, we can find the very best solutions to address this important issue in traditionally built UK properties.”

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