RICS Chartered Surveyors using damp meters and recommending PCA surveys. What to do:

This is a constant source of telephone queries for us.

RICS Chartered Surveyors are constantly doing valuations, and including a standard clause which says "You must get a PCA registered timber and damp contractor to do a damp survey".  Things have gotten so bad, that when we do the survey - using someting in the order of £10,000 worth of very sophisticated technical equipment, and an assortment of degrees and other proper qualifications, banks have refused the report because it is not from a gormless PCA idiot with no qualifications and only using a 'damp meter'. In every case, the bank has relented when presented with evidence that we actually know what we are doing.

I suggest that the following course of action takes place:

1.  Ask the bank / building society on what grounds do they consider a PCA salesman to be in any way suitable to carry out a survey.  Point out that the PCA is a chemical industry association with no academic or professional credibility.  Its members are chemical or damp proofing salesmen.  They have no academic qualifications.  The qualifications they quote of CSRT and CSSW are NOT formal academic qualifications - they are randomy handed out by the organisation after members attend in-house courses when they are taught how to inject chemicals and sell damp proofing.  Ask whether the bank considers the use of a 'damp meter' to be an appropriate technical instrument given that it does not measure damp, but conductivity, and the makers acknowledge that it should not be used in any material but wood, and even then, with extreme caution.

2.  Ask the bank if they have any objection to an RICS accredited person, with appropriate tertiary qualification in both chemistry and historic building conservation, doing the survey.  The survey would be conducted in accordance with BR7913: 2013 - Guide to the Conservation of Historic Buildings - which sets out clear guidelines as to how surveys should be undertaken, and how to diagnose and specify any damp and timber treatment.  

You should also ask to speak to the most senior person in the bank / building society survey department and ask them WHY they insist on a PCA person, or indeed whether they do.  We are finding out that many valuation surveyors are simply ignorant, and that no fixed policy actually exists within the banks. Valuation surveyors have been conned over many years into thinking that PCA has some form of credibility.  You need to attack and undermine that credibility and show the bank that it is a con.  

3.  Immediately write / telephone RICS and complain that the valuation surveyor is recommending a course of action that involves an unqualified person from an organisation with no academic or professional recognition in the field of work required. Ask why the RICS surveyor is being allowed to recommend such a person as this constitutes fraudulent misrepresentation.  The RICS chartered surveyor is NOT exercising his 'duty of care' to look after you as a client - he is recommending an unqualified fraudster. Also tell RICS that you are reporting the surveyor for fraudulently misrepresenting the true situation of the building by using a 'damp meter' which does not measure damp, to 'diagnose' rising damp - an unscientific term which has never been reproduced in a laboratory.  Fraudulent:  Because they are taking your money;  Misrepresentation: Because they are using a 'damp meter' that is anything BUT a damp meter.  Tell RICS that the survey is NOT being conducted in accordance with BS7913: Guide to the Conservation of Historic Buildings.

It is only when RICS start to receive numerous formal complaints about the incompetence of their surveyors, using £100 cattle prods, to diagnose a non-existent problem, that action will be taken to stop the practise.

We have just reported two more incompetent surveyors - one FRICS - for completely misrepresenting the state of an old farmhouse.  Smothered in cement render, both suggested a Property Care Association timber and damp survey'.  The buyer is now taking legal action against the surveyors to recover the very substantial cost of removing the cement render that none of them identified as being the real reason for the dampness internally.

In another case this week, solicitors are issuing a claim for well over £150,000 against an RICS Chartered Surveyor who failed to correctly diagnose the causes of damp in a Grade 2 Listed house, and recommended a PCA registered contractor do a survey and act on their recommendations.  The PCA company wrecked the house, and now the surveyor is carrying the can for everything.  We will NOT let this rest until our client has been recompensed and the RICS Chartered Surveyor in the Cotswolds is relieved of his RICS membership.

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