Property Care Association - Rising Damp and Facebook

I didn't even know the Property Care Association had a Facebook page until the weekend.  Emails started to appear in my inbox from members of the public I'd never heard of, with the text of a strange rant by Stephen Hodgson, Chief Executive of the PCA, and a Board member of both Guarantee Protection Insurance (GPI) and Trustmark.

Apparently I'm a 'Despicable Troll' and an 'Ill informed, disreputable chancer'.  Crikey - it seems we've been really getting to our friend Mr Hodgson - strong words from someone in such awfully highly respected circles as Trustmark - the Government Endorsed body that guarantees quality of workmanship.. You can Trust Trustmark... Gee Thanks - if all the Trustmark accredited people and companies are like Mr Hodgson, I think I'll be shopping elsewhere.

After doing some digging, I decided to have a look at the PCA facebook page.  Oh my.  Now I see why he is in such a temper temper.  A member of the public has done a very nice review of the PCA. I'll reproduce it here, just in case they find a way of deleting it.  Apparently reviews can't be deleted, or the review system wouldnt be balanced.  I'm not sure who it was that wrote it - I probably speak to a dozen people a day on the phone, who have realised they are being defrauded by PCA members and want help.  One of these people then went on to employ an independent surveyor in London to look at their house and found NO damp, despite a £5,000 quote for damp proofing from Kenwood.

Here's their review - I think this is what upset our Mr Hodgson:

Review published independently on the PCA facebook site:

1star

My wife and I want to share the terrible experiences we have had with the Damp Proofing Industry and a PCA Member so that others can become aware and avoid such misery and the potential loss of £5000 + VAT and destroying our lovely house in the process. 

Last year, we purchased our lovely Victorian house built of beautiful yellow stock bricks in Wimbledon South West London for a very considerable sum that required our entire life’s savings to be invested to meet the deposit requirements of the lender. 

The buying process required us to conduct a “Timber and Damp” Survey and report and recommended the use of a member of the Property Care Association (PCA) which we did.  The Survey was free and a rather glamorous report produced requiring some £5,000 + VAT worth of chemical injection work to cure a "defective" Damp Course. This seemed on the face of things very reasonable, but some seeds of doubt were sown when the report was signed off by a Director with considerable letters after his name but the report and Survey itself was undertaken by the “surveyor”who held a CSRT Certificate. We had no idea what a CSRT was so conducted some searched and found the following website when searching “Property Care Association” on Google and sitting position 1 page 1 was the informative Heritage House Website is was part of its content:

I quote from the Heritage House website as follows:

Timber and Damp surveys are the most misunderstood, and misused term in the real estate industry. We are constantly horrified at the number of people trying to buy a property, only to be told by a building society or bank valuation surveyor - you must have a 'Specialist Timber and Damp Survey'. Usually they try to get you to use someone who is PCA registered - PCA is the Property Care Association. The Board of the PCA is composed of chemical industry millionaires. One of the Board owns a number of timber and damp companies,one of which has been taken to court for illegal dumping of asbestos. These are not nice people. DO NOT under any circumstances allow any of these clowns into or near a house you are thinking of buying. 

Here's a link to a bit more info about the Property CARE Association (My bold italics - sorry - I'm too cynical): All about the PCA
Research this term in detail. Look at the methods, the claims made, and investigate the legality of their guarantees. The Guarantee Protection Insurance they flog, is another giant CON. Even the GPI have now cut the insurance term from 20 to 10 years because of the problems they are having with the damp industry. The people involved just happen to be VERY involved in selling chemicals. It is an industry association that has managed to establish itself as an 'industry standard' with little or no opposition. They are only recommended because there is no other obvious association that can perform a similar task. Have a look at the syllabus for training their so called surveyors. It's a 3 day course. It is peppered with words like 'rising damp', injection methods, siliconates, polyoxo aluminium stearate, polysiloxane / silane micro emulsions (horrible chemicals), timber treatment chemicals (which are even more toxic) - and bear in mind that one day of the three day course is devoted to learning all about the Control of SubstancesHazardous to Health <COSHH> legislation, and how to safely use the toxic warfare they are about to unleash on your unsuspecting house.

The entire training course takes 3 days. At the end of it you have some pretty letters after your name. It takes 3 YEARS of study to get a Bachelors Degree, and about the same to become a Member of RICS. This is NOT a qualification - it is a joke. There is NO academic training - any monkey can get it and call themselves a 'Timber and Damp Surveyor'... Don't use anyone who has done a 3 day course and calls themselves a qualified surveyor - they are a fraud.

Do not let anyone with CSRT or CSSW after their names into your house - they are a fraud. They are NOT a qualified surveyor. It's not even equivalent to an NVQ Level 1 - most of the people I've come across with these so called 'qualifications' are just former builder's labourers. 

Unquote 

We have absolutely no doubt that this is correct but contacted the author of the website a Mr Peter Ward who confirmed there was a very high probability that no Damp existed at our property and more importantly the actions and remedies suggested by the Damp company (a high ranking PCA Member) would actually prevent our property from breathing and potentially fill it with condensation and initiate wet rot in the suspended floor joists and wall plates due to the condensation.

Horrified I contacted a Specialist Surveyor recommended to us by Mr Ward, this was a completely different approach to the PCA Surveyor who took 20 minutes to conclude Dampness by use of a pin point yellow damp meter. The expert took a full four hours examining our property and used a Calcium Carbide moisture analysis method to extract samples from the walls of our property and actually determine the moisture content.

The results? No moisture or less that 1% on all the elevations the PCA Surveyor had diagnosed a “Failing Damp Course”, his recommendations? Absolutely nothing, the property is in perfect condition protected by an adequate slate Damp Proof Course.

So I post this warning never use a Damp Surveyor who has a CSRT after his name its completely meaningless and is a three day course given away by the PCA, always ask to see real qualifications such as BSc, MSc, MIOCB or RICS nothing else is acceptable.

We could have given the Damp Company £5,000 for destroying our property and reinstating with a system that will damage it further! 

If in doubt contact the experts:

Heritage House 01746 862 640

They saved us £5,000 and stopped a classical con in the making! 

Update

The PCA removed our reply to their timeline, obviously the truth hurts! 

This was our reply:

An interesting response from the PCA but who are you fooling? Because I don’t believe a single word, a few searches on Google and you come across appalling behavior from some of the best PCA members such as Kenwood Plc, Rentokil, Proten and Peter Cox in fact there’s so much about the PCA on the internet I’m surprised you have any members left, it must be a disadvantage to being a member of such disgraced organisation that gives “Surveyors“qualifications after a three day course. They have even been investigated by "Which" with some PCA Surveyors unable to tell the difference from a leaking toilet or rising damp after just undertaking a three day course to become "an expert" what do you expect?

The PCA should investigated by trading standards and be forced into regulation by the RICS or ISSE. 

Your member tried to dishonestly obtain (I’m being very selective with my words the word maybe should begin with Frxxd!) and recommend destruction of a perfectly good render system, drilling holes in our lovely brickwork to pump in toxic chemicals, for the sum of £5,000! 

There was no damp, so it’s very simple to see why the “Peter Wards” of this world who have proper professional qualifications say what they do because frankly I would bet Peter Ward is correct and the PCA without any qualified staff on its board other than Chemical salesmen (apparently) are likely to be wrong regarding any technical issue.

The PCA is a disgrace, who openly allow their members such as Kenwood Plc to ruin people’s property and when we did call you (PCA), and asked if you would recommend Kenwood, your receptionist said without hesitation! They are members! 

So PCA, we have reviewed you, and you’re a complete and utter disgrace, never use a PCA Member, never even let the “three day Surveyors” in your house they will try to sell you chemicals made by one of their own Directors…………what a con!

Latest- I have just been informed that Hudson Lambert the Sales Director of Safeguard Chemicals is the deputy Chairman of the PCA no wonder they concentrate on selling Chemicals, Mr Lambert is only interested in selling his Chemicals to PCA members is there no ethics in this organisation at all? 

Word is spreading! simple advice AVOID AVOID AVOID at all costs!

 

Mr Stephen Hodgson of the PCA replies:

Now then - bear in mind this wasn't provoked at all by me - but by an angry member of the public who had just managed to escape being defrauded of over £5,000 by Kenwood - a London based Damp Proofing firm and a proud member of the Property Care Association.  I'd love to see their report - which apparently contained phrases like "Damp Course broken down"... Really - where?

Here's our friend Stephen's rant - it's worth cracking a beer and settling back for a laugh... 

The annotations in italics are my repsonses to his drivel..

PCA Response to Heritage House

It is not uncommon to come across people with views that differ from your own. Variation in interpretation of observations and diversity in outlook, breeds innovation and challenges convention, often resulting in improvements that would otherwise never have happened. 
In some situations, we can be faced with a maverick that seems to take up a position above reproach and without seeming to set a limit to their calls ignore convention. These people are either hailed as ‘visionaries’ or labelled as ‘nutters’, often at the same time. Eventually these people are exposed for what they are and by every measure, our boy is definitely no visionary. 
The building preservation industry has been confronting highly vocal individuals for a number of years now. The most media savvy and misguided of these is Peter Ward (Heritage House and Heritage House Consultancy)

OOh!  What a compliment - never knew I was media savvy... thanks!

who has been instigating a vindictive campaign against the established building preservation industry. He has utilised social media, You Tube and his own website to slander and defame professional bodies, reputable companies and the good name of countless individuals with what seems like total impunity. This brief article will hopefully provide a point of reference for both those assailed by Ward and some of those who may be taken in by his seemingly plausible yet utterly flawed rantings.  Ward is not unlike an evangelical faith healer who suggests that all ills can be cured by blind obedience and the laying on of hands whilst denouncing all forms of conventional medicine as the work of the devil. A ridiculous statement you might think but look at the parallels.  
Ward declares that rising damp does not exist. He fails to realise or acknowledge that rising damp has been studied, recorded, documented and remedied on every continent of the globe, other than Antarctica. This work has been done, published and reviewed by serious academic research organisations and is available for anyone to go out and find. If an experienced surveyor specialising in dampness in older buildings has never seen evidence of the process, then they are ether blind or utterly incompetent.

Yup - never seen it.  Nor have any of the many Conservation surveyors I regularly work with.  Nor have the leading experts in Europe and the USA.  Not ONE properly documented case history of rising damp has ever been published.  Plenty of academic rubbish that says in theory it MIGHT, but not a single case history.  I've worked in this industry for many years and surveyed thousands of properties.  Not one of them had rising damp.  Funny how the search term is ONLY  confined to the UK, and never appears in google in the United States.  Yes folks, Rising Damp doesnt exist - its a big con, perpetuated by whatever sneaky means the damp chemical industry can conjure up.

The sources of the water rising through a wall may vary as can the mode of rectification, but those who deny the process of capillary action in masonry walls are fools.

Really!  Gee - thanks.  Some recent independent research done on this was done at South Bank University by Jeff Howell, a lecturer in building science there.  He got his students to do a research project on Rising Damp.  Only problem was, they couldnt make it rise.  What they don't tell you is that when the size, or pore spacing changes, capillary action fails.  Capillary action relies heavily on an even pore spacing - which just aint found in building materials - brick turns to mortar with big gaps in it, and so on - the BRE are doing a big research project at the moment analysing pore spacing and air content of solid walls - and guess what - the calculated U values of solid walls are up to 75% wrong, because no account has been made of the huge variation in pore spacing, and large air gaps found in any solid wall.  Capillary action as a method of transmission is dead in the water.  Diffusion is probably too big a word for the PCA - go have a look chaps... 

Ward preaches that the Property Care Association (PCA) and its members are only interested in works that promote the sale of chemicals and moisture meters. This is a lie. The PCA promotes good diagnostic investigation, undertaken by trained competent people and the delivery of effective and appropriate repair. The organisation represents a wide range of professionals across a broad spectrum of specialist building related occupations. 

Really!  Wow - could have fooled me and the rest of the old house specialists I know.. We spend our professional life cleaning up the soppping wet houses created by your impervious damp proofing frauds

His latest threat to the establishment relies on the total and wilful misinterpretation of a British Standard. BS7913 deals with the conservation of historically and culturally important buildings. The PCA supports and condones the document in the context of its intended scope and reach. Perversely however Ward has published text that suggests that the standard must be applied to all older buildings and attempts to use it to rubbish the services provided by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and PCA surveyors. This is nothing more than a further promotion of his own commercial offerings by deliberately misinterpreting a legitimate publication.

Now this is really interesting.  I think I'll leave it to the authors of the Standard to comment - their notes on Mr Hodgson's rant are as follows:

Picking up on BS 7913. There are  three major aspects to this standard – significance, technicalities and process. In this context note:

Section 1 “best practice in the management and treatment of historic buildings. It is applicable to historic buildings with and without statutory protection. It is not applicable to below ground archaeology or any other type of heritage asset such as movable objects or vehicles”.

‘Technicalities’ will be the same – its only ‘significance’ that will be different – a non-designated building will have less significance that a building that does.

It is also useful to section 0.1 “British Standards that are applicable to newer buildings might be inappropriate”. There are many BS’s that support the use of cement, but BS 7913 makes the point that such BS’s may not be appropriate – for technical reasons.

The title of BS 7913 should have referred to traditional buildings not historic, but when you read the detail it refers to all traditional buildings.

Oh Dear Mr Hodgson - I believe the term is "Hoist upon Your own Petard"...

 While lambasting the high quality training and qualifications that are delivered by the PCA, Peter Ward has never attended a single course and has no personal experience of what is provided. Smugly he has ignored invitations to attempt the examination at the Associations expense. He ridicules the qualifications of hard working honest men and women while failing to demonstrate any higher level academic attainment relating to building conservation himself. This seems to be the trait of a hypocrite.

Actually a very simple thing to answer.  I was actually asked to attend a course - to learn all about safe handling of toxic chemicals that are not needed.  To learn all about Rising Damp - and how to treat it - despite the fact that it doesnt exist.  To learn all about how to spray timber with toxic chemicals - desipte the fact that Historic England, BS7913, National Trust and a host of other experts say the best way to stop fungus or insect decay of timber is simply to dry it out.  Frankly I have not got the time to sit listening to a load of chemical sales codswallop when I could be having fun collecting minerals down my mine!

Could self-aggrandisement and the pursuit of personal gain be at the core of Mr Wards vitriol? In his blogs and videos we see him taking on the mantle of the “buildings friend” while vilifying the work that may have adversely affected the building before his triumphant arrival. He regularly blames the PCA or the “damp proofing industry” for what he sees as defect. At this point we should stop and draw breath. Many of the things we see in his self-promoting propaganda films are wrong and would not have been condoned by the PCA or its members or indeed those with appropriate specialist diagnostic expertise. This does not prevent him for making the connection however unfounded, inaccurate or indefensible. 

Perhaps I should publish some of the hundreds of quite humbling letters of thanks from people who have seen our videos and web pages, and feel drawn to write in and thank us for saving them the unwarranted cost of damp proofing, and the soaking of their home in unwarranted toxic chemicals - I can sleep at night Mr Hodgson, thank you.

In his most recent attempt at liable he calls his You Tube offering “ANOTHER PCA Damp Wally and a Welsh stone cottage”. To begin – the PCA, as a body, does not deliver diagnostic services or undertake work! The PCA vets and verifies, trains and certifies, and provides dispute resolution and promotes best practice. The PCA are not contractors or surveyors. The organization does not undertake inspections of deliver repairs. The PCA is a Trade Association! 

Great - so WHY is the PCA promoting itself to Banks, Building Societies, the RICS, SPAB and anyone else it can, as the default organisation for Timber and Damp Surveys.. 

Why... when a member of the public put a review of the PCA on their Facebook site and a complaint about Kenwood fraudulently diagnosing damp, did you delete their response from your Facebook page.  Dispute resolution - rubbish.  Best practise - rubbish.  Publish your investigation into these good people's complaint.  

Ooops.. Hoist on Petard comes to mind again - must be getting a bit sore in the behind by now...

Though Ward in his latest film without justification seems to blame the defects he sees on the PCA, we have no idea who installed the chemical DPC in the building or why. We agree that the walls should never have been pointed using hard cement mortars and we are left with no clue as to the cause of the water in the walls. It is right that the pointing should be removed but everything after that is conjecture aimed at damaging the reputation of an established industry that dares to question the flawed utterances of Mr Ward. 
This self-acclaimed people’s champion claims that those in the preservation industry are ignorant and ill-educated and that our views have neither any scientific base or are rigorous, notwithstanding the absence of any evidence of appropriate qualifications held by himself. This from a man that says walls need to breathe. Let’s just look at that statement in some detail. 
If a wall is wet, it will want to dry at the surface through evaporation. This process is usually known as drying, not breathing. If an impervious layer is placed over the surface it prevents evaporation. The wall does not suffocate through lack of breath. 

Wow!  Big words here.  We are denying the concept of 'breathability', so enshrined in Building Regulations - let me quote Part L1B:

Part L1B of the 2010 Building Regs: 

http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/BR_PDF_ADL1B_2010.pdf . 

The relevant paras are 3.6 to 3.13 (also reproduced in Part L2B).    The most significant addition here is the recognition of  “buildings of traditional construction with permeable fabric that both absorbs and readily allows the evaporation of moisture” (3.8c).  Whilst not ‘exempt’, these fall under a category where “special considerations may apply”, i.e. “The work should not prejudice the character of the host building or increase the risk of long-term deterioration of the building fabric or fittings” (3.9)

At the start of this section is a screen shot of part of Dr Colin Kings report on solid wall insulation - unintended consequences. In it he repeatedly refers to 'BREATHABILITY' Mr Hodgson.  And SWI is exactly similar to your PCA tanking compounds, your cement based chemical cocktails that you smear all over peoples walls when you apply 'tanking' to seal moisture into the structure in your so called damp proofing.  I'm afraid you are once again hoist on your own Petard.  Must be getting quite painful.. 

Stopping evaporation can be good or bad. In some situations it is desirable. In others it can seriously compromise the structure and must be avoided at all costs.

We all sat and read this, and looked at each other.  The office went quiet.  I don't think any serious professional in the building game could actually get their head around this bonkers statement.  I'd love to see the scientific basis - the research that actually says that evaporation should be stopped.  Wow!  Cool stuff Dr Stephen - where the heck did you get this??

Good practitioners understand this. The use of lime and vapor porous wall finishes inside and out allows a damp structure to dry through them however it is acknowledged that this process effects lime pointing or plaster walls. Limes by their nature are sacrificial. They can tolerate some dampness but will break down over time.

Lime breaks down a jolly sight less than modern materials - most lime plaster is still good after 150 years.  Show me gypsum plaster that survives more than 20 years and you'll be lucky.  Lime will survive under water for decades.  Time does not break down lime.  Nor does water.  Chemical processes will break it down - the same processes that destroy gypsum and cement in about ten percent of the time.  Probably the most uninformed and misguided statement about traditional materials I've ever seen.  Again, Historic England, CADW, Historic Scotland, and many others, including BS 7913, all support the use of lime as a viable, breathable building material.

That’s fine if you live in a Welsh farmhouse and are willing to apply a fresh coat of distemper to the walls every year but is that right for everyone?

Uh?  Actually you don't use distemper every year.  Internally we use clay paints, which last a jolly sight longer than modern paints, because they are breathable (oh - sorry - they allow evaporation - silly me, breathable - tut tut..).  Externally limewash lasts for tens of years - show me any masonry paint that doesnt peel after a couple of years because it is stopping the wall from breathing, and gets blown off and peels. Both Holkham Estate and Chatsworth Estate now use totally breathable systems inside and out - and it is costing them an order of magnitude less in maintenance costs, through not having to paint nearly as regularly..

There are areas of agreement between what we know and Ward’s standpoints, particularly on the use of impervious materials in older building but you wouldn’t think so reading his website. His totally hair brained idea that fog can form within walls is just rather odd. 

We thought it was a really good way of describing what happens when you take air diffusing through a wall at vapour saturation point and cool it slightly so it condenses as a fog, and wets the wall - thus creating the symptoms commonly known by the damp wallies as rising damp..

Peter Ward has attempted to hold the high ground for long enough. He knows the Association would be reluctant to sue him because he has no money (his companies are basically worthless). His impact on the business of the PCA is not measurable and so the court may ask, where is our financial loss? The question remains however, what cost do we put on the truth and are we obliged to find the money to prove what we know to be right?
Perhaps our assertion that Peter Ward is no less than an ill-informed, disreputable chancer may cause him to consider taking the Association to task through the courts. We have evidence to support every element of this article and more besides. 

Hey - be good to see your evidence then - all our evidence is on the site - videos, articles, information, references - all the things that thousands of people are seeing on a daily basis and using to make informed decisions NOT to do any form of damp proofing.

If we had a message to send directly to Mr Ward it would be to stop hiding like a despicable troll behind the anonymity of the internet, answer our letters, take our exam, and meet us in open debate. In short, act like an adult and a professional as he purports himself to be.

Troll I am - I think its a word applied to folk who live underground - and I love being down a mine - especially in the bone dry limestones of the northern Pennines, where rising damp never seems to reach - and capillary action from wet shales just doesnt seem to make those limestones wet - I wonder why?  Good article Mr Hodgson - what a pity it is so unprofessional - it uses schoolboy language and playground tactics I wouldn't expect to see from a 6 year old - they are too mature.  

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