The Damp Industry - More about the Con...

I think everyone now knows just how insidious the damp industry is. What folk don't probably realise, is just what an interconnected web of rip-off companies and shady practises actually exist.  I did a little digging around the other day - blame it on the remains of a hurricane bringing heavy rain to England, so a bottle of home made cider, and a warm fire resulted in some internet digging.

Top of the damp industry in England is the Property Care Association.  All the damp wallies are members. The PCA has a nominal Chief Executive, Stephen Hodgson.  He's well known for lobbying organisations like RICS to try to pursuade them to make the PCA the only recognised body in the country to 'Survey' houses for timber and damp problems - thereby allowing them complete control over flogging useless chemical and timber treatments.  Other members of the Board of the PCA own between them Damp Proofing and Chemical companies.  No surprise there then.  So when you go look for an 'Independent' timber and damp surveyor - in the vague hope he or she will be truly independent - think again.  They all very proudly tout their PCA membership, and their PCA qualifications which are meaningless drivel - CSRT and CSSW amongst others with no academic status whatsoever. 

So our Mr Hodgson spends his time lobbying - RICS is one of his favourite targets.  Get to RICS surveyors, pursuade them to recommend a PCA 'Timber and Damp' survey in every mortgage valuation survey, and you have market domination, and a pathway to huge chemical wealth, based on completely fraudulent recommendations to home buyers to damp proof and timber treat their homes.  If you add to the list of lobbying, organisations like RIBA, the FMB, and others, you can see there's a pretty good chance some of the bulldust will rub off somewhere.

Now it just so happens that every time the PCA Damp Proofing member flogs you a fraudulent timber and damp treatment, they try to get you to buy an independent 'Guarantee'.  Here's a typical advertising blurb from a proud PCA members website:

As members of the PCA we are able to offer the GPT guarantee system for our work. This is only available from PCA members.

The GPT is a completely independent freestanding trust fund, not linked to the performance of any company.

These guarantees give you the assurance that should anything happen your guarantee will remain in force.

Oh dear...

A quick look online, and Company Check brings up the Guarantee Protection Trust Limited.  You'll never guess who the Directors are :-)  Yes, you guessed it - the same nice chaps who are on the board of the PCA - including the aforementioned Mr Stephen Paul Hodgson.

So here we have an industry association promoting 'independence', and 'qualified surveyors' - who promote an 'independent' guarantee company - owned and run by the same people.  A deeper delve into the accounts of the GPT gives a net worth of £33k - and declining revenue for the last few years.  I wonder if that's in relation to the increasing public awareness of the scam that is the damp industry?

But it gets better!

Everyone is conditioned to think that Trustmark is a highly respected Government organisation which advertises 'Government Endorsed Standards' - erm... Really?  Here's the blurb they want you to believe in on the front of their website:

Find your local tradespeopletrustworthy, reliable and operating to Government Endorsed Standards

TrustMark is a not for profit organisation, licensed by Government and supported by consumer protection groups.

Oh dear....

Guess who is on the Board of Trustmark?

Oh no - not again - our friend Mr Hodgson.  Yup - the man who runs the damp industry chemical sales association, who flogs insurance guaranteeing all their dodgy damp proofing jobs, is also on the Board of an organisation that claims to recommend reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

Ho Hum - so you can imagine which organisation is now a proud member of Trustmark, and is apparently audited and inspected and rigorously watched and governed by Trustmark - oh - yes - erm, the Property Care Association... Now when I challenged the Chief Executive of Trustmark on her appointment, she became thoroughly unpleasant and ran for the hills, behind the cover of her shiny new MBE - so obviously our Gracious Lizzie is very happy with her damp proofing job of Buck House and doesn't want to rock the boat...

Do you detect a little bit of a round robin here - fingers in pies, wheels within wheels, lots of money changing hands.  You don't think these guys work so hard on all these Boards and Trusts for nothing do you?  

Now go back and read British Standard 7913: 2013 - Guide to the Conservation of Historic Buildings.  Erm why would I ask you to do that?  Because it's independent - it stands to make no money for anyone.  It's clear, unbiased guidance for anyone with an old house.  It has two main recommendations:

1:  You don't need to damp proof anything - just get your house breathing again.

2:  You don't need to treat timber - just keep it dry.

Tends to draw a firm line under the damp industry doesnt it.

Now let's listen for the squeals of indignation from all these supposedly 'independent' people...

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