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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.

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 a 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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