A new blueprint launched by professional and heritage bodies to address the investigation of damp in older buildings represents a significant landmark for the property sector overall, says Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the Property Care Association
The Property Care Association (PCA) has worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Historic England to produce a working document on damp in older buildings, entitled ‘Investigation of Moisture and its Effects in Traditional Buildings‘. The methodology delivers a framework and an expectation of skill and knowledge centred around of number of key elements.
These emphasise the importance of understanding the building, the behaviour of moisture and the knowledge of defects that result from excess moisture build-up in traditional forms of construction.
Also included are issues that need to be considered when assessing building condition, diagnosing defects and making recommendations that set out options and allow clients to make informed choices in materials and techniques, which may be adopted in repair strategies.
Legal requirements of dealing with listed buildings and the content of reports are discussed as well.
The draft methodology was revealed to delegates at the PCA’s International Building Preservation Conference, held at The Slate, University of Warwick, in November.
Joining forces to understand damp in older buildings
This is the first time heritage organisations, building surveying and preservation specialists have joined forces to produce information collaboratively to the benefit all professionals.
And when the document is completed and adopted, the methodology will reinforce the accountability and expectation that all signatories will expect of professionals tasked with investigating dampness in any building built using traditional materials or techniques.
It is anticipated that the methodology will be used to benchmark the skills and knowledge of surveyors. These levels of skill and professionalism are already expected of our members and this is demonstrable in the qualifications required by PCA of its membership.
In addition to the three organisations who drew up the document together, other partner organisations are committed to the adoption of the methodology. To date, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish heritage organisations have backed the document and other professional bodies are lining up to publicly endorse it.
Currently, the methodology remains 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.
A new methodology
The PCA is confident in the abilities of its members so the association has pledged to meet the expectation of the paper by January 2021.
In fact, the PCA is the only organisation that has provided a voluntary undertaking to adopt this methodology into the normal operating expectation of membership.
Even though almost every element of the new methodology is already required knowledge for PCA members (as demonstrated by the CSTDB syllabus), 2020 will be used to inform and roll out the methodology with compliance promised from January 2021.
For the PCA, full compliance is within easy reach. Many members already exceed the scope of the document in their everyday work. For others, including the co-creators, compliance remains an aspiration with no dates attached.
We are now planning formal training, informal workshops, information videos, blogs and guidance to ensure instruction of the methodology is available to members of the PCA.
Some of these resources and events will be made available to everyone who wishes to understand more and has a desire to gain the levels of knowledge and understanding that are necessary to become compliant with the methodology.
More details about the methodology can be found here.
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