Dealing with damp – a new Joint Position Statement
Moisture and its effects on traditional buildings: Principles and competencies
A Joint Position Statement – the Investigation of moisture and its effects on traditional buildings: Principles and competencies was launched in September 2022 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Historic England and the Property Care Association. This document has also been supported by Cadw, Historic Environment Scotland, Historic Environment Division Northern Ireland, the SPAB, and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.
The Joint Position Statement recognises that traditional solid walled buildings are not the same as modern buildings and should not be expected to perform in the same way. An observation of moisture in an old building should not immediately be identified as a ‘problem’ that requires fixing. At the point of purchase in particular, but not solely at this time, consumers are under a lot of pressure and dealing with mortgage lenders and professional advisors can be fraught with concern about following rules and procedures. Many people are not always able to differentiate between sales tactics and impartial advice.
For decades, the scenario has often been that a mortgage valuer or surveyor has made a comment about ‘moisture’ which is then followed by a recommendation to get an inspection by a ‘damp specialist’. The subsequent inspection will invariably lead to a diagnosis of ‘rising damp’ and a quote for remedial damp-proofing work, usually costing a considerable sum of money.
The Joint Position Statement establishes a set of competencies and principles that should be used to determine how to define and treat moisture in old buildings. If a surveyor or contractor fails to follow the Joint Position Statement, the consumer should ask for the report to done again. The content of the report should be expected to justify any recommendations made and it should lead to an approach which is sensitive to the long-term life of the building. If dissatisfied, the consumer can make a complaint should the issue remain unresolved. The RICS Home Survey Standard 2019 provides mandatory requirements for all RICS members and RICS regulated firms and reports are expected to be detailed and impartial and should not contain long lists of ‘further investigations’.
The approach of the Joint Position Statement is based on understanding how moisture moves within old buildings and that buildings should be looked after to the highest possible standard. It will ultimately benefit buildings, their owners and the wider environment.
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