Damp Investigative Services – who to trust?

There are many mould detection services offered to the public from a variety of companies. In the US, bodies such as the Indoor Air Quality Association offer some quality control, but there are no mandatory controls over who can offer services in this area. Some states have a licensed contractor scheme that you can refer to.

Here in the UK we have the Mycology Reference Centre in Manchester (MRCM) which is closely allied to the National Aspergillosis Centre. MRCM carry out the very high quality fungal identification services required by NAC and they are using that expertise to set up services to the public and industry for the investigation of mouldy houses and hospitals.

Homeowners are advised to employ damp consultants carefully, as there are problems with standards of work in this industry in the UK. A research article written by Which! consumer magazine in December 2011 revealed widespread errors of judgement on the part of some of the largest damp proofing companies. Many (5 out of 11 companies tested) gave poor advice with expensive and unnecessary work recommended.

Qualifications for damp & mould remediation ‘surveyors’ have been run since 1980, and since 1995 have been offered by the Property Care Association. You will see many adverts from people quoting the letters CSRT after their name. These qualifications seem to have been pretty much the only ones offered in the UK and establish a minimal standard at least (with some guarantees offered by the PCA), but again they have their weaknesses as they are achievable after a three day tutorial. There is little nationally recognisable regulation of these qualifications (UK qualifications offered by schools & colleges are regulated by Ofqual). Many will have additional experience and will be highly competent but there is a strong indication from the Which! survey all is not as it should be. A properly qualified Building Surveyor must study for three years to degree level to begin to learn his trade. Use of the word ‘Surveyor’ has many meanings in the UK!

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (an international body that upholds standards throughout the world) and the Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers (UK specific) can advise on finding a surveyor appropriate for your needs. The latter is launching a new fully regulated qualification in damp remediation so it is worth seeking them out.