Silly damp, timber and mould Questions:
They say there’s no such question as a silly question. Well I’d disagree! Given that you’ve been sensible enough to search out an independent damp surveyor, I’m pretty confident you’re not going to ask me any of these, but here we go anyway!
Can you do a ‘free’ survey’?
No, we can’t and nor can anyone else! The firms that offer ‘free surveys’ are contractors. They undertake works. They’re not giving up their time to come to the property out of the goodness of their heart; they’re not a charity! They’re coming for ‘free’ to sell you a product or a treatment, regardless of whether you actually need it or not. A ‘free’ survey, is essentially a quotation, but unlike a quote you’d get on having the fence painted, or say an extension built, the average person doesn’t actually know the type of dampness they have, the severity of the dampness or the most appropriate treatment. So they’re rather at the mercy of the ‘free surveyor’. But hey-ho that’s not you, or you wouldn’t be reading this, more fool them!
Can you guarantee that your survey will highlight every single damp, timber and mould defect?
No, we can’t. Anyone who say’s they can is telling fibs! That or they’ve got X-ray glasses! Properties have sub-floors, cavity walls, welsh dressers blocking corners, double-beds hiding walls, fishtanks, kids toys the list goes on!...hidden nooks and crannies, sub-surface drainage, inaccessible lofts etc etc. Believe me, I’d not believe a word of any surveyor who says he can see it all! But don’t despair. What I can assure you is that I’ll do all I can in the time allotted to sensibly and thoroughly survey the property for damp, timber and mould. It’s not unusual for me to highlight an A4 page of defects.
Can you be confident that the property will never suffer any damp, timber or mould defects?
No, I can’t. This is seriously a question we’re asked regularly! I think it’s a daft question, but then I guess it’s a question relating to my industry. Looking at it from my clients perspective, I see it differently, in that I’ve bought a few cars over the years, and I’m probably guility of asking a near similar question to the car salesman. ‘Can he be confident that a car I’m looking to buy won’t break down?’ Of course, they can’t can they!?. They can say statistically it’s a nearly new car and so it’s unlikely too, but in the course of that cars history, lets be honest the likelihood is it’ll have a niggle or two and need some money on maintenance and servicing and the same is true with property. Though remember I’m not a damp ‘salesman’ surveyor acting for a contractor. I’m an independent damp surveyor, working exclusively for you. Therefore, if I think the property is a likely moneypit regarding damp, timber and mould I’ll not only tell you, but I’ll show you why I think it is by listing out the defects in a comprehensive recommended remedial treatments / schedules of work.
Can you price out the work?
OK, so this isn’t really a daft question. But I’ve included it here, to highlight a couple of points. Firstly, we’re not contractors; therefore we’re not going to do the works, so we can’t put a price on doing those works. So the short answer is ‘No’. However, I know what a prospective client actually means when they ask me this. So the answer is actually, a ‘Yes’, in as much as we can put a ballpark estimate on what the remedial works are likely to cost you.
How comes a ballpark estimate you ask? Well, tradespersons prices vary significantly. As far as I can see the reason being some firms work on quoting on ten jobs high and therefore they need only win one for a hefty profit. Others price all ten jobs reasonably (as I’d like to think they’ve got a conscience) but probably because they like the reassurance of getting their order books filled up a long way in advance, ensuring constant workflow. Others price low, so as to undercut others to get their foot in the door, or perhaps they’re local to you, or they like the property or even you! Therefore we can use our experience to put a figure on it. It’s also worth pointing out that particularly since the recession I’ve seen tradespersons prices vary significantly, it’s never been more important to get three quotes. It’s also pretty crucial to get three quotes on the same work and that’s where our recommended remedial work list again comes into play, as you can give them the list and say, right quote off the lines of that. This ensures the three quotes come back like for like.
Can you be 100% certain you can accurately diagnose the defect?
Again, I think it’s a silly Q, because my life is surveying. So with this question, I answer it, by asking the client who’s posed the question their profession?
For instance, can my doctor be 100% certain of correctly diagnosing my ailments? Can mechanics or plumbers be 100% certain when replacing a faulty component in my car or boiler, that its that piece which is at fault or do they have to do a bit of trial and error. Can a teacher be 100% certain my kids will get a C-grade in their exams? Of course they can’t be 100% correct, but they’re professionally trained, seen thousands of other patients, cars, boilers and pupils so I’ve got confidence in them. I’d like to think you’ve read this far, that you will have in me. Though that doesn’t mean I don’t expect you to ask questions! I do, I love property and can chat for hours (another reason why I’ll never be successful in making a decent profit!). You’ll ask and ten minutes later probably wish you hadn’t, but do ask. I don’t mind being told to shut up! After all, questions are how we all learn. So if you’ve got one and ideally it’s not one of the silly ones listed above then please fire away! Josie, Kate and I are here to help, we look forward to hearing from you.