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News

Journey into the depths of how sub floor airbricks work

Over the past few months the PCA has been working in partnership with Historic England to examine the effects of airbricks on the atmosphere in the voids below suspended timber floors

With the assistance of a number of PCA members, atmospheric data has been collected from the subfloor voids, the occupied space above the floors and from the atmosphere outside. Existing airbricks were opened and then sealed for week-long periods to see what effect, if any, opening and closing the vents had on the condition below the floor and within the occupied space.

At the same time as data was being collected by PCA members, Brian Ridout of Historic England has been monitoring his own property.

What has the data shown about airbricks?

Data collected by PCA members was processed and interpreted by Graham Coleman. What the figures appear to show is that airbricks do indeed have an effect on the subfloor environment even when the “flow” of air is negligible. However, it does seem that the benefits of subfloor airbricks are varied and are dependent on a great many factors.

Data collected by Historic England also shows an effect from airbricks with a clear divergence in vapour pressure between the occupied rooms, the subfloor void and the external environment.

So what's the next step?

A great deal of work now needs to be done to understand the implications of the data we have collected. It follows that we anticipate that further debate and collective working will be needed to reach conclusions that can be agreed by both PCA and Historic England.

What we are hoping to do in the medium term is to promote further academic research in partnership with Historic England into what we concede is a subject that is not fully understood. That said our preliminary findings suggest that airbricks help reduce the amount of water in the air within subfloor voids in the winter. We consider this to have a beneficial effect to both the condition of timber floor and possibly the quality of the air in the occupied room.

We remain committed to the use of airbricks

Our long standing commitment to the use of airbricks and ventilation to protect ground floor timbers from decay is valid and defensible, and to ignore vents that are blocked or missing is extremely risky. It is conceded however that more work is required to understand how best to quantify the number and location of vents needed in any particular situation.

TrustMark Is Changing

Thanet Timber & Damp - TrustMark Is Changing

Since 2005 TrustMark has been a champion of consumer protection and the businesses delivering quality services their customers can rely on.

In 2016 the Government commissioned Each Home Counts Review identified a requirement for an all-encompassing mark of quality for consumers to recognise and trust.

It has been decided that TrustMark will be the brand this quality mark is known as, and will expand its remit to include the Retro Fit, Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI), and energy efficiency sectors; covering any work a consumer chooses to have carried out in their home.

Significant as these changes are, TrustMark wanted to create a fresh new brand that highlights this development whilst also celebrating what remains unchanged (chiefly the name, TrustMark).

A critical driver for the brand refresh was to create a more modern appearance, which is reflected in the chosen colour palette. This palette will be used in all TrustMark communications from the launch onwards.

The new logo also delivers an evolution of the old, as the previous 'interlacing hands' motif has been modernised and enhanced to an image we believe has greater graphical impact, and a broader range of applications.

We welcome this development and look forward to meeting this challenge, which we firmly believe marks an opportunity to create far-reaching and positive change for both consumers and businesses.

Maintenance and Air Quality

Property Care association - [November 2018]

Facilities managers/landlords/property managers/building managers/social housing professionals urged to put air quality in order as temperatures drop

As winter approaches, a national trade body is issuing a timely reminder to facilities managers/landlords/property managers/building managers/social housing professionals to ensure air quality management is on their radar.

With the arrival of dark nights and dropping temperatures, moisture levels in buildings start to increase.

Air becomes more laden with water, meaning that issues such as condensation, and even damp and mould, can take hold.

As a result, the Property Care Association (PCA) is urging facilities managers/landlords/property managers/building managers/social housing professionals to ensure appropriate servicing, repairs and checks are made to ventilation fans and air management systems, to tackle the issue.

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA, said:

"Ventilation fans and air management systems are at the front line in providing a healthier environment for people to live and work in.

"They play an invaluable role at this time of year at addressing the heavy, cold air that can circulate in buildings as temperatures drop.

"However, despite the contribution they make to air quality, it's not uncommon for their service and repair to be overlooked.

"Without a structured servicing regime, waste can build up in the system. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria and also reduce efficiency.

"It is also not uncommon for systems to be installed which are not the correct specification for their particular environment.

"This is unfortunate as effective ventilation is the most effective way to tackle excess moisture in buildings."

The PCA's membership includes professionals with the skills and expertise to undertake the design and installation of ventilation solutions for commercial and residential areas.

Rogue landlords face new banning orders

April 6, 2018

Rogue landlords who rent out second-rate properties face being forced out of the sector as new banning orders are brought in and a national database of offenders goes live today (6 April)

Landlords convicted of a range of housing, immigration and other criminal offences such as leasing overcrowded properties, fire and gas safety offences and unlawful eviction, will be put on the new database, so councils can share information and review those with a poor track record.

The private rented sector houses 4.7 million households in England and the government is delivering these reforms under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 so everyone has a safe and decent place to live.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler said: "I am committed to making sure people who are renting are living in safe and good quality properties. That's why we're cracking down on the small minority of landlords that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation.

"Landlords should be in no doubt that they must provide decent homes or face the consequences."

The database will be available to use by councils to crackdown on poor and unfair practice in the private rented sector such as overcrowded, squalid or dangerous accommodation, and to help target their enforcement action.

Rogue landlords convicted of offences under the government's new law may also be given banning orders preventing them from leasing accommodation for a period of time, ranging from 12 months to life. Councils must record details of any landlord or property agent who has received a banning order on the database. Landlords that ignore a banning order will face criminal sanctions including up to 6 months imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

The department will be able to use the database to publish regular updates on the number of landlords and agents who have been banned, convicted of a banning order offence or received two or more civil penalties, broken down by local authority area.

These measures follow the announcement that councils are also being given tough new powers to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords who rent out overcrowded properties and impose fines of up to £30,000 for those landlords who do not comply. Overcrowded and poor quality housing can result in excess noise, increased demand on local services such as waste collection and anti-social behaviour generally.

PCA News April 2018: Member benefit: The PCA Promise

PCA members can set themselves apart from non-PCA member competition through their ability to provide customers with 'The PCA Promise'.

The PCA Promise is a type of warranty which covers timber treatment and damp-proofing works, as well as structural waterproofing and remedial wall ties. This is for domestic premises where the contract price (including VAT) is more than £250 and up to £50,000.

The PCA Promise meets the criteria required by TrustMark.

Under the scheme, the Association gives blanket coverage to its contractor members, so they can offer a guarantee on behalf of the PCA to cover their customers for work in progress and deposits.

There is no additional cost to customers for the guarantee, which ensures that should any contractor member of the Association go out of business while work is being done, then another PCA contractor will complete the work to the original specification at no extra cost.

The Changing nature of damp investigations

CEO Steve Hodgson's paper on 'The changing nature of damp investigations and the implications of retrofit cavity and external wall insulation on standard forms of building' has been published in the Journal of Building Survey, Appraisal & Valuation Volume 6 Number 4.

The paper looks at the reasons why some properties are becoming more susceptible to problems associated with atmospheric moisture, and considers how ill-advised or poorly executed retrofit insulation is leading to problems commonly associated with water penetration and condensation. The paper also consider the longer-term implications for maintenance and inspection of buildings that have been retrofitted with External Wall and Cavity Wall insulation but, as yet, appear defect free.

To read the full paper, please click here.

PCA News 2017: Rogue Trader Ordered to Pay Compensation

A rogue trader who left victims with shoddy, incomplete damp proofing work has recently been ordered to pay their victims compensation of just under £10,000, and has further been ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

The defendant had been convicted of a similar offence in 2012 when they traded under the name of Dynamic Property Care.

Damp Scam

Potential Damp Scam

Back in 2008 the Association were involved in assisting the police and the courts in stopping a particularly lucrative and well organised scam involving fraudulent damp works being carried out on the homes of typically older or vulnerable people.

The perpetrators were Nigel John Hudson and his wife, and the operation was operating across the UK, Portugal and Spain, and they were arrested as part of a major international fraud investigation when they were trying to set up in Florida.

We have been advised by a member that they believe the same people may now be trying to implement a similar scam using a company called 'Britannia Holdings Europe Ltd'.

Concerns have been reported to the local Trading Standards authority in Coventry. The Association will contact Trading Standards through its links and will of course be available to help provide any supporting technical information etc that will assist any investigations and future actions.

If you come across anything that you think may be pertinent to the Trading Standards case please do let us know.

Areas We Cover

We cover the whole of the South East Kent, towns and surrounding areas of:

Whitstable, Herne Bay, Birchington, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Minster, Sandwich, Canterbury, Bridge, Barham, Wingham, Chartham, Hawkinge, Deal, Walmer and Dover.

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