There are very few truly independent and professionally qualified damp experts in the UK but we are one of them. We have been teaching damp investigation and remediation since 2006 and have dealt with numerous expert witness cases. Damp surveys are generally offered freely by the damp proofing industry because the people who do these surveys are really DPC injection salesmen who hold nothing more than trade qualifications obtained from their trade association; the report you get will usually contain a recommendation for DPC injection and replastering; recommendations are generally made in the absence of any meaningful diagnostic work. In fact the vast majority of damp problems, ranging from penetrating damp through to rising and condensation damp can be resolved using nothing more than minor building works. We have the diagnostic tools and expertise to carry out detailed damp investigation work that will allow us to make detailed recommendations on what is required to cure the problem. We take pride is being able to resolve damp problems that other professionals have failed to resolve. Please ask for one of our sample damp reports and you will understand why we are so successful in this area.

Please visit our Damp Experts page for more information.

We have an enviable record of resolving a number of longstanding technical issues in high-rise blocks, particularly relating to damp and water ingress. Our team have managed a number of multi-million pound high-rise refurbishment projects and written detailed work specifications that have allowed the client to effectively tender works and obtain best value through the tender process. We understand the range of problems that can be encountered in high rise blocks and have managed and specified works for bin chute installations, lift installations, internal soil and vent pipes, electrical installations, fire safety improvements, kitchen and bathrooms and external refurbishment, including the application of external wall insulation (EWI). We are published experts on External Wall Insulation (EWI) and can offer a clear survey strategy and options appraisal for dealing with non-traditional medium and high-rise stock, particularly PRC and poured in-situ ‘hard to treat’ concrete blocks.
If you think you have a problem with subsidence then the first point we’d make is don’t panic! We get called to many suspected subsidence cases that turn out to be far less serious issues. There are a whole range of factors that cause cracking in buildings and out team can diagnose those factors and recommend appropriate remedial works.

Where cracking is serious and subsidence is suspected then the first thing to establish is whether or not your building is still moving? You will need a period of crack monitoring over a 6-12 month period to determine whether movement is progressive and on-going as it would be unwise to spend money on crack repairs if the building is still moving. Once crack monitoring is put in place we can survey local ground conditions and advise on any issues that have contributed to building movement.

Thermal imaging can be an incredibly useful tool to aid the damp investigation process, particularly as it relates to issues of poor insulation and subsequent cold surface condensation. However, it can only be used where a minimum temperature differential exists of at least 5OC between indoors and outdoors so thermal imaging survey work has to be carefully scheduled to maximize the benefits that can be obtained during the warmer summer months.
Thermal imaging is used as standard on all our damp investigation survey work where it might be of some use to the diagnostic process but it can also be a useful tool in diagnosing poor cavity wall insulation installations or even roof leaks. Please call to discuss your requirements for a thermal imaging survey and we will give you an honest assessment of whether thermal imaging can be of benefit to you.
If you have a property that is affected by mould colonization due to condensation damp then there is a strong possibility that this is affecting the indoor air quality. Microscopic mould spores from these colonies contribute to the total spore count found in your local environment. It used to be fairly common to take swab samples from these colonies to identify the mould species but this method has been widely discredited because it does not take into account dead or non-viable spores in the atmosphere; these can also be injurious to health. In our drive to provide a one stop shop for all the specialist information you will need we now provide air sampling for total spore count using the Zefon Z-Lite system with Air-O-Cell cartridges. We sample both indoor and outdoor air quality so that a comparison can be made between the two. Mould spores are ubiquitous, most of us breathe them in every day without suffering ill affect. This is why we have to determine whether indoor levels are above normal atmospheric levels; any total spore count levels found to be above normal atmospheric levels will be seen as being potentially injurious to health. We can provide this service for landlords looking to defend section 82 claims under the Environmental Protection Act or indeed to residents who would like their landlord to take action to resolve these issues.
We have encountered many cracked and sagging plaster and lath ceilings and where there is no historic value or architectural interest within the ceiling then we may simply recommend that the ceiling be over boarded or replaced with a standard plasterboard system. However, a high number of plaster and lath ceilings have strong architectural detailing and need to be preserved as part of the historic building fabric. We are one of the few professional practices that have a detailed process for inspecting and assessing the remaining ‘as built’ strength within the ceiling and can provide a simple pass or fail with regard to the ceilings potential for collapse. We can also provide detailed recommendations on strengthening and conserving your original plaster and lath ceiling.
Homebuyer surveys often detail issues with alleged damp and give a recommendation for further specialist investigation. We often see situations where qualified Chartered Surveyors then hand over specialist investigation to damp proof industry ‘specialists’ who are significantly less qualified and less able to properly diagnose these problems than the Chartered Surveyor is themself. Mortgage companies will often place retentions on the home buyers mortgage whenever they see either recommendations for further investigation or a report from a damp proofing industry specialist claiming that specialist damp proofing works is required. We often get appointed at this stage and our reports often prove that the property is not actually damp or that specialist works are rarely, if ever, required. Whatever the outcome, you can be sure that our report will deal with the root cause and facilitate lifting of the mortgage retention without you wasting unnecessary costs on specialist damp proofing work that is not required.
With any building defect the key to successful diagnosis of the problem is often the ability to fully access or open up the building for inspection. We plan for this possibility and arrive with tools or a relevant tradesman that would allow us to fully inspect the potential causes of the problem. Where required we will plan to access the building at height or we can even use the latest drone and video technology to carry out high level inspections from a safe working area.
We can survey for a wide range of problems including wood and timber defects, cut edge corrosion in steel, defects & non-compliance with NHBC standards in new construction, roof defects, structural defects and concrete defects, including specialist concrete testing. We have an expertise in failures of External Wall Insulation (EWI) and can carry out a full investigation into why EWI systems have failed.
Our principal, Joe Malone, is a leading expert in damp investigation and remediation and has been teaching the subject to industry surveyors since 2006 using our own course material. He is also a visiting guest lecturer at Coventry University where he teaches the principles of damp investigation to building surveying undergraduates. The course has proved to be so successful that we also developed a one-day training course in building defect analysis.
We can deliver training courses at your place of work or in our own training room. Here is what one of our clients said about our training course, ‘RBLI’s Property Services team of 5, booked a training package “Damp Investigation & Remediation”, this was a one day course, and we were all most impressed with the course content and knowledge base of Joe Malone. The training was both easy going but kept to the path, and really informative, opened our eyes.

Excellent value block booking, and would not hesitate to call on him again, would strongly recommend his services to others.’

Please see our course brochures for full details of either course.

Buyers of new build properties are often advised by solicitors or mortgage companies that they don’t need a full survey due to the fact that they have the new build warranty and further NHBC insurance cover. Unfortunately this is bad advice and the vast majority of technical problems we encounter are in new build properties where the quality of work delivered by sub-contractors is often poorly managed. We spend a lot of time on major development sites across the UK and see first hand some of the poor quality construction work. We have also dealt with a number of NHBC claims on behalf of clients who quickly realize that NHBC insurance does not provide the level of protection that they had imagined.
Covermeter2015-06-24 at 6.48.48 AM

We use the latest technology to cary out non-destructive covermeter surveys in concrete. We can establish the size of the rebar, the position and the all important, depth of concrete cover.

Poorly installed EWI

Poorly installed EWI

We are one of the few surveying practices with an expertise in external wall insulation failures. We have studied the subject in great detail and had a paper published on the subject in the ‘Construction, Research and Innovation Journal.’ We warned in that technical paper that there were a number of risks involved in having these systems installed and that if these risks were not given due consideration then there was a high risk of system failure. We also predict that there will be a glut of these system failures in the UK that will result in installers blaming the system and the system manufacturers blaming the installers. Our investigation and report will detail the modes of failure and provide clear conclusions and recommendations on the cause and the required remedial action.

Calcium sulphate screed failure with UFH

Calcium sulphate screed failure with UFH

We have a huge amount of experience in investigate floor screed failures both in calcium sulphate and cementitious floor screeds, including those where under floor heating is installed. We can carry out a detailed site investigation, analyze material samples and provide a full written report as to the cause of failure and required remedial action.

sulphate attack in floor slab

Sulphate attack in floor slab

Sulphate attack on ground floor concrete slabs is a  serious problem that can cause structural damage to the main walls of a building. The problem occurs when the fill material (hardcore) beneath the slab contains sulphates and these migrate into the concrete. The sulphates react with the Tricalcium Aluminate present in Ordinary Portland Cement to form Ettringite, this is a crystal that expands as it grows, causing cracking and heave within the concrete floor slab.  In serious cases this can also cause structural damage, particularly  to any masonry walls built off the floor slab.  Where sulphates are present they are usually found in  colliery shale that was used as hardcore beneath the concrete slab though occasionally, the aggregates within the concrete also contained sulphates. Sulphate attack is expedited where high levels of moisture are found but for properties built from circa 1965 onwards the risk of sulphate attack is reduced where a DPM is installed as a physical barrier between the hardcore and the concrete slab. We can carry out a full sulphates report that will include a report on the buildings structural condition, whether or not a DPM is installed, core sampling the floor slab so that both the concrete and the hardcore can be analysed for sulphate content and a cement content analysis. Our final report will include recommendations on what actions are required.