This is not an exhaustive or a complete subject.  It is likely to change over time, with edits, additions and deletions, and is simply a collection of my thoughts based on many years of experience.   You should follow your instincts, and you must always seek your own professional advice.


For the last few decades, homebuyers may have been faced with reports that contain the requirement/recommendation to obtain a ‘timber and damp report’.   This might typically be written as follows..:

Evidence of widespread dampness and timber infestation was noted. A further inspection of all parts of the property should be undertaken by a specialist contractor who is a member of the Property Care Association (PCA), and all recommended remedial work is to be carried out and covered by an appropriate insurance backed guarantee. 

Buying a property is, for many people, a stressful time.   When faced with the need for a ‘timber and damp report’, it is probably the case that the homebuyer will contact one of the companies who offer a ‘free inspection’ as this seems like an easy option.  What happens next is that the inspection will invariably lead to a quotation for remedial damp-proofing.  The recommendation is likely to suggest an injection dpc and replacement of internal wall plaster.   The cost of this work is often several thousand pounds.   The work is probably unnecessary and it is unlikely that the quote is based on an impartial and unbiased opinion.   The ‘free inspection’ has a vested interest in generating work.

As an attempt to stop this and to work towards raising professional standards, RICS, Historic England and the PCA collaborated and in September 2022 jointly published a document that sets out the Principles and Competences when undertaking moisture inspections of traditional buildings.   You can read about this document and download it for free from the following links..:

There are two specific challenges with the reform of the industry and despite the publication of the JPS 2022 we should not expect an immediate over-night change.   It is likely to take some time – possibly several years.

The wording that specifically refers to the PCA is a legacy from decades ago and it is now, for some (but not all) lenders embedded in the software that generates the mortgage valuation reports.   It is not necessarily a comment that has been actually dictated by the mortgage valuer directly.   This is very frustrating and it will take time to change.   I have raised this specific point with UK Finance and they are aware of it.   However, it is not something that can be regulated and it is for each individual lender to decide what they say and ask for.

Consumers should not expect to receive unbiased impartial advice from a free inspection.   Consumers should expect to pay for independent impartial professional advice.   We are aware that it will take some time for some PCA contractors to reform, where they have traditionally relied on the free inspections as these are leads for generating new work.   They may be reluctant to change.

Consumers who use the less expensive generic RICS report formats which rely on Condition Ratings and are mostly done by the large corporate national survey providers should be aware that these reports will often contain standard phrases and paragraphs.   This is for the benefit of the surveyor in simplifying the report writing process.   The result for the consumer is less specific focus on the actual subject property and very likely will be provided with a long list of further reports that need to be obtained.  These reports are likely to be done by residential surveyors, not building surveyors.  This is especially the case if the survey originates from one of the major corporate surveying firms.

Both of these groups represent a risk to the consumer that the report/advice may not be what is wanted, expected or needed.

If you go for a free inspection, as will often be suggested by an estate agent, you are likely to end up with a quote – whether it is required or not.

In theory, the PCA committed to its members providing professional unbiased reporting in line with JPS 2022.    The consumer can put this to the test.

The consumer can phone the PCA office direct and ask for contractors in their area.

Be very clear that you do NOT want a free ‘damp inspection’ which will simply lead to a quote but that you instead want an inspection that fully complies with the joint RICS, Historic England and PCA document (JPS 2022) and that you would like some names and contact details for the area you are moving to.

Contact each of the people they give you and say exactly the same thing.  Ask for a fee of how much they will charge.   If they say they’ll do it for free, then query it and say that you do not simply want a quote for unnecessary remedial injection work.   You want a professional assessment which fully complies with the new document which the PCA has agreed to.

By doing this, you will have been very clear.   It will also send a signal to them that times are changing.

Make your choice and be willing to pay for one of them to visit the house and report back to you.

When you get the report back, if it has defaulted directly to a quote for an injection dpc, waterproofing plaster etc..   then reject it, complain to the company and also complain direct to the PCA head office and say that the report has failed comply with JPS 2022.   There are PCA contractors who will provide the level of impartiality that is required, and which will comply with JPS 2022.   By rejecting and complaining about the ones that simply revert to quotes, consumers will be helping to reform the industry.

The same applies to RICS survey reports.   If the consumer receives a generic report with Condition Ratings, which are often colour-coded, and a list of further recommendations, which might include getting a ‘damp specialist’, then reject it and complain to the surveyor and, ultimately to the RICS.   The surveyor should be the person to give you reasoned and unbiased advice.   At this stage you need an impartial professional opinion, not a quote.   If the consumer receives any type of report that simply reports the observations and fails to discuss the possible source of the moisture, and sensitive options for repair, then reject it and complain.   JPS 2022 is very clearly written and is very easy to follow.

There are plenty of good and reliable surveyors, and contractors, who will provide consumers with a thorough, unbiased and impartial professional assessment and diagnosis of any property.   For historic and Listed Buildings, this should follow BS 7913 as well as JPS 2022.   When faced with the instruction for you to get a ‘timber and damp report’ consumers should specifically mention this.   If the consumer looks for the cheapest, or free, option then it is likely to end up with a disappointing result.

A good place to start for information and a quotation is Heritage House

This useful, and straight-forward, video by Rich Alsbury gives a helpful explanation of condensation and how older traditional buildings can be impacted by it.   This is especially the case when buildings are not heated adequately and walls become cold.



Disclaimer:   Anything posted in this Blog is for general information only and it is not in any way intended to provide any advice, legal or otherwise, on any general or specific matter that you can rely on.  You should always seek your own legal and surveying advice.