Free surveys – can you afford one?


Free surveys will continue to always be a constant hot topic throughout the daily life of a damp-proofing company.

“X company offers free surveys, so I’m not sure why I’d have to pay for one”

The purpose of this isn’t to shame people who expect free surveys by any means. It is purely to provide information and reasoning for why companies charge to carry out a survey.

One of the main reasons and, most likely the biggest reason, is qualifications. Many companies who offer free surveys do not hold the national, accredited qualifications in relation to the field in which they are offering their services. The current qualification a competent dampness and timber surveyor should hold is a Certified Surveyor of Timber and Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB), formerly CSRT. This qualification is obtained through the Property Care Association (PCA), who rigorously vet the companies that are members of the association and is awarded by the Awarding Body of the Built Environment (ABBE), who also award qualifications for different industries, such as Building Control and Food Safety; Catering and Manufacturing.

Look out for the Property Care Association (PCA) logo. This will ensure the company holds the relevant qualifications and meet the highest standards possible.

PCA Member


The chances are, if you have been offered free surveys, the surveyor will not hold any of the qualifications mentioned above and, in a lot of cases, will not have a great deal of experience in the field they so called ‘specialise’ in.

For most of these companies, damp treatments will not actually be there main area of business. For these reasons, it’s no surprise then, that they would offer free surveys.

Unfortunately, as most companies fall into this bracket, people are led to believe that free surveys is essentially the norm for all companies. The majority of professionally qualified companies will actually charge for a survey.

Qualifications really should play a huge part in finding the right company to inspect your property. The consequences of instructing a company which does not have qualified surveyors could be extremely costly in the long run, especially if the problem is misdiagnosed.

It also begs the question of how companies cover their costs when they offer free surveys, as it costs thousands of pounds to kit out a surveyor with all the equipment they need to correctly diagnose your dampness issues. For these companies and, for those who also pay their surveyors by commission, it makes you wonder how they manage to claw back the loss carrying out the so called free surveys.

This also does not include the cost of professional indemnity insurance, which all surveyors/companies should have to protect you, the client, whether charging for a survey, or carrying it out for free. This insurance, together with public and employer’s liability insurance and product guarantee insurance, doesn’t come cheap, but is absolutely essential for your protection.

The answer again is simple – you are paying incurred costs within the rates specified and/or they will try and sell you something at all costs, which often is sadly unnecessary. Even if you receive a competitive quotation from them, are you confident they have diagnosed it correctly, have provided a detailed specification which is fit for purpose and are capable of actually curing your dampness problem?

On the opposite side, a fee-based survey means RTC in particular, is under no obligation at all to ‘sell’ you anything.

It guarantees an honest professional evaluation – if there is no work to do, or it’s a simple maintenance issue, we will simply tell you.

When you contact a company to come out to sort out your dampness problem, always think of the following;

  • Ask them if they are qualified (CSTDB/CSRT) and if they are not, ask them, WHY! WHY! WHY!
  • A company is not just quoting for the work, a diagnosis has to be carried out first…would you expect a doctor to prescribe you a drug/remedy before he has diagnosed the problem?!
  • They are not working for free as an information or advice service – especially if you ask for a site visit!
  • They will have running costs that need to be reclaimed
  • They are a business; they exist to bring in monies beyond which they expend or, they won’t be a business for long!
  • How long will they actually spend at the property carrying out the FREE survey? At RTC , we would say that a basic damp survey we carry out will take at least one hour and, in a lot of cases, longer (obviously depending on the size of the property and the scope of survey required)
  • Following the survey, a detailed report will also be written and a specification prepared which will be sent to you by post or email
  • Is the person/company who is carrying out the survey adequately insured

bricksThis picture shows eight rows of bricks injected (the first being under internal solid floor level). All drilled into a dense brick. It’s a good job dampness can’t rise through mortar beds!

Do you think the company who installed these chemically injected damp proof courses held the relevant qualifications to understand the basic standard practices of rising damp and damp-proofing?…they obviously didn’t.

Don’t take the risk, ask the experts.

RTC… the North-West’s leading property care specialists.

For any queries on our services, or to book a survey, please contact us.

Our staff will work closely with you from survey stage, right through to the successful completion of the contract.