Is independent arbitration over faulty damp treatment worth the cost?

We have damp in three areas of our cottage. A company viewed it, diagnosed the problem as being 'salt contamination' and said this would be fixed by installing a membrane. Work was done, but 6 months down the line the same walls are showing evidence of damp again. The company viewed it again and this time said I had a problem with 'penetrative damp' and I would need to employ someone else, a surveyor, to find the root of the problem. I have criticised the fact that their work has failed so soon, and the fact they didn't advise us right from the start that it might be a job better sorted by someone else. Company has agreed to independent arbitration. If I win, I would get some or all of my expenses repaid, but if we loose, we would have to pay the arbitration expenses. I feel I have a strong case, but perhaps I am mistaken? 

Comments

  • Damp cannot be fixed by installing a membrane. A membrane will mask the problem and not deal with the root cause. There are a lot of "damp experts" out there but they are generally cowboys. Have a good read of this which will help you understand the issue https://www.heritage-house.org/damp-and-condensation/managing-damp-in-old-buildings.html Would be interested to hear about the specific issues you are having.

    On the arbitration issue I have never heard of anyone doing this before...have you contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau for advice? How much does arbitration cost and how much did the "work" cost?


  • the_lunatic_is_in_my_head
    the_lunatic_is_in_my_head Posts: 7,319
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    edited 2 February at 7:36PM
    Hello OP

    Sorry to hear, as above most damp companies selling this work are cowboys installing unnecessary work that just hides the problem.

    Often any insurance is worthless and it wouldn’t surprise me if these companies fold if any customers get a judgement against them. 

    Damp is either environmental meaning it comes from drying clothes indoors, not having extraction in the bathroom and kitchen, a lack of heating, a lack of ventilation or a combination. In addition the weather over the last few years has been far more humid in Sep/Oct, even the other week the water was condensing on the slate paving outside due to the high humidity.

    Other issues can be leaking guttering or down pipes, raised ground works causing issues, leaking pipes in walls or under the floors or penetrating damp from water getting through damaged pointing, etc. 

    In terms of consumer rights you would be looking at an independent, comprehensive report from someone who doesn’t sell damp remedy services to show the work carried out was unnecessary and/or inappropriate. 

    You’d then reclaim the cost of the work plus removing their work via small claims.

    I assume this was an LTD, if so best to check Companies House to see the company history to gauge the odds of ever seeing the money.

    If the work was insurance backed you can speak to the insurer but I wouldn’t pin much hope on this angle sadly. 

    I don’t see what benefit arbitration offers you, either you have a case or don’t, who better to decide than the official legal process? :)
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,641
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    Wjat does arbitration cost/

    Who does the arbitration?
  • Sheelha
    Sheelha Posts: 4
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    Thanks for your comments. I have indeed already contacted Citizens Advice and they say before going to the small claims court, it is right and good to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, if the Company has  one. This is reply I got from the company about this proposal: "The dispute between ourselves obviously needs to be resolved and we would wish for this to be done amicably. We, therefore, are willing to accept your proposal of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). We do not have our own Scheme for this but would suggest the use of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors."

    On the RICS it certainly gives details about dispute resolution and it would seem one of us would pay £120 to appoint an adjudicator, then £150 per hour up to a max of 15 hours. The losing party would pay. We have already paid £5200 for the faulty work to be done, and lost more money in lost holiday let bookings which we would have had during the time we allowed for the work to be done and the plaster to dry. But I am in danger of throwing more money after bad? 

    I think this company must surely have been down this path before. In their latest letter to me they simply state that we have a difference of view and that I was warned in advance about penetrative damp. But I was not, and there is nothing in their correspondence with me that suggests that I was warned - it is all 'you have salt contamination, our membrane will sort this.' I, meanwhile, had sent them a long letter suggesting their means/method of 'diagnosing' our problem is totally unscientific and clearly arbitrary; their 10 year guarantee (website) seemingly meaningless and contradicts their 'Statement of Limitation' (also website) which says damp may occur at any time after work is done; and that they gave me no advice about getting a surveyor to check for penetrative damp, which their website says they will do. 
  • Aylesbury_Duck
    Aylesbury_Duck Posts: 13,797
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    edited 4 February at 9:34AM
    Sheelha said:
    Thanks for your comments. I have indeed already contacted Citizens Advice and they say before going to the small claims court, it is right and good to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, if the Company has  one. This is reply I got from the company about this proposal: "The dispute between ourselves obviously needs to be resolved and we would wish for this to be done amicably. We, therefore, are willing to accept your proposal of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). We do not have our own Scheme for this but would suggest the use of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors."

    On the RICS it certainly gives details about dispute resolution and it would seem one of us would pay £120 to appoint an adjudicator, then £150 per hour up to a max of 15 hours. The losing party would pay. We have already paid £5200 for the faulty work to be done, and lost more money in lost holiday let bookings which we would have had during the time we allowed for the work to be done and the plaster to dry. But I am in danger of throwing more money after bad? 

    I think this company must surely have been down this path before. In their latest letter to me they simply state that we have a difference of view and that I was warned in advance about penetrative damp. But I was not, and there is nothing in their correspondence with me that suggests that I was warned - it is all 'you have salt contamination, our membrane will sort this.' I, meanwhile, had sent them a long letter suggesting their means/method of 'diagnosing' our problem is totally unscientific and clearly arbitrary; their 10 year guarantee (website) seemingly meaningless and contradicts their 'Statement of Limitation' (also website) which says damp may occur at any time after work is done; and that they gave me no advice about getting a surveyor to check for penetrative damp, which their website says they will do. 
    Just a warning that this bit means you don't have consumer rights here, because you're operating the cottage as a business.  It may change the approach you're considering - is the ADR scheme applicable to a B2B transaction?  It does close off any avenues you might have pursued down the Consumer Rights Act route.

    Does the company know it's a business?  Perhaps that's why they're quite confident to defend it.  Do their terms of business differ for B2B contracts?
  • Sheelha said:


    On the RICS it certainly gives details about dispute resolution and it would seem one of us would pay £120 to appoint an adjudicator, then £150 per hour up to a max of 15 hours. 
    Sounds expensive I wouldn't do it personally.

    Would certainly recommend seeing what way the RICS swing with damp issues, there is a brief mention on their website:

    https://www.ricsfirms.com/residential/maintenance/interior/how-to-deal-damp/

    What is the cottage constructed of OP (stone, brick, etc)? 
  • I'm afraid these companies have it all sewn up and us consumers have little recourse. It is absolutely awful and fills me with rage!

    The best thing to do is get advice from those that have an appreciation for old properties, such as myself and @the_lunatic_is_in_my_head seems to know a thing or too, and find a way forward. If you want to send any pics of inside and out then happy to give advice.

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