Proud to be part of the PCA

I think there are plenty of good things achieved here at the Property Care Association and maybe it’s modesty, but I don’t think we tend to blow our own trumpet enough. Perhaps it is not the done thing, but over the last few weeks I have seen a few negative comments towards the Association and I will be honest and say that they are a little hurtful. So with that in mind, I thought I would share some of the reasons why I am proud to be part of the PCA.

1. Raising the bar for Structural waterproofing

PCA members have completely changed the industry. From popularising the American drainage channel, to re-writing standards working in hand with Premier Guarantees & LABC insurance, and to our work with NHBC – we have improved the standards of below ground waterproofing to an unimaginable extent. This is not only beneficial to the warranty providers but those that live in the buildings too.

The consequences of water ingress into a basement can have a devastating impact on those that occupy the building with partially or fully underground elements, including loss of personal possessions and the huge physiological impact. The work that the PCA and our members have achieved in raising the bar in this area is unrivaled, and I for one believe we should all be applauded for this.

2. Establishing the Residential Ventilation Group

A few years ago the PCA set up the Residential Ventilation Group. The group was established to focus on the increasingly important issue of effective ventilation in existing residential buildings. The group provides homeowners with a point of reference and resource to help them find the expert advice and expertise they need, and we now have technical documents concerning Positive Input Ventilation (PIV) and Dmev (decentralised mechanical extract ventilation) – a first for the industry!

We are not just interested in old buildings, we are interested in improving air quality and providing healthy homes across all of the UK building stock and I strongly believe that in most cases, the health of the occupant should take priority over the building.

3. Developing a Diagnostic Tool through Collaborative Research

As highlighted above we are actively striving to push for improvement to achieve mould free homes. Another example where we are raising the bar in this field is with the development of a novel diagnostic tool for atmospheric dampness in buildings, where we are working in collaboration with one of the leading universities for the built environment, UCL (University College of London).

This demonstrates once again how the PCA is striving to help those in poor quality housing and/or suffering with dampness, and on a personal level, the learning I’ve benefitted from in working alongside both of our resident researcher’s Dr Paula Lopez-Arce and Dr Fernando Sarce, has been incredible.

4. Looking after your Mental Health

We are not just concerned about developing technical knowledge, expertise, skillset and understanding but also with the welfare of our members. One in four adults experience mental illness but it is rarely spoken about and when it is, it is often in a negative light or focussed on for short durations – mental health awareness week for example. Over the past year, the PCA has actively been trying to increase understanding and awareness of mental health amongst members and cast a spotlight on this issue, particularly during this uncertain times.

5. Ironing out the Complaints Process

Part of my role here at the PCA concerns the complaint mediation service, which I concede can be challenging at times but where we can, we will always try and mediate between the Customer and Contractor to resolve any technical issues that may have arisen. We are here to improve standards across the industry and provide consumers with a line of recourse they wouldn’t otherwise have – if you engage with a Contractor or Surveyor outside of the PCA, do you still have the same level of protection?

6. Managing and Controlling Invasive Weeds

Regardless of the issue surrounding the structural implication of Japanese knotweed, it is a non-native invasive species and it is a difficult plant to control. It is on the same list as grey squirrels, signal crayfish, and muntjac deer but, this invasive plant has an impact on our native ecosystem. If PCA members are managing and controlling knotweed and other invasive plants then they should be applauded.

7. Setting the standard for Surveyors

We have certainly set a standard for Surveyors who investigate dampness in building with the Certificated Surveyor of Timber and Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) qualification. We believe this qualification illustrates that a surveyor has obtained a certain level of knowledge, but by no means do we consider this the end of a surveyors learning. However what this does do is provide consumers with the reassurance that the surveyor has obtained a certain level of knowledge and expertise – and we know there are many “experts in dampness” that do not have any form of qualification?

The CSTDB qualification is issued through ABBE (Awarding Body for Building Education), the leading awarding organisation providing qualifications for the built environment. The PCA is not a self awarding industry.

8. PCA conferences

Whilst they have been postponed this year due to the current pandemic, in recent years the PCA has held three annual conferences covering building preservation, structural waterproofing and invasive weeds. These conferences continue to grow year on year and provide an excellent platform to share knowledge and learn from well respected industry experts. The PCA does have a bit of experience with hosting conferences, which we have held since the 1930s – check out our conference papers of yesteryear – that is quite some legacy for preserving buildings! These conferences are not PCA member exclusive either and we welcome anyone who wants to learn from what must be the largest annual conferences in each of their respective fields.

Whilst we are not able to hold any of the conferences this year, we continue to share knowledge and promote best practice. We have risen to the challenge and looked to modern technology to help us get the message out – something we were only just beginning to embrace. Over the last couple of months we have held an educational webinar every week, with audiences exceeding 400 for some of the larger events! Our ability to continuously share such a volume of high quality content, at such a short notice and often reacting to the latest guidance, has been nothing short of remarkable. I personally believe the PCA set the benchmark here which others have then tried to follow.

We are making a positive difference for sure

I started this list with the intention of highlighting five key points, but I soon went beyond that and by no means feel that this list is exhaustive. Are we perfect… no, but do we make a positive difference? Of course we do. We don’t pretend to have all the answers but we continue to strive forwards and ensure we support our members and promote best practice across the industry.

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