Oh dear. Another call this week from someone in Leeds, looking for a damp-proofing firm so they can claim on their guarantee.
Most companies involved in damp-proofing, timber treatment and basement waterproofing offer some form of guarantee. This may vary in length from 10 years to as long as 30 years.
Once issued, the guarantee usually lies in a desk drawer, gets lost or, in rare cases, is filed away for easy retrieval.
As a wall tie and damp specialist, I have perhaps 10,000 of the things stored away in my back office in Sherburn in elmet.
Anyway, back to this week’s enquiry, from a nice chap in Leeds, who is looking to claim on the guarantee certificate he has. “Can you help me please…I’m looking for Leeds Damp-proofing Limited, but their number is unobtainable and as you are based in Leeds I wondered if you knew where they’d moved to”?
I explain that they are one of the many specialists who spring up now and again, do work cheaply, working from home, issuing guarantees to aid their lack of credibility and then go bust because: they never make any profit; save for a rainy day; they just get bored; or they die; are divorced and fleeced; retire; fall out with their business partner; or get locked up for drug dealing…the list of reasons I’ve been given is almost endless.
This leaves the guarantee holder up the creek. usually the reason he has sought out the certificate is either to make a claim, because his house is damp, or more commonly, to get the guarantee validated, because he is selling or remortgaging the house. In these circumstances a buyer or lender is the person needing the reassurance of a guarantee, be it for wall tie replacement, damp-proofing, woodworm or dry rot treatment.
This isn’t the little cowboys fault (apart from the drug dealer), the contractor has to offer a guarantee because the market expects it. Customers have become used to guarantees and lenders demand it. The majority of guarantees are never claimed on. Those that are claimed on or are required for assignment when a house is sold reveal a serious problem. This is the fact that any guarantee is merely a promise from the contractor. As a result, if the contractor fails, for whatever reason, the guarantee is worthless.
Furthermore, there is no statutory duty for specialist contractors to insure their guarantees against their own demise. A few do, but it is purely left to each business to do so, or not.
Even when such insurance is available it is not clear cut. Some insurance offered is very poor and covers only the cost of the materials used or has so many conditions it is impossible to claim on.
There is good insurance such as The Guarantee Protection Insurance (GPI), which I and many Property Care Association members offer. This covers the work for up to 20 years if the contractor disappears for any reason. Yet, documents can be lost and even the insured may come unstuck.
So, that’s enough about guarantees. what customers really need to focus on is getting the work done properly, so that a claim will be less likely. Obtain a guarantee too, so that it can be passed on to a buyer or lender and insure with GPI so it lasts for the full period. But, guarantees in themselves are not what a customer should focus on. It is this piece of paper which has allowed poorly trained, unscrupulous and often dishonest and incompetent ‘specialists’ to function.
Clients are blinded by the offer of a guarantee and so common sense goes out of the window. “Oh, I know they’re very cheap and can start the wall tie installation work tomorrow Mr Hindle, but they are offering a 30 year guarantee. Your quote is higher and you are booked up for the next three weeks, my estate agent says they are very good…..”
I paraphrase, but this is a familiar scenario. Years later, I get calls like the one from the chap in Leeds.
I had to tell him that yes, Leeds Damp-proofing don’t exist and his guarantee is worthless. “Typical”, he mutters “they’re all the same, these bloody damp-proofers”.
Actually, they aren’t.
These are just a few statements made by damp, timber and wall tie specialists, on web sites in Yorkshire alone:
“Yorkshire’s Leading damp & Timber specialists” (trading for 18 months – no accounts yet filed).
“Trading since 2000” ( This company was incorporated in 2007)
“Established since 1989” (dissolved in 1993 and started again with a similar name on 01/12/2005)
To check any company’s claims for longevity, visit the companies house web site where you can type in the name and see when they actually started trading. If a company is cheeky enough to lie about such a fundamental thing – should they be trusted to carry out work, much of which is hidden from view?
For information on GPI guarantees visit their site . Companies (like mine), which are members of the Property Care Association can issue GPI cover. Members all over the country, can be found at the PCA web site – see in useful links on the right.
Or if you need wall tie replacement, damp proofing, woodworm treatment, or basement waterproofing in Yorkshire, try my company, we’ve been going since 1986….honest..
STOP PRESS – My company, Brick-Tie Preservation, have just received an order for the remedial work, which should have been covered by the worthless guarantee. This time, the client has GPI insurance cover.