Home FAQs

How long have you been trading as a Company?

Shaw Preservations was established in 1974 and registered with Companies house in 1980. In this time , we have never changed our name. (some companies do this to wriggle out of guarantees or if they have CCJ’s against them)

Are all your surveyors qualified?

We have a mixture of trainees working towards their qualifications and qualified surveyors.   We believe in training future generations to the highest standard possible and sometimes our surveyors may be accompanied by trainees.

Rest assured that we train our staff to the highest possible level and as such, before our trainees are allowed to venture out alone, they have to have  knowledge of law, Health & Safety, asbestos awareness, risk procedures, together with a knowledge of damp, infestation, timber rots etc

What qualifications should I look for and what do the letters mean?

CSTDB – Certified Surveyor of Timber and Dampness in Buildings. For Structures above ground level

CSRT –  Certified Surveyor of Remedial Treatments . For structures above ground level

CSSW – Certified Surveyor of Structural Waterproofing . For structures below ground levels such as basements and cellars.

CRDS & CTIS are now obsolete qualfications.

I have had 3 surveys all telling me something different. Why is this and what should I do?

I suspect the 3 surveys are all free which usually means the person carrying out the inspection is not qualified or works on a commission basis and are  therefore simply  salesmen.

Free surveys are carried out as quickly as possible and rarely are all types of dampness investigated.  Most free surveys concentrate on one type of dampness only – rising damp.

Our surveyors will check for rising /penetrating/lateral and condensation dampness  and give appropriate recommendations for each type.  A written report is always provided, and  In some cases a quotation for the remedial work is given, but in other cases, we simply give recommendations for other trades to carry out, ie in the case of faulty guttering, chimneys, plumbing leaks etc.  Where necessary,  we may be able to connect you with other trades. 

Why should I use a member of the PCA (formerly the British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association)?

The PCA vets over 22 aspects of a member company’s practice and procedures. Our office staff are inspected bi-yearly to ensure they are following proceedures correctly. This visit incorporates Health & Safety, checking reports, Checking procedures, customer complaints etc. Our   Operatives are visited at their place of work to ensure they are using the correct formulations and following the correct proceedures.   Any shortfalls or failings are communicated to the company to ensure there are corrected.

Are PCA members better than other contractors?

There are some excellent contractors who are not members of the PCA; there are also many contractors who are simply ‘cowboys’. As non-members undergo no independent assessment, how are you able to tell the quality?

Some companies state they are “Approved Contractors” What does this mean?

Some companies gain approval by the chemical manufacturer. This is not necessarily a stamp of quality, as most manufacturers have no inspection procedures and many are only required to attend a days training course in order to become approved. Some of our office staff have been on these courses – but we wouldn’t let them inspect your property!

I am buying a property and the building society/bank have asked for a damp survey – what does this mean?

During the inspection your surveyor will have used a damp meter to see if the walls are damp by taking just a few readings. If the walls register damp for any reason, he will recommend a specialist survey is undertaken by a PCA company to determine the cause.   Our surveyor will also use a moisture meter but this is used differently to the Builidng Society’s surveyor as we will carry out an investigation known a ‘profiling’ This involves taking readings at different locations to determine the pattern of dampness. We will also inspect decorations, surrounding area, take humidity readings and where appropriate, inspect externally to establish the cause of the dampness.

Relying on the building society/bank’s report will not give an accurate diagnosis of the dampness and may result in expensive treatment that will not cure the dampness.

I am buying a property and the building society/bank have asked for a timbers in contact inspection – what does this mean?

This is usually to assess the floor timbers which may be touching the damp walls. We can carry out this inspection but where the timbers are covered over, ie if the floor is has a laminate overlay, hardboard under carpets, fitted carpets, lino etc we will require the floor covering to be lifted prior to our arrival.

Do you charge for your surveys?

We do charge for our qualfied surveyors to visit your property.

Where available, we do have trainee surveyors that are either free of charge or at a reduced rate. (depending on their level of expertise)

Unlike some other companies, our surveyors are not commission based and are not required to “find” work on every visit.  We are renown, and pride ourselves,  on our honest and thorough inspections.

If you have had a full survey already and require a comparative quotation, please contact the office.

How much is your survey charge?

This is dependant on your instructions and how long we estimate we will be at the property. (ie, will it be for half an hour looking at the cupboard under the stairs, or every wall in a 21 bedroom mansion?  do you require a full written report or just a snapshot outline of defects? )

When you book to arrange, we will discuss your requirements and let you know the fee.

Where available, we have trainee surveyors that are either free of charge or available at a reduced rate.

What is your cancellation policy?

For cancellations of surveys, provided we have 24 hours notice from agreed date of survey, your money will be refunded in full.

For Treatment works, where a deposit has been paid, 75 % will be refunded provided we have 7 days notice from agreed start date.  We regret we will not be able to refund you money where cancellation of work is made within 7 days from agreed start date.

Will I get a written report of the surveyors findings?

You have the choice.  You can request a verbal response, a snapshot report or a detailed report.   Where applicable, the report will contain recommendations for other trades, recommendations for anything you can do to minimise the dampness and if remedial works are necessary, a written quotation will be provided.   When taking your instructions, we will be able to advise the best report for your needs.   If a quotation for works is required, this is ALWAYS in writing.

You should be aware that our snapshot reports are not suitable for Insurance Claims, neighbour disputes, House purchases etc.

I have booked a damp survey. What will the surveyor check?

Dampness can be caused by a number of different factors. The surveyor will use a moisture meter to obtain moisture levels however, meter readings only indicates if the wall is wet, damp or dry, it does not give the cause. The surveyor will take a series of readings known as profiling; this determines the possible source of moisture and an inspection to the corresponding wall will be examined to look for any defects causing dampness. Dampness can be caused by penetrating, lateral, condensation or Rising damp as well as plumbing leaks and it is vitally important the correct diagnosis is given as incorrect treatment may only mask the dampness temporarily.


The inspection is usually carried out from ground level (ie the surveyor will not climb on roofs) he may ask to go upstairs so he can look out of a window, for example to see the gutters from a different angle or to check any defects that may be causing dampness to penetrate down the wall. During the inspecton he will discuss with you his findings. A written report will then be compiled. This may contain recommendations for you to undertake, recommendation for other contrators,  and/or a quotation from ourselves. The report may also include photographs and sketches.

I have booked a timber survey. What will the surveyor check?

The surveyor will inspect accessible timbers for signs of wood boring insects such as woodworm.  He will also check for signs of Dry Rot and Wet Rots. Where a sub floor inspection has been requested, a section of the floor will be lifted and the wall plates and joists underneath inspected before being relaid.   During the inspecton he will discuss with you his findings. A written report will then be compiled. This may contain recommendations for the occupier to undertake such as imporoving the conditions that has caused the timber rots to occur, recommendation for other contrators and if found approriate, a quotation from ourselves. The report may also include photographs and sketches.

I would like to proceed with your quotation, what happens next?

Please contact our office staff to arrange a mutually convenient date. We will email you an Acceptance Form to complete. Once this has been received, we will email you to confirm the details and, where applicable, ask for a deposit.

Prior to arrival we will contact you to let you know who will be coming, their approximate arrival time and to discuss any concerns you may have.

Is it safe to leave your workmen in my property whilst I am out?

Yes, All our staff are thoroughly vetted.  Most of our technicians and surveyors have been with our company for over 15 years and we have an extremely low staff turnover rate.

Being community spirited, we do sometimes take on work experience teenagers but these would never be left alone in your property and are supervised at all times.

Can I use a builder instead?

During our inspection we often give the option, and indeed recommend, your own builder doing the non specialist work but waterproofing below and above ground is a specialist trade, as is timber preservation and for this, we would always recommend a qualified specialist is used.

Do you use sub contracted labour?

Sometimes. Our workmen are directly employed by Shaw Preservations however, during busy periods, times of sickness and holidays we do use sub contracted surveyors and workmen. If you would rather not have subcontractors work in your property, let us know beforehand.

Can my own plasterer carry out the re-plastering element of the DPC System?

Of course, however, the plaster used in conjunction with a DPC system is a specialised plaster and our plastering specification must be strictly adhered to. Any deviation from this may prevent the chemical from functioning correctly and will result in the guarantees becoming void. We will be pleased to pass our plastering specification onto your plasterer if requested.

I want to have new electrics fitted. Is it it best to do this before or after the DPC System?

I’ve had my wall plastered, how long till it dries out?

Every property is different and this will depend on the render thickness, the ventilation and general external and internal condtions. Generally within 6-8 weeks it will be dry enough to apply temporary decorations. Complete drying out may take 12-18 months and after this time your permanent decorations, such a wallpaper,  can be applied.  Vinyl paints and wallpaper should never be used.

Introducing heat to speed this process up should be avoided as this will promote cracking in the render.

How long before I can re-decorate after plastering?

Permanent decorations should not be carried out for 12 – 18 months as the walls may produce salts which can damage the decorations. For this reason we recommend temporary decorations are applied after 6-8 weeks when an emulsion based paint can be used.  Vinyl wallpapers and paints are not recommended at all.

I have been advised to apply a water-proofer to the external walls – can I do this?

We do not recommend any type of waterproofer that prevents evaporation and stops the walls from breathing.  If an external treatment is required we recommend a water repellent is applied as this does not seal the wall and allows it to breathe.  For more advice specific to your property, please contact us.

How long before the skirting boards can be refixed?

Fixing either new or the existing skirting should be delayed until the wall has fully dried back; then the boards should be well primed prior to fixing to prevent any timber decay occurring. Drying time scales vary from property to property but as a rule of thumb we would say 2 – 3 weeks.

Can the skirting boards be affixed using screws?

Ideally we would recommend they are affixed using a good quality adhesive. However, it is very important that where our Specialist Water-proof Compound (Tanking) has been applied, the system is not punctured in any way and therefore a heavy duty adhesive must always be used.

My electrician/plumber needs to carry out work. Will this affect the DPC/Waterproofing System?

It may do! If future work is carried out on the electrical system, it is imperative our plastering is not replaced with a lightweight plaster (ie when the contractor fits new cables/socket/pipework)   as this will affect our DPC system which may make the guarantee invalid. If works are proposed, we are more than happy to give advice to your contractor regarding this.

What if I am not happy with your work ?

In the rare event of this happening, we ask that you email with the relevant details. (more information will be in the report)  We will then contact you to resolve the issue. Should you still be unhappy the PCA has an arbitration and mediation service which is available to everybody. If the dispute cannot be resolved by this method, the PCA can advise on independent consultants who will arbitrate in the matter.

Do you offer guarantees on your work?

Usually yes. The guarantee period depends on the type of work carried out. More information will be included in your quotation.

What happens if you go out of business?

Most contractors issue long term guarantees but on average 80% of them go out of business within 10 years making the guarantee not worth the paper it is written on.

To prevent this we provide an insurance policy from the GPI which will honour the guarantee issued to you in the unlikely event that we cease to trade. The insurance policy that protects your guarantee is with an indpependant UK insurance company.

Is there a separate charge to insure the guarantee?

Guarantees offered by any contractor are only valid whilst the contractor is in business.  If the contractor ceases trading, they become useless and not worth the paper they are written on.    To ensure your guarantee remains in force, an insurance policy can be purchased to protect the guarantee.   These polices are usually payable yearly, and if not paid, the insurance becomes void.

The insurance policy issued by the GPI is a one off payment covering the lifetime of the guarantee with no additional charges to you.  This makes your guarantee valuable in the event of you selling the property.

In most cases, the insurance policy comes as standard with our guarantee however, in some cases, there is a separate charge to purchase the insurance policy separately.

What is the difference between your insured guarantee and that of unregulated companies?

Most guarantees issued by other companies incur a yearly charge. If this is not paid, the document becomes null and void with no option to re-instate it.

Some guarantees are backed by a manufacturer’s guarantee scheme which is usually based offshore, may be unregulated and will only provide cover for the chemcial and not operative failure.

Is your insured guarantee linked to a manufacturing company?

No. The GPI is an indepdenant insurance company based in the UK and is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.


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