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Ideal Dry Rot Conditions?

A wet winter followed by a warm summer means ideal conditions for the growth of the Dry rot fungi. A poorly maintained property, where excess water is permitted to enter the fabric of the building through the wetter Months, sets up ideal conditions for germination and often abundant growth of wood rotting fungi through the warmer Summer Months.

The long, wet Winter of 2012/13 through into the exceptionally long warm Summer of 2013 has seen a drastic rise in Dry rot enquiries to The Preservation Company and here is why:

Dry rot needs 3 elements to grow: AIR / WATER / FOOD

Water ingress is one of the major factors in producing an environment ideal for growth. If we use timber as an example of food; the spores land on damp timber, feed off the timber and “rot” the wood,. This eventually over time results in the complete breakdown of the structure of the wood, which could be your first indication of a problem.

Dry rot spores are always present in the atmosphere and simply need to find the right environment for germination.

Reddish brown Dry Rot Spores

Germinating spores produce hyphae (strands).  Like roots, the hyphae strands grow and then colonise to produce mycelium growth as shown below.

Dry Rot – “cotton wool like” Mycelium

If one of the 3 elements is then removed (such as the water drying due to a long hot summer),the Dry Rot becomes “stressed” and produces a fruiting body (sporophore), which sheds its spores into the atmosphere in an attempt to reproduce and continue the lifecycle and growth of the Dry Rot fungi.

 Fruiting Body / Sporophore

The Dry Rot fungi (Serpula Lacrymans) – Lacrymans means weep or cry to reflect the tear like droplets sometimes found in severe cases. As the following picture, taken recently, beautifully illustrates

If you think you have any of the signs of Dry Rot the most important thing is to act quickly. Dry Rot favours dark, damp conditions and is thus often difficult to locate (under floors and within roof voids). However once discovered , it can be readily eradicated simply by taking better control of your home environment, repairing any building defects that have contributed to the outbreak and of course the specialist use of timber and masonry preservatives and appropriate re-instatement works.

 

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Conquering the complications of commercial properties

Outside of Morris and Young Perth - Rot repairs

Leading Scottish accountancy firm, Morris & Young, is based at 6 Atholl Crescent, right in the centre of Perth. Known as ‘The Fair City’ since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott in 1828, Perth is notable for its architectural diversity and solid sense of history as it sprawls outwards from the banks of the River Tay.

Atholl Crescent is a prime location near the Perth Playhouse, Concert Hall, Black Watch Castle and of course the River Tay. A majestic curve of white Georgian three-storey terraced townhouses, the accountancy firm shares the street with the RSPB, the Citizens Advice Bureau and a Masonic Lodge. The Crescent was built between 1797 and 1803, and offers a fine example of this period’s best and most handsome traditional townhouses.

Around 18 months ago, the proprietors of the adjacent property notified the owners of No. 6 that there was a visible rot attack to the front right corner of the building, shared by both houses. Initial operations were undertaken to halt the progress of the rot, but an exploratory survey earlier this year revealed both wet and dry rot to joist and rafter ends at ground, first and second floor levels.

Typically of so many period properties, the damage had been caused over many years by rainwater ingress coming into contact with unprotected internal timbers and setting up ideal conditions to allow successful germination of wood-rotting fungi.

In a residential property, it is usually relatively easy to section off an affected area. It is also reasonably straightforward to request that the occupants reside elsewhere for the duration of the works. However, with almost 40 Morris & Young staff occupying the building, the partners were understandably loathed to vacate the premises.

Fortunately, after due consideration the majority of the staff members were rehoused in temporary alternative office accommodation, allowing us significantly more freedom.

Immediately we arranged removal of light fittings, electrical switches, wall mounted heaters and carpets. The servers for the property were positioned in the worst affected room so it was crucial that prior to any stripping-out works they were sectioned off with sealed partitioning.

Morris and Young Perth scaffolding going up to deal with rot attack

Scaffolding was erected to the front elevation of the property and we created a special opening access to ensure only a limited need to venture through to the rear of the property. In that way, all debris removals and timber replacements could be brought in and out using window openings and the scaffolding, thus minimising disruption to the few remaining accountancy staff.

Fixing the problem itself was a considerable challenge, especially as we had to take into account structural strengthening works carried out to the front elevation due to previous settlement. While removing, repairing and renewing all decayed timbers with sterilisation treatments, we had to make a considerable effort not to disturb the masonry. It was particularly important to ensure that all temporary supports were doubled and that only limited removal and re-instatement was carried out at any one time.

Inside of Morris and Young Perth rot attack     Inside of Morris and Young Perth temporary supports

We are delighted to report that the works are now complete and our clients are pleased that we worked perfectly to schedule – if not a little ahead – with minimal disruption. Taking advantage of the temporary relocation of most of their staff, Morris & Young have even decided to redecorate their offices as soon as we leave, so their employees will return to clean, fresh and most importantly safe surroundings.

If you’re concerned your commercial property needs some attention, contact us today to see how we might be able to help.

Inside of Morris and Young Perth internal plastering after rot repairs

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So what do you get for the price of a survey?

So you’ve made the monumental decision to move house and you’re busy preparing for all the emotional and financial highs and lows that entails. You’ve found a buyer and you’ve set your heart on a perfect property in a desirable location. However you’re just a little concerned about the damp you’ve noticed on the kitchen ceiling and now your chartered surveyor or solicitor has picked up on possible timber defects that may require professional attention…

You’ve been referred to The Preservation Society for a specialist survey – what exactly can you expect to get for the pricey of a survey?

For a start you will benefit from our Managing Director Gavin White’s thirty solid years of experience in the building preservation industry. White holds CSRT status and Hidden Defects Insurance Auditor status – both qualifications cement The Preservation Company’s ability to fully assess properties and undertake a full property ‘Health Check’.

Gavin White

All initial survey requests will be carried out by one of our CSRT certified Surveyors within 24-72 hours. An average survey takes between 60 and 90 minutes and, unless we have been instructed otherwise, we feel we are only doing the client a true service if we examine all of the potential issues that may affect the property in the short, medium and long term.

Of course, the time spent surveying your property depends very much on the size and accessibility of the building; an empty house minus furniture or floor coverings is far more straightforward than a fully furnished premises!

Bespoke reports are sent out via email within 24 hours of survey completion and you can expect our findings to be highly detailed and several pages in length. Surveys include photographic evidence of any problems found and White’s professional advice as to whether or not any areas need further attention.

Should our survey uncover issues that require remedial treatment, The Preservation Company is of course well equipped to carry out that treatment and will refund the survey fee from the completed contract invoice.

Our team have specialised in preservation and repair for most of their working lives and combine over 100 years of experience and skill, so you can rest assured your property would be in excellent hands as we attend to any condensation, rising damp, penetrating damp or rot found during the survey.

In the event we are unable to treat a diagnosed problem, we have direct links to virtually all disciplines and will refer you to a specialist firm accordingly. As Gavin White explains, ‘Even if there is nothing that will benefit us directly in revenue terms, we want all clients to feel good about our service and professionalism.’

If you need a survey to be conducted as part of a home report, or you have recently discovered cause for concern within your existing property, why not contact us here – we provide surveys for both residential and commercial buildings and would be only too happy to give you the benefit of our expertise.

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It’s condensation season…

Homeowners beware: we are coming into what is known as “condensation season”!

Condensation is the most common form of dampness found in properties. It can lead to mould, peeling wallpaper and damage to fabrics, including curtains and the clothes hanging in your wardrobe. Damp can also provide a suitable breeding ground for house mites that, along with mould, can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma. The effects of damp also leave the property cold and smelling distinctly musty.

Ultimately condensation can lead to wet rot which, although harmful, can be effectively eradicated if it is caught early on by an experienced specialist surveyor. However, wet rot can soon lead to the more serious condition of dry rot, which is easily one of the most significant, disruptive and expensive predicaments to affect a property.

Condensation in bathroom / shower room - The Preservation Company

Condensation occurs as a result of improved standards of insulation, double-glazing and draught-proofing. Although these treatments provide better heat retention, the resulting lack of ventilation introduces stale air and encourages moisture.

If condensation is an issue in your property, then a balanced heating and ventilation system is the key to preventing further problems. Here are some ‘common sense’ tips to reduce the chances of condensation damage:

  • In the kitchen keep the door closed while cooking, ensure lids cover pots of boiling water and use any ventilation means available, such as windows or extractor fans.
  • Around the house and especially in kitchens and bathrooms, keep window trickle ventilators open all year round. Open windows to remove excess humidity for as long as possible (not just for the initial period after cooking, showering or using a tumble dryer).
  • Never dry clothes on radiators.
  • Keep furniture away from close contact with external walls and eliminate general clutter from walls, wardrobes and under beds.

All types of property damp issues are potentially destructive and an incorrect diagnosis of rising damp – when it is in fact condensation – can be both expensive and disruptive.

We can offer a range of condensation solutions from advice in lowering humidity levels in the home through to recommendation of ventilation products.

Should you have any concerns, contact us today for a full property Health Check.

 

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Don’t let autumn showers dampen your spirits

Autumn in Fife: fresh bright mornings, beautiful colours, striking scenery and… rain.

As much as we’d like to ignore it, the truth is that Scotland’s rainfall is the highest in the UK, with last year’s September/October drizzle clocking in at 150% over met office averages.

Stormy weather in Fife

Image courtesy of Dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unfortunately, water can have a devasting effect on your property and the invitable leaks brought on by autumn showers can lead to wet rot, or its more harmful cousin, dry rot. Both can ultimately cause structural defects in your building.

Autumn is a good time to give your property a once over; especially as leaves start to fall you should regularly check your guttering, pipework and other drainage systems for blockages and leaks. It is worth also examining your roof for missing slates or tiles, which could provide heavy rainfall with an entrance to your property and pave the way to serious internal problems.

Leaking gutters and roofing defects can cause penetrating dampness, which can prove tricky to pinpoint without the help of a damp expert. It is vital never to ignore any obvious signs of water seepage and contact a surveyor at the first sign of dampness, either inside or outside the building.

The Preservation Company, owned and managed by Gavin White, can effectively treat and remove dry rot, wet rot, woodworm and many other forms of fungal decay. Based in the historic city of St. Andrews, our main areas of operation include Fife, Dundee, Perth, Edinburgh, Dollar and Stirling.

At the completion of all contracts we provide the option of a 20-year peace of mind guarantee, so why not contact us to see how we can dry up your dampness concerns today?

 

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Ten thousand mile Mongol Rally Update

Back in June we were proud to announce sponsorship of STAAG (The University of St Andrews Adventure Group): an intrepid bunch of students on a 10,000-mile pan-continental expedition to raise money for GoHelp’s charity project in Mongolia.

The STAAGs were taking part in the Mongol Rally; a marathon road trip in which 879 teams cross 10,000 miles of mountains, deserts and rough terrain to reach their final destination: Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Maybe you noticed the official STAAG Mitsubishi, ‘Mitsy’, driving around St Andrews beforehand with The Preservation Company’s logo on display.

These courageous students commenced their mission on 14th July 2012 at Woburn safari park. Led by team member Tom in Mitsy, the crew set off on their epic road trip, journeying across inhospitable lands to the ancient Mongol capital. Throughout the course of the rally, other vehicles such as the team’s Ranger gave up the ghost, but not so Mitsy, who soldiered on to her ultimate destination.

For a highly entertaining account of Mitsy’s many adventures, read more about the STAAGs’ epic mission on their official blog.

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13 Greyfriars Garden

Here at The Preservation Company, we’re passionate about our surroundings. Our magnificent medieval town of St Andrews is teeming with cathedrals, castles, botanic gardens and country parks, and boasts some of the most beautiful coastlines and golf courses in this part of the world.

St Andrews is also home to Scotland’s first university, founded in 1413 and still thriving today. Something we see quite a lot in our remedial work is properties that have been used as student accommodation and have, over the years, been somewhat neglected both internally and externally.

13 Greyfriars Garden was no exception to this rule. When Kevin Mullins (the current owner) bought it, this typical first and second floor St Andrews terraced property was in dire need of attention. Rainwater ingress through aging roof coverings and gutters had caused some serious internal issues. We discovered penetrating damp and wet rot to joist ends, rafters and wall strappings, and plaster damage among other problems.

Greyfriars, St AndrewsGreyfriars, St Andrews

Over the course of our remedial treatment, we stripped back the damaged areas, treated all remaining timbers, replaced the plasterwork and framing, renewed the lintels in concrete and made good all areas, including the traditional ornate cornicing. Now the owner can continue his refurbishment of this centrally placed character house safe in the knowledge that rainwater can cause no further damage.

“I am happy to go on record as saying that, throughout the whole process, The Preservation Company was extremely professional” summarises satisfied owner Kevin Mullins, “and the work carried out was of the highest standard.”

If you have concerns about how this wet autumn weather might be affecting your property, contact us today: we’d be happy to help.

Greyfriars, St AndrewsGreyfriars, St Andrews

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The Preservation Company sponsors a hole on Muckhart Golf Course

The Preservation Company is delighted to announce the sponsorship of a hole on Muckhart Golf Course.

The popular course easily rivals other more famous golfing havens, such as those at Loch Lomond and Gleneagles, for spectacular scenery as it is located at the very foot of the majestic Ochil Hills. The Ochils form one of the most striking hill-profiles in Britain, visible from anywhere within a broad arc from Stirling in the South-West, to the Kincardine Bridge in the South-East. Muckhart Golf Course itself is ideally placed in central Scotland as it is within no more than an hour’s drive for most of our country’s golfers.

Muckhart golf club - sponsorship

A total 27 holes of golf are offered over three nine-hole courses (Cowden, Naemoor and Arndean) and the club sits right at the heart of the Muckhart community, providing the ideal spot to relax and unwind for amateurs and professionals alike.

The Preservation Company joins other local companies and fellow golfing enthusiasts including Blinkered Digital Marketing, Scott Marshall Joinery and Colorado Group on the Cowden Course. Number Five is the hole of choice – we hope to see you there.

For more information visit http://www.muckhartgolf.com
Muckhart Golf Club
Drumburn Road
Muckhart
By Dollar
FK14 7JH
Tel: 01259 781423

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The Preservation Company sponsors students on epic 10,000 mile mission

Gavin White of The Preservation Company is proud to announce sponsorship of STAAG (The University of St Andrews Adventure Group): an intrepid team of students on a 10,000-mile pan-continental expedition to support the GoHelp charity and its project in Mongolia.

St Andrews University - Rally sponsorship

Over the last few years, the STAAGs have organised and run numerous adventurous charitable events including long-distance canoe and cycle treks, and have donated thousands of pounds to Alzheimer’s Society, Save the Children and Young Heroes in the process. This year they have chosen to support GoHelp’s Mongolia Charity Rally – an epic road trip commencing in London and journeying across mountain ranges, deserts and other inhospitable lands to the ancient Mongol capital of Ulaanbaatar.

GoHelp is a UK-registered charity that is committed to helping communities in Central Asia improve their access to healthcare and education services.

The Preservation Company joins other sponsors including Specsavers and law firm Murray Donald Drummond Cook in support of this most exciting cause and wishes the STAAGs the very best of luck. Keep an eye out for the official STAAG Mitsubishi driving around St Andrews with our logo on display.

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Leave a home the way we would like ours to be left

We have been asked many times what separates us from the competition, what is it that makes us better than the rest?

Like most things in life, the biggest differences are achieved by getting the small things right.

One of the ways we do that is by leaving a home the way we would like our own to be left after tradesmen visit to carry out the necessary work.

Have a look at the example below:

In conjunction with the proprietor of the ground floor property, all decayed joist ends were cut out and new joists attached, floor deafened and new flooring laid over.

We started work on this property on the 19th March and completed the work, which included relaying the floor and carpet, by the 21st of March.