What to do if your timber starts to deteriorate

How do I locate a timber preservation specialist?

You can find specialists in your local business directory or through an online search facility. Companies or individuals who are members of the Wood Preserving and Damp-Proofing Association are recommended. The BWPDA regulates and monitors member companies and ensures that they follow a code of practice and comply with relevant health and safety legislation. Allied to the BWPDA, the Property Care Association has a searchable online database of approved contractors. A service offered by many companies is a free survey of your home. This can be genuinely useful but you should bear in mind that a commercial contractor has a vested interest - the worse their diagnosis, the more money can be made! Try to get two or three quotes and if you're still unsure, it may be worth employing an independent surveyor. You can find a qualified timber surveyor online at www.specifiypga.com. Expect to pay a minimum of £45 per hour for their services.

Is the treatment expensive?

That really depends on how extensive the problem is! As with most professionals, timber specialists will charge an hourly rate for their work - in the region of £40. It's usual for contractors to provide a quote for the whole job - shop around for the best price but try to strike a balance between quality and value-for-money. The materials used for treatment are themselves relatively inexpensive - boron gel treatment, for example, costs around £20 for 4 square metres. The bulk of what you pay covers labour costs. As a rough guide, most wood-rotting fungi problems can be eradicated for a few hundred pounds, but extensive remedial work might cost £1000 plus - a survey is the only way to be sure.

Before you begin any treatment...

  • Establish which type of treatment is appropriate for you – it can't be overstressed that whatever secondary measures you employ to control wood-rotting fungi, it is essential that you first identify and remove the source of damp.
  • Check if your home is a listed building (one judged to be of "special architectural or historic interest"). Contact English Heritage (England), Cadw (Wales) or Historic Scotland (Scotland) for advice and guidance. Financial help may be available to fund high-quality repairs using traditional materials and specialist craftsman, particularly if these conserve original features. Specialist contractors should be familiar with the restoration of ancient timber, but you could contact The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings for further advice.
  • Consider the environmental impact of your actions - up to 150,000 remedial timber treatments are carried out in British homes each year, many of them unnecessary. Overuse of toxic chemicals in residential settings puts occupants at risk so it's preferable to avoid unneeded repeat treatments. Property Guarantee Administration, will identify active timber treatment chemicals from a small timber sample which you send them, for a fee of £95.00 plus VAT. This could avoid unnecessary chemical treatment and save substantial amount of money if further treatment proves unnecessary.

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