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the floods of 2007

Tim Herbert Interviewed on his memories of 2017


Tim Herbert was interviewed on his memories of the 2007 floods and the impact it had, not only on the local area, but an industry. Read more below from Tim in interview.

 

Q. What are your memories of the floods?

TH. When the heavy rain started, I was literally driving to a property in Cheltenham to carry out a survey of the basement which had flooded in the previous month and I had been asked to verify that it had dried out sufficiently for decorating to commence. The property was near the River Chelt and by the time I arrived the basement had flooded again.

Over the following months I encountered utter devastation to many people’s homes. Properties contaminated by floodwater and hundreds of people living in caravans in their drives or in hotels or guest houses while they were waiting for their properties to be repaired.

 

Q. When did the telephone calls start?

TH. Private individuals telephoned Guardian immediately, however, the insurance companies and loss adjusters took longer because they had to assess the damage first. Sadly, we are still carrying out surveys of properties where inappropriate repairs were carried out and householders are continuing to encounter problems with dampness.

 

Q. What was the worst you had to deal with?

TH. The worst case we came across was a previous client who telephoned Guardian in desperation as her property had flooded badly. Her insurance company had brought in their own contractors who were general builders and not experienced in flood damaged properties. They had carried out repairs to her property whilst she was living there but she had been ill with a stomach complaint for many weeks afterwards which had resulted in hospitalisation when she was diagnosed with gastro enteritis.

She requested Guardian to carry out a survey of the repairs as she did not feel they had been carried out correctly. We were horrified to see that the radiators had been left in situ and the wallpaper and skirting behind the radiators plus the walls were still contaminated by the flood waters which would have contained raw sewage when the drains overflowed.

After reading our surveyor’s damning report, this time her insurers paid for hotel accommodation for several weeks while Guardian carried out remedial works and her illness did not return.

 

Q. How did you approach the flood remediation?

TH. We adopted a totally different and innovative approach to the repair of flooded properties. It had become clear that the standard procedure for the repair of flood damaged properties was not always the most appropriate method and often resulted in householders being re-housed in temporary accommodation for unnecessarily long periods.

The standard method of repair was to strip out the properties and install drying equipment, sometimes for periods in excess of six months. This process was often carried out without the correct monitoring and sometimes resulted in permanent damage, particularly to internal timbers. Non-specialist contractors were then employed to carry out remedial works, often using inappropriate materials, resulting in further delays and on occasions the work has had to be re-done.

We realised that our years of experience using cavity membrane systems to combat dampness in buildings could easily be incorporated into flooded properties. Once the membranes are fitted replastering and decoration works can commence immediately, allowing the walls to dry naturally on the “wet side” of the membrane and therefore considerable savings could be made in the length of time householders spent in temporary accommodation. Other savings could also be made by not having to remove various wall and floor finishes. The additional installation of sumps/pumps and drainage would add flood resilience to the property.

 

Q. You received an Innovation Award how did that feel?

TH. To be recognised by a major trade body and your peers is always a special moment, but to win first place in the ‘Innovation’ category at the 2009 PCA (Property Care Association) Awards for the flood remediation design we developed in the aftermath of the devastating 2007 floods in the county meant a huge amount to us.

We designed and installed the system in a number of flooded properties in Gloucestershire after the floods which enabled rebuilding work to start almost immediately avoiding the long drying-out period usually required after flooding. This saved the home owners from months of living in temporary accommodation. In addition the design incorporated pumped drainage which dramatically minimises the possibility of future flooding.

 

Q. How did the industry change from 2007 after the floods?

TH. Guardian are members of the Property Care Association and the PCA has been very proactive in promoting the correct procedures for the repair and reinstatement of flood damaged properties. We are also part of the PCA Flood Recovery Group and understand the impact of water on the fabric of a building as well as the long term implications of the repairs needed.

Q. How has the profession responded and helped to get rid of the cowboys?

TH. The PCA’s mission is to raise standards across the sectors it represents and the PCA has developed dedicated training for those involved in the property flood resilience survey process. Unfortunately there are still cowboys around but hopefully the insurance industry is more aware of the correct repair methods thanks to the PCA’s involvement.

 

Q. What other memories do you have?

TH. Another success story was a flood remediation system installed to an old mill near Ross-on-Wye which consistently flooded every year and it was an annual event for the local farmer and his labourers to turn up in their tractor to rescue the householder and his wife. Guardian installed a cavity drain membrane system together with sumps and pumps to combat the flooding and one Saturday morning, after constant rain and the inevitable overflowing of the river and flooding of the surrounding fields, once again the ‘rescuers’ arrived on the scene only to find the householder standing in his doorway wearing his pyjamas drinking a cup of tea without a drop of water in his lovely warm restored mill. A very happy chappy!

 

Q. Being flooded is an awful and emotional time for a homeowner, what do you advise people to do if they are flooded?

TH. For victims of flooding, effective and fast repair is the key. All too often repairs for flood affected buildings are undertaken by builders who don’t have the specialist knowledge necessary to ensure the correct recovery strategy is adopted. It is therefore essential that a competent PCA qualified surveyor is employed who has the skills, equipment and knowledge to specify drying advice, undertake diagnostic investigations and provide a report which will be accepted by insurance companies and loss adjusters. Also, only use experienced contractors who have undertaken the appropriate training and understand how to repair buildings affected by water ingress.

 

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GUARDIAN PRESERVATION IS AN AWARD-WINNING FAMILY BUSINESS WITH A SOLID REPUTATION – FOR ITS EXPERTISE IN BASEMENT WATERPROOFING & CONVERSIONS, DAMP PROOFING, CONDENSATION CONTROL, DRY ROT & TIMBER TREATMENT, FLOOD PREVENTION & REMEDIATION AND STRUCTURAL WATERPROOFING – OVER THE LAST 40 YEARS.


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