Over the past few weeks we’ve been honing our ‘tiered responses’ to damp and condensation cases. Our angle on the problem sought to provide colleagues with the framework and equipment to correctly diagnose the causes of condensation and plan the best route to resolution.
Purpose: Getting a solution to the customer in faster times than we've previously managed.
It’s a fundamental shift from treating ‘lifestyle’ - the way the customer treats the home - as the ultimate cause. Now lifestyle factors, such as drying clothing on radiators, certainly make condensation more likely, but need to catalyse around something in the fabric of the building - primarily an issue with ventilation, insulation or affordability of heating (or in the case of actual damp, water ingress).
In turning our eyes back on the property, we’re able to focus on making measurements. Laser thermometers for surface temperature monitoring, air temperature and humidity readers, anemometers for air speed at extractor fans and data loggers (for when we’re stumped). The surveyor is tasked with documenting each case in as much detail as necessary and, once past a certain point of investment, providing this detail to our planned investment team who will sanction larger works, like replacing a central heating system or installing more efficient means of extracting humid air from the property.
The lab have passed a major milestone: the concept team are happy with the way the model has been designed.
But we can’t simply roll it out straight away… I mentioned it was a fundamental shift, right?
The concept team have decided that an in-depth training manual, that also serves as an on-site reference, is necessary - along with training and consultation for our surveyors.
As far as we can see, there’s also little value trying to scale this down for testing. The cost of equipment (most of which we already have) is negligible. The impact on surveyors time, should be negligible - but has yet to be seen.
That’s not to say the model will go untested. We’ll be evaluating the implementation at regular intervals and making recommendations following one winter period, where we can assume damp and condensations will be more frequent. Hard measures will focus around the reduction in repeat calls for condensation cases. Softer measures will consider how our surveyors feel about delivering the new process, whether we’ve advanced any planned works and the value in collecting all this supporting information for each case.
We're refraining from floating off the concept team to develop training and implement the new programme, something commonly seen in innovation/policy labs. Instead, we'll be reinforcing the design principles and protecting the team from side-swipes throughout the process, only departing once we've had our say at the final evaluation early next year.
I look forward to updating you all soon!