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New Property Care Association (PCA)  video: Moisture in Buildings

The PCA has developed a new video on the topic of Moisture in Buildings. You can see it here: -


Increasingly, members of the PCA are coming across incidences of excessive moisture in properties, and the resulting affects of condensation, damp and mould that result.  A range of factors associated with modern living and the way homes are occupied have contributed to the rise. These include increased levels of occupation and rising fuel costs, as well as a drive to make homes more energy efficient.

Efforts to reduce air leakage through draught proofing and retrofit insulation, as well as the changing climate patterns, featuring warmer, wetter weather, are also of significance.

This new video offers insight into the subject and the importance of effective ventilation in managing the issue. It includes interviews with Dimitrios Rovas and Dr Hector Altamirano-Medina, who are both lecturers at the University College London and Steve Hodgson, the Chief Executive of the PCA.

Information on the PCA’s Residential Ventilation Group is also included.


Property Care Association (PCA) produces Retrofit Insulation Video

For some year the PCA has been worried about the situation regarding retrofit insulation to properties, which has resulted from internal dampness problems.

This video describes the probelm.





25 years notched up for Yorkshire Damcourse - August 2016


Image 25th-anniversary-lunch.jpg

Yorkshire Dampcourse is the trading name of Catrake Ltd, which was incorporated on 6th. August 1991.

Previously Yorkshire Dampcourse was set up as a limited company by a previous owner, and started to trade in 1974. Catrake Ltd bought the goodwill and assets in 1991.

To celebrate this 25-year milestone the company had a day out for all employees (although one was unable to attend). This started with a lunch, followed by a trip to Thirsk Races.

One thing became clear, and that is that we are better at damp proofing, structural water proofing and timber treatment (and other things the company does) than betting on winners of  horse races! Our best win of the day was on the last race when an outsider came in to pay up £45 to one lucky punter in our group.

A great and memorable day was had by all.



Catrake Ltd purchases assets of Sprayskill - Permotreat, Harrogate - July 2016


Spraysill Permotreat logo

Following his decision to retire, Mike Goodman, MD of Sprayskill - Permotreat entered negotiations with the directors of Catrake Ltd (trading as Yorkshire Dampcourse) in respect of sale of the goodwill and some assets of the company.


Sprayskill - Permotreat Ltd will be put into liquidation.

We are pleased to announce that the purchase of the goodwill and some assets was finalised on Friday 8th July 2016, with new trading starting on Monday 11th July 2016 under the Yorkshire Dampcourse brand.

Matt Tucny, director of Catrake Ltd, who oversaw the purchase, is delighted with the outcome.

"We know there were others interested in the goodwill that Sprayskill has built up over many years of trading in the Harrogate area, so we were very pleased to be chosen by Mike Goodwin as the company to take the Sprayskill name into the future and continue to offer services to their client base".

"Harrogate is an area that Yorkshire Dampcourse has been serving, and it is great to be able to add some further depth to our coverage of that area".

"We have now got a lot of work to do to incorporate the Spraysill systems into our own and to be able to run the two client information systems together. Fortunately we have purchased other company goodwill before and so have some experience of that".



MD gains Certified Surveyor in Japanese Knotweed qualification - February 2016


Martin G Hughes

During December 2015 Martin Hughes, Managing Director of Catrake Ltd (trading as Yorkshire Dampcourse), took the new Property Care Association Invasive Weed Group qualification examination "Certified Surveyor in Japanese Knotweed" - C.S.J.K.

During February 2016 the results were (at last) announced, confirming a pass and allowing the use of the qualification initials above. These join Martin's degree qualification (Agriculture) and Property Care Association (PCA) recognised qualifications in Damp and Timber surveying and Structural Waterproofing surveying - C.S.R.T. and C.S.S.W.

This qualification pass makes Martin one of the earliest holders of this qualification in the UK. All members of the PCA Invasive Weed Group must have this qualification for its lead surveyor by April 2017.



Further Exam Sucess for YDC Surveyor - December 2015


Mark Smith CSRT CSSW

Mark Smith, YDC's surveyor has notched up another exam success by passing the Property Care Association qualification C.S.S.W. - Certified Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing. Mark prepared for and sat the exam some two months ago, so it really has been a waiting game for him.

Martin Hughes, managing director of the company, and who runs the Japanese knotweed control part of the business, has also taken an exam. This one is the Property Care Association qualification C.S.J.K. - Certified Surveyor in Japanese Knotweed. It will probably not be until the end of January 2016 until his result is available!




Image jk-on-gravel.jpg



Glyphosate Announcement by EFSA

At the PCA Invasive Weed Conference in September 2015, the subject of glyphosate safety was raised and discussed.  Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide to treat invasive weeds - especially Japanese knotweed.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that glyphosate does not demonstrate carcinogenic or mutagenic properties and has no toxic effect on fertility, reproduction or embryonal development.  This confirms previous evaluations of glyphosate by regulatory authorities around the world, which have consistently concluded that the application of glyphosate poses no unacceptable risk to human health, animals or the environment.

Read full details 









Catrake Ltd appoints new Company Secretary - 16th September 2015

Gemma Sellers

Catrake Ltd. trades as Yorkshire Dampcourse and has 3 directors (who are also the three shareholders). Correct regulation of the company has been the responsibility of former company secrtetary Fiona Hughes. Fiona stepped down as company secretary today, having held the position from the company's start up in August 1991. We are very grateful for the work she has done for the company.

The Catrake Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Gemma Sellers as the company's new Company Secretary from the date above, which has been recorded with Companies House.

Gemma joined Catrake Ltd in December 2014, coming from an accountancy background.

She has demonstrated a quick grasp of the company's finances and structure, especially in the light of the semi-retirement of Martin Hughes, who has remained as Managing Director.

We welcome Gemma to the board team and look forward to her contribution to the success of the company.

Martin Hughes

Managing Director



Giant Hogweed warning after children are injured - July 2015

The following story has been sent through by one of your fellow members as a story of interest following the recent publicity about Giant hogweed. Click on the link to read the article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-33474810


June 2015

Mark Smith wins Student of the Year Award 2015 at PCA annual jamboree


Image image002.jpg

Mark Smith - winner of the Property Care Association (PCA) "Student of the Year Award". 

We are very proud of Mark's achievement, which adds to his first class honours degree in Building Surveying from Leeds University.


Image marksmithpcaaward_001.jpg

Mark obtained the highest examination marks (with merit) in all three of the modules that go towards the Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatment qualification (C.S.R.T.). The C.S.R.T. is the PCA's surveying qualification for damp and timber treatment specialists. All members of PCA are required to have C.S.R.T. qualified surveyors.


The three modules are damp, timber and health and safety.






May 2015

Correct identification of Japanese knotweed - Knotweed or not weed?

It is this time of year that Japanese knotweed (JK) begins to grow ahead. We have noticed that some of our clients have difficulty in identifying it. An example of this occurred recently when a client believed he had JK on his property. Turned out that he did not - but his neighbour did.

What he thought was JK was in fact a self-seeded cherry tree stand - Prunus sp. They are easy to mis-identify as the leaf shape and red stems are similar.

If you need help with your identification, we are here to help.

Knotweed or Prunus?

















January 2015

YDC installs flood defence panels to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust property in Kilnsea


.YDC van at YWT

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Kilnsea base, and its cafe, are located in Kilnsea on the approach road to the beautiful Spurn Head Nature Reserve - that great sweep of sand bank to the east of Hull.

As well as being a stunning place for bird life, being right on the coast means that the area is topologically low to the surrounding sea, and the resulting threat from that.

The threat became reality in December 2013 when a tidal surge occured and flooded so many properties in the area, including this one.

DEFRA grants of £5,000 per property have been made available locally to help with the provision of property based flood defence equipment. YWT has taken advantage of this.

Flood panel at YWT

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (YWT) approached property level flood defence specialist Cook Group Ltd of Hull, who work in partnership with YDC, to fit 6 panels to door openings in their building.

Budget constraints prevented YWT going ahead with the project as the total cost of these exceeded the £5,000 grant that was available.

YDC and Cook Group were able to fund the difference in cost so that YWT in Kilnsea could have its flood defence panels. These were installed by YDC on 19th & 20th January 2015.

 YDC and Cook Group are pleased to have been able to help Yorkshire Wildlife Trust with this, as supporters of the valuable conservation that the Trust carries out.





January 2015

TrustMark enquires hit a new high



- Searches for accredited tradesmen up 38% -

Following last winter’s extreme weather, flood prevention measures have been a priority for many homeowners according to TrustMark, who announced that it has recorded its highest number of tradesmen details on its website,  www.trustmark.org.uk to date.  More than 7.2 million search results were provided to homeowners who used TrustMark’s website and telephone helpline to find expert tradesmen to carry out work on their homes or gardens during 2014; an increase of 38% compared to the same period in 2013.  

Specialists in underground waterproofing (+1,031%!) and damp proofing & timber treatment (+81%) saw the largest rise last year across all trades in 2014 and have been two of the most sought-after trades out of the 34 licensed master trades offered by TrustMark.  This highlights that homeowners have been looking for experts to help them protect their homes with flood prevention measures to try and avoid a repeat of last winter.

October and November also saw an increase in trades for expert roofers (70%), builders (67%), plumbers and heating engineers (61%) and electricians (41%), which together represent 47% of all the searches across the trades during 2014.  Autumn is typically the time of year that homeowners prepare their homes for the arctic months ahead and would have contributed significantly to these growths.

“TrustMark tradesmen’s details have been increasing year on year and this considerable success has been a result of a number of increased marketing initiatives carried out during 2014 and working closely in partnership with Government departments, our member firms, scheme operators and key consumer organisations such as Citizens Advice, Age UK and the Trading Standards Institute, who are all signposting people to TrustMark.”

TrustMark continues to expand its database of around 14,000 individual firms in the UK, providing national coverage with more than 21,000 licensed trades searchable on its database.

 Reproduced from an article published by The Property Care Association


January 2015

Mark Smith CSRT, with full merit - YDC surveyor scoops top marks


Mark Smith CSRT

At YDC we are all chuffed for our colleage Mark Smith who has achieved credits in all three of the modules that make up the formal qualification Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (C.S.R.T)

Mark joined YDC last year, coming back to the UK from growing herbs in Portugal! However, his first class honours degree in Building Surveying from Leeds Metropolitan University made him the best choice for the work that YDC undertakes.



There are very few candidates taking the Property Care Association CSRT examination to become fully qualified to carry out damp and timber inspections who pass with merits in all three modules.

Well done, to Mark!




December 2014

YDC visited the recent Flood Expo exhibition in London


Flood Expo exhibitor Crocodile

YDC Director, Matt Tucny and Cook Group Ltd managing director Dave Cook visited the London exhibition Flood Expo recently.

This was the first show of this kind and also launched the Property Care Association Flood Defence Group. YDC are a founder member of this group.



The show gathered together for the first time the whole flood protection industry, under one roof, and so was an important one to visit by the team.

Is this man eats crocodile, or crocodile eats man? The photo shows Matt Tuncy doing one or the other on the Crocodile Flood Solutions stand.



November 2014

The Property Care Association publishes Japanese knotweed Guidelines


Japanese knotweed healthy summer growth

The Property Care Asociation (PCA) has published a very informative leaflet on Japanese knotweed and how to deal with it. Please click on the download below to see the leaflet.

Yorkshire Dampcourse has been a contractor member of PCA  since 1991. We are also founder members of the Invasive Weed Control Group - the specialists dealing with Japanese knotweed control within PCA.

PCA are also celebrating 85 years of our trade association (in its various forms over the years), and we are proud to have made significant contribution to the organisation's success.


Download pcajapaneseknotweed.pdf pcajapaneseknotweed.pdf

 This is the link to the download for the leaflet.



November 2014

Mark Smith passes the Timber module of CSRT formal qualifications

Mark Smith, YDC Surveyor

We are pleased to hear that Mark Smith, our new damp and timber surveyor, has passed his timber module, as part of the formal Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatments (C.S.R.T) qualification.


Mark passed the exam and viva voce with distinction (an indication that he performed near the top of the results table.


Mark has been studying for the other two modules - Health and Safety and Damp Proofing, and has alreday taken the health and safety exam and is awaiting the results.


We look forward to hearing that we have another fully qualified C.S. R.T. surveyor shortly.




October 2014

Matt Tucny has been appointed a Director of Catrake Ltd.


Mat Tucny

Catrake Ltd t/as Yorkshire Dampcourse is very pleased to announce the appointment of Matt Tucny, former Contract Manager, to the position of Director of the company.

Matt joins the board of directors,  which is now made up of Martin Hughes (Managing Director), Fiona Hughes (Director and Company Secretary) and Matt.

Matt has also acquired ordinary voting shares in the company.

Matt joined Catrake in 2006 as a surveyor and has excelled in his work, particularly supporting the business through the recession, and now into its 24th year of trading.

To celebrate Matt's appointment, the Catrake management team had a night out "on the town", enjoying a great meal at Fazenda in Leeds centre. Matt's appointment was a guarded secret, so that it could be announced as a surprise at the dinner. I am delighted that he accepted!

Matt's appointment will strengthen the direction of the company and continue the success we have had through the provision of high levels of customer service.

I welcome him to the Catrake Ltd board of directors.

Martin Hughes 



August 2014


Yorkshire Dampcourse introduce new property level flood defence leaflet and guidelines


Floodsave logo

Floodsave is the new brand name for a range of property level flood defence systems that includes flood panels and non-return valves.





Floodsave panels are distributed by Source One Environmental, part of Flexseal Ltd.

Yorkshire Dampcourse have been installing flood protection panels and property level flood defence systems for 6 years, and decided to revise their information leaflet and guidelines.

The leaflet is designed to take the homeowner through the reasons flooding occurs, how water enters buildings and the measures that can be taken to protect buildings.

You can download the new information here:-
Download floodleaflet_yd.pdf floodleaflet_yd.pdf


The Floodsave range of products

The Floodsave range includes:-

Flood panels

Flood resistant airbricks and covers

Sealing for contruction joints and cable entries

Non-return valves

Sealing of concrete floors and edges

Sealing of external masonry surfaces

Cavity drainage membranes

Sumps and Pumps

















Please contact us for further information.


Floodsave and the Floodsave logo and photograph are copyright and used here with permission.




July 2014

Property Care Association launches Flood Protection

The Property Care Association has launched a new initiative that will deliver assurance and certainty to those looking to protect themselves from the worst effects of future floods. The new Flood Protection Group is being developed by the PCA to give consumers confidence in finding contractors, assessors and products that are right for the job.

The Flood Protection Group will become a reference point for legislators, community groups, insurers and importantly, homeowners who want to understand what can be done to effectively protect their property from the effects of flooding. The initiative will link consumers to reliable, competent and trustworthy flood protection specialists. The Association will inspect and verify the skills, knowledge, operational capabilities of contractors and ensure products are dependable and reliable. This level of rigour will not only apply to providers of work aimed at keeping the water out, known as, flood resistance, it will also be applied to those who undertake work that make buildings resilient, by taking steps that will reduce the impact of water that has entered the building.


See this link to view the PCA Flood Protection Newsletter and associated article.



April 2014

It's that time of the year when giant hogweed starts it's growth to become one of the largest plants around.....

Giant hogweed starts to grow in early Spring

Giant hogweed is enjoying the warmer Spring weather and is gowing away to produce one of the largest plants that you will see in the UK.

With plants getting to over 2 metres in height, the flowering spikes can be even larger, producing a whorl of white flowers in the summer, which then produce the seeds that will form the following year's plants.

Dealing with the plant in this early part of the year will prevent seed growth, and over a few years reduce the population of this invasive weed vey significantly.

A note of caution please: giant hogweed has a sap that can cause skin blistering, especially when skin is exposed to sunlight. Caution is needed when cutting stems or working near the plant.


Detail of giant hogweed young plant crown

Identification of the plant can be made from its large leaves, but the real indicator are the stems, which are hairy, circular, and crimson spotted. The stems are hollow, like bamboo. Other similar plants, like butterburr, are sometime mistaken for giant hogweed, due to the large size of the leaves and their shape.

Giant hogweed stem close-up

This is a close up of the stem showing the hairs and crimson speckling that is characteristic of giant hogweed.


Giant hogweed is classified as an invasive weed, because it spreads so rapid and shades out our native plant species. It requires specialist and persistent treatment to eradicate it using strong herbicides, which require licences for use. Yorkshire Dampcourse is qualified to do this work.



Yorkshire Dampcourse, Flexseal and Cook Group review bespoke flood defence project in York

Cook Group Flexseal and YDC together in York

 On 11th April 2014, three businesses invloved in a bespoke flood defence project met to review it at the site on Skelmangate, York. The project involved the flood protection of two lift pits serving appartments above the ground floor car park. The car park is prone to flooding from the nearby River Ouse.

Left to right are: -

Dave Cook - Managing Director of Cook Group, Hull.

Veronica Brophy - Marketing - Flexseal Ltd.

Matt Tucny - Contract Manager - Yorkshire Dampcourse.

Mark Smith - Surveyor - Yorkshire Dampcourse.

(Taking the photo was Martin Hughes, Director of Yorkshire Dampcourse).

The team are seen standing in front of the stored large lift pit flood panel that was designed specifically to fit the door of this lift shaft.

Cook Group took the lead on the project providing lift pit protection and other sealing services. Cook Group specialise in water proofing lift pit / shafts.

Flexseal Ltd are the distributors of Watertight flood defence panels.

Yorkshire Dampcourse designed and installed the two bespoke panels to the lift shaft doors, and included back-up sump pumps in a bunded area in the base of each shaft.


Click here to find out more on flood defence by Yorkshire Dampcourse.




Yorkshire Dampcourse management staff attend Property Care Association Awards Dinner - April 3rd 2014, at The Armouries, Leeds

Yorkshire Dampcourse staff

From left to right the staff are: - 

Collette Green - Administrator

Martin Hughes - Director

(The guy in the Japanese kit is an actor from Histrionics Players)

Hiding away: Rebecca Firth - Administrator

Matt Tucny - Contracts Manager

Mark Smith - Surveyor (with the sword)








Matt Tucny gets ready Matt Tucny prepares himself for the next customer!

Mark Smith is ready to duck......











1st April 2014 - Government publishes guide to available grants for flood defence

The Government have today released information about the availability of grants for flood defence and flood resiliance, resulting from flooding that took place around the UK during December 2013 and onwards.

More information can be obtained from: -



The download of the document is given below.

 Download flood-support-schemes-guidance.pdf flood-support-schemes-guidance.pdf





Ventilation Systems - February 2014


Yorkshire Dampcourse can design, commission, test and service domestic ventilation systems.

From the 1st October 2010 domestic ventilation became "notifiable work" as part of the Building Regulations Approved Document Part F.

With stringent regulations to meet, it is crucial that domestic ventilation systems are installed, inspected, and commissioned to the current standards to maintain compliance and system efficiency.

Domestic ventilation "experts" must be trained and registered to test and commission ventilation systems on new build homes. They are expected to be able to provide right-first-time installations so that commissioning is easy and occupants can be confident that their ventilation systems will perform efficiently.

Yorkshire Dampcourse air flow testing

It is also possible for ventilation systems in existing dwellings to be tested for conformity to the current regulations, using the same standards, or to retro fit ventilation systems to existing domestic dwellings.

Yorkshire Dampcourse has just had this training and certification through Nuaire, one of the main suppliers of domestic and other ventilation systems into the UK market. This was carried out at Nuaire's BPEC (British Plumbers Employer's Council) approved training facility in South Wales, over a two-day course.

The course covers the various types of domestic ventilation systems that are encountered, and is delivered as part theory, part practical sessions, culminating in an open book multiple-choice assessment that must be passed with a 100% mark.



The training course is based on BPEC's "Domestic Ventilation Systems 2010" course book, setting out up-to-date standards, legislation, recommendations and best practise. Three modules were covered  to explore ventilation in context within the new regulations: -

  • Air flow requirements and calculations
  • Health and safety
  • Design, installation, inspection, testing, commissioning, and the provision of system documentation / information.


On completion of the course and qualification through the assessment, the qualification is registered with BPEC, and is recognised and accepted by NAPIT and most other scheme  providers

Please contact YDC if we can help you with your domestic ventilation systems.



New Surveyor for Yorkshire Dampcourse - February 2014


Mark Smith, YDC Surveyor





NVQ logo

 Further NVQ success for YDC employees

Three YDC  technicians have successfully completed their NVQ level 2 assessments in Structural Water Proofing. Additionally, our contract manager has also achieved the NVQ level 3 assessment in Site Supervision.

We have a further two technicians to complete the NVQ 2, and when that is complete all technicians will be deems NVQ competent in Damp Proofing, Timber Treatment and Structural Water Proofing.




LinkedIn pages created for YDC Director and Company

LinkedIn logo

Catrake Ltd has created a new company page within LinkedIn. View the page (work in progress!) here.

The director of YDC also has a LinkedIn page. See it here.




NHBC finding the costs of basement defects are rising

NHBC basement cost article

NHBC are finding out the costs of basement defects and that this is a growing problem.

NHBC are one of the best known building defects insurance providers in the UK, and when it comes to building defects they really know their stuff.

But basements have really stumped them and they are now suffering the consequences.

The way forward is for NHBC to insist that house basements are designed and installed following the principles of BS8102: 2009 - the code of practise for the water proofing of structures below ground.

The best people doing this are members of the Property Care Association structural water proofing group.

Anyone talking about basements and their design should have mentioned BS8102: 2009 in the first few moments of the discussion - if they do not avoid them.

You will also want any work to be insurance backed guaranteed (usually for 10 years) to give you peace of mind that should things go wrong there is someone there to help put it right. Guarantee Protection Insurance is uniquely placed to do that.

Yorkshire Dampcourse can offer all of these things to you to make your basement work run smoothly and successfully. 











YDC have just released their first corporate video

See the video via the link here



Practical Strategies for Improved Flood Risk Management - YDC attends conference in Leeds


I attended this conference on 18/9/2013 in Leeds, representing PCA (The Property Care Association). The PCA logo was used on all the event’s literature. 

About 100 flood specialists attended the full day, the first session being to set out the regulatory backdrop to flood control in England and Wales. This leads on from the Pitt report, which was the extensive document that was commissioned on the 2007 floods that affected so many areas. This has led to the Flood and Water Management Act of 2010 (FWMA) and in particular the regulations for sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), and those that approve the design of them, SUDS Approval Bodies (SABs), within Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs).

 As usual the acronyms abound, but once you have established what is what, the link between them all is logical. Leeds City Council, for example, is the LLFA for my area.

 The second morning session dealt with advances in flood prediction, modelling and mapping, with presentations on flood prediction from the Met Office, and new techniques for modelling both groundwater and surface water from two specialist companies whose business is selling this data. The amount of data now available from all these sources is immense – and it is just a matter of how detailed you want to get vs. the money you have to pay!

 The afternoon sessions concentrated more on the nitty gritty, with a paper on local community engagement over flood defence in Calderdale – (Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Mytholmroyd), and the view of insurance companies in managing insurance for flood risk properties. The key messages here were the importance of LLFAs joining with the community to address flooding issues, and from the insurance side,  the clear preference for property level flood defence systems to be automatic (i.e. always in position, like a flood door) rather than demountable (like a flood panel). It is worth Googling “Flood Re” and looking at the Association of British Insurers (ABI) summary of this innovative insurance approach to flood risk properties.

 The final session was split into two streams, one concentrating on  practical implementation of the requirements of the FWMA, and the other relating to the balancing demand for new housing and development with increasing flood risk. I attended the former of these, and  heard case studies from Lincolnshire County Council, Morpeth Flood Action Group, and the excellent Mary Donau OBE who spoke about her experiences of being flooded more than once, and her work with the Bodenham Flood Group.

 There was almost too much thrown at us during this conference, and I came away feeling mentally knocked about! However, I got a much better grasp of the law that has resulted from flooding, and the many organisations out there now doing something about it – especially the LLFAs, who are required by law to produce and implement flood defence plans. What is clear to me is that there are opportunities for PCA members to not only offer flood remediation, but also flood defence systems. With this in mind, I have asked PCA to widen the content of the PCA website flood pages to include more about the defensive side of flooding.





19th August 2013

Constructionline registration confirmed



Constructionline logo

Yorkshire Dampcourse (YDC) is pleased to announce that Constructionline have just confirmed that the company is formally registered - number 133196.

Constructionline provides potential customers with all the pre-qualification information that backs of their selection of YDC for contracts.

CHAS (Contractors Health and Safety) is also a recognised Health and Safety compliance accreditation within Constructionline.




9th August 2013

Happy birthday to Catrake Ltd t/as Yorkshire Dampcourse 

Catrake Ltd is 22 years old today. Yorkshire Dampcourse was established in 1974 and has continuously traded since then - 39 years of damp proofing!


August 2013


Giant hogweed now moving to its seeding phase


Giant hogweed in flowerGiant hogweed is progressing into the phase where it produces thousands of seeds. It is one of the "big three" invasive weeds, joining Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam in their vegetative march across our country side.

Japanese knotweed is the only one of the three that produces seeds that are  unviable - thank heavens for that, as the plant is successful enough at spreading through vegetative growth via its roots.

Both Himalayan balsam and Giant hogweed spread through dispersal of viable seeds, but again Himalayan balsam is at a slight disadvantage in that it is an annual plant. Pull it out by the roots and you have killed that plant. More will grow next year from viable seeds from previous years.

Not so with Giant hogweed, which is perennial, and regrows season after season from the same root crown - and at the same time new plants will establish themselves next spring through germination of seeds. Seed have a half life of about 2 years, so eradication can take some time over a number of years.

This is why, if you have these invasive weeds, you need a managed plan to eradicate the plants over a number of years. Yorkshire Dampcourse specialises in control of invasive weeds like Giant hogweed on smaller sites, such as river banks, house gardens and open spaces such as parks or green land. We are fully licenced to do this work being members of  The Property Care Invasive Weed Control Group, which is endorsed by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Click this link to go to our invasive weed control page within this website. There is a Giant hogweed treatment case study within the page. 



July 2013

Japanese knotweed grows away in this warm weather!

Glyphosate leaf wiped Japanese knotweed

 Japanese knotweed is growing away well in this warm weather we are having. Yorkshire Dampcourse  is finding many instances where clients have it growing in their private gardens.

This photo here shows some treatment done on 30th July, where the knotweed is a small stand amongst cotoneaster.

The sheen you can see on the leaves, is the application Yorkshire Dampcourse has just made to the plant by leaf wiping with concentrated glyphosate. The leaf will transpose this non-selective herbicide to the roots and start to kill off this invasive weed.

The advantage of leaf wiping is that the treatment is confined only to the plant being treated - other plants surrounding avoiding contamination that would otherwise result from say, foliar spraying.

Yorkshire Dampcourse is fully qualified to carry out this work, and is a member of the Property Care Association Invasive Weed Control Group, which is approved by RICS.

We are please to report that this important recognition of our competence is driving interesting work to us to help homeowners treat Japanese knotweed in their gardens, but also in cases where sale, purchase, and mortgages and remortgages require an approved contractor (as Yorkshire Dampcourse is) to carry out the work.

Part of the support given to the clients is our ability to offer warranties on our work, and these can be insured through Guarantee Protection Insurance in two ways: -

a). An insurance backed guarantee that cuts in to protect our company guarantee should we cease to trade for whatever reason

b). A 25 year structural insurance policy against Japanese knotweed causing structural damage to the property.

These policies are only available from members of the Property Care Association Invasive Weed Control Group, which Yorkshire Dampcourse is proud to be a member of.

Contact us if you have a knotweed problem that needs control or eradication.



July 2013

At last! - Yorkshire Dampcourse authorised to take debit and credit card charges  

Credit and Debit Card payments to Yorkshire Dampcourse

We have been trying for 3 months to be able to accept card payments, and we are pleased to announce that we have just been authorised to do this through Streamline.

This should mean that we are able to speed up the process of arranging property inspections, as we can now take immediate card payments and arrange our visit there and then.

We are expecting that most of the use of this facility will be for payment of inspection fees where the sum involved is not above £100, thereby softening the fees (about 2%) charged for the service.

Having said that, it will be possible for any private client to make payment by card for any of the work that we do, and the same fee rate will apply. 

The big benefit to all of us is that bookings and payments can be combined in one process, without fiddly BACS transfers or, even slower, the posted cheque. We believe that this will improve our customer service in this area of our work.

With immediate effect, our office administrator will volunteer the availability of payment by credit or debit card, while inspection arrangements are being discussed. 



July 2013

YDC completes Constructionline application 

Constructionline logo

Yorkshire Dampcourse has registered with Constructionline at the request of one of its key customers.

As a sub-contractor we know that jumping through the same vetting hoops every time we tender for work is very time consuming. For our customer, sifting through Pre-qualification data and keeping it up to date adds up to a similarly time consuming job. Constructionline helps both sides of the deal to bypass these problems, saving everyone time, money and hassle in the process. The credentials of Yorkshire Dampcourse are stored centrally on a record for potential customers to view, so that the overall suitability of the company for a tender can be established by the customer in one place.

Constructionline also recognises the existing Health and Safety accreditation that Yorkshire Dampcourse has with CHAS (Contractors Health and Safety Scheme). 


June 2013

Aircraft visits colleagues garden!

Aircraft visits collegues garden

Imagine waking up to a crash and looking out into your garden to see this - a light aircraft had crash landed in the garden.

Such was the case for a colleague, who is a member of Property Preservation Systems Ltd.

I think the wings came off going past that tree!












 May 2013

New Horsforth Civic Society Bench installed by Yorkshire Dampcourse


Horsforth Civic Society bench

Horsforth Civic Society is all about maintaining the built environment of the town and contributing to "place making".

Recently a wooden bench placed on this site in 1995 gave up the ghost and collapsed. The Society decided to replace the bench, but needed to save some money on the installation charge, over and above the £968 it had already paid for the bench!

To the rescue came YDC in the form of Matt Tucny (contract manager) and Paul Moses (joiner and technician), who gave up their Sunday evening to transport the very heavy bench to the site and install it to securely fix it to the ground. 


Horsforth Civic Society have given a big "thanks" to YDC for their help with this.





April 2013

Yorkshire Dampcourse attends The Property Care Association Awards and Dinner


Matt Tucny and Storm Trooper

Out came the dinner jackets and evening gowns for the PCA Annual Awards and Dinner, held at the Space Centre, Leicester.

Although the company did not enter any of the award classes this year (having previously won the PCA Innovation and Sustainability Award two years running), YDC supported the event by sponsoring one of the tombola prizes.

Pre-dinner drinks were served in "Boosters", the Space Centre's main reception area - where there are indeed two very large rocket boosters suspended above the room.

Matt Tucny, our contract manager, looked so dapper in his DJ that he soon became a target for storm troopers in search of "droids".  These guys must be fed up with being told (add your own Obi Wan Kenobi / Sir Alec Guinness voice) - "these aren't the 'droids you're looking for". 



January 2013

 Yorkshire Dampcourse / Catrake Ltd forgets it's own birthday!

You know how things are......so busy you forget things. Well that's occurred with us. Not only did we fail to notice our 20th birthday in August 2011, but we also failed to notice our "coming of age" 21st birthday in August 2012!

The trading name Yorkshire Dampcourse was purchased by the current owner in August 1991, and at the same time Catrake Ltd. (trading as Yorkshire Dampcourse) was formed.

Yorkshire Dampcourse had been running since 1974 and the business became more and more difficult for the then owner to run, due to his failing health. I'd seen damp proofing being done on a house I had bought and thought "I could do that". I had moved from the South (Reading) to Leeds to get away from the mad rush. I found it just as mad a rush in the North too!

So the success of Yorkshire Dampcourse was continued and we grew slowly over the years, and took over our local competition in 2000, with the purchase of Associated Preservation Systems.

We grew to 17 employees, but the stresses of running a small business with so many people required a scale down so that sanity could be retained. This was done through natural wastage - as employees left the company to set up their own small businesses competing against us. There are four of them still out there - hanging in there.

Our boom years were 2007 and 2008. But the economy begun to set in and the banking crisis impacted slowly but surely on the business, so we scaled back further.

Today there are 6 operators and 3 office staff, plus myself in the business. Turnover is two thirds of what it was in the heady days of 2008 - but we are still here and have remained profitable, allowing us to continue to invest in the business.

This investment has brought us new products and offering such as water proofing of new build properties, invasive weed control and most significantly flood defence and remediation work. We have also been able to invest in newer vehicles to lower our impact on the environment. Currently we are one of very few businesses who run an electric car, charged from solar panels, as one of our surveying vehicles.

In another 21 years I'll only be 77 years of age - I wonder if the company will still be gong then.......



15th January 2013

Catrake Ltd. trading as Yorkshire Dampcourse upgrades is green credentials

Yorkshire Dampcourse has contract hired two new vehicles that enhance the green credentials of the company. Firstly the company has taken on a Peugeot "Ion" fully electric car, which it is using for local property inspections around the local Leeds area. The vehicle has a practical winter range of about 60 miles, which makes it suitable for the type of short trips that the company makes to service local clients with property inspections.

This vehicle is charged via a 13 amp standard plug, but in this case the vehicle is also charged from a system of solar panels, so the energy to run the car is "free". It is a great pleasure to drive past petrol stations, without having to worry what the price of fuel is!

The second contract hire arrangement is for a Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle using a combination of petrol and electric power to run itself. Carefully driven, this vehicle can deliver up to 70 mpg and has a mileage range that matches and exceeds many other vehicles. This makes it suitable for use for our clients who need property inspections well out of Leeds.

The company is also mindful that vehicle technology continues to produce cars and vans that are more environmentally friendlier than older models. We have certainly found this with Ford Transit range of vans. Cost of the vans has not risen excessively, while running costs are reducing all the time as engines become more efficient. This needs to be the case while fuel prices rise and rise!

As a result the company has been bringing forward its van replacement programme so that more modern vehicles are used in the business. This helps us with our costs and is kinder on the environment.

Finally, the company has a "drive 10 miles less" campaign. This is designed to focus company vehicle drivers on using vehicles less and planning driving routes. To a certain extent this has been helped by the use of Sat Nav technology. We consider this campaign to reduce our vehicle running costs by £2000 per year - savings worth having.


27th November 2012

Yorkshire Dampcourse completes registration and accreditation with CHAS

 CHAS logo

 Yorkshire Dampcourse is pleased to have been registered and accredited with the Contractors Health and Safety assessment scheme (CHAS) "having demonstrated compliance with and sound management of current basic health and safety legislation".

The accreditation is renewable annually and is a requirement of many contractors to show compliance, without the need for repetition of qualification with every work tender.

Assessment was carried out using the services of The Property Care Association - our trade association.





23rd November 2012

Yorkshire Dampcourse complete NVQ Level II assessments for qualifications.

Following on from the NVQ article below, Yorkshire Dampcourse operators have now all been assessed for the NVQ Level II Diploma in Insulation and Building Treatments (Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing).

All that we are now waiting for is confirmation of successful assessment and the issue of formal certificates.

It will now be possible for operators to qualify for the site cards  - CSCS - required by so many of the larger building companies. This card is issued on application when a candidate has a current Health and Safety test pass certificate, along with at least an NVQ Level II.

The CSCS card is recognised by the construction industry as the minimum required standard for an operator to work on sites. Whilst most of the work that Yorkshire Dampcourse does is domestic based, we do from time to time work on larger sites, where such qualifications are required.


9th October 2012

YDC scores up the first of its NVQ Level II qualifications.

Following the decision by YDC to formally certificate its operators, as proof of their competence to do their work, by qualifying through NVQ Level II, the first of these was awarded on 8/10/2012.
The formal qualification is:-
Level II NVQ Diploma in Insulation and Building Treatments (Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing)
The elements passed are: -
Conforming to general health and safety and welfare in the workplace
Conforming to productive working practises in the workplace
Moving, handling, and storing resources in the workplace
Preparing structures for treatment in the work place
Applying preservative treatment in the workplace
Reinstating the structure after treatment in the workplace.
In time, all YDC operators will pass the qualification, and this is in progress, as detailed in the news item below.
Whilst the company is confident that YDC operators are competent in what they are doing in their work, the qualification is confirmation that someone independently thinks so too - and is prepared to issue a recognised certificate as proof of that.
The completion of this certification will qualify the various staff working for YDC as follows: -
Management NVQ Level 5 and Esteem Management Plus module
Certified Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (CSRT)
Certified Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing (CSSW)
PA1/PA6(AW) Safe Pesticides Use (for application of herbicides to treat invasive weeds)
Emergency First Aider
Asbestos Awareness Class A (to be updated to Class B in 2013)
NVQ Level II (as above)
The company is committed to training and improvement of all staff, so our clients can have confidence in what we do for them.


RICS JK intro

 22nd August 2012

Santander Bank revises policy on Japanese knotweed in residential properties

Santander Bank, a significant UK mortgage lender, has revised its internal policy in respect of property risk regarding mortgage applications where Japanese knotweed is found in adjoining land.

In an internal document to its valuers and sub-contract valuers, Santander states "This update revises our policy on Japanese knotweed in the light of the RICS information paper (IP27/2012) "Japanese knotweed and Residential Property". This document is available to view on our Invasive Weed Section.

Santander previously had a policy of mortgage lending refusal for properties with Japanese knotweed growing within 7 metres of the property. The RICS information paper sets out the policy that should be adopted for these problem properties, that categorises the problem, allows treatment of it, and promotes the mortgage and lending process, based on treatment by reputable companies.

Of particular importance is the recommendation of suitable companies to carry out knotweed treatments and the provision of insurance backed guarantees. The \property Care Association Invasive Weeds Control Group members are particularly mentioned as suitable companies.

Yorkshire Dampcourse is proud to note that we are one of the approved contractors of this group.








 20th July 2012

 "Zebra" effect illustrates insulation problem leading to condensation

  "Zebra" condensation effect

As a surveyor, one will hear about the "zebra" effect, but rarely see it. I caught this one recently in a front bedroom.

Some houses have sloping front ceilings in upstairs rooms, where the design of the roof is to over-sail the outer walls. Rather than do this beyond the curtilage of the outer wall, the roof is allowed to slope before the outer wall is reached.

Why? It must be a cost thing? The problem that arises though, is that the roof area above cannot be insulated as there is no room for the insulation to fit, unless you stuff it in and block up proper ventilation to the roof void. The only way to insulate is to to do it from underneath, actually in the bedroom - or to stuff the insulation in place AND create alternative ventilation to the roof void from elsewhere, such as ridge or tile vents. Problem is that you can't get the thickness of insulation now generally accepted as being necessary in a roof - 300 mm.

What causes the zebra banding effect?

The wide dark patches are those areas between roof rafters that are not insulated. The grey shading is caused by growth of Aspergillus sp. or black spot mould. The thinner white strips are where the rafters are located. They are not shaded because the rafters provide some insulation themselves, so there is no condensation under the rafter (on the room side), and therefore no growth of black spot mould.

This is a classic indication of poor house design, based on our housing design standards of today. When this house was built we were not too worried about insulation, and energy saving was not really considered. Additionally, houses were well ventilated via chimney openings and loose fitting doors and windows, so condensation did not occur that often.

Our modern living conditions have changed significantly. We have changed our windows and doors to double glazing, blocked up our chimneys, installed central heating, and worry considerably about opening windows or doors in winter to keep expensive heat in. We also fill our houses with moisture from showering, bathing, cooking, boiling kettles, drying clothes and towels on radiators, even breathing, and not using extractor fans, where they are installed.

The result of this is condensation. I get it in my own house in winter. Water from condensation produces damp in houses that allows moulds to grow, damages wall coverings and sometime furnishings and clothes. What we have not fully understood is the effect on our health.

It is not always moulds that cause us health problems in houses. The proof of this is that if you feel OK outside of your house, but worse inside, then your problem is not moulds in the house. Why? - because there are many million times more spores of moulds outside than inside your house. You'd feel worse outside your house if there was a mould problem for you.

So, what is it that affects your health inside the house?

Research, especially in the USA, is beginning to point to damp in houses leading to chemical and bacterial breakdown of the things we keep in out houses, to produce a cocktail of organic substances in our house's atmosphere that we breathe in. Take plastics, for example. If they begin to "decay" they can produce complex organic and non-organic substances that contaminate our home environment. These compounds are thought to be the cause of our illnesses, that are mainly respiratory in nature.

Keep your house dry, is the message. You'll feel better!


If you need help with condensation problems, Yorkshire Dampcourse can help you identify the problems and offer solutions them.


 July 2012

YDC wins further flood defence contracts from Leeds City Council


Flood airbrick installation

Yorkshire Dampcourse has been successful again in tendering for and winning two further contracts from Leeds City Council, part of the city's flood defence programme for private houses.  

This will be the 3rd round of grant aided work carried out by the city to help protect at-risk houses in the Leeds area.

The first contract is for 8 houses in Drighlington and consists of the replacement of nearly 100 existing airbricks with EcoSmart flood resistant airbricks, which are shown in the photo. These airbricks have a double ball float system that closes off the airbrick to stop water ingress when the airbrick becomes submerged in water.





Pump and high water alarm 

The second contract is for between 15-17 houses in Lower Wortley, where sumps and pumps are to be installed in cellars or basements to help alleviate the effects of water entry to these houses.

Water entering cellars flows to the sumps and is pumped out by a float activated pump to local external drainage. This does not stop flooding, but alleviates the effects of it.

The photo shows the pump and the battery operated high water alarm and detector, which tells the owner if the pump has not cut in, to remove water from the sump.




If you need help with a flood defence system, please contact us. We are experts in designing and installing systems for flood defence.





July 2012

NVQ assessment for Yorkshire Dampcourse operators

 NVQ logo

With two level 5 qualifications achieved in Management and the advanced Management Plus course from Esteem Ltd - funding arranged through the Federation of Masterbuilders - YDC has enrolled all of its operators in the NVQ level 2 course for its core activity, damp proofing and timber preservation.

The assessment will be carried out on site by training providers Geason Ltd. Once again the company has been fortunate to be able to fund this training (and hopefully qualification) entirely through training grant scheme funds. The company also hope to benefit from an achievement bonus from the CITB when the training and assessments are complete. YDC is registered with CITB and pays a monthly levy into the CITB training pot, from which it is entitled to claim awards for training activities and achievements.

Many construction companies require operators attending their sites to hold a CSCS card relevant to their core activity. The basic cards require the NVQ level 2 qualification and a current pass certificate from the national Health and Safety test. Whilst our site supervisor holds a relevant CSCS card, the company is keen to qualify its operatives  to demonstrate competence at all operating levels.



 13th. June 2012

Enrolment with Bondpay allows YDC to protect client's money during long term contracts

 Bondpay escrow services                                                                                                                                                                          Yorkshire Dampcourse have enrolled in the Bondpay escrow account system. Essentially an escrow arrangement is where a third party holds money on behalf of two parties - one the buyer and the other the supplier.

The buyer deposits funds into Bondpay, and Bondpay holds the funds until satisfactory delivery of the goods or services has been undertaken, and then pays the supplier.

The advantage of this is that the buyer's money is protected, and the supplier can be confident that the money is in place to pay for the supplies. It's a win - win solution.

In the case of Yorkshire Dampcourse, we have signed up with Bondpay, to facilitate the arrangements for long term invasive weed control treatments, such as that for Japanese knotweed.

At present mortgage lenders are reluctant to lend on properties with land contaminated with Japanese knotweed or other invasive weeds, such as giant hogweed. However, the RICS supported Invasive Weed Control Group members of The Property Care Association have been chosen as suitable contractors to provide a treatment solution to this, so that mortgage lending can go ahead.

In these cases, the vendor will pay into Bondpay the money required to treat invasive weeds over the period of treatment (which might be as much as 4 years). Treatment then can go ahead, with payments being made for satisfactory work, spread out over the period of the treatment. The vendor gets to sell their house, the buyer gets to buy the house and the knotweed gets treated, and the contractor gets paid as he does the work. The mortgage company is safe in the knowledge that the treatment they require to advance their loan, will actually be carried out.

 Bondpay have produced a simple explanation leaflet that you can download here: -

Download bondpay-leaflet.pdf bondpay-leaflet.pdf 


 June 2012

Lucky 11! YDC flood defence systems for new houses in Goole

Goole site


Yorkshire Dampcourse and its associate partner Cook Group Ltd have successfully completed the 11th. installation of flood defence systems to affordable housing in Goole. A further order for 8 houses has recently been obtained - and this will complete all of the 19 affordable homes being formed on this 59 house site.

The system includes treatment to the solid floor / wall interface internally to keep out water, NanoShell water proof coating to the outer low level brick walls, installation of non-return valves to the kitchen waste pipes and external sewage system, and the installation of flood panels to the front and rear access doors.

It was a planning condition that flood defence systems should be included for each house.








Image jk-on-gravel.jpg




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