View Full Version : rising damp
Just wondering if there are any property experts who can give me some advice,I have just bought a house(offer accepted),and had a survey that shows the property has rising damp,dont know if i should walk away,renegotiate,or just assume that its not as bad as the surveyor says-this is what a friend reckons.All other things in the house are ok and no signs of any penetrating damp so am i worrying over nothing?
any views much appreciated.
27-05-2005, 20:39 PM
If it was a building society surveyor, I would be surprised if they offered a mortgage. If you paid for the survey, what's the point if you are going to ignore it? Go to a builder with the survey results and ask for an estimate, then, at least, you will get a full picture of the possible costs.
31-05-2005, 08:00 AM
You can't ignore it, what a risk to take with your investment
It could be a lot of work & very expensive
At least if you get a quote then you can negotiate with the vendor
BTW why would a surveyor want to exagerate rising damp?
I think a lot of the time its just a case of the surveyor putting a meter on the wall and taking the reading as damp.I think its not always that accurate,
although i will get it checked out by a specialist.
02-06-2005, 07:29 AM
Get a Damp & Timber surveyor to inspect the property.
If the property is old, i would expect it not to have a Damp proof course (DPC), hence the rising Damp, or if it is new then this has failed.
Either way you will need a DPC, and maybe some replastering work depending on how bad the damp is.
It can be cured, but needs to be addressed. You should be able to get a discount from the sellers for the cost of the work, if not then walk away.
02-06-2005, 13:59 PM
Or it could be something simple like DPC bridging
Where damp material is in contact with the wall above the DPC
Making a bridge for the moisture to pentrate the dwelling
02-06-2005, 14:29 PM
If you have rising damp you need to deal with it, if you fail to there is every chance of wet or dry rot developing, and if the latter it may prove very expensive to cure.
You say that your surveyor has diagnosed rising damp, then you should assume he is correct. If he was unsure of the cause, and sometimes we surveyors are uncertain since diagnosing the causes of damp is not always possible on a single visit and without descructive tests, he would have said he was unsure and told you what the possoble causes were.
Your surveyor will have advised you what to do next. Take his advice.
Incedentally I am a Chartered Surveyor, but have not posted in the se forums for some time.
I have had a couple of quotes from damp proofing companies,they say that i need a new damp proof course installed in 2 of the downstairs rooms,which with chemical injection comes to about £300.How much extra do you think it will be for the extra works,plastering,skirting boards etc,and do you recomend this method?
11-06-2005, 15:20 PM
What you need to do is get an independent timber and damp expert in to tell you whether you do actually have a problem, and if so, to specify exactly what works are required to cure it. This will cost you ££, but is entirely independent and unbiased advice, unlike the so-called 'free' reports from DPC companies who have a massive vested interest in finding rising damp in your property. Your lender's valuer probably hasn't got a clue about damp, he just sticks his damp meter on a wall and if it buzzes, then bingo, apparently you have rising damp. Since these meters only assess the very surface of the wall, they can't distinguish rising damp from other forms. And the slightest hint of any potential problem sends the valuer straight into 'worst-case-scenario-cover-my-butt' mode.
An independent timber and damp bloke might well diagnose your problem as something simple like condensation (caused by poor ventilation) or maybe a bridged DPC, which if rectified simply will allow the damp to dry out on its own.
Not saying that the property hasn't got serious problems, but you haven't got that confirmed yet, and you could spend a lot of dosh sorting out a totally non-existent problem.
By the way, what has your mortage company said about the issue? Normally you can expect them to refuse a mortgage until the problem is corrected, or at least put a large retention on it.
The lender isnt bothered about it.All they ask is that i get it looked at within 6 months,but they dont see it as a major problem.
You might be right,i think i will pay an independant person to have a look at it,but if they also say i need a damp proof course,im not sure about these chemical injections.
Do they really work?
12-06-2005, 07:09 AM
Bob, I could wax lyrical all day on DPC's and rising damp and bore you to tears.
I'll try to keep it short and simple.
Properly diagnosing the cause/s of damp can be difficult, expensive and time consuming. The Building Research Establishement have, for example, stated that rising damp cannot be accurately diagnosed without testing core samples from the affected wall/s. This is expensive and destructive, so nobody will do it for free.
You must judge for yourself whether the "surveyor" working for a damp proofing firm is there to look after your interests or sell you a product. If he fails to sell you anything then you have merely cost his firm money, they only make money when you buy.
You can engage a Chartered Building Surveyor and pay him to advise you. He is bound by the Rules of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors one of which is to put your interests before his own. He can be disciplined if he does not, so it is a pretty safe bet that he will be looking out for your interests.
I can't advise on your problem since I have not seen it, but broadly there are two approaches to diagnosing the causes and specifying remedies.
Most homeowners, when it comes to the crunch, are not prepared to throw unlimited money at a problem to make it disappear instantly. So in practice they take a pragmatic view. Generally that means looking for, or having a surveyor advise you on, the liely causes and adressing them one by one in some priority order until the problem is evnentually cured. It may be that the most obvious cause, and the first one you tackle, solves the problem. But in any event this method will produce a solution without excessive expenditure.
The alternative approach is to have every possible cause dealt with at the outset. That way you do get an instant cure, but the costs will probably be out of proportion to the problem and you will probably have work done that was not actually necessary.
True rising damp is at least very rare. There is good scientific evidence that true rising damp (that is ground water rising through masonry by capillary action alone) does not exist (lots of experiments done by a chap called Jeff Howells at South Bank University in the 1990's could not reproduce it in laboratory conditions). There is little doubt in my mind that damp proofing firms often specify work that is not necessary and I have sometime seen chemical dpc's used inappropriately which have caused other problems with buildings.
Obviously I am biased as I am a Chartered Building Surveyor, but I would always suggest you think about paying for professional advice. As they say, you get what you pay for.
12-06-2005, 14:15 PM
True rising damp is at least very rare. There is good scientific evidence that true rising damp (that is ground water rising through masonry by capillary action alone) does not exist (lots of experiments done by a chap called Jeff Howells at South Bank University in the 1990's could not reproduce it in laboratory conditions).More info on that particular issue is at http://ask-jeff.co.uk/building-rising-damp.htm if you're interested!
I'd recommend a much more balanced and enlightening site at http://www.pdoyle.net/Rising_Damp.html. The site belongs to an independent Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatment (CSRT) (I know nothing about the bloke in question other than having found his website, by the way).
Thanks steve and eric for the advice.
14-06-2005, 22:13 PM
I should look at Jeffs site if you are interested in a bit of journalistic reporting, but I'll tell you this about Jeff.
He started out as a bricklayer, and a pretty good one at that....I've seen his work. He then decided to do a degree in applied physics and followed that up with a Research based Masters degree (MPhil). It was the research for that degree, where he built lots of walls using many combinations of brick and mortar types, that I reffered to earlier. It was a very very good peice of work.
However, there is a big difference between what his research papers say and the views he expresses on his site and in the newspapers he writes for. Personally I have surveyed many hundreds, so many I have lost count, of properties which show the classic evidence associated with rising damp. However I have never found a case that could be attributed to true rising damp. As a Chartered Surveyor I keep an open mind though.
I have looked briefly at Mr Doyles website and, with all due respect, he is patently wrong about some things.
Regardless of links on this website to others, who are dismissive of this phenomenon, common sense and observation tell us that damp, which rises up through masonry walls and which has its origin in the ground, is an established fact
Jeff Howells research was peer reviewed by other academics and suggests that true rising damp may not exist. Ergo it is not an established fact.
For example, if Rising Damp didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have to satisfy current Building Regulations by inserting damp proof courses (dpc’s) in all new houses.
The building regulations don't require a DPC solely because of rising damp, which may or may not exist, but since the DPC must be lapped to a Damp Proof Membrane in the floor it serves to prevent moisture migrating around the floor through mortar joints in the masonry.
Where he is correct is when he says
Rising Damp occurs because of the capillary action of masonry. Its tiny pores ‘suck’ up moisture much like a wick in an oil lamp. The amount of moisture which is absorbed and thence the height to which it rises is dependant on the thickness of the wall and it was precisely this phenomenon that Jeff Howells tried to reproduce.
As this was a substantial piece of scientific work I cannot recall all of the conclusions, but you cannot compare the wick of a candle to a brick. A wick has continous pores running its length. A brick does not. For moisture to move through pores the pores must be of a larger diameter than a molecule of water, many of the pores in bricks are not. Indeed some types of brick are actually used as a DPC they are so non porous.
My advice remains the same. By all means read around, look at the websites but if you want advice use the best qualified expert you can find. That will be a chartered building surveyor. He will have MRICS or FRICS after his name. He will be regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He will have undergone many years of academic study and at least two years of practical supervision before taking his final assessment and few people pass the final assessment at first try. I am afraid to get CSRT after your name you need only sit three exams, it really is not comparable which is why those with CRST are employed by the people who are trying to sell you something rather than by professional firms. They are dependent on "rising damp" existing for a living, so how indepedent can they be?
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