damp...mould...water ...surveys...what to do?!

(7 Posts)
dilbertina Tue 29-Jan-13 21:44:56

Not sure how to move forward.....any advice welcome!

We moved in the summer, had full structural survey done, no major issues identified. House is stone built and 400 years old ish.

The back of the house is at a lower level than ground behind. The "older" part of house has had some sort of retrospective damp proof put in (dug out deeply next to wall outside and some sort of polythene put in I think) there are no damp problems in this part of the house.

The kitchen and toilet bit are a flat roofed extension to the original but continue to use the ancient stone wall at back as rear wall. There is apparently no retrospective damp-proofing in this section (you can see where it stops outside). It has become apparent that there are major damp and mould issues in this section. I got the surveyor back in and he advised stripping plaster and using a special type of plaster but I am concerned this won't really solve the problem and will just be a temporary respite. In admittedly amateur fashion, I think it probably needs properly dampproofing but he is not recommending this because he should have highlighted it in survey. To be fair, it had been recently redecorated on this wall at time of his survey and no mould was probably obvious at the time, he did check moisture levels on his return visit and they were very high all over this section of wall - I presume he didn't check during original survey as nothing was mentioned, he did admit that he had concentrated on walls in "old" section of house more.

Has anyone ever got money back from surveyor for failing to identify issues? How do you go about challenging it? The surveyor has already indicated that the excess on his insurance would mean we would be going after him personally....

Where do I go from here? Am I likely to have any recourse against surveyor? Who should I get to identify real cause of the damp and remedial works needed? Another surveyor, or some sort of structural engineer?

Many thanks if anyone has waded through this and has any advice!

wendybird77 Wed 30-Jan-13 09:12:57

No advice, but his failure to do a FULL structural survey (i.e. checking all the walls) is not your fault. Nor is it your fault that he has opted for less expensive insurance but having a higher excess. Do not let this play any part of your decision going forward. How much did you pay for that survey? Quite a bit I'd expect and he didn't do it, but charged you for it and took your money. It is really unfair of him to try and play on your kind nature to get out of it. Did he offer you your money from the survey back? Thought not.

Toomuchtea Wed 30-Jan-13 09:26:23

If it's a stone house, I'd avoid any of the chemical methods which firstly won't work particularly well, and secondly might well damage the stone. Your house was built to allow the walls to breathe: modern damp proofing methods work on modern houses which are built not to allow water in.

I'm not quite clear from your post, but if the wall backs onto the soil, then that limits your options a bit. We are hoping to buy a house which has this problem, and what we're planning to do is use this: or something similar

As for pursuing this with your surveyor, I don't have any experience of this but it does sound to me as if he missed something. If the wall is below ground level, it's a screamingly obvious thing to test for damp.

GemDoll Wed 30-Jan-13 09:29:11

Just PM'd you!

lalalonglegs Wed 30-Jan-13 09:50:27

It certainly sounds as if he was at fault. I'd re-read the survey very carefully (there are usually 1000 caveats), then write formally to the firm - or him if he is a one-man band - explaining why you feel that the survey was incomplete. Point out that you can clearly see where the damp proofing measures come to an end at the start of the extension and ask why this was not noted and why damp readings were not taken in the extension.

The firm/surveyor will probably come up with some excuses but, unless they sound very credible, your next step is to contact the RICS (which he should be a member of) and escalate the complaint. All surveyors are meant to have professional insurance to compensate for this sort of mistake. If you really feel that the survey was defective, then don't give up.

lalalonglegs Wed 30-Jan-13 09:51:30

BTW, you don't want the cost of the survey back, you want the cost of remedying the damp issues.

karron Wed 30-Jan-13 11:14:29

I've copied this from the Terms and conditions from our building surveyor - we are getting a full building survey too. Not sure how helpful they are...

"Where damp tests are undertaken this takes the form of a random test to each of the walls at ground floor level but does not include for a full perimeter test as would normally be undertaken as part of a specialised damp report. Where intermittent damp issues are evident these may not be detected if the majority of the accessible wall areas are found to be in a damp free condition. We cannot accept any liability in relation to isolated and/or intermittent damp issues in situations such as this."

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