Do we believe builder or surveyor? And 2 builders' quotes varying massively - what's going on?(4 Posts)
We are buying our first house and are totally confused about what to do re: builders. For context it is a 1950s 3 bed semi.
The background: survey came back with a list of things that needed doing. At the smaller end of the scale it's things like installing extractor fan in bathroom and fitting vents in roof; at larger end it's having the damp proof course replaced due to high moisture readings in wall, and having the patio lowered as it's too high for the damp proof course.
Got two builders round, both recommended by friends. Builder 1 rang and said ballpark figure of £7 - 8k. He will give further info when he is back from holiday. N.B. I don't know yet if this includes damp proof course. He said he could get a contact in to do this job but I am unsure if his quote will include it, or if he is quoting without that. He also mentioned that some things on the survey don't need doing but I don't yet know which ones.
Builder 2 went round, and diagnosed a different issue from the survey: Whereas survey said high moisture readings were due to a deteriorated damp proof course, he says it's actually that the mortar in the bricks is allowing moisture in, so the whole house needs re-pointing. I don't know whether he or the survey is correct. Interestingly, he doesn't do damp proof coursing so I wonder if he is advising the re-pointing instead because it is something he does. He says the survey is correct about the patio height being an issue. His quote is £18k (as opposed to the 7-8 k the other guy's mentioned).
I am a bit in the dark til builder 1 returns from holidays and gives his full quote, next week. My main queries are, should be believe the builder or the surveyor about what needs doing? How do we know who is right? And how do we choose between them - so far the second builder is more highly recommended by friends and more contactable and organized so he seems quite appealing, but I am shocked as to how his quote's so much higher.
I'd ring the surveyor and explain the discrepancies in the builders' opinions and ask why he thinks it is DPC rather than mortar (it could, of course be both ). I don't pretend to have any expertise in repointing but I would have thought that there would be visual clues - is the mortar in the joints crumbling away or are there gaps where it has already gone etc. Perhaps go round and look at the walls that recorded the highest damp readings.
if I were you, I would have a proper damp surveyor round. most surveyors have no idea at all about damp. those damp readings are coming from a piece of equipment that is designed to measure moisture levels in wood and it does not work on masonry. it is complete bollocks.
our original surveyor told us we had severe damp. we got a specialist damp surveyor round (hint - they do not have any links to anyone who can sell you damp proofing etc) and the only damp he could find was that an external door frame had rotted slightly.
get a second opinion. both builders are also trying to sell you things you really may not need.
repointing might cost a matter of hundreds for each wall, plus scaffolding which again is measured in hundreds per wall. Pointing is now an easy, low-skill job, as the old stuff can be whizzed out with a diamond blade and the new can be pushed in with a sort of syringe gun. It is however very noisy and creates vast amounts of gritty dust.
If you pointing is getting ropey, well worth having it done before you move in. Apologise to your neighbours and offer to sweep up for them. Take all cars well away and cover up everything in the garden.
If the pointing is falling out, or you can scratch it out with your thumbnail, it needs doing.
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