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Rising Damp- Please help

(23 Posts)
Deni99 Mon 10-Dec-12 17:12:11

Had an offer accepted on a Victorian house in school catchment. We expected to spend money to update the kitchen, decor etc but I have just been told by our building surveyor that the bay windows are rotting and need replacing as do the electrics, and all the downstairs rooms have rising damp. The damp has me really worried as although the surveyor says it can be rectified to the cost of £2,OOO, and isn't that much of a problem everything I have read has told me to beware(including on MN!) wet rot, dry rot, pulling up floors for damp proofing that doesn't work etc. Please can you tell me if I am panicking re nothing. Is there a damp specialist I can call in who I can trust to properly look over the house and give me straightforward advice and where can I find him/her or should we pull out and leave this sort of property to people who are clued up and know what they are doing? I cannot speak to DP until later this evening and am worrying myself sick!

soverylucky Mon 10-Dec-12 17:23:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TryingToBuyAHouse Mon 10-Dec-12 19:08:22

We had high damp readings on the house we are in the process of buying, we couldn't see any visible signs of damp or smell damp at all. The survey mostly talked of condensation and broken guttering. It did say in particular it wasn't rising damp. We had a builder come around that said condensation is a people problem not a house problem IYKWIM. He also said if we replace the guttering any damp should dry out over time.

youngermother1 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:51:33

Most damp is leaking windows, lack of ventilation causing condensation or insufficient heating - rising damp is rare here

Deni99 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:58:36

Thanks so much soverylucky. Glad things resolved well for you. No signs of dry rot but some wet rot in windows - original sash but where lack of guttering had exposed to direct rain run off. Survey says property is affected by combination of rising and penetrating damp. There was some staining noticed internally on some ceilings and walls but thought to be historical and testing dry. The rising damp is all from meter readings and from all walls downstairs. The paving outside is too high and we have been advised to put in new air bricks to improve sub floor ventilation. We have basically been advised to get a specialist damp proofing company to lift carpets and then quote. Guttering adequate but will need maintenance. Help?

Deni99 Mon 10-Dec-12 22:56:00

Thanks Tryingtobuy and Youngermother for the link. I guess I will need to read up and talk to DP. What joy.........

PigletJohn Tue 11-Dec-12 08:13:08

True rising damp is indeed extremely rare and almost impossible to recreate in test cinditions. You mention penetrating damp, which will be due to defective walls, probably poor pointing or bricks, or water gushing from defective gutters and downpipes.

Water pipes and drains may be leaking in the ground and causing damp.

Raised ground levels will let water into the bottom of the walls so should be dug out and possibly french drains added.

The most common cause of condensation, damp and mould in UK homes is people draping wet washing around the house or over radiators. Improved ventilation will reduce humidity.

Chemical injection into walls will usually mollify a mortgage company but have no other lasting effect.

Deni99 Tue 11-Dec-12 08:55:06

Thanks PigletJohn. Should I be concerned about wet/ dry rot under the lino/ carpets and what would you advise me to do next?

PigletJohn Tue 11-Dec-12 12:00:11

If you do have dry rot, most experienced surveyors and builders will recognise the smell as soon as they walk through the door. It will cost thousands and be very disruptive.

The impression I have is that you have the more common building defects.

Raised earth against the walls, insufficient airbricks, leaking roof, leaking gutter and downpipes, eroded brickwork and pointing, rain penetration round windows, and unless someone has already dug up and replaced them (unlikely) cracked and leaking salt-glazed gullies and pipes.

The incoming water main if steel is orobably leaking by now so the ground under the floor and walls will be needlessly wet.

Start asking around for established and well-recommended builders, plumbers and roofers. Repointing, and replacing perished bricks, is done by a skilled bricklayer. Resist any offers to render over it and pebbledash, shoom shoom.

It will cost you thousands, obviously, and this is the wrong time of year for outdoor work.

Deni99 Tue 11-Dec-12 14:20:33

PigletJohn, very much appreciate all your advice.I now have an experienced, recommended builder looking at it tomorrow. Strangely, although it is still worrying, I feel less panicked and at least have a plan of action now.

Following the meeting with the builder tomorrow I will go back and re-negotiate the asking price to at least cover some of the work. Soverlucky and others with experience how much did you ask for a reduction of?

Pendeen Tue 11-Dec-12 17:24:56

If I were you I would also go back to the building surveyor for more information about the diagnosis i.e. why does she / he state that it is rising damp?

If you have used an RICS qualified surveyor then this should be a simple matter for her / him to explain

As piglet john has mentioned there is a lot of debate about this subject and the arguments are ongoing. The SPAB article is not entirely correct and they are known to have a rather one-sided view on some subjects.

Deni99 Tue 11-Dec-12 19:10:15

Hi Pendeen, I am awaiting further info on various aspects of the survey which I should get tomorrow am but the RICS qualified surveyor told me that he believes it is rising damp because of the meter readings taken on the outside walls of the building and therefore that is the most likely cause. To be honest I am losing the plot and really want to walk away but who's to say the survey on the next house wont be worse! I really hope the builder tomorrow can give me a clear indication of how much work is required and how much it will cost so that we can make a decision one way or the other.

PolterGoose Tue 11-Dec-12 20:23:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Deni99 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:32:43

Thanks PolterGoose that is really helpful. Have you got any other details of the company you used. Where are you based? They sound exactly what we need. There are a few companies on google with the same name I just don't want to pick the wrong one!

PolterGoose Tue 11-Dec-12 20:59:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Deni99 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:02:40

Brilliant! I will let you know how i get on and thanks so much again.

TryingToBuyAHouse Wed 12-Dec-12 09:58:52

Polter how much was your report? Our mortgage lender is asking for one to be done!

TryingToBuyAHouse Wed 12-Dec-12 09:59:25

Sorry, just read that you have already written the amount!

TryingToBuyAHouse Wed 12-Dec-12 10:51:08

Polter, I've cancelled the damp survey person that sells damp proofing and we hope to book with as soon as possible. Thank you so much for posting the link!

Pendeen Wed 12-Dec-12 23:19:54


Best of luck with your builder. x

Deni99 Thu 13-Dec-12 13:17:43

Thanks Pendeen. The builder is not coming now until Friday(tomorrow) so will let you know. In the meantime the Surveyor has come back with "The high damp level readings found at ground floor level where found at low level ie not exceeding one meter high above floor level. This indicates rising damp. Any wall with foundation can be prone to this. The damp travels upwards due to capillary action and normally cannot go more than one metre high. I could also see some salt deposits in the plaster in the rear lobby wall"

PigletJohn, wise MNetters any views? The surveyor seems to know what he is talking about so even if the builder tomorrow says it is not so bad I wil still be really worried as he obviously will not be able to take up all the ground floors.

TryingToBuyAHouse Fri 14-Dec-12 18:28:26

Deni, how did it go?

SunnyUpNorth Fri 14-Dec-12 23:31:20

Hi Deni, I would actually disagree with The poster who said not to get a damp specialist survey as they may exaggerate to get money off you.

We had a specialist damp and timber survey done and a full building survey. As a result we were able to negotiate £15k off our house. The damp survey was pretty hardcore which made negotiating easy. However we hasn't noticed any bad damp when we viewed and neither had my dad who is obsessed with damp! So after we moved in we had a couple of other quotes from other damp companies for the work we supposedly needed doing and there was no damp. I too walked around with the surveyor quoting for the work and there were no damp readings at all.

So basically getting the report done saved us alot of money and you have no obligation to go with them for the work anyway.

If carpets need to be lifted to do a thorough survey that is tricky as not many vendors would be happy to have various surveyors trampling through their home lifting carpets etc. I think surveyors often caveat their reports by saying they could only assess accessible areas etc.

Good luck and don't worry too much. Bad damp is usually pretty obvious so if you didn't really notice any then it is probably just the sort of damp pigletjohn describes.

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