help for a new and incompetent homeowner?
We need to have some damp treatment to the walls in our lounge and I've entered into some kind of spiral of building work as a result. This is my list of what needs doing and I've put it into the order in which I think it should be done and by whom. Have I made any obvious mistakes? And do you think 3-4k is a realistic budget? Thanks in advance!
Radiator Removal - plumber
Damp Proof Course - specialist
Radiator replacement - plumber
Brick up Fireplace - builder
Replace Skirting Boards - carpenter
Replace door between garage and house - carpenter
Box up Gas Meter and Piping - carpenter
Replace Lightfittings - diy
Redecorating - painter/decorator
Do you really need damp proof work? Can you see and smell damp in the house? Damp proof courses aren't much good these days. Better to find the source of damp (if there is any) and correct that eg replace down pipes and gutters and check outside ground levels aren't too high. If surveyor has just said damp shows on hugs metre readings I wouldn't worry. If it's an old house the walls always retain some damp but the walls breathe to let it dry out naturally. Is there any modern render outside as this can trap damp inside the walls and stop it evaporating. There's a good web site about the myths of rushing damp - just google it as I can't remember what it is called.
bilbodog beat me to it - alternatively has the house been empty/unaired for a length of time? You could find that just by living in it, opening windows, heating rooms, the damp decreases.
Even when lived in old properties will always have damp in a few place, a bit of paint bubbling, or small damp patch, as long as it doesnt smell too bad its fine.
We've just had an excellent independent damp consultant (hopefully) solve our damp issue. The solution was surprising and no damp proof course required - in fact it cost less than £200 to sort. Plastering walls damaged will be another £300.
You can definitely take off and replace a radiator yourself I've done it half a dozen times there are tutorials on YouTube
There are visible signs of damp. The skirting boards are warping and cracking. Lots of bubbles and rust in corners. The house is being lived in. It's end terrace on a hill so the pavement is above ground level on the one side. There's no way we'd be able to lower it.
I don't really know what render is to be honest. The outside is peddledash.
I'd love to say we could do the radiators ourselves but I'm sat surrounded by diy failures and don't want to add to it. I'll check out some stuff on YouTube though.
The pavement being above ground level is the cause of the damp problems I'd say. Doesn't mean you need a whole damp proof course. Where's PigletJohn when you need him to advise?
It does sound as if you need a damp report done then. You could get free quotes, but really you need a bit more info about what is causing it, so you may need to pay for a damp report - maybe £200.
Sellfridges - interesting. What did they do then?
the pavement height will be tricky. I am guessing it is an older house with the front door opening onto the street and no garden.
Is it solid walls (9") or cavity (13")? Measure wall thickness at a window or door opening. Are there any air bricks? What colour are the bricks, and what county are you in?
How high is the internal floor relative to the pavement level?
Is it concrete or wooden floor?
Look at other local houses and see what they have done.
Avoid chemical injections which exist only to satisfy mortgage companies.
Ask around for a recommended and established local builder who presumably will have seen hundreds of houses like yours on hills like yours.
The house is just over 100 years old. Solid Walls. I don't know about air bricks. The brickwork is grey but it's all covered externally. Not sure about the floor, i think Concrete.
We do have a front garden but it's built up. The one side of the house is below ground level by about 2 feet.
I've made enquiries but no solid recommendations for builders. To be honest, i think most people live with the damp.
I've had a quote and waiting on another. They want to do a new dpc and apply a drywall waterproof slurry to the wall/floor joint then replaster with a salt retardant coating. This means very little to me, to be honest. If I pay someone £200, am I likely to get a different answer?
if it has a concrete floor, it has probably been filled in relatively recently after the original wooden floor rotted, and is probably damp unless done, properly, in the last ten years or so. It might have an old stone floor, which will be damp. Air bricks are only found under wooden floors.
If you have a damp wall and a damp floor, it will be difficult to cure. They might be planning to cover up the damp on the inside with the slurry and plaster or drywall over it so you can't see the damp. In time it may reappear, higher up, or on one of the internal walls leading off the wet wall.
I would be reluctant to take advice from a company that makes its profits by selling damp-proofing cures. When you say they want to apply a new DPC I suspect they want to inject chemical into the wall. This is not much good. If you can find an independent surveyor who specialises in damp, and does not sell anything so has no axe to grind, you have the best chance of trustworthy advice. A local person should know the conditions, building method, and local people who can deal with it.
Walk round all sides of your house looking for an original damp course. It will probably be a thick mortar joint with a double layer of slate in it, and will be about nine inches above where ground level used to be when the house was built. It may or may not be present. Observe if at any point anything has been put against the wall above the original ground level and bridging this course.
Render should not go below this level because it provides a path for damp.
You say the front garden is built up. Is this wall damp?
You say another wall has two feet of earth against it, I presume you mean above floor level. Is this wall damp? This should be dug out. You can put a path or patio there if you want, with a retaining wall, sloped so rain runs away from the house.
I can't see anything on the outside of the house. The garden is higher than the pavement but below the floor of our house. We're an end of terrace and it's the end wall that is below the level of the pavement. We won't be able to dig it out as it's not our property. I appreciate it might be quite difficult to visualise.
I appreciate the advice though. I'm going to make some calls about an independent survey tomorrow.
Excellent advice from previous posters. I only wanted to add, why are you bricking up a fireplace? Without adequate venting, it could cause damp in itself. Just something to be aware of.
We want to cover the fireplace for aesthetic reasons. It's just a hole at the moment. I would hope anyone who'd undertake the work would allow for ventilation. I've got someone round to quote on that tomorrow so I'll mention the damp problem to him.
disused chimneys need to be ventilated top and bottom to allow airflow, otherwise they will get damp. A single airbrick will do (not a vent that can be closed, though)
People with wooden floors can sometimes burrow down and have the lower hole under the floor, which has the advantage of also ventilating the void (water vapour is lighter than air so rises up the chimney)
Most chimneys have two or more flues in them, all the flues need to be ventilated.
If you ever remove a chimneystack completely off the roof, the flue can be partially demolished in the loft and left open. This also makes the reconstructed roof more watertight and needs less maintenance.
Again I'd recommend the independent survey. It cost £245. Our problem in the dining room was being caused by a down pipe on the front of the house which was pouring water under the house instead of away from the house. It's fixed and the damp is drying up. We'll need to replaster some areas as the plaster is stained.
The survey company we used were called Damp Detectives.
Thanks for the advice so far. I've got someone independent coming to do a survey on Tuesday. I'm sure I'll be back at some point with more stupid questions.
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