Damp - solutions and cost estimates

(12 Posts)
onewhoassociates Mon 29-Aug-16 09:33:43

OK, so we have a damp problem in our house.

Yes, it was in the surveyors report and we got the vendors to do a few things, but being in London, a price reduction was difficult and we liked the house (perhaps we were stupid) and we thought there was an element of covering one's backside.

Anyway, one winter gone an another one coming, we need to do something, so if it's OK, I am going to quote from the surveyor. Any tips etc. would be much appreciated.

We live in a 1920s detached house with solid walls. We have areas of mould that develop in the winter and parts of the house do have that damp smell.

Chimney: 'In view of the age of the property, the stacks are unlikely to contain a damp proof course and, therefore, even with the flashings in good repair, some internal
dampness may occur from time to time.'

Roof coverings: 'The valley gutters could not be closely inspected. Gutters of this type are, vulnerable to blockage and can be a source of damp penetration that can potentially lead to timber decay. It is essential, therefore, that regular maintenance
inspections are carried out.'

Main walls: ' Penetrating dampness:
Penetrating dampness was noted internally to external walls, particularly around window openings. We would recommend that a competent builder inspects and the cause of the dampness is ascertained. All recommendations to be carried out and quoted for prior to exchange of contracts. The deteriorated rendered finish may have contributed to the dampness noted.
Condition rating 3. Rising dampness
Damp proof courses are provided within properties to prevent vertical movement of ground moisture up through the wall construction to prevent deterioration of internal fixtures and fittings and also to prevent high levels of moisture leading to wood rotting fungi.
The horizontal damp proof course to the base of the main walls was not visible due to the external rendered finish. In a property of this age, we suspect that a slate damp proof course has been installed.
Dampness was detected at low level to the main walls, to areas including hall, living room and dining room. This is consistent with a failure or bridging of the horizontal DPC, and further specialist investigation is required prior to exchange of contracts.
Any structural floor timbers which are in contact with damp brickwork are at risk from rot or decay and you should instruct your specialist firm to check the sub floor timbers for defects, and again carry out appropriate remedial treatment as required.
Condition rating 3. Walls
The main walls are of 225mm solid brick construction with fully rendered elevations.
Despite signs of old settlement and thermal movement, the structural condition of the property appears to be generally satisfactory and we found no evidence of significant cracking, subsidence or structural movement.
Solid walls rely on the thickness of the material to prevent weather penetration. The principle is that weather hitting the wall will be soaked up by the masonry but that the water will evaporate before it penetrates completely through the wall. In most parts of the country, experience has shown that 225mm thick brick walls will normally perform this function. However, if the walls are particularly exposed or particularly severe weather is experienced, penetrating dampness may occur.
One of the concerns with properties of this age is the extent to which timbers were built into the main walls to provide support to openings to windows and doors, and as the bearing for structural timbers such as floor joists. These timbers are concealed within the fabric of the building and could not be inspected. Should damp penetration occur through the main walls, it is possible for these timbers to be affected by timber decay. It is therefore very important for the external wall surfaces to be maintained to a high standard at all times.
The rendered wall surfaces appear in basically satisfactory repair, albeit subject to some cracking and loss of key in localised areas that is reasonably attributable to shrinkage and general deterioration of the render material. These areas will need
to be made good prior to the next re-decoration. '

OK, so I don't know if it's being slightly rude to post stuff from the report, but if you don't ask you don't get etc.

We have sought some opinions, but we seem to get different views and the one guy we'd taken on a recommendation has only provided us with a quote for scaffolding after many months and isn't responding.

Many thanks for ANY help/advice/etc.

onewhoassociates Mon 29-Aug-16 10:09:06

And, as an add-on, has anyone heard of this company?

www.heritage-consulting.org/

Any thoughts on it?

MusterMark Mon 29-Aug-16 21:22:02

Is the mould at the top or bottom of the walls?

Check the gutters and downpipes above the external areas where you are seeing mould inside.

Outside at ground level, are there air bricks? Locate the slate DPC, it should be 150mm above the ground level.

Where is the musty smell? Is the floor solid if you jump up and down on it near the walls, or is there any movement?

caroldecker Mon 29-Aug-16 21:53:24

Damp is normally:

Excess humidity inside the house. How well ventilated is the bathroom and kitchen? Do you dry clothes in the house?

Leaks from outside, so gutters leaking/blocked, drains blocked. Has the garden been raised so the ground level is higher than when the house was built?

Cacofonix Mon 29-Aug-16 22:22:09

Have a read through this. Rising damp is quite a disputed thing. Check render, guttering and downpipes for penetrating damp and ventilate house - mould can appear behind large pieces of furniture like wardrobes because air doesn't circulate.

onewhoassociates Tue 30-Aug-16 07:05:25

Thanks for the replies

1) Mould is at the top of the walls, also sometimes we can notice it in wardrobes as well.

2) There are air bricks on the ground floor. I will have to find the DPC

3) The floors feel pretty solid

On bathroom ventilation - yes - not that well ventilated - we have a long small window (always open during spring and summer and as much as possible otherwise). The kitchen has a door which we open regularly as well as windows. Actually, the kitchen seems to be the least affected. We basically never dry clothes in the house (unless you mean in our dryer which collects the water anyway and is in the kitchen).

We tried to get our gutters cleaned, but the charlatans seemingly didn't complete the job properly. Although, IMO, but not my wife's opinion, the mustiness and feeling of damp reduced after the partial clear out (we did it during winter). The garden has not been raised.

Yes, on the rising damp disputed terms - I saw this. I was actually very interested in it as the guys seems to be actually scientifically qualified versus a technician. His solutions would also likely be cheaper and less invasive, although his consultation fees much more.

Who can you trust to give an honest appraisal (in a general sense)?

MusterMark Tue 30-Aug-16 08:56:58

I didn't notice before but the report says your DPC is covered over with render, this itself could be a problem depending when the render was applied and what it is made from.

I would definitely get the gutters done properly. From what you're saying this is likely the cause of the problem. Go out in some heavy rain and see where the water is going.

Improve all ventilation. There should be 2-3 air bricks each end of the ground floor. Make sure they are unblocked.

Personally I'd only trust a local builder with a recommendation.

FYI I bought my house 15 years ago. The floors at the front and back ground floor were rotting. All the timbers were original Victorian. There was also a very bad damp patch on the rear ground floor wall.

Surveyors recommended chemical DPC. One guy even said to me that slate DPC "crumble to dust" which is simply a lie.

I replaced the bad timbers and floor, closed a hole in the rear wall (made for an unused soil pipe) where water was coming in, added air bricks front and back and 15 years later it's fine.

onewhoassociates Tue 30-Aug-16 10:06:15

Good advice.

I have only one airbrick in the kitchen/dining area.

Can they be put upstairs? How much do they cost? I presume the disruption isn't huge. From recollection, the airbrick we have was put in after the surveyors report because it had made us a bit nervous.

How would you approach it? Just tell a guy we need some airbricks put in, please facilitate (as opposed to we have a damp problem, I think I need this which would give him the opportunity to give us 'advice').

Again, thanks for any information and forgive my ignorance on this issue as well.

MusterMark Tue 30-Aug-16 11:30:42

Not sure if you need airbricks upstairs, but I'd say one is not sufficient for the ground floor. Bear in mind that below your ground floor is soil, so depending on local conditions if it's a sealed area your timbers will get damp and rot.

I really think you do need advice, from someone who can see your house in context. You don't have to take all their advice. For example I decided to try airbricks etc. first and then do the DPC later if it proved necessary, which so far it hasn't. I forgot to mention I also added a French drain because the ground level had risen.

But in your situation I'd prioritise the guttering.

IrenetheQuaint Tue 30-Aug-16 11:36:26

Render is often bad news, especially if (as in your case) it has loosened at points. Very easy for water to get in and not be able to evaporate out again. Worth checking this issue out in more detail.

caroldecker Tue 30-Aug-16 18:39:18

The main issues in the report, and supported by your own experience is not 'rising damp' but leaking window surrounds and blocked/ill fitting/not working gutters. Get these sorted and see what happens.
I would also suggest extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom.

onewhoassociates Wed 31-Aug-16 07:57:42

Thanks for the advice everyone.

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