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Buying a old house- serious damp issue

(25 Posts)
marmalade999 Sun 23-Oct-16 08:05:35

We have just had our surveyor phone us to say the cottage we want to buy has serious damp. The fascias are rotten and the roof is leaking. They have disguised the damp and concealed it. Its an old 2 bed cottage and likely the woodwork/timbers are rotten. So we now have to have a damp survey. Time is ticking on and we really want to move before Xmas . But now it says the house has to Have a damp course. We haven't told the vendors yet as we now need to negotiate a lower price. It will likely need a new roof as they have badly repaired sections of it.

Has anyone else been in this situation? A bit stressed!!!!

OliviaBenson Sun 23-Oct-16 08:28:40

Did you get an independent damp survey and not a free one where they usually sell there own product?

For the roof you need a quote from a roofer. The two things are completely separate.

IrenetheQuaint Sun 23-Oct-16 08:34:35

Is the damp the result of the leaking roof or are there other potential causes? You need a view from a builder with experience of old buildings as well as a roofer. Don't go to a damp specialist who is just trying to flog you a damp course without putting any effort into working out where the damp is coming from.

SoupDragon Sun 23-Oct-16 08:36:29

I've watched one too many restoration programmes and I would want to know what state the timbers were in.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sun 23-Oct-16 08:38:02

If your cottage is old a damp course may not work. You need to get it looked at by people who understand old buildings. Whereabouts in the country are you - we use winnicotts in Hampshire/ West Sussex and would definitely recommend them

Fairylea Sun 23-Oct-16 08:43:30

As someone who made the mistake of buying a house like this my only advice is don't do it. There are plenty of perfectly nice cottages and houses without damp that will come on the market. We have spent the best part of £6k trying to fix our damp problems and we are no nearer to sorting it (had roof re done, other works done etc). It is so bad we've had the lights turned off upstairs now for 3 years because we have such bad damp and condensation water was dripping from the lights. Seriously worst house we have ever bought. Survey didn't even show the full extent of it and insurance doesn't want to know, not even builders are too sure what's causing it. They all say different things.

marmalade999 Sun 23-Oct-16 08:46:21

We're in Staffordshire. Initial report says we need a specialist damp proofing survey but waiting on full report this week for finer detail. I know damp upstairs is likely caused by the leaking roof (they'very just decorated lol) but downstairs. It's another survey we're gonna have to pay for angry
It seems the bank are saying the damp work will need to be done before we purchase and the roof is totally separate that we will need to negotiate a price on

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 23-Oct-16 08:55:01

The rotten timbers are going to cost a lot to fix even if the damp turns out to be easy to get rid of. You're going to need to be prepared to walk away if the vendors don't accept your lower offer.
Only proceed if you are up for a big project, the revised price really will reflect the cost of the works, and you are absolutely certain of the extent of the damage and what the problem is and that it's fixable for that house.
You will need to read up on causes of damp to understand what experts are telling you - SPAB is a good starting point, iirc they have a factsheet.
As Fairylea says, there are plenty of cottages out there without damp.

Biscuitrules Sun 23-Oct-16 09:00:33

Why do you need a damp course if the roof is leaking? Or are they saying there are multiple different causes of the damp?

It does sound as though there are some serious issues and you should investigate these very carefully. However the fact that you have been told it requires a damp-proof course suggests you have not received the right advice - see www.heritage-house.org for a really good explanation of old buildings and damp (and why injectable damp-proof courses, which are flogged heavily by so-called "damp" companies, don't work and aren't needed).

You need to get a report from a surveyor who specialises in old buildings. This won't necessarily be that expensive and will almost certainly be excellent value as such surveyors are amazingly knowledgeable and really very helpful. They will be able to tell you whether it is a case of fixing the roof and then letting the rest of the house breathe, or whether you shouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

SoupDragon Sun 23-Oct-16 09:04:20

Using stuff like modern paint and cement render etc can cause damp in old properties can't it? They were meant to be able to breath.

AtSea1979 Sun 23-Oct-16 09:06:27

I wouldn't buy it.
Even if the damp is fixed, it's such a nightmare to get rid of, it takes years and in meantime you belongings get ruined and your health. If you have DC especially, I would never live in a house with damp again.

Biscuitrules Sun 23-Oct-16 09:07:32

Just to add (I posted before I saw your most recent comment) that again depending on seriousness you may be able to deal with the bank. Obviously if it is a serious problem you should walk away. Our property is only a bit damp but is perfectly livable in and not at all unpleasant. Our specialist surveyor did a damp report for our bank which explained the nature of old buildings and what needed to be done over a period of years (e.g. remove unsuitable modern materials and put lime plaster in its place). The bank were absolutely fine with this - it ticked their box that a specialist had looked at it and said that it was not all about to fall apart.

hmcAsWas Sun 23-Oct-16 09:10:22

Walk away - find another house. I know you think you've found the one, and you've already committed some expenses in searches etc which you may be reluctant to write off, but it really is the sensible option if you want to avoid a shedload of problems

JoJoSM2 Sun 23-Oct-16 11:08:50

I think people get unnecessarily scared... If I liked the house and the location + have money in the bank, then I'd go for it. One think to bear in mind is that when dealing with damp, often the plaster will need to be taken off meaning you'll need to have it patched up and repainted afterwards. It's not rocket science, but it will involve work and money so you need to make sure you'll willing to undertake it + you have the cash.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 23-Oct-16 11:29:08

My parents old cottage had this, leaking roof and the render was letting water in. We had mushrooms growing in the stone walls.

The central support beam running horizontally between ground floor and upstairs was totally rotten and had to be removed and replaced with a steel rsj.

scaryteacher Sun 23-Oct-16 11:40:05

We had a retention on our mortgage to get the damp sorted. We moved in, stuck the heating on for six months, ventilated appropriately, had it resurveyed, and the damp was gone, and the mortgage money was paid over.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 23-Oct-16 12:16:36

My house was also one where the surveyor warned of damp and it turned out to be simply a matter of fixing the roof and ventilating. But the roof had not been leaking long enough to cause damage, and I did a lot of homework and talking to historic buildings experts to be confident about what was going on.
I wouldn't automatically be put off a property by a damp problem but I would want to be very certain I understood the issues.

PigletJohn Sun 23-Oct-16 13:11:02

if you invite into your home a person who sells chemical injections, he will tell you to buy chemical injections.

But if you have a faulty roof, you need a roofer. If you have a plumbing leak, you need a plumber. If you have cracked walls, you need a builder.

marmalade999 Sun 23-Oct-16 15:56:47

Scaryteacher the bank didn't insist on tge vendors doing the damp course then? We will hope to reduce the price and do it ourselves if we decide to proceed.

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Sun 23-Oct-16 17:54:22

I think if you are going to buy an older property you do need to recognize that it will not be problem free. there is of course a distinction between a property where neglect of damp issues has lead to serious structural problems, and a property where the issue is manageable with the right expertise and care. But if you want an issue-free property, don't buy an old one. There's always something to do; I happen to think it's worth it for a character property, but it's not for everyone.

bilbodog Sun 23-Oct-16 18:19:40

You havent said how old the cottage is? Damp could be from chimneys, guttering, down pipes, outside ground levels being too high. All things which can be sorted given time and money. Do read up on damp proof courses as suggested above - they are a waste of time and money. Our current victorian cottage had some problems downstairs all of which related to outside ground levels being too high. We lowered the levels outside and replaced with gravel so that any excess water now soaks directly into the earth rather than running underneath the house. we had to have the floor joists fixed and this involved cutting out the damaged wood and treating with appropriate chemicals to stop any further Rot. We didnt have anything injected into the walls or needed to replaster inside. Also check there is no damp caused by old or ill fitting windows.

marmalade999 Sun 23-Oct-16 18:45:13

Hi there
House was built in 1860 -ish. We've been reading up on it today and now a bit more informed ref the potential cause etc and remedies. We will need to reduce our offer as there will be significant costs to put it right, as they have left it for years and now it is a huge issue.
We have enough money to do the other works that need doing the extent of the damp has come as a total shock!!

JellyWitch Sun 23-Oct-16 18:50:13

I wouldn't be out off but as said up thread would want an independent damp expert (not a sales person) to throughly asses the place.

Our 1860s cottage had damp - partly because the fireplace needed opening up and partly because of dodgy guttering (there was a problem inaccessible down pipe at the back). The people who bought it off us put in a damp proof course (maybe the second or third it had had!) and basically threw that money away.

specialsubject Sun 23-Oct-16 19:36:16

there are older houses with some mould/damp - and there are places with rotting wood and bodged repairs, and vendors that conceal problems.

run away. I know six months in a rental is two moves and extra cash, but buying a money pit could be a lot more.

scaryteacher Mon 24-Oct-16 10:46:06

Marmalade, The house was built in 1835, with solid walls, so was advised a DPC wouldn't solve the issue. the previous oner had run a dried flower business, and used the walk in attic and the kitchen to dry the flowers. When we moved in and heated and ventilated, the problem disappeared.

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