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Buying first home - survey/damp issues

(39 Posts)
Chris1989 Mon 27-Feb-17 15:26:39

Hi I'm buying my first home with my fiancee and we've had our home buyer report results back today and I'm a bit concerned. The house is unoccupied and has been refurbished, and we were told previously that there was damp in the house and it had been treated. You can still patches on the walls however but we were assumed this was fine.

Anyway we had the survey report back today and it's raised a few issues, all regarding damp. See below extract of the report:

The walls are of solid, rendered, masonry construction. The front walls have been rebuilt and are of cavity construction with a rendered outer leaf. The inner leaf is believed to be blockwork. The walls are a mixture of pebble dash & smooth rendered. There are several air vents to ventilate the air space beneath the ground floor. Internally, the external walls have been plastered; whilst those in the kitchen and utility have been dry-lined with plasterboard with a final coat of plaster.

The front walls contain a plastic damp-proof course. We cannot confirm whether a damp-proof course is present on the rear walls because of the external render coating obscuring the construction. However, bearing in mind the age of the property, the walls are likely to have a chemical damp-proof course.

High damp meter readings were recorded internally throughout the ground floor. We believe these high reading are due to a combination of factors such as the absence of an effective damp-proof course, the failure of the existing damp-proof course and the external render bridging the dampproof course. It is evident that a damp and treatment has been undertaken and, if enforceable guarantees exist, the original treatment company should return and report. However, as this will take some time, you should ask a Property Care Association ( registered company surveyor to inspect the property for damp and report to you before exchange of contracts so that all costs of treatment are known before purchase. Any further inspection should include a check on the whole property. We refer you to the page in this report entitled 'What to do now'. This is a risk to the building and we refer you to our comments in Section J. Condition Rating 3. Further Investigation.

In addition to any damp treatment necessary, the sub-floor ventilation should be improved and all sub-floor areas should be exposed and inspected for further decay and we refer you to our comments later in this report.

And in section J this is stated in 'risks to the building'

E1: Chimney stacks - damp within stack/s;
E2: Roof coverings - defective fillets/flashings;
E3: Rainwater pipes and gutters - defective/leaking gutters;
E4: Main walls - damp present;
F1: Roof structure - damp penetration;
F4: Floors - damp present; inadequate under-floor ventilation

Can anybody maybe give a better idea of what the implication is of this? It's obviously very concerning but could some of it be the result of damp that has been 'resolved'?

Sunnyshores Mon 27-Feb-17 16:19:22

Im no expert. but It seems to me that the surveyor is saying the damp hasnt been cured by the recent work. This neednt be a costly problem for you to sort out if you do decide to buy, but you obviously need a price reduction and estimates.

I would start by asking the vendor to get the damp proof company he used back out to investigate. At the same time, get quotes yourself from another couple of damp experts.

As well as sorting that, the roof, chimney and gutters need reapair. Get quotes.

Plus, the floor problems. I dont know how serious that is.

A good Surveyors will list every problem, some wont be major, some are just because of the houses age/build standard and should be expected, and some wont be necessary immediately. Not all will be worthy of a price reduction. But lots of problems could point to shoddy work and a load of hassle.

pullingmyhairout2 Mon 27-Feb-17 16:26:31

Having been in this situation, I would advise that you think long and hard before taking the house on. Our first house survey came back as having slight damp in the downstairs boiler cupboard, ok we thought, thats not too bad. As it turned out, the whole of the downstairs was affected, which meant us having to move out again 2 months later for the whole ground floor to be gutted! Including all the floors!

Viviennemary Mon 27-Feb-17 16:26:53

I'm not an expert either but if I read this survey I don't think I'd buy the house. It does sound as if the treatment has not fixed the problem.

MrPoppersPenguins Mon 27-Feb-17 16:40:07

We had similar issues, also affecting flooring and walls. they got the damp proof company back who said they'd done what needed to be, put in extra vents etc etc. We spent a fortune trying to find solutions to damp patches that kept re appearing. We have spent more than a 2nd house deposit and have been stuck here for a long time as a consequence. In hindsight I would avoid it like the plague. You could be setting yourselves up for a big problem to come.

pullingmyhairout2 Mon 27-Feb-17 16:49:11

Also, the reason it's recently been renovated is probably to cover the damp up so they can sell it. I would really start looking at other properties. The amount you will have spent on surveys etc up til now will be nothing compared to how much you are likely to need to spend to get the house right.
Just as a side note, we spent about £7000 to get ours to a reasonable state and even then we had parts where damp was still a problem.

dilapidated Mon 27-Feb-17 17:01:27

We bought a house without a survey that has successfully had damp proofing in recent years, but for the last year stood empty and was damp as a result of having no heating on and a slightly leaky stop cock that no one had noticed.

Its not been too bad to fix.

The house has since had other issues that could be costly but are being sorted out via our insurance.

We have had the keys over a month and doubt we will be in for another month maybe 2 now.

Chris1989 Mon 27-Feb-17 21:47:40

Thanks all, we really love the house and are absolutely gutted. If they can dig out the certificate showing the house had the damp issues treated, would this essentially cover any further repairs?

Viviennemary Mon 27-Feb-17 22:41:21

No I wouldn't trust a certificate. And I wouldn't trust the company to carry out further repairs. They could say the contract wasn't with you but with the former owners. Don't touch this house with a bargepole would be my advice after thinking about it a bit more.

wowfudge Mon 27-Feb-17 22:54:00

That's rather dramatic Vivienne. OP if you love the place get a damp survey carried out by a specialist surveyor - not one who offers a free survey and works for a damp proofing company. Things like the render bridging the damp proof course can be remedied fairly easily. As can repairing the roof flashings, re-pointing and ventilating the chimney, repairing the guttering, etc. The owner has probably been told that a chemical damp proof course and re-plastering will fix things but it sounds as though the causes of the damp haven't actually been addressed.

pullingmyhairout2 Mon 27-Feb-17 23:02:50

The certificates often don't mean anything, the company's doing these regularly shut down and change name. Which is what we found. As the owner before us had it treated and there was a certificate in with all the legal documents from solicitors, we tried to contact them but they had dissolved the company. Then after we paid for the damp proofing to be done a few years later problems started to arise again and I called the guy that had done it. He promised to call round, when he didn't I tried contacting him only to find that company had also been dissolved.
It is a minefield to be honest.
Wowfudge has some good suggestions though, but it will cost yet more money, so I suppose it depends on how much you are willing to throw at this house.

Viviennemary Tue 28-Feb-17 00:07:06

I know it was a bit strong but I'd hate to see somebody take on a headache which could cost huge amounts to put right. Pulling makes a good point about companies. These building firms do change hands go into liquidation and the guarantees are worthless. Get a second opinion if you are very keen on the house but according to the survey it seems to be damp everywhere.

MrsSkeffington Tue 28-Feb-17 10:39:39

Don't buy it - damp is a nightmare

MrPoppersPenguins Tue 28-Feb-17 17:00:56

We had the old damp company back who installed some vents, talked the talk then liquidised with no resolution to our problem. We tried everything mentioned below to solve the problem and big damp patches just kept reappearing.

Eventually the only thing that worked was going back to brick (yet again), using thermally insulated, seriously thick plaster board and skimming over. We can't see the patches any more... doesn't mean the problem isn't hiding though!

We had full new roof, new guttering x2, rendering, chimneys fixing, chimneys ventilating, more damp proof injections, new lintels, repair to brick work underlying the problem areas... you name it we tried it.

I wish we hadn't bought our house. It's really set us back on the housing ladder and are scrimping to afford a to move (this was supposed to be our first small step on the ladder) angry

Chris1989 Thu 02-Mar-17 20:42:56

Thanks everyone - I've been given an invoice that shows they had they had a £1,200 treatment for penetrating damp performed (leaky roof etc), but after speaking to the surveyor he has said the issue is with rising damp on the rear wall.

I've attached the full (but obscured for privacy) survey, I'd be really grateful if anyone could possibly take a look and give their opinion. If I can knock off a few grand, could it be worth it?


DobbyLovesSocks Thu 02-Mar-17 20:57:17

We are in a similar predicament. 99% sure we will pull out, my question is can our sellers go after us if we do pull out as they have secured an onward purchase and are pushing us to confirm completion date

GU24Mum Thu 02-Mar-17 21:07:20

DobbyLovesSocks - until you exchange contracts neither you nor the seller is contractually bound and you can walk away. The fair thing to do is let the seller know asap but the seller can't come after you.

OP - I'd phone the surveyor as you may get a clearer view when you speak to him/her. It sounds as though there are definitely issues but you may get advice verbally that won't be in the report.

Sunnyshores Fri 03-Mar-17 09:44:28

Ive had a quick read, Im not an expert.

It seems to me that the roof is still leaking, so not sure what £1200 work was done. As for all the other red items hes noted, they all sound potentially expensive. He notes extra problems within them that may require specialist equipment etc and that will only add to the cost. Then you have alot of orange flags too.

Interestingly though, he thinks the property is worth what youre offering, even with all these problems, so dont let the vendors see that paragraph! Id ring him and ask for a rough estimate of the work (I suspect £10k).

I dont think I would buy because there are so many items and statistically its likely several of them are going to uncover more problems and greater costs. Damp isnt a science either it is quite difficult to cure.

OnceUponATimeInLondon Fri 03-Mar-17 12:19:31

IMHO experience surveys usually show the worst case scenario. Essentially a surveyor can only give an opinion on what they can see, and don't have any prior knowledge about the property. If you are not afraid of a bit of work, lots of red on a survey wouldn't worry me.

Second the idea of a call to the surveyor, they may be able to give you some more info than in the report.

Simplistically, damp is either as a result of a hole somewhere - roof, guttering, flashing, pointing etc. You find the cause (it's usually relatively obvious, particularly to a builder / roofer), fix the issues let it dry out.

Or, it can be what some people call "rising damp" (some questions about whether this exists, but essentially not top down damp, nearer bottom of walls). This is the kind that can is treated with a damp course, and can be tricker to get rid of. Worth bearing in mind that most not new properties have some sort of damp issue, and they are usually dealable with by ensuring good ventilation and heating properly (if the issues at the root are treated / fixed).

Sorry to hear so many people on this thread having so many issues. But if you love it, I wouldn't be put off. Get a builder / roofer to look at the identified issues and quote. Add that to the damp quote and ask for a reduction. Then if you're happy with doing the work required I'd go for it.

OnceUponATimeInLondon Fri 03-Mar-17 12:24:42

What both wowfudge and Sunnyshores have said makes good sense to me.

I notice you have called the surveyor so sorry for recommending that.

OnceUponATimeInLondon Fri 03-Mar-17 12:25:01

What is the other side of the wall that has the rising damp?

Chris1989 Fri 03-Mar-17 14:04:07

Thanks again all, I'm considering paying £250 for a damp survey to identify the sources and any further issues. I think it's the rear wall with the rising damp - the front wall has a proper DPC from what I've read and is in good condition. However the report also states he's found no significant rising damp, so I'm a bit confused by his remarks! Waiting to hear from him on this.

dailydance Fri 03-Mar-17 14:30:39

Rising damp.... run a mile from that place. That could be a money pit that you are stuck with. The previous owner of my place hid the damp, the surveyor didn't pick it up and it cost me about 6k to sort out on one wall...and this was NOT rising damp. My father is a retired builder.. he pulled up the boards and said I was also about 6 months away from dry rot (which he rectified). He said that if he had seen the place before I bought it, he would have told me to run because it could have been so much worse. You don't know how bad the situation is until you pull the floor up and get behind the plaster.

Rising damp on the other hand... just kiss your money goodbye

dailydance Fri 03-Mar-17 14:33:40

Don't put much credence to the surveyors report.. they often miss things because they can't pull up boards or get to brick work. If he says there's a lot of damp then it's probably worse in reality.

OnceUponATimeInLondon Fri 03-Mar-17 15:41:49

Interesting daily DB is a builder and says 99% of damp can be fixed, but you need to know what you're going into.

Sorry this is a tough decision OP! flowers

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