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Help! Need advice with possible damp house purchase.

(11 Posts)
Mougly Mon 23-Oct-17 14:02:56

I have managed to find what feels like the last house in a nice area that we can afford. It's in a small sea side town and as Londoners we don't want to go far away from the station to be able to travel in to work in London two days a week. It's nearing contract signing, they have already signed.

Viewing in August made me think it has some damp issues. Following survey, damp inspection and legal process, we visited again two days ago and the smell of damp as you walk in was signicantly more noticeable, maybe effected by the change of weather.
The couple have lived there since the 80s, have two gas fire heaters and not sure if they ever open windows and/or dry clothes indoors etc.

The north facing garden has a retaining wall close to the house. Survey came back with damp in living room/dining room and we negotiated 50% of the damp work cost in further £2000 discount, in total 5% of the selling price in what is a very cheap house. It has the perfect layout and no odd extension, lean to etc, It's just very dated but well maintained.

I would say the damp is concentrated to the small living room/dining room area as said in the survey. I can't smell any in the kitchen or upstairs bedrooms or bathroom. We are considering living upstair and tackling the work straightaway. Possible blocked air bricks, back of house might have too low built air bricks so they might get flooded. Also condensation might be an issue due to bad ventilation inside, we will put vents in kitchen, bathroom and in the loft. Might need to replace the timber under the ground floor and plasterwork on walls, the whole lot in those two downstairs small rooms. Vendor says house hasn't been flooded. They no longer have original floorboards in living/dining room but instead have damp treated mdf and a carpet. All living room/ dining room walls have plasterboards so no idea whats going on behind them.

My question is if it's normal to think that we can fix it? Considering we are first time buyers, been renting forever, struggled to get a mortgage because of self-employment with fluctuating income, will soon be out-priced and will struggle to get another mortgage offer. The mortgage is a lot cheaper than my tiny rented London flat, we are good at doing diy work and have a bit of a budget for professional help, just not sure about the damp inspectors claim of rising damp and injecting chemicals into the walls. We think it needs ventilation and better drainage.

superking Mon 23-Oct-17 14:22:45

What kind of damp survey did you have? We had two done on our current house. The first (free) put it all down to rising damp and recommended chemical injections. Funnily enough they were a firm that specialised in chemical dpcs hmm

We then had it looked at by an independent damp surveyor (approx £200). He said there was nothing wrong with the dpc and it was a combination of damaged guttering and blocked drains causing the problems. Got those fixed at a fraction of the cost of the chemical dpc that the first company recommended. Had to strip one very damp wall back to brick and wait a couple of months for it to dry out before replastering. Three years on and no issues since we had the work done.

In your shoes I would definitely get a second opinion.

Mougly Mon 23-Oct-17 16:20:35

Thank you Superking for your response. We had a home buyer report from Countrywide via our mortgage lender, I paid for this. He pointed out rising damp and possibly not enough air bricks. following this the estate agent sent s damp company to inspect and he said rising damp on three sides along the living room/ dining room, mostly at the back toward the garden and £3600+Vat for the work. I subsequently asked for another £2000 discount. Both said it was difficult to specify how sever as there is a carpet, mdf under and plasterboard on walls. I'm concerned an independent damp surveyor would come back with the same difficulty in specifying the extent of the problem without the walls and floor first being stripped. Meaning this can only be done before purchase. Did your damp smell? Wondering how sever it is when it smells all over the room?

mando12345 Mon 23-Oct-17 16:35:40

This sounds worrying. How long has the mdf/plasterboard been down? Has it been put down in the summer to cover damp and now it is coming back, but you only get the smell as the damp is covered up.

DancingLedge Mon 23-Oct-17 19:03:35

Sounds like you've got quite a lot off to treat the damp.
I would echo getting a paid for opinion- because damp companies only ever diagnose damp of a type you can pay them to 'correct' . You need someone who will test the air temperature, the wall temperature, and the relative humidity of the air, so they can work out how much of this could be caused by condensation. Gas heater + inadequate ventilation = condensation.

Locally to me - sorry no use to you-all there's a company that does condensation and damp surveys. They charge if it's condensation advice, but not if there's damp and they quote you for the necessary work. That's the sort of company I would be looking for.

Would it stop me buying the house, in your shoes? No.

Damp needs sorting, before it damages the structure of a house. Short term, you can make it more livable with ventilation, and a decent dehumidifier, like eco air.

OliviaBenson Mon 23-Oct-17 20:29:24

Rising damp is actually very rare. You could sort it out but you need to get a correct diagnosis first.

PigletJohn Tue 24-Oct-17 11:07:20

damp is water, and water is coming from somewhere.

Typical causes are leaking pipes or drains in the ground, dpc bridged by raised paving or flowerbeds, wet washing draped indoors, water running downhill off garden or paving towards the house; blocked airbricks.

Chemical injections do nothing to repair these. "rising damp" is a chimera and goes away when the source of water is removed.

Plasterboarded walls and removed floorboards suggest it is a long term problem which has been hidden but not fixed.

Mougly Tue 24-Oct-17 19:33:31

mando12345 The interior is dated so looks like all plaster boarding went up and carpet down in the 80's-90's. Thick pattern carpet and textured wallpaper. They installed the gas fire early 2002 so maybe this started the problems.
I contacted an independent surveyor today who said they can't inspect without everything being stripped. Has anyone had a severe case, had to replace all joists, dry rot or anything like that? Would like to get a price idea. It's about 270sq ft livivng room/ dining room so not big. Survey says drain pipes from the garden run under the house and out the front.
Really nervous about buying a house without being able to get someone to identify the problem.

mando12345 Tue 24-Oct-17 20:22:47

Well that's good that the plasterboard and carpet aren't new.
However I would be very wary of buying without knowing for sure the source of the damp and costs of rectifying.
How much of a bargain is the house, is it worth taking a chance on?
Is it worth asking the vendor if you can take up the carpet and strip of some plasterboard, with the assurance you will still buy unless something all turns up. How desperate are your vendors to sell?

Pradaqueen Tue 24-Oct-17 22:44:41

Listen to piglet John. Ignore those who want to inject walls without finding the source of the water. You haven't said what type of property it is ? Semi/terrace etc Having renovated many a damp property in my line of work the main causes of damp I have come across are;

An internal plumbing leak in the wall
Blocked/missing guttering
Missing/blocked air-bricks
Next door having built their driveway and garden path above my properties damp course
Soil from a garden banked up against a wall
Damaged chimney flashings causing water to run down walls
Fire damaged property - water used to put it out never escaping/been dried out
Leaking flat roof
No tanking in a basement flat
Previously flooded basement flat from the 1950's but the salt seeping years later still through the walls (no tanking)
Tenants drying clothes indoors with closed windows
Tenants cooking without using lids on pots or the working extractor fan
No damp course ever installed
Water ingress through Aged brickwork

Maybe get a builder to check out these lines of enquiry first? I agree it's a pain to find but it does require patience to locate your source. HTH. Good luck!

nightshade Tue 24-Oct-17 22:58:18

I bought an old damp victorian semi years ago...renovated bit by bit over years..when I sold the surveyor said the damost readings for a house of that erase and age were great...

A lot can be achieved by stripping down to plaster, liftIng carpets and lino...opening air bricks...venting chimneys...checking lead flashing and cracked sills...and a good heating system alongside opening windows....give it a year to dRy out and check out other leaks...I did have an injection course alongside bits ofrom concreting old earthen ware floors as well. ..

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