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where do we start - re-wire or damp proof, and what can I expect?!

(10 Posts)
CarrieBo Thu 01-Oct-09 14:01:37

We're about to move into a traditional 3 bed semi which the previous owner had owned since it was built 60 years ago, and she recently passed away. There is serious damp, and the property needs a re-wire. Fortunately we can afford to do these two things immediately but I was wondering which we should do first, and what to expect by way of disruption - like, what do they actually do?!
I guess I know that it'll be 'very very disruptive' but I'm a bit green about it all and don't know what that really means! We have a 1y and 2y old...should I move away and stay with my parents while the work is being done? (which would be annoying as nearest family is 250miles away so I couldn't in any way supervise the work, and dh is at work every day)

We've got a painter/decorator friend who is going to put up lining paper and paint the whole lot magnolia when the other work is done. Sadly we'll have to live with the carpets for a number of years though!

All tips gratefully received to smooth our way through this, thank you!!

GrendelsMum Thu 01-Oct-09 14:50:52

Re-wiring differs slightly depending on what you've currently got. Basically, new wires must go either through the ceiling or horizontally in the walls about 12cm below the ceiling, with vertical channels running down to every light switch / plug socket. Your wiring at the moment is probably at skirting level. So you'll end up with the plaster taken up in big channels vertically above all sockets / switches, and you may also have horizontal channels running across the tops and / or bottoms of the walls. The process of chasing out the channels for the wires is very, very noisy and quite dusty, but you can still live in a room in the evening which has had the chasing done during the day (unless someone is asthmatic). Our builders are usually extremely conscientious about vacuuming etc. I don't know about little ones and re-wiring, though. You will just have to be very very conscientious about making sure everything is covered up from the dust. After the wiring, you will need to have the walls re-plastered.

Damp is a different issue - there's a lot of misleading information about it, and it seems to be easy to spend a lot of money on works that don't solve the problem. You really, really need to find out what is causing the damp, and then fix that problem. A damp proof course might be the right solution (in which case I believe it's quite easy), or part of the right solution, but it may well not be. For example, really serious damp problems can be caused by leaking gutters, downpipes, etc. I think the SPAB homeowners leaflet includes guides on regular checks and maintenance to do to keep your house in good nick, and it might be a good idea to work through these.

You'd better check for rotten wood on the outside and wood that needs re-painting too, as you're likely to have rotten wood (soffits, window sills etc) if you've got damp and need rewiring!

Having said all this, it's not as bad as it might sound - I have a builder vacuuming behind me as I type, and am still reasonably sane grin

GrapefruitMoon Thu 01-Oct-09 14:56:34

If you have the sort of damp that needs a new dpc you will need to have any old plaster chipped off that is also damp so tbh it is better to get the damp proofing and the rewiring done at the same time.

If you can't afford that then you will either have to get the walls replastered twice or put up with them looking awful until you can get the second job done. We had the damp-proofing done first and then the rewiring straight after. Don't know if that is the standard order of doing it. Took us a long time to get around to replastering & redecorating every room!

PrettyCandles Thu 01-Oct-09 14:58:08

Deal with damp first, but get expert advice from several different sources. Damp, of any source, can affect electrics, so no point mucking up new electrics.

After the damp-proofers have finished you may well need to have large parts of walls replastered, so it might be a good idea to get elctrics done before replastering. Electricians will replaster any chasing that they do, so if you decide to have a big replastsering, makes ure that you take that into account in the quote, so that you don't pay for all the electrician's 'making good'.

Warning - you cannot paper over fresh plaster for several months. Paint should be OK, but not paper. I don't remember exactly why, but I think it is to do with the plaster drying out fully.

beanstalk Thu 01-Oct-09 19:26:41

We have just done both as part of our house renovation. I second getting good advice, get several damp proofing specialists to come and do a survey for you and look at the cause. For us it was insufficient damp proof course (old house) combined with insufficient underfloor ventilation. It has been fixed by a chemical damp proof course and installing ventilation bricks to the external walls. Getting the damp proof course involved taking off all of the plaster back to the brick up to a height of around 1 metre from the floor. Be warned - this is extremely messy! Floor joists are often affected so you may need to get these replaces in part which means taking the floorboards up.

The electrics are best tackled at the same time as you will already have removed the plaster and can get the new wiring plastered over as part of the wall repairs.

We cannot put anything on our treated walls other than 1 or 2 coats of water based emulsion paint for the next 12 months as the walls need to dry out fully.

I would seriously consider moving out,unless it is only one room affected. We did the whole of the downstairs of our house and there is no way we could have lived in it.

CarrieBo Fri 02-Oct-09 20:19:03

Thank you all for your advice. We got our third opinion on the damp proofing today. The front room doesn't need doing, so we can still 'live' in that - and upstairs (naive emoticon!)

The chimney is very damp, which today's person said couldn't be rising damp, but a previous person quoted for getting vertical damp proof something put in at an angle in the chimney, with an air brick (its on the party wall). Outside is all fine, its that the damp proof of two layers of blue bricks has failed.

I didn't know about not being able to paper the room for a year though. Bring on the magnolia paint!

Any more experiences and tips gratefully received.

Pannacotta Sat 03-Oct-09 18:32:40

GOod advice from the others, but if you suspect damp in/from the chimney get a roofer rather than damp specialist to go up and have a look (get him to take some photos so you can see what he means).

Often fixing the flashing around a chimney and repairing/replacing damaged roof slates can cure damp probs, rather than installing damp proof courses which may not be needed.

It might be worth getting a good builder to asess the damp and its causes, somtimes the damp proof companies are a little too eager to peddle thier wares.

GrendelsMum Sun 04-Oct-09 22:09:06

I agree with Pannacotta - get a roofer to check the flashing, guttering etc before you spend money on a damp proof course.

And, while the roofer's up there, get them to check out all the wood.

CarrieBo Mon 05-Oct-09 18:45:18

I'll ask around my friends now for a recommendation of a roofer!

spicemonster Mon 05-Oct-09 18:51:58

I have just had a DPC installed in 1/2 my flat and the work took just over a week for 3 rooms, then 2-3 weeks to dry out before you could do any redecoration. If you can delay moving in until the work starts, I strongly recommend it. Your entire house will get covered in a fine layer of plaster dust which takes weeks to shift.

It is all finished now but it's taken about 10 weeks

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