Damp can be a serious problem leading to unsightly marks, structural damage and even health issues for residents. If you’re buying a property, it’s essential to find out if it has damp before you commit.
What is damp?
Damp is when there is excessive moisture present in a property. You might notice a few tell-tale signs inside including; a musty smell; condensation on windows; cold, damp walls; peeling wallpaper or flaking paint; stained patches on walls; and mould.
Although all essentially moisture, there are different types of damp and it can be helpful to know a bit about them.
Condensation is the most common form of damp. When warm, moist air contacts a cold surface, the water vapour condenses into water droplets. The problem is usually worse in winter, when walls and windows are colder than the inside air.
Although a potential problem in all properties, modern renovations to older buildings can actually make condensation more likely. The installation of insulation and double glazing creates a more sealed home, reducing its ‘breathability’. Moisture cannot escape and contributes to damp.
You might notice condensation as water droplets on windows and walls, dark mould or a musty smell.
Properties suffer from rising damp when ground water moves up through floors and walls. Although it’s natural for this to happen a little, waterproof barriers in the walls and under the floor (damp-proof membranes and a damp-proof course) should ‘seal’ the property and stop water getting in.
However, if there’s insufficient drainage, the ground level is higher than the damp-proof course or the waterproof barriers are missing/damaged, you can be at risk of rising damp. Older buildings that were not built to modern regulations are particularly susceptible.
Tell-tale signs of rising damp include:
- Lifting floor coverings
- ‘Tide marks’ rising up the walls
- A powdery white substance on walls caused by dissolved salts in the rising water
- Wet patches on walls
- Peeling paint and wallpaper
- Damaged plaster
- Damaged skirting boards
Water leaking through walls due to structural problems can lead to penetrating damp. Cracks in walls, holes in the roof, damaged guttering and even leaking internal pipes can all be culprits.
While rising damp moves upwards, penetrating damp tends to travel horizontally, soaking across walls or ceilings. You may notice the problem worsen when it rains and the most obvious sign is damp patches on walls/ceilings.
Is damp a problem?
If you don’t address it, moisture can cause serious damage to your property. From peeling wallpaper and unsightly stains to structural damage to timbers, the impact of damp should not be underestimated.
Mould from damp can also cause health problems including respiratory issues, allergies and asthma. It can even affect your immune system.
Do I need a damp survey when buying?
It’s important to check for damp when buying a property. Neglecting to do so could mean you unknowingly take on a property that has serious issues. Fortunately, a survey from an RICS Chartered Surveyor will be able to put your mind at rest and allow you to make informed decisions.
At Trinity Rose, our experienced Chartered Surveyors check for damp in each of the level 1, 2 and 3 surveys. While we check for a wide range of other issues, damp is included within the scope of inspection as standard and we make recommendations within the parameters of each survey type.
How much does a damp survey cost?
The damp survey cost is included in our level 1, 2 and 3 surveys. The price of these surveys varies a little on property type and size but will only be a fraction of the property’s value. Please get in touch for a quote.
Damp treatments and cost
While it’s really important to find out if a property has any kind of damp, there is usually action you can take to address it:
- Condensation can often be treated by improving ventilation.
- Rising damp may require a remedial damp proof course (a damp proof survey can help direct your decisions).
- Penetrating damp requires you to first repair any faults with the building fabric and then tackle the related problems e.g. rot. You may also need to conduct further preventative works or treatments.
- Specialist plastering work may be needed to walls previously affected by damp.
The cost of damp treatments varies significantly depending on the cause of damp, severity of the problem and the type of property.
Specialist treatments may be carried out with the benefit of long term guarantees.
Get in touch
If you’re thinking of buying a property it’s essential to carry out a damp survey so that you are aware of any issues. This will not only allow you to make informed decisions and plans but also enable you to negotiate the house price/ask the vendor to fix any problems before you sign the contract.
If you would like any further advice or have any questions, please get in touch. Our friendly, knowledgeable team will be happy to help.