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Author: Subject: Damp in terraced property
corrado vr6

posted on 14/11/15 at 09:41 PM Reply With Quote
Damp in terraced property

Hi all
Im in the processes of buying my first house and after the home buyers survey it's been found that the property has damp in most of the downstairs walls.
The property is 1900 mid terraced with timber joists. I knew some damp would come up due to the age but not most of the walls.
Offer accepted 10k below asking price subject to survey.

I have contacted a timber and damp specialist who is going to do a free survey, however after doing some googling it seems these people just put in a high price because they can! Great for bargaining but difficult when you want to know how bad the damp actually is and if it's easily curable with some hard graft such as clearing out below joists plus air bricks etc.

Is there a way of getting a specialist involved that isn't out for the profit?

The estate agent has also got a damp specialist involved to do a survey, I'm guessing that he will be cheap so I can't use this as a bargaining tool?
The estate agent has already told me that there would be no negotiation on price

This property will also be a development so unless the figures add up it could be a non starter, but it's local for my work and a good area for resale

Any opinions / ideas welcome

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posted on 14/11/15 at 10:02 PM Reply With Quote
There are several ways of dealing with the damp issue.
Part of the problem are/is/was ill thought out works. These houses were designed to be breathable, and then people started removing the original lathe and plaster and using various cures, that are doomed to failure. Do some research about what actually works.
And remember there are millions of these houses about, so it is not a disaster at all. Just make sure you understand the issues. ie it is NOT a modern house, has solid walls and needs good ventilation.

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posted on 15/11/15 at 12:15 AM Reply With Quote
My first terrace house was built in 1905.. The front had a proper cavity build but the back was solid 9" build with damp, no damp course or even any good foundations..

So, for the mortgage I got someone in to fix it... Looking back I would have done it myself, basically all plaster up to a metre off and the bricks just above the floor drilled and injected with chemicals to make them like plastic to stop the damp rising.

Now then, a bit later, the fella at the end of the terrace had a better way.. He went round taking out two rows of bricks about 3 at a time rolling out a proper damp course. Took him a couple weeks going round chopping out, rolling out the damp course and trowling the bricks back in but much less mess inside than we had!

If your up for it do it yourself unless the mortgage company, like mine, want a guarantee..

1972 V8 Jago

1980 Z750

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posted on 15/11/15 at 01:34 AM Reply With Quote
As said earlier good ventilation is the key. There should be a unblocked air bricks and under floor draft. Our place has drafts from the sliding sash windows, ill fitting doors and open chimney and result no is like a fridge in the winter but character building!

Remember seeing a program about a council housing inspector who looked after all ages of property. He said in all his years he had never found a case of rising damp, but plenty of leaking pipes/gutters/blocked air bricks and soil bridging the damp course. Most houses of this age have slate damp course which is hardly going to breakdown or rot away, but if damp can find a way around it then it will.

[Edited on 15/11/15 by zetec]

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posted on 15/11/15 at 07:31 AM Reply With Quote

Have a read, it is a bit of an education.......
there are plenty of sites, many with no commercial arm, just offering advice.

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corrado vr6

posted on 15/11/15 at 10:16 AM Reply With Quote
Hmmmm that Is an interesting read

My only issue is I can understand damp and learn as much about it as possible, but as soon as it's back on the market and another buyer has a survey done it will show up that it's damp and they will be advised the same thing!

However the house doesn't smell damp, no plaster falling off and it wouldn't have been decorated in years! There is no mould or signs of damp either, just the surveyors meter reading

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posted on 15/11/15 at 11:16 AM Reply With Quote
Originally posted by cliftyhanger

Have a read, it is a bit of an education.......
there are plenty of sites, many with no commercial arm, just offering advice.

That's a very good link!

By-and-large (speaking as someone with a good background in building science & who has been Design & Technical Director of a major timber frame manufacturer, where obviously consideration of moisture control is critical), I agree firmly with most of what is said, when applicable to older buildings - and hence it is certainly very good advice/background reading for the OP.

I would make two observations, however:

1) It doesn't apply to modern UK construction techniques and materials and would be very dangerous to interpret in that way.

2) As the website's author says himself in the disclaimer at the bottom: 'Note! The opinions expressed on this website are Pete's. They are often strong [and] unambiguous...'. Whilst as I said, I would generally agree with most of what he says, be aware that there are valid counter-arguments, often backed up by very good research (we have an organisation here in the UK called the Building Research Establishment, who are genuinely and scientifically unbiased, and who have done a lot of work in this area). Treat with the same degree of caution as you would for anyone, anywhere, who expresses absolute and unequivocal views about anything.

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posted on 15/11/15 at 11:57 AM Reply With Quote
Our house was built in the 1950's, so has a cavity wall construction. However, like all houses of this era (up until the 1970's I think)_ there is no damp membrane under the concrete floors. So guess what, stick a meter on it and it gives a reading suggesting there is a problem. However, ther are hundreds of such houses around us, and I doubt very much any have had teh floors dug up and put a membrane in. It just is not an issue.

the problems occur when you try to treat the old houses like a new one. Think about proper solutions rather than what the "damp experts" say.

In my rentals, 2 have basements and were always an issue with penetrating damp. I was told to hack the plaster off and render with Sika waterproofer or similar tanking slurry. I did hack the plaster off, but have used battens screwed to the walls, and then a vapiur barrier then plasterboard, but the void is vented. This was actually cheap and fast to do, and 15 and 10 years on, no issues. If there are, it is easy to re-do unlike the slurry, which is also likely to fail at some point (a surveyor suggested 20-25 years is typical, not sure if that is true)

In another ground floor where there was condensation, a client was told by the council to hack off, waterproof render and plaster. The client tried to argue it would cause condensation, but the council stuck a notice on him to carry the "improvements" out. It then caused massive condensation issues. As a workaround, I battened, insulated with 25mm polystyrene and cladded in pine t+g boarding. Much improved, but the solution again is decent ventilation. It is a shame the heat recovery/exchangers are still expensive, they could really help in many situations like this. Actually, just checked, a few hundred quid may really help out.....

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posted on 15/11/15 at 02:32 PM Reply With Quote
Mechanical heat recovery ventilation will ventilate in any house, but they won't recover much heat if your house is leaky. What they do in leaky houses is extract stale air, then fresh air leaks in through all the gaps. The more the house is airtight, the more air comes in through the heat exchanger, recovering more of the he's tithe outgoing air.
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