Property damp report - please help

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  • Property damp report - please help

    Hello all, your advice is needed.

    I'm a landlord of a mid-terraced house dating from about 1900 (not me, it). Just commissioned a damp report from my letting agents. The damp inspection report is on its way. I have discussed the main points with the LA verbally but to summarise it went thus:

    1. Original complaint of damp under window seems to be stemming from poor ventilation. They have suggested some remedial work here of the order of £200 which is aimed at improving the ventilation. This is a good thing, but has in the past been achieved by heating the house well and opening windows, so I'm not sure about this as a real fix - more a tenant lifestyle change perhaps?


    2. The LA mentioned the front room suffering from rising damp. I don't know how this has been established by the inspectors and until I get the report I won't know more. This sounds serious (there be toruble) yet hasn't been a problem up till now. The house did have a damp proof course well before I bought it (1990) and it has a concrete floor.

    Anyone any advice on these 2 points? I've read articles on this site about the misrepresentationof rising damp and associated useless fixes so I welcome your views.

  • #2
    Hi thanks for the reply. I can't remember seeing a damp course guarantee - I've had the house since 1990. I lived in it till 2000 then rented it till 2008 from when I handed it over to a letting agent. In all that time neither me nor the tenant noticed any damp, it's a recent event this is.

    I'm taking it seriously obviously though I'm struggling with the sudden onset of it - I won't avoid getting it sorted, I just need to make sure of the cause and the correct remedial action. I've read stories of rising damp symptoms to be misread and the repairs made being completely wrong, and all variations in between.

    I'll go and see if the place resembles it's previous condition (last seen in October). I redecorated the place then and didn't notice anything, it's all a bit mysterious. I'm sort of hoping the rising damp symptoms are due to the tenant's lack of ventilation but I'm a bit in the dark.

    Thanks for your help.

    Comment


    • #3
      Damp

      Be very wary of damp reports - most of these surveys find problems as the producer has something to gain.
      In many cases damp problems in rental properies are cause by the fact that there is insuffiecient heating and ventilation - as you say.
      At this time of your the problem is most prevalent - but look to the histroy - did you have this problem with other tenants?
      See this:
      http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/FAQ/in...=32&artlang=en

      Comment


      • #4
        I can give you only the benefit of my experience (I am not a damp expert) but manage two three storey victorian properties with solid brick walls.

        I have had various issues, some worse than others.

        I had a damp patch that was rectified purely by fixing a gutter, the hopper was leaking onto the wall.

        Another damp patch, this was caused by the doorstep bridging the damp course.

        Another, a bedroom that's an annex with 3 external walls and very exposed to the elements so the walls are constantly cold. It has had chronic condensation/mould. I believe it's been a long term problem albeit the old agent painted over the problem and installed a UPVC window that did not fit propertly (that would have aided ventilation!). The window was rectified, the tenants have had a dehumdifier running, they do ventilate alot and yet the problem has persisted. There was one patch that you could call "damp" not condensation close to the roof but I've had that checked by a roofer, the gutters checked and the problem persists so I believe the problem is condensation but not something the tenants can rectify. I do think the brickwork is failing outside which is contributing as the brick faces are crumbly and you can see salt deposits. So, I've bitten the bullet and had all the internal walls tanked and insulated and I'll look to deal with the brickwork when the weather improves.

        I have another wall, and I still do not know what the problem is. It was stripped back to brick and replastered with plaster that should prevent damp penetrating last summer and patches are appearing where the plaster is salting again.

        The damp surveys I have had done have pretty much said "condensation" every time. With the wall it said something about moisture being attracted to different plaster types or something like that and that was after having explained it had been fully replastered. They recommended removing small patches of plaster, putting in some product that's like bubble wrap and plastering over the top. It's an external wall again. Now, I was really not impressed with that all as I think the problem will just shift along. They also recommended a type of extractor fan that you fit into the roof space but on speaking to my electrician he said he is does not recommend them and is currently taking them out of council properties and they aren't cheap.

        I am also not convinced at all that the wall with the salting is condensation. The tenant has the windows open nearly all day and still has the heating on. She is trying her very best, I can't fault her. I can't seem to get to the bottom of it is as the salting is well above the height you would normally see if the damp proof course had failed. So, I'm looking at getting an independant survey done and/or tanking that wall like I've done on the other. This one has driven me bonkers.

        I would suggest you take a look at the full report. What are they recommending re the windows, trickle vents perhaps?

        Re the damp course failing, it may have, if it's been bridged or the ground level has been raised above the damp course level. Do your tenants have furniture pushed against that wall, is it an external wall, is there a gutter nearby?

        I wouldn't take what they say at face value. Get another opinion and do take a look yourself as others have said. I certainly haven't been impressed with the damp company I have used.

        You also do need to consider whether it really is down to the tenant's lifestyle and don't be pushed into spending a fortune if it is unnecessary. I have had to go through that process myself and then draw conclusions. I've also done alot of research and spoken to alot of people. Some tenants just will not accept that they are causing it but to do the level of work I have done I was confident it wasn't down to the tenant.

        I hope that is of some help to you. Old buildings do throw up problems!

        Comment


        • #5
          Once again, thanks for the help.

          Well the "damp report" I have received is simply a letter from a local building firm (who I have nver heard of) quoting for a new airbrick to "solve" the condensation caused by "poor circulation" in the kitchen and back room.

          Then in a new paragraph they say the front room "seems to be suffering from rising damp" and they offer to "remove the skirting board" as a further inspection. I have no further information on how their conclusions were reached, nor much confidence in their thoroughness.

          So it's not really a "damp survey" at all and there is no real basis of investigation as yet why there "seems" to be rising damp. In terms of building history the previous tenant never reported a problem though she was fastidious in heating the house all day and ventilating - she was a full-time mum so was at home most of the time. It looks at first glance like the current tenant's lifestyle is definitely a factor.

          I'm keen to improve the circulation (would an air brick really fix that or is it a good way of raking in an easy couple of hundred quid?).

          Perhaps it's best to proceed with an independent survey by an expert, though even then I suppose I'm at risk from £££ signs in their eyes.

          Further thoughts welcomed. Thanks again.

          Comment


          • #6
            Opening windows usually resolves most problems !!!

            The Rodent
            A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
            W.Churchill

            Comment


            • #7
              Maybe the airbrick would take the problem off the T's hands - an enforced wall-mounted open window, if you like.

              I suspect she's block it up because "it was draughty"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ste_c View Post
                Once again, thanks for the help.

                Well the "damp report" I have received is simply a letter from a local building firm (who I have nver heard of) quoting for a new airbrick to "solve" the condensation caused by "poor circulation" in the kitchen and back room.

                Then in a new paragraph they say the front room "seems to be suffering from rising damp" and they offer to "remove the skirting board" as a further inspection. I have no further information on how their conclusions were reached, nor much confidence in their thoroughness.

                So it's not really a "damp survey" at all and there is no real basis of investigation as yet why there "seems" to be rising damp. In terms of building history the previous tenant never reported a problem though she was fastidious in heating the house all day and ventilating - she was a full-time mum so was at home most of the time. It looks at first glance like the current tenant's lifestyle is definitely a factor.

                I'm keen to improve the circulation (would an air brick really fix that or is it a good way of raking in an easy couple of hundred quid?).

                Perhaps it's best to proceed with an independent survey by an expert, though even then I suppose I'm at risk from £££ signs in their eyes.

                Further thoughts welcomed. Thanks again.
                Dont waste your money, its a condensation problem caused by the lifestyle of the tenants, these problems tend to surface in the Winter due to the difference in outside temerature compared to inside, also windows will be shut, and heating on, all these things combined lead to these problems at this time of year.
                Forget the air brick, the tenant would have it covered up in no time due to a cold blast of air blowing into the room.
                Id bet you if the property was vacant there would be no dampness, a quick way to resolve this issue is buy yourself a dehumidifier you can get one for around 80 pounds from B&Q , this will draw all the dampness from the air and dry the walls.

                Dont let them take any skirtings off, and dont waste your doe on a so called specialist survey, these guys are mostly salesmen on commision for finding or making up issues that do not exist, and they will most likely charge you to visit, these guys will be under huge pressure to generate business in the economic downturn so avoid like plague.

                I Should know i used to work for one of them, i left when they turned the business into a sales targeted wage structure, i do have the damp specialist qualifications though CTIS CRDS.

                Try the dehumidifier i have found this works in 99 percent of circumstances.

                Cheers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Edinburgh29 is 100% correct: don't waste your money over something that's probably caused by your tenants' lifestyle.

                  Here is a useful fact sheet you may want to look at (and perhaps give a copy of to your tenants). It's entitled "Reducing Condensation in Your Home" and is very informative.

                  http://www.reading.gov.uk/Documents/...ndensation.pdf

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thankyou all very much.

                    I think a peep behind the skirting board may be in order then.

                    Yes, the thing that keeps popping in my mind about this damp allegation is that this is the first time I've come across an instance of damp of any kind in the 19 years of owing that house - the previous tenant never experienced it and the last time I was in there there was no sign either. I can see how damp can manifest itself in that house as there is an external wall running the length of the rear access passageway, the wall can get very cold and there are no downstairs radiators. If you stoke up the fires and shut all the windows, hey presto, condensation.

                    I'll certainly print that leaflet out and pass it on. Thanks also for the de-humidifier suggestion. I'd expect this tenant to block any new airbricks as well, but that's another story.

                    You've all been very helpful, cheers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ste_c View Post
                      Thankyou all very much.

                      I think a peep behind the skirting board may be in order then.

                      .

                      If no problems for past 19 yrs save yourself this trouble as well !
                      Just print out sheet and make T aware that if they cant treat the property properly that recd cost will start from around £200 per room.


                      The Rodent
                      A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
                      W.Churchill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you have rising damp, and a concrete floor, providing the walls are not visibly soaked, long term damage would be limited.

                        Education re condensation is probably your most cost effective soloution, providing your tenants are capeable of being educated.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bunny View Post
                          So, I've bitten the bullet and had all the internal walls tanked and insulated
                          Can you please tell me what you mean by "tanked and insulated"? I have a problem in one of my properties which is a ground floor flat in a converted victorian house. Surveyor has said problem is predominantly condensation and ventilation. I have had some remedial work done but wondered if what you have done might solve the problem once and for all.
                          Mrs Jones
                          I am not an expert - my posts are my opinion and should not be taken as fact!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wickerman
                            Take the skirtings off yourself and see if the plaster reaches the floor. This can bridge the damp proof course and cause rising damp. I have seen this several times and is normally a result of a person employing two different firms to do the job - one to inject, one to replaster. That is why most DPC firms make sure their guarantee excludes defective plasterwork if they are not contracted to do that work.
                            Yip you are spot on with this one, the guarantee from DPC Companies only covers the chemical DPC, The wall plaster which in most cases is sub contracted to the cheapest sub contractor has no guarantee.

                            In terms of the plaster bridging behind the skirting boards, well if the concrete floor has a DPM Below it, which it should have, then the bridgeing plaster does not matter.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You find out so much on these forums, it's incredible.

                              Yes I assume there's a damp proof membrane under that concrete floor of mine.

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