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- damp & decay related articles
Welcome to the UK Damp and Decay Control website where you get honest,
practical and understandable advice on all aspects of the diagnosis and
control of dampness and timber decay.
UK Damp & Decay Control are independent specialists in the remedial treatment industry and carry out damp and timber surveys ( including taking plaster and timber samples for laboratory testing) and provide independent damp and timber reports . Our surveyors are qualified to standards recognized by the Property Care Association ( C.S.R.T.) and the Institute of Wood Science (F.I.W.Sc.)
We provide independent dampness and timber decay surveys which will accurately diagnose any dampness or decay problems together with chemical free, environmentally friendly, sustainable solutions.
You have no doubt trawled through several sites on damp-proofing and timber treatments and by now are familiar with the cause and cures for rising dampness, woodworm, dry rot and other forms of fungal decay.
Most damp-proofing and timber treatments arise because of Building Societies and their Surveyors' reports during the buying and selling process or for re-mortgaging purposes. The mortgage market is very tight nowadays and the lending criteria is getting very strict and things have been made worse this year as the Financial Conduct Authority are now asking Banks and Building Societies to vet our spending habits before a mortgage is granted and an example of this is when a client of ours applied for a mortgage which was only granted on the condition that an outstanding loan on a car was paid off first.
The question is whether these treatments are really necessary. During the boom years (remember them?) Banks and Buildings Societies hardly worried about damp or timber decay but nowadays as we enter the fifth year of the Never Ending Recession* it seems to be their number one priority when undertaking mortgage valuations or Building Surveys. Perceived dampness and timber decay problems are always highlighted in a pre-purchase survey by Building Surveyors working on behalf of mortgage providers. The surveyor, erring on the side of caution, will generally recommend that a damp and timber report be obtained from a specialist damp-proofing and timber contractor. Building Surveyors always put these caveats in about specialist damp and timber surveys. I’m not sure why as they are highly qualified, some say it’s a dereliction of duty and others say it is just a way of indemnifying themselves against any possible negligence claims.
Many Estate Agents have informal arrangements with lots of tradesmen and these usually include damp-proofing and timber treatment firms whereby the remedial company will carry out a 'free survey' on the property and submit a report with their recommendations. Damp surveyors (who are usually paid on a commission only basis) carry out most of these surveys and some defects will invariably be found and an estimate for carrying out the works will be included with your report.
Most of this work as well as being expensive and disruptive is usually unnecessary as rising dampness is often assumed to be the problem when it may in fact be condensation or penetrating damp, due to raised ground levels etc., and these two problems can usually be remedied at a fraction of the cost of remedial works. Unfortunately most damp-proofing surveyors, even Property Care Association members, seem to have a default setting and will recommend chemical damp-proofing and water-proofing plastering works without considering other more environmentally friendly options as these ‘specialist’ damp-proofing works have a much greater profit margin than regular building work. All our surveys include the taken of plaster samples, at no extra cost, to determine the true moisture content instead of relying on moisture meters which are widely used by most damp-proofing companies and result in the misdiagnosis of rising damp and costly damp-proofing works.
The majority of damp-proofing surveyors are really employed as salesmen and if you if you have any doubts about this you only have to look at Property Care Association website where Timberwise, the UK’s second largest damp-proofing and timber treatment company, are advertising for ‘Experienced Preservation Sales Surveyors’. Prospective surveyors are required to have a sales background and have a passion for sales and part of their job is to sell the company’s sales and services.
Over 90% of the houses that we survey have had a physical damp-proof course fitted at the time of construction. This will usually be a horizontal layer of slate for older houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s and for houses built after the 1930s it is often hessian impregnated with bitumen. These physical damp-proof courses will still be effective on controlling rising damp and there should never be any need to install a chemical damp-proof course but the vast majority of damp surveyors seem to always state ‘ rising dampness caused by the breakdown or lack of a damp course was found and we recommend chemical damp-proofing to all ground floor walls’. In reality physical damp-proof courses rarely fail and even if there has been some cracking of the damp course it will still be effective in preventing most rising dampness from the ground. Even if there is no damp-proof course present then ‘rising damp’ can be controlled by ensuring that the take up of moisture from the ground is less than the evaporation rate from walls by installing drainage channels etc to remove any moisture reservoir effect which is a much more effective method of controlling rising damp than resorting to an injected damp-proof course. We find that most low-level dampness is ‘induced rising damp’ which has been caused by raised ground levels or water ponding on hard external grounds, both of which allow dampness to penetrate into walls which then migrates through brickwork by capillary action to appear as ‘rising damp’ internally.
Woodworm and fungal infestations are usually treated in the same way and surveyors will recommend treatments with potentially toxic chemical preservatives as a precautionary treatment against any possible infestation by woodworm or wet and dry rot. However it is usual for beetle and fungal decay to be confined to damp timbers and they are easily controlled by the removal of the dampness without resorting to the use of toxic chemicals. Dampness in floor timbers can also be reduced by the installation of extra air bricks which will improve the flow of air under timber floors and this will purge excess moisture from the floor void, the result of this is that timbers will not be damp enough to sustain any fungal decay or insect infestation and there will be no justification for chemical woodworm or dry rot treatments.
The works recommended after the 'free survey' can often result in the buyer seeking a reduction in the price of the property or even withdrawing their offer.
Instead of waiting for a purchaser to have a 'free damp and timber survey' it would be prudent for anyone selling their property to have your own independent survey undertaken to find the real extent of any suspected dampness and timber defects.
We can provide a detailed report on any dampness and timber infestation issues, which may arise as an obstacle to the sale of your house.
Our fees for surveying a property and providing a report range can be found by clicking on the fees page on the menu, and vary depending on the duration and complexity of the survey and in approximately 90% of properties surveyed resulted in no remedial work being required therefore substantial savings compared to the average cost of damp-proofing and woodworm treatment to a house, which can easily exceed £4,000.
Usually the work involved to rectify any dampness or timber decay problems are fairly straightforward and may just involve reducing external ground levels and installing extra air bricks and can be carried out by a competent general builder without the need for any specialist damp-proofing and timber treatment companies involvement but if required we can also carry out the works and deduct the survey fee will be deducted from the final invoice.
If any damp-proofing or timber treatments are required then this work will be covered by long term guarantees issued through the Construction Guarantee Services. These are 20 year insured guarantees which are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Building Societies and other lending institutions accept all our reports and findings as a certificate of integrity of the house with regard to dampness and timber defects as a suitable alternative to previously obligatory guarantees.
We cover the whole of mainland U.K. and surveys can be arranged at short notice, usually 2 to 3 days and reports can be e-mailed and posted within a maximum of seven days of the survey being carried out.
If you require an independent survey and assessment of any damp or timber related problems please phone 0800 028 1903 or contact us by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don't need a full damp or timber survey then we can still help with our 'survey lite' option. Our surveyors can carry out brief but comprehensive inspections to give you peace of mind from as little as £275.00. If any work is required this fee is deducted from our final invoice.
Please don’t contact us if you want a free damp and timber survey or estimate for damp-proofing and timber treatment as there are plenty of other firms who are willing to do this for you but if you want some advice over the phone regarding any aspect of dampness or timber decay then please call 07736 631527 to speak to a surveyor.
REMEMBER- If you can’t see damp and can’t smell any damp then there probably isn’t any damp