Damp in a property is a very common occurrence. However, locating the cause of damp and figuring out exactly what needs fixing, can sometimes be a challenge.
The issue of damp may come up during a survey of your property. An example of this could be a general survey, such as a home buyers report. If damp is identified during this type of survey, there is a chance that a more thorough damp survey will be required.
A home buyers report is usually carried out on behalf of a lender, such as a bank. The goal is to assess the suitability of a property for a mortgage. Damp is one of the many issues that can throw a spanner in the works.
So how do surveyors check for damp? For a home buyer report, the inspection will be quite basic when it comes to damp. This will involve a visual inspection to locate obvious signs of damp. As well as taking meter readings with a damp meter.
If damp is identified, then a more specific damp report may be required. A damp survey will be carried out by a surveyor that specialises in damp. This will be much more thorough and will go much further to identify the exact cause of damp, as well as recommending solutions to remedy the issue.
What will happen during a damp survey?
A damp survey will often happen after a more general survey. This is usually because the previous report found damp that needs a more detailed investigation.
The damp surveyor will go through the whole property. However, they will use the initial report as a guide to help them focus their attention on areas that have already been highlighted.
On the other hand, the homeowner may have hired the damp surveyor independently. This is quite common when somebody has a damp issue but does not know how to fix it.
In this case, a damp survey can potentially save the homeowner money. It will locate and offer real solutions to existing damp problems. This means that the homeowner doesn’t waste time and money on the wrong solutions that won’t fix the problem.
It can also help to avoid unscrupulous damp companies, who could recommend unnecessary and expensive treatments.
The first area a damp survey will focus on is the outside of your property. This will be a thorough investigation, that aims to find any visible defects on the outside of the property.
This will include things like:
- Looking at render or pebble dash. This will involve looking for cracks and holes in the render, that may be allowing water to penetrate.
- For properties without an outside render, the surveyor will look at the properties pointing. This is the mortar around each individual brick. Defects in the pointing are a very common cause of penetrating damp.
- Cracked and damaged bricks. This is another way that water can easily penetrate your home
- Gaps and damage to sealant around windows and doors.
- Defects in guttering and downpipes. Whilst this isn’t a direct cause of damp, it can cause large amounts of water to run down the walls of a property. This can lead to damp penetrating through other defects.
- Roof defects, including cracked or slipped tiles, as well as damage to flashing and obvious defects on your chimney stack.
- The damp surveyor will also check for a visible damp proof course. In modern properties a damp proof course is a requirement as per building regulations approved document C. However, it is not uncommon for older properties to not have a DPC.
- Any other defects that may allow water to penetrate the property.
The surveyor will also make a note of the type of construction used. For example, does the property have solid walls, or is it a cavity wall construction. This can affect the way that moisture penetrates the property via issues such as bridging.
Following an in-depth inspection of the outside. The surveyor will now check for damp on the inside of the property.
At this point the surveyor will have much more information to carry out the internal inspection. They may already have a general report to point them in the right direction. Also, they have now made detailed notes from the external of the property.
The internal inspection will look at all areas of the property. However, there will be a specific focus on areas of concern, that have been identified earlier in the process.
The internal inspection will include visual checks, damp meter readings and in some cases thermal imaging will be used. This can help to distinguish between rising and penetrating damp.
The goal of the surveyor at this point is to tie external defects to internal damp. They will also look for internal causes such as leaking pipes. As well as poor ventilation, and excess moisture causing condensation.
Throughout the entire process the surveyor will be taking detailed notes and pictures to help compile the damp report.
Following the inspection these notes and images will be used to compile a detailed report. This will identify the exact issue you are facing. Including recommended treatments.
How to find a good, affordable damp surveyor
If you are hiring a damp surveyor yourself. You should always try to hire a reputable local surveyor. Ideally, they should be damp specialists and you should be able to find their qualifications and reviews online.
A good way to get the best possible price locally, is to use a comparison site. A popular one here in the UK is Bark. They can help you find up to 5 local damp surveyors. Plus, each surveyor has a profile on their site which will include all their details. Including all the reviews from previous customers.
One other good thing about a service like this, is the price can be very competitive. The surveyors are essentially competing against each other for the same job. We have seen discounts as high as 60% on damp surveys.
As you can see a damp surveyor will check for damp in a variety of ways. The inspection is usually very thorough. Especially if it is a specialist damp survey.
Whether the survey is being performed to help get a mortgage. Or if it is to identify causes of damp in your own home, the result should be a definitive answer to the cause of damp. As well as recommendations for real solutions that will stop the damp issues once and for all.