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When will I need a timber and damp report?
There are two main reasons why a timber and damp report may be carried out on a property. The first, and most common, is as a result of the findings of a HomeBuyer Report. This is a survey that is carried out on a property somebody is considering purchasing. It was formerly known as the HSV (Homebuyers’ Survey and Valuation), but the new format of The HomeBuyer Report has been in existence since 2009. Its standards are laid down by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).
In a HomeBuyer Report, the surveyor will issue a property with one of three condition ratings. Condition Rating 1 indicates that there are no repairs or further investigation necessary. Condition Rating 2 highlights some need for repairs or replacement because of defects that have been found, but these are not judged to be either urgent or serious.
However, a Condition Rating 3 is when defects are found that are serious and judged to be needing urgent repair or replacement. This rating also includes issues where further urgent investigation is recommended. The most common such issue is evidence of damp in the property – usually as a result of high readings that have been recorded on a damp moisture meter. This is where a timber and damp report becomes necessary. Most, if not all, mortgage lenders will insist that a timber and damp survey is carried out as a condition of their lending.
The second main reason why a timber and damp report is carried out is because of the age of a property, purely because it is a specialist report that is extremely useful for older buildings that are more susceptible to damp and timber damage.
What does a timber and damp report involve?
Many people question the need for so many timber and damp reports to be carried out on properties. People often point to the fact that only random moisture meter readings are taken as part of a HomeBuyer survey, and critics suggest that surveyors are often quick to reference the evidence of damp, without carrying out further investigation themselves.
But despite the suggestion that many timber and damp reports might not actually be necessary, the basic principle behind them is sound. A timber and damp report will assess whether a property has indeed got a problem with excessive moisture and ascertain the nature of the damp – whether it is penetrating damp, condensation damp or rising damp. It will also judge whether there is any evidence of fungi or insects rotting or boring wood, which can obviously cause considerable damage to the walls and timber within a property.
A timber and damp surveyor – a specialist in their field -will survey the exterior of a property to identify any possible defects that might lead to water ingress or timber decay. The damp specialist will then establish the condition of the existing damp proof course in a property and examine high ground levels – this often causes a DPC to be bridged and often leads to timber decay.
The internal walls will be inspected and, where possible, carpets and even floorboards will be lifted for further investigation to examine the timber condition in these areas. Checks will also be carried out on the timbers on the first floor of a property. Here the surveyor will be looking for any evidence of fungal decay or insect infestation, which can lead to problems of dry and woodworm. The roof void will also be inspected.
The timber and damp report itself will be a full written assessment of the condition of the property, usually with sketch plans, and a precise detailing of where remedial work should be carried out on the property.
Timber and Damp Reports – Costs and Advice
It’s very difficult to say what the ‘typical’ price of a timber and damp report will be. Costs vary across the country (London and the South East being more expensive) and, obviously, the size of a property will be a factor on the price.
You will find some companies that offer free surveys or prices that seem very cheap. These are best avoided as the surveyors are sometimes not fully qualified, or they are linked to a particular damp repair company. It is always best to obtain a timber and damp report from an independent damp surveyor, who is accredited to the PCA (Property Care Association). Prices do vary, but for a combined timber and damp report, £200-£350 would be fairly typical prices.