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Impartial Damp Advice – Is Not Free!!

February 3, 2011

A highly sensitive resistance meter in action...must be Rising Damp!

FANTASTIC!! you’ve found your dream home right next to the best school in the borough. The Tube’s just around the corner and even the bank’s happy to lend! What could go wrong!

Looking at the Mortgage Valuation Report in more detail, the Essential Repairs section of the report has the following standard paragraph…

There is evidence of dampness to ground floor walls and timbers in contact may be defective. You should instruct a damp and timber treatment contractor to investigate the full extent of the dampness and carry out the necessary repair work.

Normally once the surveyor has found a couple of high readings by using the highly sensitive electrical resistance meter (see photo), the standard paragraph quoted above will be used. This catch-all paragraph is to protect the surveyor from any damp liability and nicely passes any damp risk over to the mortgage applicant to sort out.

In order to have your alleged dampness checked, you personally have to find someone to inspect the property, but who? Although it states “damp and timber treatment contractor” in the report, this may not be a good idea and here’s why…

Damp and timber treatment contractors are CONTRACTORS that make their money from treating homes for damp and timber defects. They therefore have a commercial interest to find and treat defective timber and areas of dampness. Although there are some very reputable contractors about, I believe for many, it’s not in their commercial interest to correctly diagnose dampness, because their preferred modus operandi (and the most lucrative work) is to install a chemical damp proof course when and wherever possible, whatever the source of dampness.

Moreover, my experience has been that although the walls have been treated (often at great cost), seldom if ever have the underlying causes of the dampness been addressed!

Now instead of going to a Damp and Timber Contractor found in the local directory, you might what to consider using a Damp Diagnosing Practitioner (DDP). This person will undertake a detailed damp investigation and then write a report setting out his findings and recommendations.

However, since the DDP is not making any money on the remedial work (and has no interest in making money from this work), his IMPARTIALITY becomes very valuable indeed. What the DDP is selling is his damp diagnositic expertise and for this you should pay him a FEE.

The DDP’s recommendations will be to remove the source(s) of the dampness and possibly to undertake general repairs. Normally this work can be done after you’ve moved in and should be acceptable to the Mortgage Valuer if an estimate for the repairs is included in the report.

Call me old fashioned, but this approach to dampness seems to be both logical and prudent.

To summarize; if you get a Mortgage Valuation Report requiring a further investigation for alleged dampness, the smart money should be to pay a FEE for impartial diagnositic advice with an estimate for the cost of repairs. By contrast a FREE “survey” may well result in a wrong diagnosis or no diagnosis at all. This could lead to considerable and unnecessary expenditure, without addressing the actual source(s) of the dampness.

Please be careful!!

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4 Comments
  1. Do you offer surveying services? I think I need your expertise.

  2. Where do I find a Damp Diagnosing Practitioner?

    • You need to instruct someone who isn’t going to just diagnose the dampness defect as “rising damp”. Remember you need to know where the moisture is coming from, not the pathway it has taken into your property.

      If the person says it’s “rising damp” just say “yes, but where’s the moisture come from?”. If he then says “the ground”. Then say, “yes, but where’s the moisture come from that’s in the ground? You need to know the original source of the moisture so you can start to develop a remedial strategy.

      So to answer your question. Try the institue of specialist suveyors and engineers http://www.isse.org.uk/

      Regards SN

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