How Do Surveyors Check For Damp?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Importance of Damp Survey: The article emphasizes the significance of a damp survey, especially when buying or selling a property, as damp issues can be visually unpleasant and pose health risks. Major structural problems related to damp can easily be overlooked without a professional survey.
  • Identifying Damp Issues: During a damp survey, various issues related to damp are identified, including rising damp, penetrating damp, condensation, heave, subsidence, settlement, timber problems, and structural cracking.
  • Survey Types and Focus: Damp surveyors tailor their examination based on the specific survey type required for a property. The Homebuyer Report, Condition Report, and Full Structural Survey each have different focuses.

Whether you are buying or selling a property, damp is a word no one wants to hear. Not only it looks bad in appearance, but it can also pose serious health risks when you are exposed to damp for too long.

A major damp issue can prove to be problematic and cost you money to rectify. It may come up during a survey of your property. If damp is identified during the general survey, there is a chance that you need to get a more thorough damp survey.

So, a damp survey is one of the first things you will have to organise. You must be having all kinds of questions, like how do surveyors check for damp? What do surveyors actually look for?

Damp Structural Problems – The Major Issues

You can’t underestimate the importance of getting a professional damp survey and a thorough structural survey from damp specialists before you buy.

Major issues can otherwise be easily missed and cause important issues further down the line. Damp can be the main cause of such issues. Here are some of the things that you can identify during the damp survey:

• Rising Damp

• Penetrating Damp

• Condensation

• Heave

• Subsidence

• Settlement

• Timber issues

• Structural cracking

What Do Surveyors Look For?

Damp surveyors look for different things depending on the kind of survey your house or property demands.

Here are the different types of house surveys:

Homebuyer Report

A home condition survey is the most commonly requested survey and is suitable for standard-built properties in decent conditions. The survey contains all the details, including repairs and maintenance on the properties. It also highlights the defects which may impact the house in the future.

Condition Report

This is the most basic survey type. In this, a surveyor will look at the property less closely. The report also contains very basic details only.

This survey is designed to provide an overview of the property, detailing urgent defects, potential legal issues, and risks. These reports are normally most suitable for newer homes as they have fewer problems.

Full Structural Survey

A thorough structural survey, often known as a building survey, is the most extensive survey available. This study is often required for larger and older homes, as well as properties designed with an uncommon layout or unusual construction materials.

A complete structural study is also required for homes in poor condition that will require extensive repairs for damp patches or if you plan to make substantial structural alterations.

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Structural check for damp

Will a Home Buyers Survey Detect Damp?

A Homebuyers survey is a thorough assessment of the property performed by a certified surveyor, which is followed by a written report. A Homebuyers survey will detect moisture since it is an essential component of an examination.

The damp inspection will be a more cursory assessment, with the surveyor looking over the walls, flooring, and so on while also utilising a portable moisture metre. A damp survey is required to have a complete look at damp.

How Do Surveyors Check For Damp?

As previously stated, surveyors will visually inspect for damp and use a portable moisture metre. If the moisture in the walls is greater than it should be, the metre will alert your surveyor. The surveyor will also go at the house’s damp proofing and drainage.

You might also have a damp survey, which will provide you with a more detailed inspection and report on the damp in your property.

A mortgage surveyor will inspect the house for all sorts of damp. They will also search for indications of damp caused by plumbing faults.

Types of Damp

Penetrating damp

Rain seeping into your home from the outside is the most common source of penetrating damp. It is typically caused by structural damp issues in a structure, water build-up after heavy rain, or blocked pipes and gutters.

penetrating damp exposed

Rising damp

It is created by water rising up from the ground through the building’s walls, as the name implies. Naturally, walls and floors allow some water to enter, but this is usually blocked by a ‘barrier’ known as a damp-proof course or damp-proof membrane.

Condensation

Condensation occurs when moist warm air condenses on cold walls, causing water droplets to form on the surface. Condensation is a type of damp that most people are familiar with, as a little amount of condensation is acceptable depending on the season, but excessive condensation is where problems arise.

Water ingress

In simple words, water ingress is when water finds its way into a building. Any water ingress seeping into your building is bad news for the structure and property aesthetics.

It could lead to further expensive problems. The damages include decay, mould growth problems, damage to the interior walls, and even a negative impact on health.

Damp Meters- How Reliable Are They?

Your surveyor may choose one of two sorts of damp metres: pin-type or pinless.

Pin-type Damp Meter

A pin-type damp metre measures the presence or absence of water in the wood, drywall, hay, and other materials using electrical resistance. The measured resistance is used to compute how much water is contained in the material.

Because water is a conductor, the lower the resistance, the higher the moisture content of the material. A pin-type damp metre is the most dependable form of metre since probes can be used to measure resistance more precisely.

Pinless Damp Meter

A pinless damp metre employs an electromagnetic frequency to detect the presence of wetness in a specified region. Pinless moisture metres are less exact since the moisture reading is an average of the whole region examined. They are, however, a speedier means of identifying concealed pockets of moisture.

What Will Happen During A Damp Survey?

A damp survey will map the moisture patterns within the walls and their effect on the timber. The resulting ‘map’ will show how moisture flows through all the walls, where salts have accumulated, and where issues are occurring.

The map developed during the damp survey will not give all of the information required to solve any possible problems on its own. To add extra depth, it is recommended that you have a general house survey performed alongside the damp study to assist in documenting complete details of the property’s structure and problems.

External Inspection

The outside of your home is the first place a damp survey will look. This will be a comprehensive study aimed at identifying any noticeable faults on the property’s exterior.

This will contain items such as:

• Consider rendering or pebble dash. This will entail inspecting the render for cracks and holes that may be enabling water to permeate.

• Sealant gaps and damage around windows and doors• Bricks are cracked and damaged. This is one more method for water to enter your home.

• The surveyor will examine the homes’ points if they do not have an exterior render. This is the mortar that encircles each individual brick. Penetrating damp is frequently caused by pointing flaws.

• A visible moisture-proof course will also be checked for by the damp surveyor in the visual inspection. According to building rules approved in document C, a damp proof course is required in modern houses. It is not rare, however, for older houses to lack a DPC.

• Roof flaws, such as broken or sliding tiles, as well as flashing damage and apparent flaws on your chimney stack.

• Guttering and downspout flaws while this is not a direct source of damp, can cause enormous volumes of water to flow down a property’s walls. This can result in wet rot permeating through other flaws.

• The surveyor will also record the type of construction. For example, does the home have solid walls or is it built with hollow walls? This can have an impact on how moisture enters the property through issues like bridging.

• Any additional flaws that might allow water to enter the property.

Internal Inspection

Following a thorough examination of the exterior, the surveyor will now inspect the inside of the home for damp.

The surveyor will have considerably more information at this stage to do the inside examination. They might already have a broad report that will put them in the proper way. They have also taken extensive notes from the property’s exterior.

The inside examination will cover the whole property. However, areas of concern discovered early in the process will receive special attention.

Visual examinations, damp metre readings, and, in rare situations, thermal imaging will be employed as part of the inside inspection. This can assist in distinguishing rising wet from deep damp.

The surveyor’s purpose at this step is to connect outward problems to inside moisture. They will also investigate interior issues such as leaky pipes in addition to insufficient ventilation and excess moisture, which causes condensation.

Throughout the procedure, the surveyor will take extensive notes and photographs to aid in the compilation of the damp report.

These notes and photographs will be used to generate a full report following the inspection. This will pinpoint the precise problem you are experiencing.

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What Is The Cost of a Damp Survey?

The cost of a damp survey will depend on the size of your home. The more rooms and the bigger the property, the more time it will take to carry out the damp survey, and so it will cost more. For example a 3-bed flat, you’re looking at a damp survey cost of about £250 + VAT.

As the size of the property increases, so will the cost. For a larger 4 or 5-bed property, you could expect around £600 + VAT.

The experience and expertise of the damp surveyor will also impact the cost. When choosing a damp surveyor, you should always check accreditations for CCSW and CSRT as they are the official qualifications for waterproofing and damping.

How Long Does a Damp Survey Take?

A thorough damp report by a certified professional will take around 2 to 3 hours. Every aspect of your home will be inspected for moisture and assessed for damage. Get a damp proofing quote from a certified company to make sure you get the best service.

Why should you have experts check for damp in a House

You need an expert surveyor to check your home to ascertain no stone is left unturned. Missing out on a damp spot will render any job useless because things can escalate rapidly once again. If you want things done right and avoid back jobs that cost money and impinge on your time, get professional help.

To Conclude

A damp surveyor will check for moisture in a number of methods, as you can see. Typically, the examination is fairly comprehensive, particularly if it is a specialised damp survey.

Whether the survey is being conducted to assist in obtaining a mortgage or the goal is to detect damp sources in your own house, the end result should be a precise answer to the cause of damp. Also included are bits of advice for long-term remedies to the damp problem.

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Jake Fitzgerald - Damp Surveyor

Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB) & ( MRICS ) Chartered Quantity Surveyor

Jake is a qualified chartered quantity surveyor and experienced damp specialist with a unique skill set in thermal imaging. With a focus on effective solutions, Jake combines his expertise in quantity surveying and thermal imaging to accurately assess and address damp-related issues. He utilises advanced technology to identify hidden moisture sources and develop targeted strategies, ensuring comprehensive and cost-effective solutions for his clients. With a commitment to open communication and client satisfaction, Jake delivers cutting-edge solutions that tackle damp challenges head-on.

Connect with him on Linkedin...

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