One of the questions I get asked most often as a surveyor is “Do your surveys check for rising damp?”
Many buyers are worried out this, particularly when buying older properties. Quite sensibly they have sought the advice of a surveyor and are looking to have a Building Survey or Home Buyers report carried out. I always check for any evidence of rising damp but in reality it is not the most common cause of dampness even in older properties. More often than not damp problems are caused by penetrating damp, condensation or even a pipe leak.
For this reason, rising damp is a hotly discussed topic within the surveying profession, some have even suggested it does not exist. Others say that most of the time it is a false diagnosis by a damp specialist just looking to make a few quid on the remedial work. I would not go that far but I do think there is an issue with how damp is perceived and I don’t think it is limited to rising damp.
Consider how condensation is viewed. Unscrupulous or uninformed landlords, letting agents or housing associations will often dismiss a condensation problem as being caused by the tenant because condensation is described as a lifestyle issue, that is caused by how a property is used or misused. This is often not the case with a good proportion of the “condensation” issues I have seen being caused by something else, such as poor overall ventilation of the property or defects in modern construction methods like dot and dab plastering.
With that in mind I would like to suggest surveyors start to label the types of dampness differently, focusing more on the causes then the symptoms.
- Damp due to ground water
- Damp due to rain water
- Damp due to poor ventilation
- Damp caused by misuse
- Damp due to cold bridging
- Damp caused by a pipe leak
Along with spending the time on site required to get to the root cause, clearly describing a problem is one great way to make sure a surveyor is providing the best possible service to their client.
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