It is the year 2022 and in these days of high-level technology, there is, and always will be a need for real people to carry out physical inspections on buildings. There is no technological substitute for a trained and experienced person, who understands the needs of the property owner. Let’s find out what happens on a damp survey.
Why get a damp survey?
There are numerous reasons why an enquirer might want to arrange for a damp survey of a property, which include but are not limited to;
- A property owner who has found specific damp problems in the property
- A property purchaser, who has had a structural survey carried out and damp issues have been highlighted, with the recommendations of a further survey to be carried out by a PCA affiliated Company.
- A building contractor who is working on a property and found damp problems.
- A property management company who has been informed of damp issues by their tenants.
- Preservation Treatments have been carrying out surveys on buildings to identify damp issues for nearly 50 years. The following points will hopefully provide an idea as to what will happen when one of our qualified CSRT / CSSW Surveyors arrives at your property.
Damp is a common issue and affects buildings in many different ways. At the one end it can appear to be very small areas of dampness. However, at the other end of the scale, damp can cause real damage to a building, which can result in extensive damage to wall plaster, along with wood-rotting fungi / insect attack affecting structural timbers in a building. This can, of course, result in difficulties selling a house, where potential buyers and mortgage lenders are put off. In all cases, whether the damp related problem is small or large, they are all treated with the same importance.
On occasions a damp report is merely asked for as a precaution i.e. there may be no suspected problem, but the valuer or surveyor wants to double check, to protect their client from a nasty surprise at a later date. If there are no apparent damp issues, we will say so and will not recommend treatments where they are unnecessary; unless, of course, our client specifically asks for certain treatments to be carried out.
It is often helpful if you have had a Homebuyers/Structural Report carried out, which has highlighted damp areas of concern, that you forward us a copy of the report, or the relevant part of the report, at the time of arranging the survey.
What happens in a damp survey
No property is the same and potential problems within properties are different. Generally, when our Surveyor arrives at the property, the survey will go something like this:
Essentially, the survey starts as our Surveyor arrives and starts walking up to the entrance door. The Surveyor is assessing the general construction of the property and at this stage is also mentally noting the overall condition of it.
On arrival, our Surveyor will introduce himself to the person at the property. Although we no longer have to wear face coverings, or take other COVID19 precautions, such as no handshakes etc. this remains in our thoughts and possibly always will. On occasions we are still asked to wear a face covering by the inhabitant and will of course do so.
Our Surveyor will usually ask some questions, such as; “are there specific damp problems which you are aware of”? and, “are you aware of any previous treatments at the property and / or any existing guarantees in respect of previous damp proofing work”? Some of these points may have been clarified at the time of booking the survey and where applicable, will be noted on our Surveyor’s instruction sheet.
Once introductions and initial discussions have taken place, our Surveyor will then carry out a general inspection externally to check for building defects which could result in damp ingress. Also, he will be assessing the construction detail, such as whether the walls are solid, cavity construction, whether there is a physical damp proof course visible etc.
What the Surveyor is looking for
When looking for signs of damp ingress from defects in the fabric of the property, our Surveyor will be looking for things like defects in external gutters and down-pipes (rainwater goods), loose or missing pointing, cracks in external render coatings, poorly maintained external decorations, gaps around door and window frames, cracked or broken external window sills, defective roof coverings, flashings etc. and whether there are areas of high external ground level which could result in damp “bridging” any existing damp proof courses. This list is certainly not exhaustive.
This part of the survey should not take long for an experienced Surveyor, who will know what he or she is looking for.
Following an external inspection, the internal survey will be carried out which could be a general inspection, or, be restricted to a specific area where a problem has been identified. While the surveyor has been going around the outside of the property, he will already have a good idea of where any damp problems may be, which may not be related to rising damp issues but which may have resulted in damp patches internally.
During the course of the internal inspection, our Surveyor will assess areas visually and with the aid of a damp meter – usually in either or both conductance mode and radio frequency search mode. This will be used to do a number of things, including:
Checking the walls where there are no apparent visual signs of damp (but where his observations lead him), in case the damp problem is new and hasn’t damaged the decorations yet (or has possibly been masked by recent decoration).
Also, where visual dampness is evident, or where an elevated damp reading is found, the meter will be used to assess the extent of the damp both vertically and horizontally. If high damp readings are obtained, he will start to profile the area, to find out what the relative distribution of the moisture is. This moisture profile will help the damp diagnosis and combined with the visual internal and external inspection, it should allow a proper interpretation of the cause of the damp and how best to overcome the problem.
Our Surveyor may also use a hygrometer to measure the Relative Humidity within the property, along with Vapour Pressure, Dew Point level and air temperature at the time of the inspection. This will help identify areas which may be prone to condensation related dampness.
It is always best if you, the client, is able to meet with our Surveyor at the property, so that he can explain his findings with you and show you the readings being obtained on the damp meter. He will also be able to explain the remedial treatment works to be proposed. Whilst observing any social distancing advice, please do speak to our Surveyor during the course of the survey and ask questions so that he can explain things, where necessary.
The survey is carried out on a non-invasive basis i.e visual and with the aid of a specialist damp meter. We will not, at this stage be drilling holes in walls, removing plaster, skirting boards etc. It is important that our Surveyor has reasonable access to walls which are to be inspected because if they are not accessible, then they cannot be commented on.
As a report is usually going to be needed, our Surveyor will be taking notes, drawing a plan of the property and perhaps taking photographs during the survey, so that a clear written damp report, detailing findings and recommendations can be written.
It is very important to use only experienced, trained Surveyors, who will be accredited to CSRT (Certified Surveyor Remedial Treatments) and sometimes CSSW (Certified Surveyor Structural Waterproofing) level through the PCA (Property Care Association).
If you would like to discuss this, or have any other questions about the survey which you are booking, please contact us on:
Tel: 01276 66466
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