Do you need a Damp Proof Course in
an older property?
If you need help and advice with regard to structural surveys, building surveys, engineers reports, defects reports, including things such as cracks, dampness, condensation, foundation problems, etc, home buyers reports. Please free to phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.
Do older properties need damp proof course?
If we had to give a yes or no answer as to whether damp proof courses are needed in older properties after many, many years of being Building Surveyors we would say that they don't.
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What do damp proof course specialist companies do?
It may come as a surprise to many people reading this particularly as there are many hundreds of damp proof specialist companies out there doing nothing but putting damp proof courses into old damp properties all the time but are they solving the problem of the dampness in the long term we would ask?
We have commented on damp proof courses before, here are some of our articles that you may like to read:
Damp proof course, how do older properties keep dry without one?
Damp proof courses, what are these for?
Damp Proof Courses Defined
Damp proof Specialists, Talk to us First
Damp in properties
Damp Surveying to a Different Standard
Dampness Defects Report
Dampness, a Different View
How do older properties keep dry without a damp proof course?
Rising Damp or is it?
Rising Damp and Independent Reports
Rising Damp, Condensation and Damp through walls
If you have a burning interest in the subject of damp please read the articles above. If you have a fascination with the subject of damp and almost an obsession then please read Jeff Howell's very readable book 'The Rising Damp Proof Myth' it's a great book and either contact him on his 'Ask Jeff' website or buy the book at Amazon, we are sure that WHsmith or any good bookstore will order it in as well and the library may even have a copy. (We must promote libraries before they all disappear.) If you do go to the library have a good look at the building as lots of them are very interesting buildings too.
Old buildings need to breathe; in gortex manner they certainly don't need wellies!
Old properties are very much about allowing them to breathe and the dampness will then disappear naturally the way it does in a gortex jacket or gortex walking boots if you are lucky enough to own a pair of these.
Just in case gortex is a copyrighted name we apologise for using it but we really couldn't think of a better way of explaining how old buildings should breathe.
Old buildings are meant to breathe to stop the dampness
Older properties are meant to breathe, having said that there are a lot of damp proof specialists about, or damp proof sales people or chemical sales people or whatever you wish to call them to convince people otherwise. Over the years we have seen damp proof courses nearly everywhere. Our record for height is nearly 1.5 metres when they are meant to be 150mm or two bricks. It could be an excuse to some extent as the property was on a sloping site and the damp proof company had just literally carried on with the damp proof course at the same height horizontally. We assume they hadn't noticed the changing levels of the ground beneath them or they wanted to make it a neat horizontal line.
The pen pointing to the plastic head of where a damp proof course has been inserted.
The red hammer handle is pointing again to the plastic head where a damp proof course has been.
Several damp proof courses in one property and the property is still damp!
The marks at the top are the most recent damp proof course. The pen indicates an older damp proof course and lower on down there is actually a slate damp proof course in the property as well and the walls still damp.
We once saw a property where several damp proof courses had been inserted plus its original one and from talking to other surveyors that think along these lines too we believe that this isn't a record and that more have been seen. What does fascinate us is what good sales people these damp proof company specialists must have to keep selling the same product over and over again particularly when someone can see that it is already in their wall and it hasn't worked because the wall is damp and here they are again being sold exactly the same product.
Surveyors using standard phrases requiring Damp Proof Courses to be inserted
The plastic caps in the brickwork
Due to the speed that surveyors often work at or more correctly valuers often work at when valuing the properties they use standard phrases. One of these standard phrases is that you need to go to a damp proof course specialist. Whilst we think the situation has improved with regards to the surveyor's knowledge on damp problems we have been to lectures where surveyors have literally thrown their arms up in amazement when we have advised them that it's not damp but more often condensation in properties. Problems are more often related to leaking gutters, rendered bridging, the damp proof course of a property is wrongly repointed with cement mortar, the ground levels and the list goes on.
Do older properties require damp proof course at all?
Older properties get on perfectly well without a damp proof course as the walls breathe . They take in the dampness and then they dry out and the process continues and has done for many years.
Cement pointing and dampness sketch
Why would a sensible person have more than one damp proof course?
Disregarding what we have just said about older properties not needing any damp proof courses at all lets first of all talk about the concept of having more than one damp proof course or as we recently saw a house that had three damp proof courses, the original and two additional courses.
Are Damp Proof Course surveys really free?
Most damp proof companies offer a free survey. Are people enticed by a free survey? We would say yes. Often when we are talking to people they are surprised that as surveyors we want to charge them to come round and have a look at their property. We always explain this is because we give independent advice and we are not there trying to sell a chemical damp proof course or the re plastering that is then normally sold on as well. It really does come back to there is no such thing as a free lunch and equally there is no such thing as a free survey.
Who is trained for longer, a Surveyor or a Damp Proof Specialist?
The survey is carried out by a damp proof specialist so of course they must have advanced knowledge of damp proofing and everyone seems to forget they are actually selling damp proof courses or is it because there is a house sale and the surveyor has told them they have to have a damp proof specialist from the Property Care Group or the BWPDA. The standard phrase that valuers use in valuing the property for a mortgage company that they use because they don't have the time to check the problem out themselves although they are far more qualified than the damp proof specialist to do this but they will have a retention on the property until the damp proof course has been checked by a damp proof specialist. The damp proof specialist then has a licence to print money as if they add a damp proof course this then means that you can:
1. Purchase the property
2. Get your retention back
This is a sum of money held back to encourage you to carry out work not necessarily equalling the amount the work is.
How valid are the Damp Proof companies guarantee?
Slate damp proof course
In this particular case the lady had a damp proof course inserted (not forgetting that she already had a slate damp proof course there.) It had not worked, she had gone back and had a look at the guarantee and she was still within the 20 years limit of the guarantee. She rang the company but they weren't there anymore which reminds me if you do get a guarantee is it worth the paper it's written on, will the company be there in five months let alone five years let alone 20 years. They often have a clause as well saying that if the house changes hands then you need to renew with them and pay a fee. This lady, quite a rational lady discovered that the damp proof company had gone out of business. She was aware that there were damp problems in the property. She felt that she must have damp proof course work carried out as any person who wants to buy the property would want to ensure it's not damp. She had instructed a damp proof company who of course advised her that the work needed carrying out immediately. Don't forget this is on a house that's already had a slate damp proof course and additional inserted damp proof courses added so they insert a further new damp proof course. The dampness is held in the structure rather than being able to come in and out of the structure like a pair of wellies and rather than the property breathing and low and behold when we came to do our survey we found dampness in the property.
Be very suspicious about damp proof course guarantees
We would add that in our experience damp proof guarantee is more a way of the damp proof course company coming back and trying to sell you something else whether they are big or small, national or not this seems to be the case in our experience.
So what can I do to stop the dampness in an old property?
An old property is not meant to be completely dry providing it hasn't had a cement render it will normally on its own accord dry out. This is of course as long as you are reasonable with the amount of moisture you put into the room i.e. if you have a shower or bath put the extract fan on or open the window and if you do some steam cooking or dry your clothes internally on the radiators then air the property. Our predecessors used to open the windows in the morning to air the property. It's a great way to make sure you don't get dampness and condensation.
Most rising damp found is condensation
It's true the black mould that we often see low down is caused by warm moist air hitting the cold air at the bottom of a wall and creating condensation. This then attracts particles in the air such as dust and dirt and our skin. These stick to the wall and cause the black mould that we come across quite a lot.
Independent surveyors For independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, estate agents, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports, dampness, damp proof courses, damp proofing companies or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with a surveyor call back.
Independent commercial property surveyors
If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com .
We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).
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If you require any information about Damp Proof Courses please telephone us for help and advicefree phone 0800 298 5424