Self Help Titles

Self help Booklets and Titles

As a surveyor working in an area of significant rainfall (you can say that again !! but then if there wasn’t any rain there would not be any Lakes) and of mixed modern brick/block built houses and a good selection of period properties of solid stone I come across the wasteful cycle of inappropriate repair methods to cure “dampness” (rising and otherwise) in walls.

Most standard Bank and Building Society valuation reports if dampness is detected in walls call for a “Specialist Report”. Generally this is sought/ taken from a Timber Preservation Damp Specialist Contractor (who of course has a vested interest in finding a problem and then quoting for work to rectify same).

This work will in theory carry a guarantee which satisfies the Bank but in many cases is only a guarantee from the supplier of the chemicals to the Contractor that he (the Contractor) is an approved Installer of the system. This is of course only as good as the length of time the Contractor stays in business!

I have seen solid random stone walls in our local houses injected, I have seen brick walls injected inappropriately at inappropriate heights between ground and floor level and inappropriate rendering with modern hard cement render of stone walls which were designed to “breathe” through open lime mortar pointed joints, but now are sealed so tight with modern cement hard render that the dampness has only one path to travel, inside to where you are living.

In many cases this type of wastefulness is driven by the market and the purchasers Lender requiring a quick response to allow mortgage and purchase to go ahead, coupled with a lack of appropriate knowledge on the part of the advisors involved in the transaction, and everybody involved trying to mitigate the risk of them being held liable if something goes wrong.

A recent job investigated by us revealed a gable wall of a stone built house was rendered with modern hard cement render to cure a leak at second floor level. This leak was it was found was from a poorly sealed chimney stack so the render (which cost around £5,000) was not ever going to cure the problem.

The penetrating damp problem consequently continued but dampness in the wall was now “sealed in” and unable to dry with normal fresh air ventilation and increased until the true cause of the damp penetration, the chimney was repaired (cost around £350). The wall is still drying out, and of course it is now rendered (which is uneconomic to remove) and this has dramatically altered the way the house was originally designed and intended to be occupied and function (a design and method of building refined locally for over three hundred years!!).

I have no difficulty in helping Clients achieve modern living standards in our local older period properties (running water, electric light and all mod cons!!) and state of the art modern appointments can be just as easily incorporated in period properties as more modern properties but appropriate account must be taken of the original design functionality of the house to ensure works are appropriately planned and executed so as not to undermine the integrity of the property which after all has possibly been around for 200 years.

We will be producing some booklets and articles to help our clients assess situations and in some cases to find a remedy or to help them realise when it is not a D I Y project but an “expert” that is needed.