building valuations

 

Damp Proof Courses

 

What are these for?

 

1stAssociated.co.uk can provide help and advice with regard to buying a property, residential building reports, commercial building reports, buying at auction, dilapidations, schedules of condition, specific defects reports of problems in a property, and much more.

We are independent surveyors as we are not affiliated to any bank or building society and can offer you impartial advice. Our survey repots are in an easy to undertand format, with photos of the property and sketches.

Please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 and surveyor will call you back.

 

Data which damp proof courses were first added to properties

At first it seems relatively easy to answer, with many articles, books and websites on dampness quoting the 1875 Public Health Act. However, as Jeff Howell points out in his excellent book The Rising Damp Myth, very few people have actually looked at the Public Health Act 1875 and in his book he advises that it has only been looked at three times since the World War II (and we weren't one of these people).

 

So, where do damp proof courses come from?

 

Sewerage and drainage was required to avoid diseases in major cities and townsJeff Howell interestingly advises that he was unable to find anything about damp proof courses (also known as DPCs) after two days of studying the Act, which he concluded was clearly designed to improve sewerage and drainage in buildings, as remember outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, were still common in London, and we assume, the major cities and towns. Jeff Howell then goes onto advise that he eventually found a mention of a requirement for a damp proof course beneath the level of the lowest timbers in a local government board's model by-laws of 1877, remembering that timber was a material that was used years ago.

 


Why do we have damp proof courses?

DPCs were there to stop sewerage getting into properties

This is a fascinating question. We have heard, and read, from SPAB; The Society of Protection of Ancient Buildings and various books that we have read and presentations that we have been to, that say the damp proof course was not to stop damp coming into the properties in the form of rising ground water, but to stop sewerage getting into the properties.

 

Let us travel back in time

In days gone by damp proof courses helped prevent sewerage coming in through walls and floors

This is because the common man at the time was literally throwing the sewerage into the streets, from what we understand, with an open gully running down the centre of the street, finally getting into the sewers. This leads to interesting speculation on two accounts:

•  The cast iron boot scrapers that you see in walls of some older properties weren't just to scrape the mud off your shoes!

•  The damp proof course was an attempt to prevent walls, remembering in those days that many were constructed from a timber frame, and floor timbers from being saturated with the sewerage that was being brought in from the adjoining streets.

 

Sanitary conditions you just wouldn't recognise

Sanitary conditions were not up to the standards of the modern day!

It seems almost incomprehensible to us now where most homes have the luxury of hot and cold water (in the UK ). We also feel safe to say that the majority of us in the UK have our bathrooms inside and many of us have an en-suite and indeed, we have been looking at modern properties where each bedroom seems to have an en-suite. It was only a few generations ago we were throwing sewerage into the street, not to mention the horse transport system adding to it. It really was only the rich who had anything resembling the sort of sanitary arrangements we have today.

 

What Wikipedia says

Research shows the sewerage problem caused waterborne diseases

We will offer you an extract from Wikipedia, which states, even as recently as the late 19 th Century, sewerage systems in parts of highly industrialised UK were so inadequate that waterborne diseases, such as cholera and typhoid, were still common. In Merthyr Tydfil, a large town in South Wales , some houses discharged their sewerage to individual cesspits, which persistently overflowed, causing the pavements to be awash with foul sewerage. It also talks about waste sewerage simply running down the streets with stepping stones to keep the pedestrians out of the muck; which is quite a picture!

 

 

The Great Stink of London

 

Between 1853 and 1854 more than 10,000 Londoners were killed by Cholera. In the summer of 1858 the Great Stink of London overwhelmed all those that were near the Thames , which was effectively a large septic tank of sewerage. However, by 1866 most of London had a collective sewerage network, devised by Joseph Bazalgette from Enfield , London . Whilst his work was concentrated in London he also gave advice to other British towns and cities and further afield, such as Budapest . Bazalgette refers to the Thames as an open sewer, which is probably a better description than a septic tank, and they constructed 83 miles of underground brick main sewers and 1,100 miles of street sewers, to intercept the raw sewerage. Unfortunately, the system did little more than divert the outflows downstream, where the sewerage was dumped untreated. It took until the 1870's to complete. Bazalgette was knighted in 1875 and you visit a monument dedicated to him on the Victoria Embankment, as well as a blue plaque on the house he lived in at St John's Wood.

 

Finally, we have often known surveyors secretly wonder why eThe Thames was refered to as an 'open sewer'ngineers, when they get to a safe result then double it, and then double it again. However, in the case of the London drainage system it is fortunate that Joseph Bazalgette did this, as otherwise it is said that our sewerage system would have been full by the 1960's.

 

So what sort of damp proof courses did we have in years gone by?

 

We mostly see slate damp proof coursesIn our experience, the majority of damp proof courses that we actually see are slate damp proof course in older properties, with occasional asphalt damp proof courses. We also advise that lead was sometimes used. A bed of slate would be added to a property as it was built, a few courses of brick above the ground would stop anything (and odds on it was sewerage) from rising within the wall. We are sure you can see how this was a major improvement and certainly dampness wasn't on the minds of the people that originally suggested damp proof courses were added.

Whilst we are talking about adding DPC's we would also refer you to our article Damp proof specialists, talk to us first on inserting damp proof courses by specialist contractors, BWPDA approved.

 

Types of damp proof course

 

Slate, asphalt and lead

As mentioned earlier, we often see the edge of slate when we are carrying out surveys, particularly in Victorian properties, with asphalt being seen in more modern properties of the 1930's. It has to be said that we haven't really seen lead damp proof courses, although we can imagine how lead was used, as it was such a commonly used material in years gone by, being used predominantly for plumbing and flashings.

In our time in the building industry plastic damp proof courses have been used, which has the trade name of hiload, has been used in various widths with a blockwork inner face and brickwork outer face.

 

Do damp proof courses break and need repairing?

It is very unlikely that a slate damp proof course would fail

In our experience, we have never seen a damp proof course break (fail is the common term that is used in the building industry). The closest that we have seen is where there has been considerable movement on a property and the walls have slipped on the damp proof course. However, it can be argued that they do degrade over time, particularly with the more modern damp proof courses, although we can't see a slate damp proof course degrading.

 


Walls slipping on the damp proof course

Walls slipping on damp proof courses

If you can imagine the walls built of brick or stone bonded together with a lime or cement mortar. If into this you then add a damp proof course, which is a different material with different characteristics, should there be any movement then one of the weak areas, along with the windows and door openings, would be the damp proof course.

 

We have seen, on a few occasions, where the bricks have slipped (by this we mean moved) on the damp proof course and you then get a slight overhang of the brick, or we assume stones, although we have only actually seen this on bricks.

 

Do damp proof courses work and are they needed?

This is a question that we cannot answer. From reading Jeff Howell's book The Rising Damp Myth it would seem very difficult for walls (it was brick walls that he did his experiments on) to draw dampness up into the property, particularly if you consider that modern wall construction is cavity wall, where the outer layer of brickwork is meant to get wet, the inside layer sometimes getting damp but then drying off. It is only when this cavity is bridged, by either it being filled with mortar or mortar being on the wall ties, that dampness can get transferred in to the inside wall.

 

The Jury is still out

Rising damp is often mistaken for leaking gutters and high external ground level

We would say that the Jury is still out with regard to whether rising damp exists. We certainly think that the move for surveyors not to blindly recommend damp proofing specialist companies that insert damp proof courses to older properties doesn't gather momentum, particularly on Listed buildings. We personally, on one property, spent many hours talking to a mortgage company surveyor and then the mortgage company about how they had wrongly diagnosed rising damp when it was higher external ground level and leaking gutters; the first requiring a French gully, the latter requiring the gutters to be repaired.

You may also be interested in the following articles on Dampness:

 

Condensation

Resolving Dampness in your Basement

Dampness in Buildings - Basics Article

Dampness in Buildings - Technical Article

Dampness Defects Report

Dampness Problems

Condensation Problems

Damp Walls

Shared Freehold and Problems with Damp

Rising Damp and Independent Reports

Further articles on Damp

Please see our section on:

Specific Defects Reports

 

If you do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to dampness or anything else, or we can look at the property as a whole in the form of structural surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, such as advising you on dampness, cracks in your property, woodworm, wet rot and dry rot. For a friendly chat call 0800 298 5424 and we will even explain the difference between a full building survey and a full structural survey!

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).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

All rights are reserved the contents of the web site is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of www.1stAssociated.co.uk.

 

If you require any information about Dampness in Properties please telephone us for help and advice0800 298 5424

 

 

Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright 1stAssociated.co.uk
Site Map

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert

 

Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?

Flooding

Rain

Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients

 

First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information

Dilapidations

Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West

Midlands

North and North East

 

London

London Markets

London Parks

 

Wales

Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax