building valuations


Damp Proof Specialists


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A free damp proof survey isn't necessarily free!

If you are having problems with dampness within your property your first thought would probably be to contact a damp proof specialist company, especially as many offer free damp surveys. However, we would say you should contact an Independent Chartered Building Surveyor as a first step.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

In our experience, although many damp proofing companies offer free surveys they will want to gain money somehow and will suggest all kinds of expensive treatments to stop dampness in your property. Unfortunately many of these treatments will be unnecessary and may sometimes even exacerbate the dampness problem. The damp proofing often only works a few years and then you get the bucket effect, which is particularly bad on old properties, i.e. the following Eras:

Bucket effect

Tudor, Elizabathan, Jacobean, Cromwellian

William & Mary,

Queen Anne, Georgian and Regency

Victorian and Edwardian

War years and Post war years

Dampness in a cellar due to ground water

Dampness seen on a wall coming in via the chimney breast

Black mould on a wall
Sketch explaining what black mould is. We use sketches throughout our survey reports to help you understand any property problems we find during our surveys


So, why should we contact a Building Surveyor?

We are independent so the surveyors we use are not linked to any damp proofing company, or owned by any estate agent or lending institute, and as a result we are only working with your best interests in mind.  Since we are solely building surveyors, we can keep our overheads down and ultimately our prices as well.

We have years and years of surveying experience and can carry out a Specific Defects Report to discover the cause and effect of the dampness in your home. We will offer you solutions to alleviate the dampness and anticipated costs for carrying out any works.

Please free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.


Damp proofing in a Victorian property

We have recently been called to carry out a Defects Report on a lovely Victorian terraced property, similar to those that you see at the start of Coronation Street, that had had two different damp proofing companies carry out work on it but still had rising damp. We know that two different companies have worked on it because we could see their work outside on the wall, where they have drilled the holes and inserted the damp proofing liquid. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it has not worked.

The mortgage company required a damp proofing specialist and the estate agent helped us to find one.


Damp proofing specialist recommends inserting damp proof course?


Cement pointing and dampness sketch

The new owners of the property have been recommended by the mortgage company's surveyor (but more correctly known as a valuer) that a damp proofing specialist was required because they had rising damp. They started to get concerned when he had recommended inserting a damp proof course and they had asked him why the other damp proof courses hadn't worked and he was unable to answer them.


Is a damp proofing specialist guarantee worthless?

Ironically, the two other specialist damp proofing companies work was probably still under guarantee, but unfortunately they were no longer anywhere to be found.


So, how have we got ourselves in this situation where damp proofing specialists have been recommended by professionals to carry out (usually surveyors) damp proofing work that stop the dampness?!

You want to buy a property and you need a mortgage to buy the property. The mortgage company has the property checked by its own valuer / surveyor, who are rushed off their feet and not given enough time to carry out the valuation properly. They use caveats in their reports, which are standardised. They use a damp proof meter to quickly identify any dampness, which is identified incorrectly. Now, you, the property purchaser, need to have the dampness problem resolved. Abra kadabra, an industry sets up to solve this problem that doesn't really exist. Everyone is happy, as you get your mortgage, the mortgage company sells a mortgage and the damp proofing company gets paid doing work that doesn't need doing, in most cases.


The short answer

The short answer is that the banking industry/mortgage industry is simply there to sell their financial products. We would refer you to Martin Lewis' website, where he explains that banks no longer give advice, they simply sell products. It has very much moved away from the Dad's Army character of Captain Mainwaring to the wheeler dealer character of Private Walker.

Unfortunately, we believe that valuers, or the surveyors that work for the mortgage company, also become part of the sales process and have to carry out so many valuations a day, which they are often paid commission on, and have little time to give real surveying advice and, after all, are being paid to value by the mortgage company, although, interestingly enough, they are still relied upon by many people. They are also being pushed into carrying out so many valuations that they use standard phrases; one being the property has dampness, we require you to have a specialist damp proofing company. This standard phrase is a great caveat to ensure they don't get sued for missing any dampness.


Can you really value six to eight properties a day properly? (This is important as it is someone's future home)

We get into a situation where the valuers, or surveyors as they are most commonly known, are valuing so many properties a day, we have heard typically it is six to eight and that it can be as many as twelve, so they are looking for a way to get round all the different properties and advise all the different people as quickly as possible, without getting sued. This has resulted in that if they find anything, or suspect anything, they refer you to a specialist and people have then sprung up to serve that need and requirement and as the surveyors use a standard phrase that requires them to be in the BWPDA, which stands for British Wood Preserving and Damp Proofing Association,, now subsequently set up the Property Care Association (PCA),

Therefore, the result is you having to have a damp proof course when one isn't really necessary, due to the speed that everything is being carried out at to get the mortgage in place, which is very big business.


Damp proofing specialists visit their websites

The long answer

There is very compelling information on the Property Care Associations' website and, indeed, many damp proofing specialist company's websites, as to the massive problems that can be caused with dampness. Equally, there are many learned articles explaining why rising damp isn't the problem it is made out to be.

We would recommend the very digestible book by Jeff Howell, a chartered building surveyor and chartered builder, called The Rising Damp Myth. The title gives it in a nutshell but it does need some further explaining. We need you now to read the short answer and then to continue on with this.  


To get a mortgage it appears you have to have the damp proofing work done

So, the mortgage companies create a need by their valuers insisting that a specialist damp proofing company be asked to inspect the property and the home purchaser is required to have a damp proofing specialist company look at the property.

In many instances the mortgage companies valuers will recommend a BWPDA approved company and an insurance backed guarantee. The BWPDA's associated companies fulfil that requirement with an insurance backed guarantee and we have a situation where the mortgage company will only give the home buyer the mortgage if they have the work done. The valuer/mortgage company surveyor recommended the work so they didn't have to spend more time at the property because the mortgage company was pushing them to carry out so many valuations per day. Therefore the BWPDA approved company fits in nicely and finds a problem (usually where one doesn't exist), solves it and therefore the home owner can have the mortgage, the mortgage company can sell a mortgage and the valuer/mortgage surveyor doesn't get sued. Everyone is happy, or are they?


Unfortunately, the problem never existed

Unfortunately, in most cases the problem never existed and the solution never worked.


Remember - free specialist damp proofing surveys are not really free

Free specialist damp proofing surveys are not really free!

We would reiterate our earlier comments. The damp proof companies will be called in by the unsuspecting owner to carry out their free surveys. There is no such thing as a free meal or a free survey and the damp proofing company will inevitably/usually find dampness, as that is what they were selling the solution to and would recommend their procedure, which has to be said, to all intents and purposes, did look like it solved the problem that didn't exist! What they would do would be insert their magic liquid, which ironically, in most cases, didn't really do anything and there was a perfectly good slate damp proof course in the property already.

They would then repoint the outside of the property if it hadn't been repointed already, ironically, usually a cement mortar (which smothers the wall) and they would then also put a very hard internal plaster on the wall (again, which smothers the wall) to approximately one metre to hide any dampness internally, although they often say it is due to the hydraulic salts that contaminate the walls that will cause further problems (an interesting use of language). This unfortunately had the end result of completely changing the properties of the older type buildings. They moved from being a property that allowed the moisture in and then out to evaporate to a sealed or smothered wall. We often compare the effect of Gortex (trade mark), which allows things to breathe, to a Kagoule, which causes them to sweat.

Kagoule Defined

A cagoul, cagoule, kagoule or kagool (from the French cagoule meaning hood) is the British English term for a lightweight coat (usually without lining).


Our Dampness Articles

We have written many articles about dampness, damp proofing and condensation over the years. Here are a few we think will be of interest to you:


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

Damp proof courses defined

Damp Proof Courses - What are these for?

How do Older Properties keep dry without a damp proof course?

French Drains

Rising Damp and Independent Reports

Please see our section on:

Specific Defects Reports


Example Surveys

Freephone 0800 298 5424 and ask for one of our example surveys, whether you have dampness in your home and would like to see one of our Defects Reports, or whether you are thinking of buying a house and would like to see a Residential Building Survey. We have carried out building surveys on all types of Era of property.

You can also download survey examples from our website


We are Independent Building Surveyors, but what exactly does this mean?

We are independent so the surveyors we use are not linked to or owned by an estate agent or lending institute, and as a result we are only working with your best interests in mind.  Since we are solely surveyors, we can keep our overheads down and ultimately our prices as well.

We offer quotes on the surveys and we can usually save you money on the cost of the survey.  We do them quickly and we feel the quality of our surveys are one of the best on the market. We offer a reasoned view, based upon our knowledge and experience, we don't make a mountain out of a molehill.  Equally if we think the property has problems we say so in a clear, jargon-free manner.  We also use sketches, photographs and digital images to clarify what we are saying.

Having a survey carried out on the property that you intend to buy will give you the extra peace of mind that you are buying the right one.

If you require any information about dampness in properties please freephone 0800 298 5424.

Checking for rising damp with our electronic damp meter equipment

Sketch of rising damp reserve all rights to this article

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