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Buying a House with Damp

Adele MacGregor

Written by

9th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 5th Apr 2023) 7 minute read

When buying a property, you want to make sure that your new home is in good condition and safe to live in. One of the issues to look out for is damp. It is common in older homes, but how much of an issue it is can determine whether you want to buy the home.

You need to keep in mind that damp itself is not the only issue. Damp can indicate other potential issues, such as cracks in the external render or faulty guttering.

Below we look at the types of damp found in a home, whether you should buy a house with damp and what you can do about it.

  1. How to Spot Damp During a Viewing?
  2. What are the Different Types of Damp?
  3. Will My Survey Show Damp?
  4. Should I Buy a House with Damp?
  5. Can You Get a Mortgage on a House with Damp?
  6. How Much Does Damp Devalue a House?
  7. Does the Seller Have to Tell a Buyer About Damp?
  8. What Can You Do If Damp is Present?
  9. Should I Fix Damp Before Selling My House?

How to Spot Damp During a Viewing?

When viewing a home, you are not only looking at whether you like the home but if it is suitable to live in. You need to keep an eye out for any indication of issues, including the presence of damp.

Places to look are on walls that are exposed to the elements - for example, if the home is end of terrace. You should also check around windows (including behind curtains) and in cupboards if possible.

Warning signs of damp include:

  • Damp patches on walls
  • Cold walls
  • Water outlines on walls and floors
  • A musty smell in the home
  • Crumbling or flaking paint
  • Crumbling or flaking plaster
  • Orange stains in stud walls where water has rusted the studs
  • Warping of items such as books
  • Stains on curtains or decorative window treatments

If penetrating or rising damp is found in a modern or new build home, this could be a sign of an issue with the construction.

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What are the Different Types of Damp?

There are different types of damp to look out for in a home. These include:

Penetrating Damp

The cause of penetrating damp is water ingress and moisture entering the home via the walls. It is also known as lateral damp or water ingress. Damp patches on the wall are an indication that the home is suffering from penetrating damp. This can be caused by a range of factors including:

  • Defective masonry, render or pointing on outside walls
  • Overflowing guttering and damaged rainwater goods
  • Plumbing leakages
  • Driving Rain
  • Vegetation growth on external walls
  • Defective roof coverings
  • Faulty pointing to doors and windows


Condensation is often found on and around windows. It occurs when moist and warm air comes into contact with a colder surface. This is often worse during the colder months of the year.

Rising Damp

Rising damp has been debated among surveying and property experts as to whether it is real. Some experts don’t believe it exists and that damp-proof courses are not necessary or worth the money.

The belief with rising damp is that it is caused by groundwater moving upwards through a wall or floor. This results in damage to the floors and lower parts of the wall interior of the home.

Will My Survey Show Damp?

Yes, a surveyor will report on damp if it is found during their inspection of the home. When buying a home in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is recommended that you have a survey done on the home.

On average, homebuyers will either opt for a Level 2 or Level 3 survey. Both will reveal if damp is present in the property.

In Scotland,the seller is legally required to arrange a survey and provide a copy of the report to buyers. If damp is evident in the home, it will likely be listed within the report.

Surveyors can assess the severity and suggest remedial measures. If a concerning amount of damp is found in the home then your surveyor may recommend a damp survey. A damp surveyor can cost anywhere between £150 - £300 on average, so make sure you factor this into your costs.

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Should I Buy a House with Damp?

Damp is a concern in a home, but it can be quite common. This is especially the case in older buildings. Whether it impacts your decision on buying the home will depend on the severity of the damp. You should also consider the damage it has or could potentially cause.

Damp can be one of the main causes of mould. This can lead to health issues including respiratory problems and asthma attacks. Black mould would need to be treated and removed, sometimes by a specialist.

Damp can also lead to wet rot and dry rot which can result in rotting and damaged timber within the home.

If the case of damp is severe it could cause, or be the cause of, other issues in the home. If you see damp during a viewing or it is flagged in your mortgage valuation, a survey is highly recommended.

A surveyor will be able to assess the issue and recommend steps to take to fix the issue. It is up to you as the buyer if you are prepared to take on a home that may need costly damp solutions.

Can You Get a Mortgage on a House with Damp?

If damp is found in the mortgage lenders' valuation, they may request a damp survey. This is to assure them that their investment in the property is secure.

If damp is highlighted as part of the mortgage valuation, your lender may ask you to get a damp survey. This can give both you and the lender a better idea of the extent of the damp in the home.

If the issue is severe, a buyer may be rejected for a mortgage. If it can be fixed and is unlikely to have a serious impact on the property, a lender is more likely to approve the loan.

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How Much Does Damp Devalue a House?

In extreme cases, damp and the issues around it can devalue a home by up to 53% if left untreated.

This will depend on the severity of the damp. A mild amount of condensation is unlikely to impact the value of the home. The more serious the issue is, the more it is likely to devalue the home. This includes excessive condensation, timber decay, unwanted water coming into the home and mould growth.

Additionally, damp can be a tell-tale sign of other issues with the home. In this case, these issues could be the reason the house is devalued.

Does the Seller Have to Tell a Buyer About Damp?

As we’ve mentioned above, in Scotland a seller must legally provide a copy of the Home Report to all buyers. This will mention any damp issues found in the home. Sellers must also complete a property questionnaire where they can mention damp issues.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is up to the buyer to arrange a survey. Whether the seller is required to declare damp can be a grey area. Buyers should be made aware of anything that could change their minds about the property.

This doesn’t always mean sellers will be forthcoming with negative details. Additionally, a seller might not be aware of the damp issues in the home.

What Can You Do If Damp is Present?

If you spot damp during the viewing or it is flagged on your survey, you have a few options:

  • First, assess how serious it is
  • Your surveyor or even your mortgage lender may suggest having a damp survey
  • Get quotes on the cost of fixing the issue - be it repairs to the render or a damp proof course
  • Negotiate what you are willing to pay for the property to cover the cost of fixing damp
  • If the issue is severe and impacts the value or safety of the home, it may be worth pulling out of the sale.

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Should I Fix Damp Before Selling My House?

It may not be a legal requirement, but fixing damp issues before putting your home up for sale is likely to help it sell. If damp is seen by a buyer or found in their survey, they may want to negotiate the price of the home. If the damp is severe, they may not want to purchase the home at all.

Alternatively, you could pay to have the work repaired yourself, to appease the buyer. Remedy for damp can vary in price, depending on the damage it has caused and the reason why damp is present in the home.

It could be a matter of fixing a leaking window, which could be done before selling the home. However, it could be down to cracks in the exterior render of the home, which is a more costly repair job. Costs could vary from the £100s to the £1000s depending on the cause and recommended solution.
Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over five years, Adele specialises in covering a range of surveying topics.

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