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Buying a House with Damp


Written by

9th Jan 2023 (Last updated on 12th Mar 2024) 11 minute read

When buying a home, you will want to be sure it is worth the price, safe to live in and in good condition. One of the main issues to look out for when viewing homes is damp. This can range in severity and can be a cause of stress and frustration for homeowners.

Damp can indicate other issues, such as cracks in the external render or faulty guttering. It can also lead to other problems like mould and mildew. If you see damp during a viewing or it is flagged in your mortgage valuation, a survey is highly recommended. Keep in mind that as the buyer, you will be responsible for the cost of the survey.

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. What is Damp?
  2. What are the Different Types of Damp?
  3. How to Spot Damp During a Viewing?
  4. Will My Survey Show Damp?
  5. Can I Arrange a Specialist Damp Survey?
  6. Who Pays for a Damp Survey?
  7. What if Damp Is Missed by a Surveyor?
  8. Can You Get a Mortgage on a House with Damp?
  9. Should I Buy a House with Damp?
  10. What Should You Do If You Bought a House With Damp?
  11. How Much Does Damp Devalue a House?
  12. Does the Seller Have to Tell a Buyer About Damp?
  13. Should I Fix Damp Before Selling My House?
  14. Finding a Surveyor

What is Damp?

Damp occurs when there is excess moisture in an area of a home. It is one of the most common issues found in a house survey.

Older homes are especially susceptible to damp due to their age and the materials they were built with. How a home has been maintained will also contribute to the issue. For example, if cheap or incorrect building materials have been used.

The UK receives heavy rainfall and generally poor weather conditions. This can contribute to damp problems in homes across the country. Damp can also be caused by leaks and condensation.

Damp is one of the main causes of mould. This can lead to health issues including respiratory problems. Black mould would need to be treated and removed, sometimes by a specialist. This can be both costly and time-consuming. Damp can also lead to wet and dry rot, resulting in rotting and damaged timber within the home.

What are the Different Types of Damp?

There are different types of damp to look out for in a property, all with distinctive tell-tale signs. 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:

  • 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.

Factors such as drying laundry indoors or poor ventilation can also contribute to condensation.

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.

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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 an end of terrace property. 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 and tide marks 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
  • Black mold and spores on the walls and interiors

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. In this case, you should address the issue with the homebuilder. A Snagging Survey would be recommended if you haven’t arranged one already.

Will My Survey Show Damp?

Yes, a surveyor will report on damp if it is found during their inspection of 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 Home Report and provide a copy 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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Can I Arrange a Specialist Damp Survey?

Yes, there are specialist damp surveys available. This is carried out by a damp specialist who will inspect the property, assessing the extent of the damp. They can give you a more detailed idea of how damp is impacting the home and what can be done about it.

Not only do they have specialist knowledge but they will also have tools and equipment to effectively review the severity of damp in the home.

On average a damp survey costs around £400 for a typical 3-bedroom house. You can also obtain a very brief damp “survey” from a damp-proof specialist who can quote for damp proofing. This is usually free or at least far cheaper, but will not give the same level of detail as a full damp survey.

For more information read our article: What is a Damp Survey?

Who Pays for a Damp Survey?

Usually, it is the prospective buyer who pays for a damp survey. As they are buying the home, they will want to know it is a worthy investment. Considering the damage damp can cause, a damp survey is essential if you suspect it is an issue in the home.

Sometimes a damp survey is a requirement from a mortgage lender. This helps ensure the property is worth the amount they are lending.

What if Damp Is Missed by a Surveyor?

If you arrange a RICS Home Survey Level 2 and Level 3, the surveyor will likely report damp if it is present in the home. However, in rare cases, a surveyor may miss something in their inspection.

If you find there is a historic damp issue that wasn’t flagged, your first point of call is to consult your surveyor. You can issue a complaint directly with them, following their complaints procedure.

If this is unsuccessful, your next step is to report your concern to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). You could also seek legal advice, however, this should be considered a last resort.

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Can You Get a Mortgage on a House with Damp?

Yes, it is possible to get a mortgage on a house with damp. This is providing it is not a serious case or has damage the property structure.

If damp is highlighted as part of the mortgage valuation, your lender may ask you to get a damp survey. This is to assure them that their investment in the property is secure. This can also 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.

Should I Buy a House with Damp?

Whether you know about the issue or you have found damp after buying a house, there are steps you can take. Damp is a concern in a home, but it can be quite common. Whether it impacts your decision to buy the home will depend on the severity. You should also consider the damage it has or could potentially cause.

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

There are a few things to consider before you commit to buying the home. These include:

  • Assess how serious it is. Is it manageable and fixable or is this part of a bigger problem?
  • If you haven’t already, arrange a survey. You may also want to arrange a specialist 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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What Should You Do If You Bought a House With Damp?

If you have purchased a home that has damp, the first port of call is to assess how bad the situation is. Contact either a damp specialist or tradesperson who can find the cause of the issue. They can give you an idea of where it originated from and how it is impacting the home.

From here they can give you a quote for the remedial work. According to CheckaTrade, the average cost of damp proofing is around £1,500. Keep in mind this will depend on how big the area affected is.

Additionally, you will need to consider the costs associated with the cause of damp. For example, faulty guttering or cracks in the external render of the home. You will also need to factor in the cost of fixing damage caused by the damp such as plasterwork and decor in the home.

Short-Term Solutions

In the meantime, it is strongly suggested that you buy an electric dehumidifier to run in the home. This pulls the moisture out of the surroundings. These are not a cure-all for a damp problem but they can help manage the problem until it is fixed. You should also ensure the home is well-ventilated.

Another tip is to use a damp-proof stain paint. This is to be used once the area has dried out and ideally, once the problem has been fixed. It can cover unsightly tide marks and stains caused by the damp while treating the area.

How Much Does Damp Devalue a House?

According to Advanced Damp, moisture issues can depreciate a home’s market value by around 10%. However, CS Damp Proofing reported that damp can devalue a home by up to 53% if it impacts the structure of the home.

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
  • Water coming into the home
  • Mould growth
  • Warping of fixtures within the home

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Does the Seller Have to Tell a Buyer About Damp?

Yes, buyers should be made aware of anything that could change their minds about the home. They must answer the TA6 Property Information form honestly. If a seller is found to have lied on this form, the buyer may be able to make a claim against the seller for misselling the property.

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.

Keep in mind that the seller might not be aware of the damp issues in the home. This is why arranging a survey is so essential. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is up to the buyer to organise a survey.

Should I Fix Damp Before Selling My House?

Yes, ideally you would have this fixed before selling. However, it is not a requirement for swelling the home.

Fixing damp issues before putting your home on the market 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.

Whether you want to sell the home without repairing it is up to you. Keep in mind that in this case, you will need to prepare for lower offers. Additionally, the home will potentially be on the market for longer.

Finding a Surveyor

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All our surveying partners must pass our strict verification process. Companies offering Home Surveys and Valuation Reports must be registered with RICS. Those offering Party Wall and Snagging Surveys can be regulated by the RPSA or RICS.

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