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How Do Surveyors Check for Damp?

Nicola Ryan

Written by

17th Nov 2022 (Last updated on 21st Nov 2022) 7 minute read

When buying a house, you want to make sure it’s in as good a condition as can be before moving in. One of the most commonly found problems in survey reports is damp. Some damp problems can be corrected easily at a low cost. However, there are instances where you may be subject to high repair costs if you proceed with the transaction.

In this guide, we’ll be taking you through what surveyors check for when inspecting damp at a property.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Will my Survey Flag Damp Problems?
  2. How Will Surveyors Find Damp?
  3. What Happens if my Survey Reveals Damp?
  4. What’s Involved in a Damp Survey?
  5. How to Spot Damp During a House Viewing?
  6. Can Damp Devalue the Property?
  7. Finding a Surveyor

Will my Survey Flag Damp Problems?

When you hire a surveyor, they will conduct a visual inspection of the property as part of the assessment. If there is any damp found, it should be spotted during the property survey. Depending on which structural survey you get, the surveyor will inspect various areas of the property to determine whether there is any damp and how bad the damp problems are.

There are two types of damp that can cause major issues. These are penetrating damp and rising damp. If either damp issue is found, it will need to be repaired and resolved as soon as possible.

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs as a result of problems with the roof. These problems could originate in the chimney, guttering, or tiles. While a survey will easily pick up on penetrating damp, the cost to repair is usually very high.

Rising Damp

Rising damp is used to describe mould that has risen up the walls. This can spread onto fixtures and decorations, causing all sorts of problems if left untreated. It’s best to consult damp specialists if rising damp is found on the property.

Read more about the Most Common House Survey Problems here.

How Will Surveyors Find Damp?

Surveyors will find damp by conducting a property survey. There are different types of surveys that you can choose from. They are the RICS Level 1 (Condition Report), the Level 2 (HomeBuyer Report), and the Level 3 (Building Survey). These surveys vary in detail, meaning that choosing the one that is most appropriate for the property is essential.

Hiring a surveyor that is regulated by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will ensure that your survey is accurate and carried out to the best standard.

Here are the survey reports that you can choose from:

Level 1 Condition Report

The RICS Level 1 Survey is the most basic option. Formally known as the Condition Report, this survey does not delve into too much detail, although it will highlight any urgent issues that need flagging. This option is best suited for newer properties that are less likely to have any major problems.

Level 2 HomeBuyer Report

The RICS Level 2 Survey is an intermediate option, previously known as the HomeBuyer Report or HomeBuyers Survey. This is the most common type of survey as it is best suited for properties less than 50 years old with standard construction. The report will highlight any defects and also provide suggestions and advice on repairs.

Level 3 Building Survey

The RICS Level 3 Survey, formally known as the Building Survey or Full Structural Survey, is the most comprehensive and detailed survey. It is the most expensive option and best suited for older properties and properties with non-standard construction. If you are looking at a listed building or a property in a conservation area, the Level 3 Building Survey is the best option for you. It will highlight any damp issues, offer advice on maintenance and provide cost estimates for repair.

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What Happens if my Survey Reveals Damp?

It’s important to read the survey report thoroughly, especially the section where it discusses damp. If the damp is minimal and won’t cost a lot to repair, you can choose to proceed with the transaction or renegotiate your offer down.

If mould and damp are major issues, you may have to consider other options. This is because serious damp issues such as Penetrating Damp and Rising Damp are usually very expensive to repair. In these instances, it’s best to have a Damp Survey carried out.

For more information, read our guide on Dealing With Bad Survey Results.

What’s Involved in a Damp Survey?

If damp is found in the property, you may wish to have a Damp Survey conducted. This inspection is carried out by a damp specialist who will assess the damage and provide an estimate for repair costs and maintenance.

The Damp Survey includes an external and internal inspection. This means that the Damp Specialist will be able to provide an accurate report.

External Inspection

Your Damp Specialist will conduct an external inspection first. This means that they will assess the outside of your property. Most specialists read through the property survey beforehand. Therefore, if there were any notes regarding the exterior, they will have a clear idea of where to look first.

The external inspection incorporates the following:

  • Assessing the render and pebble dash
  • Check for damaged or cracked bricks
  • Check for a damp proof course
  • Examine the windows and doors in case the sealant is damaged
  • Issues with the downpipes or guttering
  • Look at the property pointing
  • Problems with the roof such as cracked tiles

Even if no external problems had been raised in the initial structural survey, an external inspection is essential. This is because it can prevent problems from arising in the future.

Internal Inspection

The internal inspection takes place after the external assessment. Most specialists will have read the initial property survey before arriving. This means that they know which areas are the primary cause for concern. However, they will also have the added benefit of notes from their external inspection of the property.

The internal inspection consists of the following:

  • Damp meter reading
  • Thermal imaging
  • Visual checks

Your Damp Specialist will be making notes and taking pictures, allowing them to compile an accurate report.

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How to Spot Damp During a House Viewing?

When you go for house viewings, you should always be on the lookout for any signs of damp. There are certain areas of a property that are more susceptible to damp than others. Here are the areas you should pay close attention to:

Airing Cupboard

The first place you need to look at is the airing cupboard. This is because the airing cupboard tends to be home to the water heater which can contribute to moisture problems and lead to damp.

Basement

One of the most common areas where damp is found is in the basement. This is because higher levels of damp can be found due to the colder temperatures. This causes an influx of excess moisture. Damp basements should be easy to spot as they will destroy the paintwork on the walls. If there is damp found in the basement, you will have to fix the problem before it spreads to other areas of the house.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are susceptible to damp due to the high amount of condensation. If the bathroom has a poor ventilation system or no windows, there is a higher chance that mould will grow at a rapid pace.

Ceilings and Walls

When viewing a property, always check the ceilings and walls in each room. This is where mould and damp are likely to show in any room. Depending on the severity of the damp issue, you may be able to easily repair mould problems. This can be done by using an anti-mould spray and then painting over the area with an anti-mould paint. However, serious mould growth will require a complete re-plastering of the walls. There may also be additional issues such as ceiling cracks that can exacerbate the issue.

Floorboards

Lastly, always check the floorboards. If the floorboards feel soft and spongy, this may be a sign of decay as the wood is starting to rot. If this is the case, this is an extremely costly repair and should be considered before proceeding with the purchase.

Can Damp Devalue the Property?

Damp can devalue a property. It’s always best to remove and repair any areas affected by damp before putting your property on the market. When determining the market value of your property, any damp can cause a decrease in price.

If the repair costs are too high or you need to sell your house quickly, you should expect to lower the asking price when putting your house on the market. If you don’t lower the price, you may find that you won't garner much interest or potential buyers will negotiate a lower asking price.

To learn more, read what to do if a surveyor devalues house.

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Finding a Surveyor

You can easily find a surveyor by filling out Compare My Move’s easy form. We can connect you with up to 6 surveyors, allowing you to compare quotes. You can save money on your surveying fees.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

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