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What is a Dry Rot Survey?

Adele MacGregor

Written by

9th Dec 2021 (Last updated on 16th Jun 2022) 5 minute read

Dry Rot is a type of fungal decay found in homes. It is caused by fungal spores in timber which grow and spread when moisture is introduced to the area. If left untreated, this can cause costly structural issues in the home. Dry rot can cause wood beams, floorboards and joists to crumble. The result can be thousands of pounds worth of repairs.

Having a dry rot survey can be essential to safeguarding and maintaining your home. Surveys must be carried out by experienced and qualified surveyors. They can identify whether you have dry rot in your home and the best course of action to take if you do.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Causes Dry Rot?
  2. What Does a Dry Rot Survey Include?
  3. What Can I Do About It?
  4. Buying a House with Dry Rot
  5. Selling a House with Dry Rot
  6. Does Home Insurance Cover Dry Rot?
  7. Dry Rot vs Wet Rot
  8. Learn More About Surveying

What Causes Dry Rot?

Any rot related problem within timber will have been caused by the wood becoming damp. Dry rot occurs when airborne spores come into contact with damp timber. Dry rot requires approximately 20% moisture content within the timber to begin growing. Despite what the name suggests, it will not grow in dry conditions.

This happens in damp homes and properties with poor ventilation and high humidity. Leaks are also responsible for causing dry rot and in the case of a severe leak, can cause wet rot.

How to Identify Dry Rot

According to RICS, an early warning sign of dry rot is condensation on windows. This suggests the home is humid and/or poorly ventilated.

Other signs include patches of orange-brown spore dust and growths which resemble mushrooms.

  • Other signs to look out for include:
  • Damaged and decaying timber
  • Damp, unpleasant and musty smells
  • Brittle and crumbling timber
  • Grey strands on timber known as “hyphae”
  • Mycelium - a grey/white substance that resembles cotton wool
  • Deep cracks in wood grain

To safely identify dry rot in your home - and for an accurate analysis - we recommend consulting a dry rot specilaist.

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What Does a Dry Rot Survey Include?

A RICS Home Survey Level 2 and Level 3 can tell you a lot about the condition of your home. However, a specialist dry rot survey will be able to give you specific information and advice.

These are undertaken by surveyors who specialise in dry rot identification and treatment. A dry rot survey will include inspecting the problem and the extent of the problem and damage. Your surveyor will also investigate the cause, which is key to resolving the outbreak.

Your surveyor will complete a detailed timber report, explaining the dry rot's cause. It will include details of any water ingress, the suggested treatment and cost. It will also detail the work that needs to be carried out on the property to replace and repair any damage caused.

What Can I Do About It?

The good news is, there are treatments for dry rot. The cost and result will depend on how bad it is and the damage it has caused to the home. Where the timber is damaged beyond repair, it will need to be replaced with pre-treated timber.

Depending on the severity of the spread and impact, treating dry rot can run into the thousands. As with many problems in the home, the sooner it is addressed the better. Experts should be consulted as they can identify cases and suggest effective resolutions.

A dry rot survey is the best course of action, even if you’ve had a RICS Level 2 or Level 3 home survey. These surveys can identify the dry rot and advise you on what you can do. This includes what type of dry rot treatment is required and an estimation of costs.

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Buying a House with Dry Rot

When buying a home, it is recommended that you have a property survey. The type, age and condition of the property will determine which type of survey you should opt for. If the survey finds or suspects dry rot, they may recommend having a dry rot survey completed.

If dry rot is found, it depends on the severity and the amount of damage caused. It can cost thousands to remedy dry rot - and even more to repair areas of damage. With this in mind, you must think carefully about investing in the property.

If dry rot is found, it depends on the severity and the amount of damage caused. It can cost thousands to remedy dry rot - and even more to repair areas of damage. With this in mind, you must think carefully about investing in the property. Using the report, you may be able to negotiate negotiate the asking price, offsetting the cost of fixing the issue.

Selling a House with Dry Rot

If your buyer’s survey flags dry rot as an issue, or you are aware your home requires treatment, you have some options. You should be prepared to either spend money or lose money on the sale of your home.

You can negotiate the property price with the buyer, to account for the cost of fixing the problem. Your other option is to arrange to have the dry rot treated yourself. This means footing the bill to remedy and repair any damage to appease potential buyers.

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Does Home Insurance Cover Dry Rot?

Many standard home insurance policies will not cover dry rot, but this can vary from policy to policy. There may be exceptions if the dry rot is related to an incident covered by the insurance policy.

When taking out home insurance, be sure to carefully read the details of the policy and what it includes.

Dry Rot vs Wet Rot

Both dry and wet rot are forms of fungal decay that cause damage to timber in buildings.

Wet rot is the natural decay of timber due to high moisture levels, caused by a fungus. There are many fungus types that destroy timber, with the cellar fungus being the most common.

While dry rot requires 20% moisture content in timber, wet rot needs 50% moisture or more to develop. This high amount of moisture will usually be the result of a leak or water ingress from gutters or plumbing.

Learn More About Surveying

This has been part of our surveying guide. Next, we look at the problems that come with purchasing a flat roof house and how they are non-standard properties. To learn more read buying a flat roof house.

Adele MacGregor

Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.