A Damp Survey is a detailed look into a property which has shown potential damp damage. Damp is a common issue that affects many houses, however, if left untreated it can grow and cause major problems.
This specialist survey by your chartered surveyor usually follows a property survey like a Homebuyers Report, Full Structural Survey or even a Valuation, which may have highlighted damp patches or visible mould growth that needs further inspection.
In essence, it's a deeper investigation into a property which suffers from damp, highlighting issues and helping you decide how to remedy them. This guide explores the Damp Survey including why it's different from other surveys, why you need a specialist to do it, the cost, and how to deal with the survey results.
According to gov.uk, in 2015-2017, 4% of the estimated 23 million households in England had rising damp or other damp problems in at least one room. This means that around 944,000 English homes had damp issues found and treated. Damp is a fairly common problem that often needs immediate treatment before it worsens.
A damp survey is a special type of property survey that looks specifically at any damp issues that a building may have. This is usually carried out by a damp specialist who will know exactly what to look for in terms of where damp is present, what damage it may or has already caused and how much it could cost to remedy it.
Unlike other property surveys which look at the overall condition of various parts of a building, damp surveys look specifically at the presence of and damage caused by damp. This survey is usually undertaken when an initial Valuation, Homebuyers Report or a Full Structural Survey has highlighted that damp may be a problem in a property.
A damp surveyor will be able to give you a strong idea of whether damp is an issue in your property and how much it needs to be contained. They will do this by using special tools to measure the level of internal damp and will look at certain areas that are often affected by moisture related issues.
However, to get a deeper understanding of the extent of any damp damage, it’s recommended that you talk to a specialist. A specialist will be able to give you a more detailed idea of how damp is impacting the property, like how far it has sunk into the affected area and whether it’s rising damp, condensation or penetrating damp that’s the issue.
This information is highly beneficial as it will also allow the damp surveyor to recommend how these issues should be tackled and the associated costs that come with the necessary repairs.
Once you’ve talked to the specialist and have booked the survey, they will visit the property you’re planning to purchase. If the current tenant is available, they may ask them some questions about the damp in the building, any concerns they have had or any developments they have seen in the moisture over time.
Once they’ve done this, they will then work systematically through the building and focus on any areas that have been highlighted as potentially damaged.
Not only will the surveyor be looking for potential signs of damp, but they will also look for any current or potential causes of that damp such as faulty or blocked guttering and the condition of any pipework or drainage. All these areas will be noted and assessed as part of the report you’ll receive.
You’re likely to receive the report as an email, although in some cases, the report will be sent through the post. The document will be easy to understand and will include all the findings of the survey as well as any other considerations that the surveyor has made from their additional desk research.
In terms of the areas that will have been assessed, these will include any signs of damp ingress from defects in the fabric of the property as well as any unusual features or potential defects in the external gutters and down-pipes. It will also cover any missing or damaged pointing, any visible cracking in the render coating on the external of the house and also any external decorations which have been poorly maintained. There will also be notes on any findings in terms of gaps around door and window frames as well as flashing and defective roof covering.
Finally, there will likely be considerations for the ground level around the building which could lead to damp bridging into the property. Basically, the survey covers anything that is being damaged by damp as well as anything that may be the cause of that damage.
If requested, the survey will also include cost considerations for all the damage that has been caused and any repairs that will need to be made to stop more problems occurring. This is useful as it will allow you to easily negotiate with the owner based on the cost and inconvenience of having that work done.
As a buyer, having a damp survey undertaken is a fairly simple process with little input required on your behalf. Initially, you’ll need to make a decision on whether the survey is required based on either your own observations or the finding of a separate property survey.
You’ll also need to maintain a good level of communication between both the surveyor and the estate agent as well as the current tenant or owner. This is because you’ll need to coordinate getting the surveyor full access to the property. You have to make sure that they can get into the property, access any areas they need to and whether or not they would like to talk to the current tenant about any issues they’ve previously noticed.
A Damp Survey will cost between £150 to £350 for a typical three-bedroom detached house, though as with most surveys, the cost varies widely based on the size and location of the property.
This cost is what you would expect to pay if you use a fully qualified, certified and chartered surveyor to inspect the property. When choosing your damp surveyor, it’s key to make sure that they’re highly experienced in this specific type of surveying to ensure that nothing is neglected during the work.
If the report comes back with bad results and serious issues, there’s no need to panic. Many issues can be fixed relatively easily and this may not necessarily cost you anything. It's likely that the survey will have been undertaken before you physically pay for the property and at this point, you’re still able to reopen negotiations based on your findings.
First, look through the survey results and assess how much it’s going to cost to make the property safe and inhabitable. You can then discuss this information with the estate agent and get their opinion on how to move forward. Although the current owner is under no obligation to lower the price of the house, you’re also not obligated to go through with the sale until contracts have been signed and exchanged.
Therefore, you should work with them to find a middle ground that you’re both happy with. This may either be that the current owners get the work done before you move in, allowing them to get the best deal they can on the work whilst still receiving the original accepted offer. Or alternatively, the owner may reduce the offer by the cost of the repairs so that you can complete the work yourself once you’ve moved in.
It’s worth noting that in many cases, you may have to accept some of the cost for the damp repairs. You’ll need to assess whether these repairs are still in line with the overall value of the property and whether or not the property will be worth the investment once the repairs have been made.
We hope this guide has left you fully informed with all you need to know about Damp Surveys and what you can expect from the specialist surveyor. Remember, when the time comes to arrange your property survey, you can use Compare My Move to save money on your survey costs. Just fill in a short and simple form to get connected with up to 5 RICS accredited surveyors, saving you both time and money when it matters most.