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The Benefits of Having a Damp Survey

Owain Banfield
Written by Owain Banfield
6th April 2018 (Last updated on Tuesday 16th April 2019)

A Damp Survey is a detailed look into a property which has shown potential damp damage. This specialist survey by your chartered surveyor usually follows a Homebuyers ReportFull Structural Survey, or even Valuation Survey, which may have highlighted damp patches or visible mould growth.

In essence, it's a deep look 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 to other surveys, why you need a specialist to do it, the cost, and how to deal with the survey report.

This article will cover the following points

What is a Damp Survey? Do I Need a Specialist Damp Survey? What Happens During the Damp Survey? What Does the Damp Report Look Like? What do I Need to do as a Buyer? How Much Will a Damp Survey Cost? What to do After a Bad Damp Survey? Save on Your Survey

What is a Damp Survey?

A damp survey is a special type of survey on a property that looks specifically at any damp issues that there might be. 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 is causing and how much it may cost to remedy it.

Unlike other building surveys which look at the overall condition of various parts of a building, a damp survey just looks specifically at the presence of and damage being caused by damp. This survey is usually undertaken when an initial valuation, Homebuyers report or full structural survey has highlighted that damp may be an issue in a property.

Do I Need a Specialist Damp Survey?

A chartered surveyor will be able to give you a strong idea of whether damp is an issue in your property. They will do this by using special tools to measure the level of internal damp and looking at certain areas that are often affected by damp issues.

However, to get a deeper understanding of the extent of any damp damage it is recommended that you talk to a specialist. A specialist will be able to give a much more detailed idea of how damp is impacting on the property, for example how far it has sunk into the affected area as well as whether it is rising damp, condensation or penetrating damp that is the issue. This information is so useful as it will also allow the surveyor to recommend how these issues should be tackled and any associated costs.

What Happens During the Damp Survey?

Once you have talked to the damp specialist and booked in the survey they will visit the property you are 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 damp over time. Once they have done this, they will then work systematically through the building and focus on any areas that have been highlighted as potentially damaged by damp.

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 suspect looking pipework or drainage. All these areas will be noted and assessed as part of the report you will receive.

What Does the Damp Report Look Like?

You are likely to receive the report as an email, although in some case the report will be sent through the post. It will be an easy to understand document which will include all the findings of the survey as well as any other considerations that the surveyor has made from the process of 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, any unusual features or potential defects in the external gutters and down-pipes. It will also cover any missing or damaged pointing, and visible cracking in the render coating on the external of the house and 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, flashing and defective roof covering. Finally, there will also 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 damage 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.

What do I Need to do as a Buyer?

As a buyer having a damp survey undertaken is a fairly simple process with little input required on your behalf. Initially you will need to make the decision on whether the survey is required based on either your own observations or the finding of a separate survey.

You will also need to maintain a good level of communication between both the surveyor and the estate agent, current tenant, or owner. This is because you will need to coordinate getting the surveyor access to the property in order to undertake the survey. Making sure both that they can get into the property, access any areas of the property that they need to and also talk to the current tenant will ensure that the survey in general will go smoothly.

How Much Will a Damp Survey Cost?

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 surveyor, it is key to make sure that they are highly experienced in damp surveying to ensure that nothing is missed during the work.

What to do After a Bad Damp Survey?

If the report comes back and there are some serious issues, there is 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 your physically pay for the property and at this point you are still able to reopen negotiations based on your findings.

First, look through the findings and assess how much it is going to cost to make the property safe and inhabitable. You will then be able to use this information by talking to the estate agent and getting their opinion on how to move forward. Although the current owner is under no obligation to lower the price of the house based on the findings, you are also not obligated to go through with the sale.

Therefore, you should work with them to find a middle ground that you are 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 and still getting the original accepted offer. Or alternatively it will allow them to discount the offer in order to have you complete the work once you have moved in.

It is worth noting that in many cases you may have to accept some of the cost for the damp repairs and you will need to assess whether these repairs are still in line with the overall value of the property. For more information, we've put together a handy guide for how to deal with bad survey results.

Save on Your Survey

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 surveys, you can use Compare My Move to save money on your survey costs. Just fill in a short and simple form and get connected with up to 5 RICS accredited surveyors, to save you time and money when it matters most.