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Money Saving Examples

Potential Costly Mistakes Due to Mis-Diagnosis (Examples)

Llandudno Road, Rhos on Sea, LL28 

Instructed to investigate a damp wall problem with an attached garage.  On arrival at the property our specialist damp surveyor noticed that water was running across the garage floor from the external wall to the door.  It was raining at the time and the client informed us that this happened each time it rained.  He had instructed a local builder to investigate this problem and had been told by the builder that the solid  floor should be dug up and renewed with a damp proof membrane below and that a new inner wall be constructed to stop the water coming in.  All for the sum of £5,490.00.

Our surveyor went outside into the neighbouring garden (which the local builder had NOT) and immediately discovered the cause of the problem.  The guttering to the garage was defective and water was pouring out through a crack down onto a saturated flower bed, which was at a higher level than the garage floor, in the immediate vicinity where it was entering the garage!

The solution?………Repair the guttering and lower the flower bed.  Both carried out by the client.
Cost?………………… The damp survey fee he paid for a CORRECT diagnosis.
Savings?……………. £5,400.00

Our advice?  Always instruct a qualified damp specialist to correctly diagnose your damp problem.  It could save you thousands in the long run!

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Pre-purchase damp and timber surveys carried out by Damp Aid North Wales to satisfy mortgage lending requirements

Mortgage lending is very strict in the current financial climate and Bank & Building Society surveyors always seem to err on the side of caution when they detect the merest hint of dampness or timber decay in a property that they survey.  This applies a lot in older properties in North Wales and Chester areas where many are of random stone construction and do not lend themselves to the more popular damp-proofing systems.

Most mortgage valuers simply use a moisture meter to detect dampness but these meters do not give meaningful readings on plaster or brickwork when used by individuals which are not specifically trained to carry out damp surveys.  They often give mis-leading readings and then the building surveyors immediately recommend a ‘specialist damp & timber decay report’.   Forewarned that damp has been picked up on a mortgage survey the ‘free damp survey’ ( which are really just quotes for a  chemical damp-proof course injection) will regularly mis-diagnose rising damp and recommend chemical damp-proofing which is unnecessary, expensive and disruptive. If there is any damp it can usually be controlled in a more cost effective, environmentally friendly way.

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Pre-purchase damp and timber decay survey
Aberconway Road, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, LL19 9HH

First time buyers had put in an offer on a 1930 semi detached property in Prestatyn, near Llandudno, North Wales.  A building society valuation surveyor carried out a home buyers survey. The surveyors report highlighted areas of rising dampness and possible timber decay to the ground floor. A damp proofing and timber treatment company based near Prestatyn, LL19, offering free damp surveys, was recommended by the north wales estate agent selling the property.  As a condition of  the mortgage, the damp-proofing company provided a damp and timber report which indicated rising damp to all the external walls and an outbreak of dry rot to an area of flooring. The price for the installation of a new chemical damp-proof course, associated re-plastering and dry rot works came to £9,610.00 + vat, which prompted the building society to put a retention on the property until the remedial works had been carried out.

The buyers commissioned us to carry out an independent damp and timber survey on their behalf. Upon inspection of the property we found that the dampness was due to a raised tarmac drive and patio area, which was bridging the original slate physical damp-proof course. The raised ground levels were also obstructing all the sub-floor ventilation air bricks and the “dry rot outbreak” reported by the other damp course company was, in fact, wet rot due to the high external ground level and insufficient sub-floor ventilation.

The works (and costs) recommended by the North Wales based damp-proofing company was completely unnecessary. All that was required was the lowering of the external ground levels, which opened up the existing air bricks and the replacement of the two joist ends affected by timber decay. These remedial works were carried out by a local north wales building contractor, for a total cost of £590.00 + vat. Completely environmentally friendly and without the need for costly damp-proof course chemical treatment.

Needless to say, following this work, the £10,000 retention was withdrawn by the mortgage lender and the funds were released. Happy Days!!!

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A LESSON LEARNED……….”TREAD” CAREFULLY

Barn Conversion, Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57  2EG

We were called to carry out a timber survey and report upon a woodworm infestation in a converted stone farm building near Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57, where first time buyers had previously instructed a damp-proofing and timber treatment company, based on Anglesey , to carry out a free timber survey for wood boring insects (woodworm) to the main staircase. Their specialist report stated active woodworm noted to the underside flooring of the staircase and provided a price for target timber treatment at the cost of £980 + vat.

When we carried out a survey, although there were no visible signs of woodworm holes, it was noted that the carpet to the staircase was extremely old and had a cream colored rubber underlay which was badly worn, dry and crumbling. What was, according to the previous company, a large amount of frass (sawdust) on the floor below the staircase, was in fact disintegrated rubber underlay! Vibrations from the occupants of the property going up and down the stairs had caused the crumbling underlay to fall between the treads and risers and accumulate on the floor below.

By a simple visual (duh!) inspection our surveyor was able to diagnose a case of “carpet dandruff” and the client was able to avoid costly and completely inappropriate chemical timber treatment and with the money saved they were able to buy a new staircase carpet and have money left in the bank for a rainy day!

Carry out target treatment? – we think not……more like “a visit to Specsavers” comes to mind!!

So remember…….”tread” carefully when using damp-proofing and timber treatment companies who offer free damp and timber surveys.

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 Pre-purchase damp and timber survey on a three bedroom, brick constructed semi-detached house to satisfy mortgage requirements.

Mold Road, Gwersyllt, Wrexham, LL11

The property had been empty for some time without any heating. The building society valuation surveyor stated damp was noted to all the ground floor walls, which was also accompanied by black mould, and that woodworm infestation was found in the roof/loft. A mortgage retention was put in place as part of the mortgage loan conditions until the damp and timber treatment was carried out.

A damp-proofing and timber treatment company, based on in North Wales, which was recommended by the local estate agent, carried out a free survey for dampness and wood boring insects (woodworm).

The North Wales based damp control company provided recommendations and a quotation to install a chemical injection damp proof course and re plastering works along with timber treatment to the whole house.

The buyers contacted Damp Aid North Wales to ask us to carry out an independent damp and timber survey. After a more in-depth timber and damp survey we found that there was no need to carry out any damp-proofing works or timber treatment at all.

The woodworm infestation to the roof space and the first floor was found to be non-active (in fact the vendors informed us that the whole property was covered by a long term guarantee following woodworm treatment six years previously) and the damp and replastering works were completely unnecessary as the problem had been caused by condensation due to the victorian property having been left empty for six months.

By having the problem correctly diagnosed we were able to save the buyer £6,970 which had been quoted by the previous damp-proofing and timber treatment contractor!

Following our survey report the retention was lifted by the building society and the buyer was able to spend the money saved on improving ventilation and other renovation building works.

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Northop Road, Mount Pleasant, Flint, Flintshire, CH6

This property was a brick built cottage, which at the time of our damp and timber survey was in need of updating which the new owner was going to carry out.  Dampness and timber decay had been noted in the survey carried out for the mortgage and the local estate agent arranged for a Holywell North Wales based damp-proofing and timber treatment company to inspect the property.  They recommended the installation of a chemical damp-proof course and water-proof plastering throughout the ground floor at a cost of around £5,000 and the treatment of the ground floor timbers against timber decay costing £2,500.   The owner wanted a second opinion and instructed Damp Aid North Wales to carry out a timber and damp survey.  We found that, although there was some evidence of damp in the house, it had been constructed with a physical damp-proof course  which was still evident and appeared to be intact.  We found that the ‘rising damp’ was due to partial bridging of the physical damp-proof course which had allowed low-level damp penetration/moisture ingress to the base of the walls which had then travelled upwards through the brickwork by capillary action to appear as rising damp internally.   The “timber decay” was found to be a couple of joist ends adjacent to the high external ground level which were slightly damp due to sub-floor condensation, but were not decayed.  No specialist damp-proofing works were required.  The only remedial work necessary was the lowering of the external ground levels to prevent bridging of the damp-proof course and the improvement of sub-floor ventilation.  This was carried out by the client’s own builder during the course of refurbishment to the property at a minimum cost compared to the thousands of pounds quoted for damp proof course injection, re-plastering and timber treatment.

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 Pwllheli Road, Caernarvon, Caernarfonshire, LL55 2YS

A mortgage survey reported upon dampness and timber decay in this stone built cottage, on the outskirts of Caernarfon, and a free damp and timber survey was obtained by the Estate Agent from a local Caernarfonshire based damp-proofing and timber treatment company.  Their inspector diagnosed dampness and timber infestation and recommended damp-proofing and timber treatment works for a price of around £8,000.00.

We were instructed to carry out an independent damp and timber survey for the buyer.  Upon inspection of the property, we found that the dampness was minimum and had been caused by external defects such as leaking gutters and cracked external rendering.   Once these were attended to the affected walls would dry out without having to install a chemical damp-proof course.   Inspection of the structural timbers revealed evidence of woodworm to some floorboards and in the roof timbers but this was non-active and therefore chemical preservative treatment was not justified.

The mortgage lender was pleased with the report we produced and our client obtained their mortgage without a retention. The repair works that we suggested were undertaken by a local building contractor for a few hundred pounds, compared to the thousands quoted for the unnecessary damp-proofing and timber treatments that had been recommended by other North Wales damp proofing companies offering free damp & timber surveys.

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 So a word in your “shell-like”………
Do not rely on so-called free surveys – you could end up paying dearly in the end!
(As the well known saying states – nothing in life is free) 

For honest, professional and qualified advise along with the correct diagnosis of your damp and timber problems
Call Damp Aid North Wales on your local number or fill in our enquiry form