Free damp and timber surveys


Property Remedial Articles - Olympic Construction

Before Christmas I received a call from a client who requested that I undertake a Pre -mortgage damp and timber survey of a property in Oldham the property being only 2 miles from my office.

After asking the general questions of the survey limitations and the size of the property I informed him of the cost for the survey. His reaction at this point turned hostile and he informed me that he didn’t see why he should pay for a quotation for works.

I informed him that the cost was to cover my time and costs which we incurred and that I wasn’t simply providing a quotation but undertaking a survey and providing a written report on the areas specified which would provide the mortgage provider with the information required.

He then informed me that a free survey had been already undertaken and that he had already been told that a full damp proof course was required to the property, but his lender had refused to accept the survey as the provider was not a member of the ‘Property Care Association’ (PCA). And that the issues of the sub-floor ventilation and timbers had not been addressed correctly.

After further discussion he reluctantly agreed to the survey fees and an appointment with the current property owner where made. The reaction from the property owner being what I can only describe again has hostile.

I arrived at the property at the agreed time and alarm bells started to ring as I walked up the pathway as the first thing I saw was the airbricks to the sub-floor void, sealed with silicon and the path levels being too high. I undertook an external inspection of the property noting a few other small issues but nothing major.

On the internal inspection I noted high readings of 24%wme to a number of skirting boards at their base, but the readings to the wall surface were not readings found with rising dampness. No readings were located to the wall surface of higher that 50mm above the skirting board and these were not anything major with no lifting wallpaper or damaged paint. The installed damp proof course was in my opinion fine and no remedial works were required to this area, and I could only assume the last surveyor was incorrect in his findings, the home owner was pleased.

I then requested that I be allowed to undertake the sub-floor inspection, I was informed that there was a trap under the stairs where the last contractor had inspected the sub-floor void from.

The access was not suitable to allow entry and when I informed the owner that floorboards would need to be raised to allow an inspection, he was again not happy and his mood turned hostile once again.

He agreed and the carpets to the front elevation of the lounge were pulled back boards were lifted and a tell tail smell of fungal decay was noted.

The whole underside of the floor void had loft insulation installed in pcv mesh between the floor joists. The undersides of the floor joists were saturated and condensation was found to be dripping from the underside of the insulation.

I asked the owner the reason for the insulation being installed and told him of my concerns. He informed me that the rooms were cold and building contractor had installed the insulation and sealed up the external sub-floor ventilation to help retain the heat within the building and prevent drafts. On lifting further boards along the front of the installed fire place I wasn’t surprised to find the fungal decay of which I could smell when the floor void was opened.

Further opening of the floor void in the dining room uncovered further evidence of dry rot to the underside of the new floorboards and joists installed by the contractor along with the tell tail red dust when a largefurniture unit was removed.

The question was how had this been missed on the last inspection.

Why had the survey recommended a full damp proof course when there was no evidence of rising dampness noted.

On my arrival back at the office I contacted the client and asked who the last survey had been undertaken by and if it was possible to get a copy.

I was informed that the contractor who had undertaken the survey would appear to be a plastering contractor advertising in the local paper and phone book under damp proofing work only.

When he was asked about the issue of the fungal decay to the floor and the issues of the insulation and the sealing of the sub-floor ventilation, the phone apparently went dead.

Following the survey we were requested by the property owner to provide estimates for the remedial works required which are in the post. The house sale as not fallen through and negotiations are apparently going to commence after the Christmas holiday period.

One of the conditions of sale, so I am informed is that Olympic Construction undertakes the remedial works required or the sale doesn’t go through. The client as already paid the invoice for the survey and informed me that should the sale not go through we will be undertaking the surveys no matter what the cost.