What does a proper damp survey involve and how long does it take?

Most instances of dampness in the walls of a building have travelled from somewhere else before appearing at the surface. The exact route travelled is often unknown and unpredictable, making it impossible to know the source and severity without a detailed investigation. A proper damp survey therefore involves mapping the moisture patterns within the walls and their impact on timber components.

To achieve this, variations in the moisture within or immediately behind the plaster, as well as within the thickness of the walls, need to be measured and recorded at regular intervals for the length and height of the walls. This can require over 300 measurements for even a modest size room. As there is no single piece of equipment capable of taking the different measurements required, these measurements must be taken with multiple pieces of equipment (this does not damage the walls). Not surprisingly, even at a rate of 1 measurement every 12 seconds (which is often not possible when furniture etc. impedes access) it can easily take an hour just for one average size room.

Providing sufficient measurements are taken, the results can be used to create a 'map' of your walls. This map can reveal how moisture is currently flowing through the walls, where salts have been deposited, and where the real problems are occurring.

On its own, this detailed mapping of the walls will still not provide all of the information needed to come up with a solution to any problems found. To complete the picture, the measuring of the moisture needs to go hand in hand with a more general survey of the building to record the details of its construction, together with any defects present.

Without the full picture, any surveyor is really just guessing as to the problem.

To take the guesswork out of your damp survey, you have a choice of 3 fixed price survey packages which allow different amounts of time for the survey inspection, so vary in their breadth of coverage:

  Damp plus Standard damp Basic damp
Time allowed for survey inspection: Up to 5 days Up to 1 day Up to ½ day
Suitable for:
  • Widespread and severe dampness affecting a moderate or large home
  • or
  • Comprehensive damp checks required on a large home
  • or
  • Advice is required prior to extensive restoration or renovation of a sizeable or rambling period home
  • Severe dampness affecting the whole of a modest size home or up to half the rooms in a moderate size (3-5 bed) home
  • or
  • Widespread damp concerns on a moderate size (3-5 bed) home
  • Mould problems
  • or
  • Damp patches affecting a small number of rooms
  • or
  • Severe dampness affecting only 1 or 2 rooms
  • or
  • Widespread damp concerns on a modest size (1-3 bed) home
Interior checks carried out on: Entire house All indicated areas, plus those potentially vulnerable to damp All areas affected by mould or damp patches, plus potentially vulnerable walls
Accessible roof spaces included Yes Only if there is evidence of possible leaks or damp No
Checks for floor problems All floors Timber ground floors and floors in areas affected by severe damp Ground floors only
Checks for damp in walls Yes Yes Yes
Checks for timber decay Yes Interior timber only Interior timber where severe dampness is present
Checks for salt contaminated plaster Yes Yes Yes
Checks for missing or inadequate insulation Yes Only if mould is present Only if mould is present
Checks for inadequate or excessive ventilation Yes Only if mould is present Only if mould is present
Exterior checks carried out on: Entire house Walls to rooms affected by or potentially vulnerable to damp Walls to rooms affected by damp
Checks for roof problems (subject to visibility/access) Yes Only where there is evidence of leaks No
Checks for decaying brick and stone Yes Main external walls only No
Checks for incorrect ground levels Yes Yes Only where ground floor rooms are affected by damp
Checks for maintenance issues that could lead to future damp problems Yes Major issues only No
Checks for previous building work that is incompatible with the house Yes Sizeable areas or areas where problems are starting to occur Only areas where problems are starting to occur
Can the survey include additional checks on the building for a small additional charge? Yes – discuss at initial enquiry Yes – discuss at initial enquiry No
Comprehensive report with prioritised advice Yes – printed and electronic (pdf) versions are both issued as standard Yes – printed and electronic (pdf) versions are both issued as standard Yes – your choice of printed or electronic (pdf) version is issued as standard.
Both versions can be issued for a supplement of £15
Back-up verbal advice included Available for 3 years Available for 2 years Available for 6 months
Standard Package price £2160 + travel £800 + travel £500 + travel

My travel for all damp surveys is based on the shortest RAC recommended route from my office at Aylsham in North Norfolk to the survey location. To give you an idea of what this is likely to amount to, here are some approximate travel charges for various locations: Norwich £15, Lowestoft and King's Lynn £45, Colchester and Peterborough £90, Lincoln £110, Derby and London £145, Manchester £235, Cardiff £295, Edinburgh £440.

Your next step is to telephone me on 01263 734815 for an impartial discussion about your damp concerns. Often a discussion is all that is needed to provide the pointers needed to resolve your concerns.

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