All at sea?Why not dive into our FAQ's or drop us a line!
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If you have a question you'd like to pose, please email in the contact form below and we'll be sure to answer you, you never know it may even form part of this, soon to be, wealth of knowledge!
Yes, we assess buildings and structures from all eras, but we have extensive experience in building conservation which will undoubtedly help your project. Read more here
Yes, we provide guidance and specifications to ensure materials are appropriate and sympathetic for your project. Read more here
Damp walls could be caused by one or several of the following issues;
- moisture penetrating via defective masonry, pointing or render
- blocked or leaking gutters and rainwater pipes
- blocked or broken drains
- high external ground levels
- rising damp
- salt contamination
It is essential to correctly identify the source of moisture because the remedies can be very different; with some no cost or low cost solutions, while other solutions can be more involved and therefore costly.
Yes, but it is nowhere near as common as reported, with the dampness usually caused by other sources of moisture.
Penetrating dampness and even condensation are often misdiagnosed as rising damp, which can lead to quotes for unnecessary, inappropriate and expensive remedial works.
Yes… and no!
Gravimetric testing described in BRE Digest 245, is currently the most reliable test for investigating the source(s) of dampness in walls. However, it is quiet destructive (often prohibitively destructive), and is time consuming, requires laboratory equipment and skilled analysis, which can become costly.
While these tests are essential for contractor disputes and for litigation purposes, the damage to decorations, plaster and associate costs will often prove unacceptable to many clients.
As large percentage of damp surveys are undertaken as a consequence of concerns raised during a building survey undertaken when a property is put up for sale; it is no surprise that the vendors aren’t usually that keen to agree to such damage and disruption at a time when they have just ‘refreshed’ decorations etc to make the house look at its best.
As an alternative, ‘surveyors’ most commonly use electrical moisture meters to assess dampness, with operators studying the patterns and distribution of readings which can give an indication of the source of dampness.
However, these meters are not designed to quantify the dampness of wall plaster or that of the underlaying masonry; instead, they are actually specifically calibrated to measure the moisture content of timber…
Therefore the ‘test’ is completely reliant on the operator interpreting the moisture profiles correctly… any misinterpretation of these readings could lead to a variety of damp issues being misdiagnosed as rising damp, or, damp being proclaimed when the walls are actually dry!
We advise that you really should not be accepting quotes for remedial works costing many hundreds or even thousands of pounds, based on the interpretation of readings from an electrical moisture meter… the ‘free’ or low cost surveys have to be paid for by somebody… don’t let it be you!
Proceed with care!!
FAQ's Dry Rot
The cost of controlling dry rot will depend on many variables including, how far it has spread, the cost of replacing the materials it has damaged, and importantly, the cost of rectifying the causes that lead to the outbreak, and… if the outbreak is active or dead
The short answer is, from several hundred£ to tens of thousands£.
If chemical treatments are at all deemed necessary, those associated costs should not be excessive.
Again, this really depends on so many factors, including the time it will take to rectify the causes of moisture ingress, and the time it takes to reduce the levels of moisture in any areas that need to be sealed (eg. floor and ceiling voids, boxing-in etc).
Rushing this process is risky, dry rot is resilient and could return if the remedial works are not sufficiently thorough.
The targeted use of chemical preservative treatments could be considered in helping manage a dry rot outbreak, until a time when improved moisture controls within the internal environment have made it unsuitable for the development of wood-rotting fungus.
It is our experience that remedial contractors overuse chemical treatments, either in order to sell more ‘specialist’ products, or because they are not confident in their ability to control dry rot environmentally.
As previously mentioned, maintaining a dry environment is crucial to the long-term success of controlling dry rot - a failure to adequately control moisture increases the likelihood for the return of dry rot.
During the period before the management of moisture has made the internal environment unsuitable for the development of wood-rotting fungus, the targeted use of chemical preservative treatments could be considered.
The only way to successfully control dry rot is to maintain a ‘dry’ environment, that is, to ensure timbers always have a moisture content below 20%.
In certain scenarios, a targeted application of biocide may be beneficial, but this should never be the default ‘solution’ or used incautiously, or as an alternative to thoroughly controlling moisture in the immediate environment.
A robust strategy is needed in order to minimise the risk of reinfection, and would include;
- Solving the moisture issues
- Consider controlled drying/dehumidification
- Considering the extent of infection and how much infected timber (if any), needs to be removed
- Clean infected areas
- Oversee the application of any targeted chemical treatments thought to be justified
- Monitor remedial works
- Reinstate with care…
While the moisture content of timbers is maintained below 20%, the timbers will not be at risk from dry rot or any other wood-rotting fungi.
However, buildings that have suffered dry rot outbreaks seem to be more susceptible to reinfection. The dry rot fungus is very resilient, its fungal material remaining dormant but viable for several years.
Also, dry rot spores are omnipresent and therefore, found in most buildings, with greater concentrations of spores likely to be found in buildings that have been previously affected by the fungus.
Dry rot coming back may be explained by one or a combination of the following scenarios;
- the original sources of moisture ingress or humidity were not adequately controlled, and the dry rot infection actually never went away
- a new source of moisture rejuvenated viable fungal material
- spores germinated on a sufficiently damp timber
FAQ's Pre-purchase Damp & Timber Survey
Well ours of course! We are the leaders in such assessments, which are focused on establishing the condition of glulam beams, focussing on common problems, and non-destructive assessments to help identify sub-surface decay. Following our inspection you will know the true condition of the structure.
Yes, once we established the extent of decay, there are numerous methodologies to consider. You may find 'An Introduction to Glued Laminated Timber (Glulam)' useful.
The services glulam page can also be found here