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Q&A – What to expect from a damp survey

9th July 2018

Categories  Surveys

Read our Q&A from our Midlands damp and timber surveyor, Mike Cullen on what to expect from a damp survey.

Mike Cullen is a senior member of the ProTen surveying team. He is an experienced and qualified damp, timber and waterproofing surveyor. He has worked in the construction industry for the majority of his working life, starting out as an apprentice carpenter/joiner, specialising in property preservation for 27 years. He predominantly covers the Midlands region.


Q: What is the starting point for booking a survey?

The starting point for our customers is putting in the call to our enquiry team who are extremely knowledgeable and ready to answer your questions. This is particularly important if you’re after some initial advice or information. They will ask you questions about what you are seeing and co-ordinate your survey appointment.  Thisisn’t always as simple as it might sound, for example we might have to arrang key collections from estate agents, schedule appointments with other parties involved and working to get a time that is convenient for our customers.

Once an appointment is made, I will always contact the customer in advance to introduce myself, confirm details and go through any questions they might have.

Q: What’s the first step at the survey?

Once I am on-site, my task is to get the best understanding of the overall condition of the property. I will start with an external inspection, where I look for any external defects that could be contributing to damp migrating into the building fabric, which may then, in turn be impacting the internal walls.

My checks will include:

  • Assessing the external ground levels in relation to the internal floor levels
  • Checking the condition of the roof coverings and any chimney stacks
  • Checking the condition of all rainwater goods, looking for blockages or cracks
  • Establishing if the property has solid or cavity external walls
  • Looking at the type and condition of the brick, stone and pointing
  • Assessing for any recent changes to the property

Q. Do you carry out an internal inspection and if so, what does this involve?

Yes, following the external inspection I then look at the inside of the property, visually checking for the signs of dampness and using my keen sense of smell, an important tool for a damp surveyor!

I will be looking for factors such as:

  • Tide marks above skirting boards
  • Wear and deterioration to the decorative finishes
  • Wall plaster deterioration or blistering
  • Obvious decay to timber skirting boards
  • Peeling wall paper at low level
  • Salting to the plaster surfaces at low level
  • The presence of damp or musty odours
  • Checking for surface mould growth to all areas which be attributable to condensation issues

To support the visual inspection, I will build a moisture profile of the area using an electronic resistance meter to determine if moisture levels are excessive. It may also be necessary to take plaster samples for further analysis. I will be looking at ventilation points and for the presence and condition of extraction fans in the bathrooms and kitchen areas; are they fit for purpose, is additional ventilation required?

I also like to get a property background from the occupant, finding out factors such as how long have the symptoms been present; if there have been any recent changes to a property, such as a new driveway or insulation added to the property.

Q: Do you take photos at the survey?

I will take photos both internally and externally, these not only stand to provide evidence of my findings but will also form part of the report I provide to the customer. This is particularly important when the property in unoccupied or where I am conducting a pre-purchase survey on behalf of a potential buyer who is not usually present.

Q: Do you provide a property sketch plan?

Yes, I take measurements and will make a sketch plan of the property indicating areas for treatment and key points of concern.

Q: Do you provide a report and if so, what does it include?

I will detail my findings, conclusion and recommendations in an inspection report for the client.  The report is quite detailed and will include a quotation for any works that may be necessary, as well as recommendations for any property defects that should be addressed such as repairing a leaking down pipe.

In some cases there may be further investigative work needed, such as exposure works to look under floor boards to uncover the extent of a dry rot outbreak, or, using a thermal imaging camera to detect a leak.  Should any timber defects become apparent during the damp survey – for example, woodboring infestation or decay – we have a duty of care to ensure that this is detailed in the report.

Included in the report will be a scaled sketch plan of the property. This will indicate any of the defects noted at the time of the survey and the location of any areas to be treated or a condensation unit to be sited for example.

Q: What happens next?

This all depends on what was found during the survey. As the Inspection Report can be detailed and sometimes quite technical. I like to contact my clients to answer any questions they might have and I am always on hand to help.

Q: What do you do if a client wants to go ahead with the work?

The work can be scheduled in with our contracts team, or you may need to get some other repair work carried out, it will depend on the problem, but that is where we help by clearly providing the right advice to resolve the problem.  If there are works that go ahead, then I will of course remain involved working with the client, the contracts team and the operatives to make sure the works are carried out smoothly and to the best of standards.

Q: What happens once the works are completed?

Once finished, the client will be provided with a guarantee (if applicable) and, as we’re now on Trustpilot, you also have the opportunity to rate our service.  Our goal is to always find the cause of the problem, recommend the right solutions to resolve it and provide the best service throughout your experience with us.

If you want to learn more about our services and the range of property surveys we provide, please take a look at our website or give us a call.

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