What is rising damp

Legal

Please only book a survey if you agree to the terms and conditions of service.

Here is information about the service, T&Cs and a link to an example report and YouTube video illustrating the perils of not identifying and stopping damp at source.
  • The terms and conditions of service are wordy following the case of Hart v Large. We are not trying to catch anyone out, just wish to make sure expectations are crystal clear.
  • There are a few critical requests and limitations drawn to your attention.
  • Only book a survey if you agree to the terms and conditions of service below.

Terms and conditions of service

Service

  • Damp survey site visits take 1 to 1.5hours.
  • Occasionally we will need to leave monitoring equipment.
  • It is often useful to see the other side of a damp wall, such as in a neighbour’s property and above or below.
  • In most cases damp is easy and quick to fix, once the root cause is correctly identified.
  • This is why most damp issues are misdiagnosed or over engineered by those quoting for work with a conflict of interest.

Fee

  • The fee is a fixed rate of £350 (no VAT payable) for a standard survey and standard PDF report (sent by email – please check your spam folder).
  • We send an invoice up to 2 weeks in advance confirming the appointment time, with payment details.
  • The fee is paid in advance in the form of a refundable deposit.

Report

Think of our service as due diligence rather than insurance

The world of surveying was turned upside down by Hart v Large where a RICS surveyor failed to protect buyers against the potential for ingress during heavy rainstorms and lost about £500,000. His professional indemnity insurance found a reason for not covering him.

As a direct consequence of this case, we have stopped surveying for homebuyer unless they write to us saying that that they agree to the 7 key pre-booking T&Cs. Our surveyor would be happy to call you to discuss the service and why we won’t risk losing £1/2 Million on a £350 fee.

Terms and conditions

7 Key pre-booking T&Cs

1) Liability limited to £10,500

Damp Surveys Ltd’s (“the Company”, “we”) aggregate liability arising out of, or in connection with, these services, whether arising from negligence, breach of contract, or any other cause whatsoever, shall in no event exceed £10,500. This clause shall not limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.

We would be happy to discuss this limitation further with you. If you do not deem our liability limit adequate, then please find another damp surveyor, obtain suitable insurance or otherwise limit your financial exposure to an amount less than our liability limit.

2) Claims within 90 days and follow-up surveys

Dampness can be concealed or occur suddenly. For example a leak. Rot can germinate within weeks of timber becoming wet. Expensive remedial action can be averted by early intervention, therefore it is reasonable to limit time by which claims are made against the company and to have access to inspect and if necessary limit the impact of any claimed damage.

All claims against Damp Surveys Ltd must be made within 90 days of the damp survey site visit for which the invoice was raised. The date of the site visit is stated on the invoice.The Company must be allowed full access to the property within 90 days of a claim being received to determine the merits of a claim. This does not limit the time by which claims against the company for death or personal injury caused by our negligence. Correspondence and updates to the survey and report do not extend the date that claims can be made by.

We recommend a follow-up damp survey if there is a delay of more than two months between a site visit and you acquiring and occupying a property. Follow-up surveys are charged at £175. We use reasonable endeavours to return to the property within 30 days of you emailing a follow-up site visit request. The follow-up report will be a brief report with additional observations and recommendations, if any, with additional costs to budget for and will be limited to 90 days from the follow-up site visit. Our aggregate liability for the damp survey and any follow-up site visits shall in no event exceed £10,500.

3) Data and ongoing monitoring before and after purchase

We will make best endeavours to start the process of monitoring a property for 90 days from the survey site visit, by placing a small datalogger to monitor humidity and temperature on or next to a damp wall and or a hygrometer probe in a sub-floor void. The dataloggers we use have sufficient memory capacity to store 100 days of data. You must make best endeavours to download and email us the .csv file, see https://surveyor.tips/datalogger-set-up/ within 90 days of the site visit. The dataloggers can be reset to store new data, but make sure to extract the .csv file before reseting them. Hygrometer probes measure current condition. Send an email to inform us if the humidity readings on the hygrometer probe exceeds 85%RH consistently for more than 7 consecutive days.

The report will identify the locations and explain the purpose in greater depth.

4) We don’t guarantee to find all damp issues or their root causes

We are experts at identifying root causes of known damp issues and at making recommendations for remedial work and further investigation. We do not guarantee to find all damp, mould and rot issues in a property, all root causes, nor do we warrant any findings in our report unless we enter into a separate warrantee agreement with you. See paragraph 18 below.

5) Termination of contract following a request for fee repayment

All our damp surveys come with a Satisfaction and Rising Damp Guarantee, see details below in paragraphs 24 & 25. Repayment of the survey fee in full following an email or telephone request from you will terminate this contract.

6) Prior permission and requests made of the property owner

Diagnosing the root cause of damp is through observation, profiling and tracing techniques. We use a capacitance damp meter for surface measurements and a radio frequency damp meter that can detect dense matter such as significant dampness up to about 70mm within a wall. No disruption will be made to the building’s fabric save for a few pin sized holes left by a device. Access hatches and inspection chamber lids will only be lifted where it is easy to do so. We cannot report on anything we cannot see or measure. We will try to gain access where possible but cannot move objects we consider too heavy or fragile such as cupboards, beds, ornaments, vases etc. nor can we lift floor coverings without permission. We cannot report dampness in the voids under floors or above ceilings unless we have sufficient access which should be arranged and agreed in advance by the owner.

If we are required to open up floor coverings, secured floorboards or walk across an unsupported loft we request the owners agreement in advance by email or writing specifically excluding us from liability resulting from damages incurred, regardless of whether damages were caused by negligence.

7) Education and sharing of best practices

We are keen to encourage homeowners and damp proofers to diagnose and treat the root cause of damp before considering chemicals and impermeable wall coatings. We often publish damp related images from surveys on websites or reports to educate and inform the public of damp, rot, mould, their causes and the risk of using chemicals and impermeable slurry. It is a  fundamental condition of our service. We use reasonable endeavours to ensure that individual and corporate privacy is protected. We respectfully ask you to use another surveyor if you are unwilling to allow us to use images and data collected at the surveyed property.

Other contractual terms that require agreement before paying the invoice

8) Damp surveys undertaken for a client before exchange of contracts carry a much greater level of risk for us than normal surveys. We will state on the invoice, if we understand the client to be the buyer. The client must write to us in advance if the invoice does not correctly identify the client as the buyer of the property, if that is the case. The report will be written in the name of the client named on the invoice. Unless expressly stated otherwise in the report nothing in the report confers or is intended to confer any rights on any third party pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.

9) Our expertise is in identifying the root causes of dampness and valuing remedial actions to stop moisture. We are not RICS home-buyer surveyors. We don’t value properties. We are not structural engineers. We are not plumbers. We are not roofers. We are not builders. Any comments outside of our expertise as damp surveyors should be checked by someone with relevant expertise.

10)  If you suffer loss as a result of our breach of contract or negligence, our liability shall be limited to a just and equitable proportion of your loss having regard to the extent of responsibility of any other party. Our liability shall not increase by reason of a shortfall in recovery from any other party, whether that shortfall arises from an agreement between you and them, your difficulty in enforcement, or any other cause.

11) Our report is confidential to the party to whom it is addressed for the stated purpose for which it has been provided and no liability is accepted to any third party for the whole or any part of its contents.  Liability will not be extended to any other party except on the basis of written and agreed instructions; this will include an additional  fee. The terms of the agreement between us and the Company are not enforceable by any third party under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999.

12) None of our employees, partners or consultants individually has a contract with you or owes you a duty of care or personal responsibility. You agree that you will not bring any claim against any such individuals personally in connection with our services.

13) You can only rely on advice written in the report. Conversations are not to be relied upon as ideas may not develop into advice written into the report.

14) Claims can only be made if you have followed all our recommendations and the property has not been materially altered which could have resulted in dampness since the damp survey.

15) It is the client’s responsibility to check that a contractor has sufficient insurance and competence to undertake any work that we recommend. Which! TrustedTrader and CheckaTrade are valued trade listings.

Our role and responsibilities

16) The role of Damp Surveys Ltd (“the Company”, “we”) is to identify current dampness in walls of habitable rooms, diagnose the primary cause of that dampness, recommend further investigation and price up remedial actions to stop dampness. We will perform our services with reasonable skill and care.

17) Over the past 50 years there has been an increasing tendency to stop the symptoms of dampness rather than the root cause. In our opinion, identifying and repairing the cause of dampness is the only safe way to damp-proof. While we normally identify the primary root cause we offer no guarantee. For that reason we offer to repay the full survey fee for up to two weeks from the date of the survey report.

18) We will use reasonable endeavours to uncover the primary cause of dampness during damp surveys and report on what we discover.  Our reports are not a guarantee against dampness or the consequences of dampness, such as rot, woodworm, mould and decorative spoiling. By way of example;
a) Almost all properties occasionally leak following strong wind and rain. Such leaks can only be detected if it has rained recently. The only people who spend enough time in the property to know, are the occupiers, so they should be asked as part of a buyer’s enquiries.
b) Leaking mains water, wastewater and heating systems can be hard to identify and pinpoint without dyes and tracer gases which are not messy, time consuming and not offered as a part of a standard survey. Leaks are especially hard to identify when pipes have been out of use, such as radiators in summertime.
c) Damp Proof Courses (“DPC”) are used to stop groundwater, that is water from under the water-table from rising up a wall, known as rising damp. Most properties built after 1875 have a DPC but it is rarely visible and rarely required as groundwater is rarely in contact with walls. The only way to determine if the DPC is sufficient to stop groundwater causing rising damp is to flood the ground below the DPC. The cost and consequences are disproportionate to the benefits of that knowledge. We will use reasonable endeavours to identify rising damp and will establish and report on the risk of rising damp from groundwater. The height of the water-table under a building can vary due to factors outside of our control.
d) Insufficient ventilation, insulation, heating and excessive vapour will result in condensation and mould in all properties.
e) Most properties over 100 years old have hygroscopic salts in walls mainly around chimney breasts. Hygroscopic salts are not a source of water. They rarely result from rising damp. They cannot cause rot or mould but can cause decorative spoiling. These salts are normally hidden by building material such as plaster. They can only be detected when relative humidity is high, typically in excess of 70%RH.
f) Cellars and below ground floor storage units were not designed for habitation. Below ground brick walls are best left uncovered or painted with lime so that rain water can evaporate away. Sub-floor vents are best left as originally designed; unimpeded to ensure moisture that enters the sub-floor void is evaporated away safely.
g) Properties require 6 monthly checks during or immediately after a rainstorm to ensure rainwater goods are working correctly. Roof valleys, gutters, hoppers, down-pipes, gullies & drains should be checked and unblocked. Cracks must be filled as they appear, including render cracks and cracks around openings. Damaged or slipped roof tiles or flashing need replacement as they occur.

19) Many measures can be employed to temporarily repair or paint over cracks or obscure dampness, including damp proofing walls. We will use reasonable endeavours to identify cracks and uncover dampness in walls but cannot be held responsible for actions taken to obscure cracks and dampness. If you are a buyer you should instruct your lawyer to ask the vendors if they have covered up cracks or covered up dampness in walls such as through damp proofing treatment and ask for details of what work was done.

20) Most dampness in properties results from the unintended consequences of changes made to a property. We will try to identify the changes most likely to result in dampness and look for damp resulting from those changes. However, if you are a buyer, you should instruct your lawyers to ask the vendors to inform you of all major changes that have been undertaken over the last 10 years, such as a loft conversion or extension. Buyers should then instruct lawyers to request all Professional Consultants’ Certificates, Building Regulations Compliance Certificates, Planning Approvals, FENSA certificates, supplier and builder’s warrantees and any other guarantees or compliance certificates. If there are any certificates you or your lawyer believe are missing then you should ask your lawyer to pursue the matter or insure against deficiencies.

Ask the vendor to provide builder/ supplier guarantees/ warrantees and establish if the builder/ supplier is likely to remain solvent for the guarantee period and if so, what price and over what period, would they consider transferring the guarantee/ warrantee. These are the responsibilities of the conveyancer and therefore are not a damp surveyor’s role or responsibility.

21) Identifying dampness in walls is done both visually and by testing with a damp meter at the inside base of all external walls every 1 meter where accessible. The base of internal walls and walls at ceiling level are sample tested where there are signs of dampness.

Mains water and central heating leaks are often distinctive. If we suspect a leak, we will attempt a mainswater pressure test. However these tests rely on a leak free connection with an external tap. We cannot test for underfloor or central heating system leaks.  Mains pressure tests are not always conclusive. There are occasionally false positive and false negative results. While we can often identify a mains water leak, we cannot identify where that leak is coming from unless we can see the section of pipe that is leaking.

22) Questions following report receipt

It is understandable that you may have a few questions following receipt of your report. We respectfully ask that these are emailed within a week of us emailing you the report, while the survey is fresh in our minds, and that we are given a week to answer questions, unless you tell us there is greater urgency, as we prioritise surveying and report completion. Frequently answered questions will be directed to an online FAQ page.

23) Insurance claims and dispute resolution

We understand that occasionally reports are used for insurance claims and dispute resolution, such as with neighbours and freeholders. We would like to be told before we make a commitment to a survey, if that is your intention.

24) Rising damp guarantee

  • We will repay the full fee, no questions asked, if we find rising damp is the root cause. It is that rare in London.
  • If a builder tries to persuade you that you have rising damp, ask for proof, including evidence that the water-table is within 1M of ground level, that the rise is horizontal across the whole property and that the water contains nitrates.
  • We would also like to be involved in ongoing monitoring, as data is important for the scientific study of this rare and illusive phenomenon.

25) Satisfaction guarantee

  • While we normally identify the primary root cause of damp we offer no guarantee.
  • For that reason we offer to repay the full survey fee for up to two weeks from the date of the survey report.
  • Please see https://dampsurveys.com/legal for complaints policy and other legal matters.

26) Advance of a survey

  • Please email in advance
    • past reports including your RICS survey report,
    • images of damp and
    • a summary of damp and timber concerns, to ensure that they are covered by our survey and report.
  • We recommend owners monitor humidity for a week or more before a survey using two dataloggers costing about £17.49 such as the ORIA Wireless Thermometer Hygrometer. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08238DFWL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Place one on a damp wall and one on a wall in or close to the nearest source of vapour, typically a bathroom.
  • See http://surveyor.tips/datalogger-set-up/ and please do send data about a day in advance of any survey.

27) Cancellation policy

  1. You may cancel a survey with Damp Surveys Ltd at any time up to 24 hours before the time and day of the pre-arranged inspection.
  2. We may cancel a survey at any time up to provision of the written report, if we determine that a site is unsafe or that for any other reason we are unable to complete the service to our satisfaction.
  3. Cancelling a survey cancels the contract.
  4. If a contract is cancelled we will refund any payment in full within 14 days of the contract being cancelled.

Advance of a survey

Reviews

We work hard to earn informative reviews from clients and hope that you will add to them in time.
Not only is it vital for our income, but there is a wider social interest in drawing public attention to damp-proofing by identifying and stopping damp at source.

Complaints policy and Dispute Resolution

We always endeavour to provide the best service for our customers. Despite our offer to repay costs in full, we recognise on rare occasions our customers may not be completely satisfied. To ensure we are able to put things right as soon as we can, please read our complaints procedure below and we will respond promptly to ensure complete satisfaction.

In the unlikely event that you have a complaint, please contact us within 14 days of the survey so that we can rectify any problems as soon as possible.

Where we cannot resolve any complaints using our own complaints procedure, as a Which? Trusted trader we use Dispute Resolution Ombudsman for dispute resolution. In the unlikely event of a complaint arising and you wish to refer the complaint to them please contact us on 0117 456 6031 or via their website DisputeResolutionOmbudsman.org/which-trusted-traders-partnership.

Insurance

For peace of mind, Damp Surveys Ltd have Public Liability insurance of £1,000,000 and Professional Indemnity insurance of £250,000 (annual aggregate).

Who we are

This website is run by Damp Surveys Ltd.

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