What is Damp Survey

A Damp Survey is the inspection of a property for unwanted dampness (“damp”), assessment of the cause and effect, remedy and treatment cost, if any. It is also known as a damp and timber survey.

Two types of Damp Surveyor

  • Expert Damp Surveyor, independent of any contractor, or
  • Specialist Damp Surveyor, a contractor providing a free estimate

A helpful Damp Survey guide;

  1. Online damp proofing costs estimate
  2. Expert Damp Survey, what is involved
  3. Cost of a Expert Damp Survey
  4. Surveyor Qualifications
  5. An Expert and Specialist survey report for the same property
  6. Legal aspects to Damp Survey and Report
  7. Plan of action
  8. Damp Survey, Terms explained and examined

damp surveys
Damp falls, so a damp survey starts outside

5 Damp Survey examples;

  1. Homebuyers report; “you are advised to obtain a damp survey from a Property Care Association qualified damp surveyor”.
  2. Mortgage lenders; “Borrowers should have a comprehensive damp survey carried out by an independent surveyor to minimise the risk of discovering penetrating or rising damp”.
  3. Buyer; “I just bought a house and foolishly only had a basic survey. On the first day we discovered severe damp in the kitchen. By chance we found out that the previous owner had a damp survey which uncovered a problem, but she chose not to fix it. It wasn’t declared during the sale. She sold the house knowing about a severe damp problem. Do I have a legal case?”
  4. Caveat Emptor – buyer beware; “Sellers can and do hide evidence of damp in their homes, behind pictures and furniture or omit to mention that a shower leaks. You are advised to have a comprehensive damp survey“.
  5. Home owner; “I had treatment for rising damp 5 years ago and the damp has returned between the old and new plaster. The damp proofer tells me it will replace the damp proofing under guarantee, but only if I spend more money on damp proofing the wall up to ceiling height. I would like an independent damp survey before deciding whether to go ahead.”

How much should a damp survey cost?

Damp Survey Cost
The real cost of a Damp Survey is the cost of not finding and treating the source of damp!

There are two choices;

  1. Instruct a qualified independent specialist damp surveyor. Professional fees average around £1,000 Buyers sometimes instruct the surveyor, then negotiate a contribution from the vendor. The ISSE Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers & CheckaTrade.com are a good places to find specialist surveyors.
  2. A free or low cost damp survey from a surveyor working directly or indirectly for a contractor. Like unregulated mortgage advice, if the service is free, then higher profit is loaded into the cost (to account for surveys that come to nothing).  Contractors look to make £1,000 to £10,000 from from each treatment. Justification for high profit is either through incorrectly identifying the cause of dampness, or over engineering the treatment. The motivation recommend impermeable plaster requiring extensive building work , that hides the problem for a few years, rather than finding the source, which may take hours to identify, but only minutes to fix.
Damp misdiagnosed as requiring treatment
Two of London biggest contractors recommended damp proofing, ignoring evidence of recent (misdiagnosed) treatment

What differentiates Damp Surveys Ltd?

We cover the whole of London;

  • Money back guarantee if we identify rising damp. Rising Damp is very rare in London. We only had one case in 2018. Although technically it wasn’t rising damp, as water ingress resulted from the council raising the pavement above the ground floor level.
  • Independent from contractors. Our only income is from Damp and Timber Surveys.
  • Extensive survey. Most surveys take 1 to 2 hours. We look at damp walls from every angle and if there are any doubts, will ask to see the neighbour’s side of the wall. After all rising damp rises evenly on both side of the walls.
  • We take a holistic approach, tracing damp back to it’s root cause.
  • Time of your choosing. We work 8AM to 8PM and at the weekends.
  • We make a point of being on time.
  • Suitable qualifications with the Property Care Association.
  • Satisfied customers. Simon Hichens has given professional advice on over 2,000 properties since 2007.
  • Simon undertakes expert witness reports (price dependent on complexity) for court case and dispute resolution.
  • We charge a fixed survey fee of £1,000 (no VAT payable).

Damp proofing against rising damp, condensation, penetrating damp and leaking pipes is almost always free to solve.

Damp Surveyor Qualifications

There are really only two forms of qualification for damp survey;

  1. A Certificated Surveyor of Dampness in Building; after passing written and orals exams by the Property care Association (a trade body for the damp Proofing industry).
  2. By relevant experience evidence by membership of the Institute of Specialist Surveyors and Engineers.

Expert Damp Survey involves

  1. Inspect the outside of a property from all sides, looking for signs of failing chimneys, roofs, rainwater goods and brickwork. Signs of damp to look for include;
    1. efflorescence, white streaks of salts, normally sulphate (sulfate),
    2. dark patches on walls, dry or moist,
    3. green algae, particularly on the north side,
  2. Inspect the sub-floor vents, to ensure they adequately ventilate timber, consider whether rain water can enter and consider the risk of damage.
  3. Ask and listen to the owner, occupier or past surveyor, keep a healthy scepticism, look for corroborating evidence,
  4. Unless instructed not to, inspect each room in a property (including the attic and cellar) for signs of damp on the ceiling, walls and floor,
  5. Use the sense of smell to help identify excess humidity, mould and rot,
  6. Identify and record unwanted damp using a device;
    1. visually and or photographically,
    2. a damp meter or carbide meter (Speedy tester),
    3. a humidity meter or
    4. a listening device,
  7. Record the profile of of high damp meter readings,
  8. Where damp is identified, consider all possible causes of the damp (which maybe combined).
    1. water ingress or penetrating damp,
    2. rising damp,
    3. condensation or
    4. leak,
  9. Damp is normally associated with change to the original property.
  10. Address conflicting data.
  11. While on site ensure there is sufficient date to identify the source of damp.
  12. Review data, consider risks, consider whether more data is required, or that report is qualified and report to the client.
cost of damp survey
What is the cost of a damp survey

Cost of a Damp Survey

A Expert Damp Survey cost ranges from £100 to £600 depending on the size of property, location, experience and the surveyor’s perception of risk of misdiagnosis.

Specialist Damp Surveys are typically free. The true cost of the specialist damp survey is the cost of undertaking treatment that may not be necessary and that may need regular reapplication.

Damp Surveyor qualifications

Damp surveyor qualifications
Damp surveyor qualifications

There are no standard qualification for a Damp Surveyor, expert or specialist. However, the Property Care Association represents (“PCA”) the damp industry. The PCA are making valiant attempts to quality control member companies, standardise reporting and improve public perception of the damp proofing and timber treatment industry (“damp industry”).

The Types of Damp
Rising Damp

Causes – water from the ground moving upwards through the brickwork in the wall of a property
Identification – a ‘tide mark’ on the affected wall, damaged skirting boards and floorboards, crumbling plaster and peeling wallpaper

Rising damp can often be misdiagnosed, so ensure that you are getting independent advice from an expert damp surveyor.

Penetrating Damp (Rain Penetration)

Causes – water leaking through the walls, usually through cracks in the masonry
Identification – damp patches on walls, floors and ceilings

Penetrating damp most commonly occurs in older buildings with solid walls.


Causes – moist water vapour condensing on walls
Identification – water droplets on walls, damaged plaster and paint and decaying window frames

Damp caused by condensation is the most common type of damp occurring in homes and in the UK it is particularly a problem between October and March – ‘The Condensation Season’.

Compare free quotes from Chartered Surveyors in your local area here

Health Risks

The most common health complaints triggered by damp are asthma and other respiratory problems, which is due to the poor indoor air quality and the emission and subsequent inhalation of the mould spores damp causes. The mould can also cause infections and immunological illnesses.

The dampness provides a thriving environment for bacteria to multiply, and with bacteria being a source for the transmission of disease this can cause health risks.

Damage to Property
The damage caused by damp is more than just aesthetic. It can lead to the structural deterioration of plaster and brickwork, rotting of timber frames and the rusting of steel and iron fasteners.

If it’s left untreated the damage can be costly to repair and due to the nature of the damage caused by damp it is likely that replastering and redecoration will be needed – a further expense. If you’re buying a property be sure to get a Chartered Surveyor to do a HomeBuyer Report to make you aware if there is a damp problem that would need further investigation from an industry specialist. This will give you an opportunity to reopen price negotiations with the seller and possibly reconsider your purchase.

Each type of damp has a different treatment to control the problem. To diagnose which kind of damp is affecting your home a damp survey will need to be completed. Inappropriate damp treatment can be both expensive and potentially cause further damage to buildings, so it’s important to ensure you’re getting expert advice from a professional damp surveyor.

Damp Survey
To determine the full extent of the damp and the appropriate method of treatment your Chartered Surveyor will suggest for you to get a damp survey. The knowledge a fully qualified, expert surveyor can bring to the survey can be the difference between a correct and incorrect diagnosis and treatment suggestion for the damp – saving you £100s. An approved damp surveyor will have a CRDS (Certificate in Remedial Damp Surveying) or a CSRT (Certificate in Remedial Treatment), so make sure you don’t use an under-qualified or under insured trader.

Damp can cause serious damage, to both your property and your health, so if you have any concerns about damp in your home, get an independent surveyor to advise you on whether you need a damp survey.

Damp-proofing infographic
View this helpful damp-proofing infographic, courtesy of Wise Property Care

Is Damp is the presence of unwanted water or moisture in a building which, if it goes untreated, can cause structural damage. Damp is a major problem in the UK – creating cold and unhealthy living conditions in tens of thousands of homes.

The Damp Industry has a poor reputation. Let’s work together for the good of all.