If you decide to take out a mortgage, you must satisfy the lender that investing in your home is a reasonable risk and worth the money. Therefore, you have a damp survey done by a qualified damp surveyor.
But, how much is a damp investigation?
Typically, in the UK, the cost of a damp survey for an average three-bedroom house is anything between £150 and £400. However, this amount depends on the house’s size, location, number of damp tests the surveyor needs to do, and the size of the report. Furthermore, if you are in a hurry, you can pay more to expedite the report; usually, this adds around £50 or so to your damp survey costs. This is particularly useful if you are in a rushed house purchase and need the mortgage money quickly.
The surveyor will go through the house, using a damp meter and looking out for telltale visual signs. They will systematically check for damp plaster and wood, usually around windows, doors, and above skirting boards, but can extend to floors too. Finally, they’ll produce a report and recommendations.
How much does a damp survey cost?*
The table below outlines the damp inspection costs for different property sizes in the UK.
|Damp Survey, 2-bed flat||£200||1 hour|
|Damp Survey, 3-bed terraced house||£250||1-2 hours|
|Damp Survey, 4-bed semidetached house||£300||1-2 hours|
|Damp Survey, 5-bed detached house||£400||2-3 hours|
*We calculated these estimated averages from various online resources as a guide. As every house is different, you should use them as starting points for your personal research before getting a quote from a professional damp surveyor. Probably, the best way to find one is to use the form on this page.
Looking at the figures above, you could be forgiven for assuming that damp surveyors get paid hundreds of pounds for an hour or two work. Fortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Once the surveyor has the data from the damp meter and knows the type of building you have, they spend about a day compiling a report. They then submit this and other information to the mortgage lender or whoever has commissioned the inspection.
When surveyors do a damp check, They don’t check everywhere in the house; that’s why the survey doesn’t take very long. They know the things to look out for and the places to find evidence of damp. Usually, they walk around the outside of the house and notice the height of the soil against the damp proof course (DPC). They also look at the condition of the guttering and whether the brickwork is wet. Lastly, they look at door and window frames for signs of rot.
All this will probably take 15 minutes or so. Then they go indoors and check walls above the skirting board at intervals. They also check upstairs ceilings for signs of damp and the roof timbers for moisture. Also, they check around window and door frames for penetrating damp and wood rot. Using a damp meter takes a few seconds to check each location, so even a large house won’t take longer than an hour or so. However, depending on the surveyor’s results, the inspection might last several hours or even a couple of days.
Damp Survey Cost Factors
Most contractors who carry out independent damp surveys charge fixed prices for their services, but some situations can significantly change the price.
- How far does the surveyor travel? Usually, damp surveyors based in a specific area will only work in their area. If you require them to travel outside the area, they’ll charge extra. The price increase varies depending on the surveyor. However, it’s pretty standard for them to charge up to £50 extra on top of the standard fee.
- Are the inspection sites easy to access? Sometimes, carpets, floorboards, or bricks must be removed before the surveyor carries out tests. If this is the case, it will incur additional costs or need a tradesperson present, which will also cost extra.
- Sometimes, you might need a surveyor’s report within 24 hours, especially if you are in the middle of a house sale. If so, you can usually pay more to expedite the report. Probably it’ll cost around £50 or so for this service.
- Whereabouts do you live in the UK? Different regions have higher living costs than others, especially in London and the southeast. Surveyors will charge more in these areas, sometimes up to 20% more.
How do surveyors check for dampness?
We’ve already mentioned superficially what a damp surveyor does in the inspection. Here we’ll talk about it in more detail.
First, the exterior of the house:
- Look for cracks and defects in the brickwork.
- Notice where the pointing is damaged or crumbling.
- If the house has rendering, check for cracks and holes.
- Inspect sealant around door and window frames.
- See if there’s damage to guttering and downpipes.
- Check for damaged, slipping, or loose tiles. Also, look for damaged flashing.
- Look for any defects in the chimney stacks. It could be faulty pointing, missing bricks, or damaged benching.
The idea is to identify places where water could be entering the house. They then check indoors for possible places where the outside damage links with internal damp.
The outdoor inspection will guide the surveyor to places indoors in the next section of the survey. Surveyors also use information from previous surveys and homebuyers’ reports. They also ask for any information from the householder, such as Fensa certificates for windows and damp proof certificates if you’ve had new windows or a DPC installed. These are proof of correct installation.
The damp proofing survey then continues indoors. In this part, the surveyor again uses visual inspection, but also a damp meter:
- Look at unusual damp patches on an external wall. If the house has a cavity wall, there might be bridging, allowing damp to travel across the cavity. If so, the survey might need a bricklayer to remove one or two bricks to inspect the cavity.
- Where the damp is on the wall will also help identify the type of damp.
- Rising damp caused by moisture soaking up from the ground is usually noticeable at skirting board level or ground floor joist level. This usually occurs if the DPC is damaged, breached, or non-existent.
- Penetrating damp comes from the outside rain and soaks through the wall mainly because of a bridged wall cavity. This might cause damp patches anywhere on the exterior wall or cause problems with floor joists if they’re supported inside brick wall sockets.
- Check for leaks around pipework in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Condensation occurs in places where there is poor ventilation, such as behind furniture or in ceiling corners. However, outside moisture doesn’t cause this (it’s mainly from lack of ventilation and heating). But, it can cause damage to plaster and woodwork.
Older properties, especially those built before 1945 or those with sold walls, might not have a DPC. If that’s the case, the surveyor will recommend that you have a DPC installed or the old one repaired. The simplest way to do this is to have chemicals injected into the mortar at the correct level.
If you have doubts about damp patches in your home, hire or buy a damp and moisture meter. It works by measuring the conductivity of brickwork or plaster between two points. It then calculates the amount of damp present. Moreover, you can use it on wood and masonry, so check your entire house and get the problem areas fixed before the surveyor arrives. You can buy a simple moisture meter for around £20 or a more sophisticated one for up to £130.
Overall, the following factors determine how detailed the surveyor’s inspection will be:
- Property size.
- Building method.
- Age of property.
- Visible exterior damage.
- The extent of the damp problem.
- Damp type.
A few days after the surveyor has finished the inspection, you will receive a copy of the report, discussing the findings and possible ways to remedy the problems. A typical price charged by a qualified chartered damp surveyor, recommended by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, will vary between £150 and £400 for a typical three-bedroom modern detached property.
Types of Damp
There are three different types of damp commonly found in domestic properties. Each type can cause severe damage to your home, and if left alone, might cause structural problems. Let’s look at each type in turn.
You often find this type in kitchens and bathrooms, but it can be found in any room that suffers from poor ventilation.
Condensation happens when warm moisture-laden air touches a cold surface. The water vapour condenses onto the cold surface, causing a layer of moisture that soaks into the structure; this provides a favourable surface for mould and bacterial growth. You can find condensation on walls, ceilings, or floors. Furthermore, you can also find it on cold surfaces such as the underside of sinks and washbasins or cold water pipes. The water then drips from these surfaces onto the floor, causing problems.
Condensation is by far the most familiar form of damp and also the easiest to remedy. Just open windows to allow ventilation, keep a room heated, use a dehumidifier, use an extractor fan, or don’t dry clothes indoors.
Penetrating damp occurs when moisture travels through a wall, around windows and door frames, or into a loft and the ceilings below. The causes of this type are poor pointing and crumbling external brickwork, rotten fascia boards and overflowing guttering. Penetrating damp leads to rotten skirting boards, plaster falling off the walls, crumbling brickwork, and mould growing on the damp surfaces.
Rising damp is moisture that soaks into the structure of the house from the ground. Foundations are designed to cope with damp soil and generally won’t have any problems, likewise any concrete below DPC. However, if the damp crosses the DPC or crosses from the subfloor into joists or finished floor and carpet, it can cause serious problems. Like penetrating damp, it can cause structural problems, mould growths, rotten skirting boards, and ground floor wooden joists problems. Usually, rising damp is the most difficult to put right, costs more and takes longer than all the other types to remedy.
PCA Damp & Timber Survey Cost
The PCA (Property Care Association) is the leading property care trade association in the UK. It represents property care specialists such as:
- Damp treatment.
- Pest control.
- Weed control.
- Flood restoration.
Using the PCA to find a damp surveyor is usually okay. Moreover, their members usually charge the same as RICS recommended prices. However, you run the risk of finding a biased surveyor favouring finding work for their company or an associate’s company from whom they earn a commission.
It is far better to use a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RCIS) member, where you can guarantee an independent surveyor. Members have a code of contact and abide by the Institute’s statement on ‘Conflicts of Interest’. Don’t be fooled by a mortgage lender that insists on using a PCA surveyor; it’s much better to suggest an RICS surveyor, and you have a right to choose. Furthermore, it’s simple to find them; they put the letters RICS after their name.
Why Should I Get a Damp Survey
Hiring someone to carry out a damp survey is always a good idea when you move home. In fact, it’s an excellent idea to have one even if you don’t intend to move house.
Here are some of the main reasons why it’s a good idea:
Untreated damp gets worse
If you leave a damp problem, it will only worsen and be harder to put right. It’s essential to put things right as soon as you notice something wrong.
Damp affects your health
Damp affects your health in more ways than one.
Mould is a type of fungus and produces tiny spores that float in the air of your home. The spores can trigger many respiratory problems such as asthma. Moreover, it makes other breathing problems even more challenging to cope with.
Damp also provides the ideal breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria. This can’t be good for the elderly, small children and other vulnerable people.
If you delay repairing the damp problem, you’ll find the situation becoming worse. Not only will this cause more damage to your home, but it’ll also cost much more to put right.
Peace of mind
Buying a property is probably the most significant investment that ordinary people make in their lives. You intend to pay a lot of money, so it makes sense to know that there’s nothing wrong with your new home.
Often mortgage lenders pay for a basic survey, known in the trade as a “Drive By”. The surveyor literally looks on Google to find any information and then gets in their car to check that the house exists. That’s it. Job done!
And, even if the surveyor goes indoors, they might not be qualified to find damp. Therefore, it makes sense to get an independent damp survey before you sign on the dotted line.
Hiring a Damp Surveyor: Tips
Recognising the symptoms and causes of damp needs a specialist damp surveyor who is a member of the RICS or has the CSDB (Certificated Surveyor of Dampness in Buildings). These two qualifications are the only surveyors who can be insured and approved by mortgage lenders.
Most mortgage lenders commission basic damp surveys from PCA surveyors, comprising a few moisture readings around the house. The surveyors then refer to any damp patches and suggest that you hire a damp specialist before the lender grants a mortgage.
Unfortunately, this allows unscrupulous surveyors to write precisely what they want. Moreover, sometimes, the surveyors recommend unnecessary work.
Also, beware of damp proofing specialists who advertise “free” damp surveys. You can almost guarantee that they will find damp and provide you with a quote for expensive remedial work that isn’t necessary.
Therefore it’s a good idea to check the surveyor belongs to the RICS. Members always give an unbiased report and have no vested interest in giving work to their friends. Remember, an RICS member will give you a damp survey quote before doing the work and then provide you with a full report. The rising damp survey will cost you. But, it will be at RICS recommended rates, and you won’t get a bill for unnecessary work.
Damp Survey FAQ
Does insurance cover damp?
Your insurance policy might cover damp if it was caused by damage due to storm or impact damage. Otherwise, insurers usually regard it as a natural symptom of wear, tear and age.
Check your home insurance policy to see what cover you have.
Can you sell a house with damp?
Yes, you can. However, the damp issue will affect the selling price of your home. Also, the buyer’s mortgage lender might apply a condition to the mortgage to repair all damp problems before releasing the money. Although this doesn’t affect you, many buyers will think twice before finding another house to buy.
Our best advice is to hire a damp surveyor to identify any damp and get the causes remedied before putting your property on the market. If you don’t do this, you might miss a lucrative sale.
How much does it cost to damp proof one wall?
The cost to damp proof a wall depends on many factors. Is the wall internal or external? What type of damp proofing does it need? How long is the wall? How thick is it? Have you a cavity wall or not? To get an exact estimate, you should contact a certified damp proofing specialist who can assess the situation from an inspection. However, as an approximate figure, you can use £80 to £100/m2
Do old houses have a damp course?
Not very often. What’s more, old houses have usually managed perfectly well without one as the walls breathe. They take in moisture, dry out naturally, and have done so for hundreds of years. However, houses without a DPC were built using the correct methods to encourage this process. They used lime mortar and render, which allows the wall to breathe and evaporate moisture, rather than cement render, which doesn’t.
Furthermore, the houses had plenty of ventilation from ill-fitting doors and windows and working fireplace chimneys. Generally, problems occur when old houses have double glazing, insulation and draughtproofing fitted. The house then cannot dry naturally, so damp takes over.
If you intend to sell your home or buy another one, it’s a good idea to hire a damp specialist surveyor to inspect the property. Complete the form on this page to receive up to three damp survey cost quotations from qualified and certified surveying companies. They know what they’re doing and won’t recommend unnecessary work.