Issue: Pre-Purchase Damp Survey Report on a property in New Cross SE14
Survey Type Booked - Damp - Comprehensive with a written report of findings.
We were instructed to carry out a pre-purchase damp survey report for a prospective buyer of this beautiful, period, semi-detached house in South East London as a homebuyer’s survey had detected high levels of moisture present on the ground floor and also within the basement area.
Firstly, let’s talk very briefly about basements. Yes, the homebuyer’s survey was right; there was a high level of dampness and moisture present in the basement area; however, in properties of this age and construct, there ALWAYS will be. This is because the property’s basement is constructed under the ground and is affected by the moisture present. This can be seen in the photos, the external walls in the basement have spoiled decoratively, but this is exactly as I would expect to find them.
This particular basement had been extended in height by the current owners approximately 40 years previously and had never had any reported issues of water ingress leading to flooding.
There were no provisions for any internal pumps, which is normally a sign that water has been entering.
As for the dampness issues on the ground floor, they were again correctly identified by the homebuyer’s survey, but rather than issues with damp proof courses and moisture rising vertically from the ground, naturally, these internal issues were due to external defects. Whilst beautiful and characterful, the property has not been well maintained at all externally, with long-term leaks from rainwater-affected goods above having been present for many, many years, which of course, is only going to lead to internal issues beneath them.
Firstly, looking at the basement, if the new homeowner is going to use the area for storage of general items, I would always recommend that suitable heating and ventilation is introduced and continued to ensure that the internal environment is controlled as much as possible. I also recommend that items be stored off the floor, possibly on pallets, to allow some of the controlled internal air to pass beneath stored items.
If, however, the area needs to be used for other purposes such as playrooms or additional reception rooms then damp proofing or water management systems should be introduced including insulation to walls and floors to make the area more fit for purpose. This can also include the provision of a mechanically pumped water management system to help protect the area should the basement flood in the future.
Costs for all options were given to the prospective buyer within the pre-purchase damp survey report.
We recommended to the buyer that one of the first jobs to do once in the property was to overhaul/renew all of the rainwater goods to the rear elevation, which was in poor condition and past repair. With this taken care of, the property can begin to naturally dry again as it did originally during periods of dry, warm weather.
Internal readings were taken during the damp report, and the owner was offered six-monthly revisits to retest the same areas to see if the drying process was beginning and continuing.
We now understand that the buyer is now the owner of the property and has implemented all of the external recommendations, and has asked us to return twice annually over the next two years to monitor and observe on his behalf.
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