Beware of Damp Proofing Specialist Recommended by your Estate Agent

Beware of Damp Proofing Specialist Recommended by your Estate Agent

This blog piece has been written by the “preservation expert“ Mr Bryan Hindle, based in West Yorkshire his full blog site can be found at

He really does know his stuff! A highly respected individual in the damp proofing world. After reading this piece, I asked if I could share it with you . . .he said yes, so sit down, get comfortable and read on!

Damp proofing specialist recommended by your Estate Agent? Beware!

I feel that after this week’s event, I must put my fingers to the keyboard.

I have heard rumours of damp proofing specialists recommending the installation of a chemical DPC where rising damp could never exist, but Thursday this week was the first time I’d seen it with my own eyes.

The place was Headingley in Leeds. Made famous for the cricket ground, it’s a leafy suburb with a nice mix of student and private households. All manner of property, much of which has been converted to flats.

The timber and damp survey I was on is a very large old house converted into many flats. Two in the basement, three at ground floor level and several on each upper floor too.

A house in Leeds wrongly diagnosed with rising damp chemical damp proof course for the flat above? That’s an unqualified damp ‘specialist’ for you….

My client is buying a flat on the ground floor, which is in effect at first-floor level due to the sloping site. He met me there with the words, “I have had someone round already to do this, but I wanted a second opinion”. I explained that that was very sensible and made a start.

A full timber and damp survey later, I’d identified one or two minor defects and a small outbreak of Common Furniture Beetle in the loft, affecting some studding wall timbers (mainly clad with plasterboard but with suspect asbestos panels on them). There was also some very spectacular looking historic damage in the original ceiling laths below a flat roof; dry as a bone and clearly left as it was to save money and because the new flats in the building have lower suspended ceilings so it’s never seen.

With a flourish, my client shows me the report from the damp proofing specialist.

Well, I never! – £3000 quote with a recommendation for a chemical DPC to all external walls and a full treatment to the loft for severe wet rot. Also, some local re-plastering due to the dampness, but most of the walls thankfully can be injected only.

We can all disagree on our findings, but let’s look at the facts:

  1. The majority of the external walls of the flat are 3m above the ground, with an occupied ground-level flat below, which is perfectly dry.
  2. When tested with my meter, the walls were dry
  3. The moisture content in the decayed timber ceiling laths (hidden in the ceiling space), was 9% (that’s air dry) with no structural timbers visible and the roof clearly repaired.
  4. The woodworm was clearly visible in the stud walls, where the plasterboards had been removed before.
  5. There was very thin board on some of the studding, which looked to have a hard cement/fibre centre….. possibly chrysotile asbestos.

I won’t name the specialist concerned because I believe in redemption and live in hope that he’ll see the light and get some training and ethics.

So what is the point of this post? Let’s see how this idiot makes his living:

Nice website (£300 tops).

Lots of advertising with the usual claims – honest, expert, guarantees, CGS, Safeguard, Triton, Sovereign chemicals, the usual damp proofing, and guarantee brand names on the letterhead.

This is a free country, so he’s just living the damp-proofing dream. The problem is, he is also recommended by some gullible estate agents in Leeds and, as such, is fed a diet of unsuspecting victims who believe he is reputable for that reason.

Pre-purchase surveys put buyers and vendors in a vulnerable position, and they are wide open to this type of fraudulent service. Fraudulent is not too strong a word though. This chap is no damp proofing expert, he’s just a chancer who sees the money first and his responsibilities, as far as he is concerned, is to nobody but himself. He’s not alone, either. These so-called damp-proofing specialists are like bottom-feeding fish, and they will always be there. In fact, there is a market for them. However, as the good ones get established, they learn more and want to get recognition, credibility and sustainability; the Property Care Association is full of small guys who work from home to high standards – they really are specialists and deserve support. Others though, do not ‘grow’ in professionalism and like it just the way the market lets them have it.

They want the customer’s money – that is all.

They are not willing to spend time and their own money getting trained, and they are certainly not happy to tell a client that they don’t need any damp proofing (or timber treatment, wall tie installation or roofing, for that matter).

The pre-purchase housing market is no place for this sort of damp-proofing idiocy….

However, the pre-purchase market is no place for this sort of idiocy and unprofessionalism. People are selling their house or buying one – There are almost no more stressful and expensive endeavour people undertake.

For this reason, they use Solicitors and usually surveyors. They may also use lenders. These professionals have to have insurance and are vetted by the very fact that they have qualifications relevant to the service they offer. They are usually bound by a code of ethics and a code of practice.

Estate agents, too, often have qualifications and may be members of The National Association of Estate Agents or even have chartered surveyors in-house.

Why is it then that these professionals allow con men like this guy through the door? They leave the recommendations to their office staff, who frankly have no knowledge of damp, timber or wall tie surveys. It’s so easy to use the friendly chap who is willing to quote for everything on the valuation report – gutters, damp, roofing, electrical, woodworm, and wall ties. So what if he has no qualifications on any of these things and treats buyers and vendors as cash cows to be ripped off?

So – you can take an estate agent’s recommendation, but you must do your own homework on the firm they recommend. I’ve touched on this before, but Thursday’s disgraceful report just shows that these guys are there, being recommended by estate agents and costing clients on both sides of the conveyance a small fortune. Now, with the Asbestos regulations being amended back in April 2012, massive fines can happen if any asbestos is disturbed – even the white stuff. Not to mention the health risk to the owner, the cowboy’s own staff and anyone else who treads there after they’ve done their work.

My advice? Use a Property Care Association member. Some are better than others, but they all have been vetted for insurance, qualifications and work standards. Look at their testimonials in depth; anyone can write their own, and I’m afraid this does happen, so look for real images and such to go with them. Testimonial Monkey (a dedicated website for customer feedback), just de-registered a damp proofing ‘specialist’ (non-PCA member), including over 50 testimonials, the majority of which were found to come from the same IP address! I won’t name this company either – they are not PCA members.


  1. Maggie Ward on 22 July 2018 at 13:23

    Hi, just read your post. I have a pending problem, am suspicious already and treading carefully. Any advice would be welcome. I`m a single woman, lived in my nice terrace house several years, selling for family reasons. It`s clean and no damp patches on any interior walls.Looks like a 1 foot gap outside under rendering, standard for old houses.
    I accepted an offer of the asking price from a potential purchaser who has been all over the house himself and was quite happy. Enter ..his lender`s surveyor. Next, I got a call from my Estate Agent, saying there “has been a suggestion that you need a damp course” so they will be “sending someone round to have a look” and I might have to “adjust the price to cover the costs”. I think this is rubbish.. just maybe there is a slight case for penetrating moisture in the back yard ? That would be behind my washer and sink unit if so, however, have never noticed it. Bricks are porous, right ? So what; if the surveyor`s gadget detected moisture ? Day after a huge thunderstorm ! House is 100 years old and has NO CAVITY WALLS so what could they do ? Do I have any choices and if so, what are they ? I sense that there is a chance of being ripped off or losing my sale because of this. They think as a woman I know nothing !!

    • annabelle on 26 July 2018 at 10:03

      Hello Maggie, so sorry for the late reply. We get hundreds of SPAM comments to check and only just seen yours.
      It is quite rare for a damp proof course to fail – however, they can be “bridged” where other materials allow moisture to bypass the DPC causing damp issues. My advice is to get in an EXPERT yourself – I would suggest an independent surveyor (they do not have a team of technicians all they do is survey). Make sure they are qualified so CSRT as a minimum and a member of the PCA – our trade association You will have to pay but if the other contractor is saying works are required (generally the Estate agent uses their own people) then you can then have an independent view of the situation. It may just be basic maintenance – new pointing/gutter repairs if penetrating issue). There will be moisture in ALL materials – and yes bricks are porous – but they dry out – please do email into the office for my attention if you wish to discuss further. I can arrange for our surveyor to talk to you – happy to help further, Annabelle

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