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Property Surveying Blog
Written by Bradley Mackenzie

I was recently instructed to undertake a building survey of a large detached house in North London. The purchaser was especially concerned as they thought the property was suffering from damp.

Upon inspection, the damp issue had all of the traits of rising damp!

In all the years I have been inspecting properties, rising damp remains one of the only defects that I am yet to find, so you can imagine my excitement when I was confronted with what looked to be rising damp!

Rising Damp

At first glance the damp appeared to have all the traits I would have expected to see:

  • The damp started at low level and rose up the wall
  • There was decorative discoloration to the external face of the wall
  • The spherical staining starting at the ground
  • The high moisture readings

However, the more time I spent inspecting the area of dampness, the quicker it became apparent that the damp wasn’t rising damp at all, instead it was one of the most common forms of damp… Penetrating Damp!

In this case, the PVCu square gutter had been incorrectly fitted with the gutter clips being loosely applied. This had led to the gutter itself sagging at the point directly above the damp area of wall.

This sagging to the gutter meant that during times of increased rainfall, which is more often than not in the UK, rather than rerouting the rainfall to the downpipe, the rain water was pooling at the sagged section and over spilling the gutter, dripping directly onto the ground beneath.

As the gutter was set 2.2m above the ground, the water was splashing onto the wall itself and easily bridging the damp proof course which you can see above the second course of bricks thereby leading to the penetrating damp.

Rising DampAlthough the diagnosis of this defect meant that the all elusive rising damp was still yet to be found by me, on the flip side it meant that the damp issue was an easy and cost effective fix for the purchaser.

In this case, it took a handy man less than 30 minutes to properly fix the gutter clips to the fascia, level the gutter and rectify the problem.

Our client was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of our inspection and was able to proceed with their purchase with the full peace of mind of having had the property thoroughly inspected.

Property defects can be a concerning find for most homeowners, if you find yourself staring at something that looks ominous, I would recommend speaking to a Chartered Surveyor at the first instance. More times than not, they will have likely seen the issue, or a similar issue before and should be able to advise exactly what needs to be done to rectify the issue.