Dry Rot

White rots - Brown rots

Q Are white & brown rots both wet & dry rots?

A There are many fungal species that come under the umbrella title 'wet rot'; some of these are brown rots and some are white rots. There is however only one true dry rot (Serpula lacrymans) and this is a brown rot.

Hope this answers your question


White powder on roof timbers - Is it dry rot?

Q A year ago we bought a 1930s semi with a three sided (hipped?) roof.  The loft space has been (unofficially) converted into a living area leaving a 3 sided crawl space behind the vertical board walls.  There were roof vents in situ to two sides when we moved in.  We are now in a position where we have to have a re-roof and when I went to see what was to move out of the crawl space I discovered white powder covering most of one of the main ridge rafters and patches on most of the other rafters.  I am horrified!  If this is, as I suspect, dry rot, can affected timbers be treated or would they have to be replaced.  Obviously having to have a re-roof anyway - can the roofing company treat where necessary or do we have to find specialists?  I am terrified this is going to take the job way over our budget.  Any help is would be very much appreciated.

A We think we understand what you are looking at and believe it to be either magnesium sulphate or mould - not dry rot. Magnesium sulphate often occurs on timbers beneath a tiled roof - would this be the case?  It would be very unusual for dry rot to affect rafters in a roof.  Very probably all that you need do is brush it off and forget about it.

Q Hi and thanks very much for taking the time to look at my question.

It is true that these timbers are situated beneath a tiled roof.  My worry is that, although there are vents in situ visible from the outside they do not penetrate the felt beneath the slate! (this was spotted on the survey)

I have contacted a local firm who specialise in wet/dry rot etc and they are coming to assess the situation later in the week. I sincerely hope you are right in your diagnosis. It does strike me as strange that it is affecting two particular rafters  (dramatically) while nothing has spread to adjoining timbers - but is just showing in tiny little patches here and there. Would it be helpful to you (and other people) to have photos and the outcome of the inspection on Thursday?  I don't mind at all - if it would help you to help worried home owners like myself!  Please do let me know. Fingers crossed and many thanks once again.

A Thanks for the reply. I would be interested in any photos that you may have and the outcome of the inspection on Thursday. Please do not agree to anything rash or let yourself be talked into a form of treatment that may not be necessary. Please call me first if you want. It sounds like your roof covering may have been renewed at some time in the past since it already has a sarking felt and the magnesium sulphate could possibly be historic left over from the original roof covering. You should cut holes in the felt adjacent to the vents to let the ventilation work.


Dry rot has returned!

Q We own a very large old listed property which has recently been the subject of extensive renovation work including in excess of £10K's worth of dry rot treatment. The builders have followed the specialists company's advice - all ceiling rafters, plaster walls and floor boards have all been replaced where outbreaks have occurred - and replaced with concrete lintels all new timber has been treated and where in contact with walls covered with heavy protective membrane .To our dismay dry rot has returned in two areas; 1) ceiling joists and under floor in the library and 2) wooden floor board in the dining room. Both were laid 4/6 months ago and recently developed fruiting spores under the membrane in the ceiling and along many floor boards in the dining room & library. In the library there is no evidence of water penetration and the feeling is that it is the membrane itself which has produced the condensation. In the dining room - again it is difficult to determine if outside water has penetrated - We have been advised that the cause in both may be due to the fact we have installed central heating system and it is that which is causing the rise in humidity leading to condensation. We now face further treatment but are at a loss to know which is the best way to go as no one seems to know for sure. Any advice would be gratefully received.

A From what you describe it sounds like a sorry state of affairs. You state that the builders followed the specialist company's advice with regard to replacement timbers/lintels etc. From this we deduce that the specialist company just carried out treatment work only - would this be correct? Were vacuum treated timbers used during the reinstatement work or were they just sprayed on site? What level of supervision did the specialist company
provide/offer with regard to the repairs undertaken? What does the specialist company have to say about the present situation? You must certainly involve them.

It is assumed that you have attended to the moisture ingress responsible for the dry rot but be advised that it will take many months, even years for wet walls to dry down. It is during this period that the greatest risk exists for sporadic dry rot outbreaks to occur but by following correct procedures in all aspects of dry rot control this risk should be minimised.

Whoever told you that installing central heating would cause a rise in humidity and that this is the cause of the current situation sounds like they are clutching at straws and do not know what they are talking about. Was this the specialist company? The opposite is actually true - the warmer the air the lower the relative humidity.

It sounds very much like you need expert advice from an independent view point. Subject to where the property is I am able to provide this service or I could introduce you to another independent surveyor. Obviously you will have to pay for this services but from what you describe it will probably be cheaper in the long run.
Good luck


Dry rot next door!

Q We live in a 600 year old stone built cottage. In 1724 a vicarage was built next door (on one adjoining wall) and the two houses were interconnected via internal doors. The houses were subsequently divided back into two separate dwellings. We have since learned the house next door has been held up with acrow props due to wet rot and dry rot. Is this likely to affect our cottage?
A Since you state that the two properties were built separately then it is unlikely that any structurally affected timbers in the adjoining property would be common to your property as well. Dry rot however has the ability to penetrate masonry so your greatest risk is any dry rot that is in the area of the party wall especially if there is any dampness present. Wet rot does not have the ability to penetrate masonry. Are you not able to get in next door to check what is happening adjacent to the party wall?


Dry rot in 1.5 years?

Q We bought our home 1.5 years ago and the professional inspection said there was no dry rot anywhere in the home.  We are now selling our house, and an inspector has said there is a lot dry rot.  Could this have happened in the 1.5 years that we've lived here?
A Given the right conditions dry rot is able to establish itself very quickly - so yes it could very easily appear in 1.5 years. But for dry rot to develop and sustain itself there has to be a source of moisture which is usually a leak so have you had any such event adjacent to the dry rot that may have caused it?

On the other hand the inspection 1.5 years ago may have missed it - or the most recent diagnosis may have got it wrong - or at best the most recent inspection has exposed a long dead and historic dry rot outbreak that the previous inspection missed. If it was rampant and active you would know about it as it is very destructive and would make its presence known.

When you purchased the property had it been the subject of a recent re-development? Sometimes developers will cover up or disguise dry rot - sometimes intentionally - sometimes in ignorance. Have you had a second opinion? Have you asked the company back who looked at it 1.5 years ago for their opinion? You should.


Fungus in cellar

Q I recently went into my cellar and noticed that I had fungus growing on the wall and the bricks are all wet and crumbling which is concerning me. Is there anything I can treat this problem with? I have a leaking gutter which I intend to sort out and is directly over the problem area. Will I have to fill in the gaps at the bottom off the wall on the outside of my house where the problem is as well?
A Without seeing the type of fungus that is growing or the state of the bricks involved it is very difficult for me to comment.  Unless tanking works have taken place all cellars will be damp and in some cases surface efflorescence, which is the formation of sulphate crystals on the surface of walls, can happen and this be confused with fungal growth.  Sulphates also have the ability to break down the surface on which they form due to the expansive pressures they are able to exert.  It is unlikely that a leaking gutter is the complete cause though it may be related.

Sorry I am not able to be of much more assistance but the information provided was limited.


Could boards and joists be damaged as well?

Q We are in the process of buying a new house. The survey results show rising damp. The repair costs are £1500 to re-plaster and inject damp proof course.  The report is only a visual one. Is it possible the floor boards and joists could be damaged?
A Any company that has made a diagnosis of rising damp has a duty of care to inform you that timber adjacent to the damp affected walls is at risk to fungal decay and should be inspected. If they have not done this then they have failed in their duty (and failed to conduct a survey in accordance with BS6576).  Well done for thinking about it and make certain you get it checked out before you proceed.


Leaking radiator - Will I have rot?

Q I have discovered a leak from a towel radiator installed about 6 months ago. I am unsure how long the leak has been there but there is some staining on the ceiling below.  How can I ensure that I prevent any rot taking hold in the joists etc?
A You state that the towel radiator was installed six months ago so it is very likely that the leak has been there since it was installed (worst case scenario). If it has taken this length of time to cause discolouration to the ceiling below then the leak is relatively small. It is probable therefore, that once you attend to the leak the dampness will dry in a centrally heated property relatively quickly, and thus the risk of any rot developing is minimal. In the unlikely event that any rot might develop, provided no adjacent masonry is wet, the timescale to when the timbers become sufficiently dry and no longer able to sustain fungal growth will mean that any damage would be minimal - but we stress this would be unlikely. Try to let the damp timbers dry out as rapidly as possible under well ventilated conditions. You may want to consider claiming the cost of redecorating the ceiling below on your house insurance.


Do I have rot or rising damp?

Q I have three questions if that is OK, as I think my house may have rising damp. Two years ago we decided to fit laminate flooring in a living room. On lifting the carpet we found this had become mouldy and damp, and the floorboard underneath had become rotten, as had the joist below. The plaster was slightly powdery for a couple of inches above the skirting board, but the skirting board seemed unaffected. The area affected was a corner of the room where two outside supporting walls met. As it was two days before Christmas, we effected a temporary repair, replacing the joist with an untreated softwood replacement and the floorboards with chip board. This "temporary" repair had been forgotten until this past weekend when I noticed the floor in that corner had too much "give". I lifted the laminate flooring to find the chip board and the new joist was completely rotten and very wet. As well as being wet, the wood was covered in some places by a white rubbery fungus, and over the rest in black slimy ooze. There seems to be a white powdery dusting on some of the bricks, but again, the plaster above floor doesn't appear to be affected apart from some flaking of emulsion at skirting board level. My questions are;
1. Do I have rising damp?
2. If so, I have read a little on the web concerning Dryzone and the way it is applied. In my particular circumstances, the mortar between the bricks appears very sandy and soft. Will Dryzone still work, or is some form of re-pointing necessary before application.
3. I am in two minds as to whether to attempt the work myself of get someone to do it. My main fear in employing someone else is getting a fair deal. Do you have a list of approved contractors?

A From what you describe it sounds like your problem is with the floor and not the walls therefore Dryzone would not be relevant.
Prior to laying the laminate floor a certain amount of 'ventilation' was happening through the floor itself. Now that you have laid a laminate floor this has been prevented or drastically reduced resulting in a humidity build up in the sub floor void and probably moisture accumulating beneath the laminate on top of the flooring/chipboard. Sub floor ventilation was probably poor originally but this just made it worse. It also sounds like sub floor condensation might be responsible for the paint flaking just above skirting level.

Check the sub floor ventilation. The property should have 9 inch by 6 inch air vents every 1.5 metres in all external walls with an internal suspended timber floor. They should be efficient air bricks such as square pattern aluminium or louvered plastic - NOT terra cotta which are only 20% efficient. Sub floor wall openings should also be present to allow a through draught.

You should engage an independent expert such as myself or obtain several expert contractor opinions about what exactly is going on and then decide if you want to attempt it yourself. You should use contractors who are members of the Property Care Association, formally called the British Wood Preserving Association. Please contact me again if you have any queries or when you receive the reports as I would be interested in learning the outcome.


Concealed dry rot

Q I bought a Victorian 2 bed property in September 2006, the survey showed high levels of damp in the ground floor. I had a timber and damp inspection and a new damp course was recommended. When the damp proofers came to inject the damp course they found an area with bonding on the wall which was covering dry rot. When I came to view the property the owners told me this area had been newly plastered but they did not tell me about the dry rot. The expenses for the dry rot treatment are leading to thousands of pounds. Was it legal for the previous owners to plaster over walls infected with dry rot and not tell me about it? They are now denying all knowledge of the rot.

A Speak to your solicitor as the vendors would have completed an enquiries form on behalf of your solicitor/you during the purchase process and this would be covered in that form. Perhaps the vendors or their builders did not know or appreciate what they were looking at. Did you have a survey conducted prior to purchase as you may have recall against the surveyor? Perhaps the timber and damp specialist was negligent? At the end of the day Caveat Emptor is relevant but certainly ask your solicitor for advice.

Survey picked up damp and 'possible' rot?

Q We are in the process of buying a house (1920s semi) and the survey has picked up the presence of rising damp in the main ground floor walls. It has also suggested that the damp may have caused rot which we should have checked. A damp and timber specialist has visited the property and tested the floors for springiness but was not able to take up the floors as the wooden floor is a tongue and groove variety. Under the floor are sheets of chipboard and under that, we don't know. Do you know how likely rot is? They have confirmed rising damp requiring a DPC. If we subsequently find rot, what's the worst case scenario money-wise to get it fixed? The downstairs is around 700 square feet. Thanks.

A Impossible for me to speculate how likely rot is without seeing the property. What about gaining access in the under stairs cupboard? It is usually possible here. Worst case scenario is wet rot throughout and complete new floors - but this is rare. If there are good air vents front, back and side in sufficient number then there is a good chance that everything is OK. It also depends how the floor is constructed i.e. are wall plates built into the wall or on independent sleeper walls - the latter is most likely which is better. Does it really need a DPC? Has the original DPC been located and what type is it? If not it should be as another factor could be responsible for the increased readings. Is an endoscope inspection possible?
Sorry not much help - just more questions!


How quickly does dry rot grow?

Q How long would it take for dry rot to damage floor joists enough to make the floor collapse in a room of about 12x8?

A The answer to your question would depend upon many factors such as; environmental conditions present to sustain growth, size of joists etc. There is no hard and fast time period as each outbreak is unique but given the right conditions dry rot is able to grow surprisingly quickly.


Can dry rot grow through walls?

Q Can dry rot travel through stone walls and attack an adjoining property? If so what recourse do I have with the offending property's owner?

A Yes dry rot is able to penetrate stone walls with relative ease if conditions are favourable. What recourse you may have against the owners of the adjoining property would depend upon many things such as the original cause, knowledge of the cause, any notice given etc. Go and have a chat with citizen's advice bureau - they are very helpful.


Does dry rot affect your health?

Q Does dry rot affect your health?

A Dry rot could seriously damage your health if it caused a structural collapse in part of a building and you were involved. The actual fungus itself would not damage your health but in sufficient quantity the spores it produces, in common with all fungi, has the potential to cause respiratory problems but if it was this bad structural implications are likely to be involved.

How do I remove dry rot fungi from a wall?

Q How and what is the best way to remove dry rot fungi on a brick wall?
A Simply brush it off with a stiff brush. Do not worry about bits falling on the floors etc - it will not spontaneously erupt into a further dry rot attack - it does not spread this way. Of paramount importance however - have you identified and rectified the source of moisture that caused the dry rot outbreak in the first place? This is most important. Have you removed all of the affected timber? The dry rot fungi in and on the wall is very much secondary when dealing with a dry rot outbreak.
Hope this helps but please ask again if you are not clear.


Dry rot on a party wall

Q Dry rot has been identified in my living room.  We have a terraced house and fruiting bodies have recently developed on the skirting board of the living room wall between our house and the old lady next door. A contractor has given me a quote and we were going ahead with the work however the night before he was due to arrive he phoned and let me down. We have decided to treat the wall ourselves with Safeguard products as these seem less harmful. I have recently found out that the wall between our property and next door is only 9 inches thick. We have a concrete floor in the living room. Do you think the water may be coming from the ground?  How do we determine this? I would really appreciate your comments.
A Before I answer in full I would like to ask a few questions please:
Is the dry rot on or near to an outside wall?
Is there or has there been an obvious source of additional moisture now or at sometime in the recent past? (Most party walls are 9 inches thick)
Does your neighbour have solid floors also?
Are your solid floors original or did they replace original timber floors?
If a replacement how long ago?
What does your neighbour use her adjoining room for?
Does she and do you have central heating?
If so are the pipes surface mounted of buried in the solid floor?
Was the contractor going to do anything on the neighbours' side of the wall?

Hope to hear soon then I'll answer in greater detail

Q Peter - Thank you for responding so quickly.

The dry rot is not on or near an outside wall.
Yes we have had an ongoing leak in our down stairs bathroom radiator which has now been fixed but only recently. The problem went on for over a year.  The radiator was extremely old and was taken off the wall in June this year as we were ready to strip out the bathroom. Is it possible that the water created a high level of humidity which set the rot into motion? I explained this to the contractor but he still thought we had rising damp yet there is no tide mark on the wall affected by dry rot. However, the affected wall is a dry lined wall so a nice cavity of poor ventilation behind the wall. This wall was only installed about 5 years ago when we gutted the living room and rewired. The dry rot wall faces opposite the wall which adjoins the bathroom.

Do not know whether neighbour has solid floor. Solid floor was present when my partner first moved in over 30 years ago. There has never been a problem with rot.

Lady next door never comes out.  She is very old. Do not know what room next to ours is used for. She probably does not heat the whole house.

We have central heating and a fire place on an adjacent wall with real flame gas fire which we only use in winter months. There is an open chimney with this fire.

Combi boiler - no central heating pipes under floor.

Contractor was going to inject DPC on our side of the wall only!!!
Thank you for giving advice

A Thanks for the reply

For dry rot to germinate it has to have a supply of moisture. Was the downstairs bathroom radiator leak near to the visible dry rot now? Dry rot tends to produce fruiting bodies when it is under stress, such as removal of moisture supply, as it is attempting to reproduce itself before dying. Dry rot will not spontaneously erupt. Something has to trigger its germination which is usually moisture in the form of a leak. The cure for dry rot is to identify and rectify the source of moisture and promote rapid drying. The use of 'chemical' treatment is very much secondary and only of use during the dry down period. It will not prevent further dry rot if the conditions are right.

We are confused by your contractor who seems hell bent on putting in a new DPC but you have dry rot? From the small snippets you have supplied he does not sound up to speed. It is possible to put a new DPC from one side but is this really necessary? Are you confusing masonry irrigation for dry rot with DPC injection? (Forgive us)

Dry lining a wall without using pressure treated timber and physical protection of timber from adjacent masonry, which may be damp, could create favourable conditions and be sufficient to trigger dry rot. If the dry rot is on the party wall it is almost certain that your neighbour will also be affected. Is it possible that your neighbour is worse affected and you are suffering as a result? If so doing anything your side is a waste of time until the neighbour's side is attended to as well.


Is dry rot dangerous?

Q Is dry rot dangerous to health when present in quantity in a living or bedroom?

A The actual dry rot fungus on its own (without fruiting body) would not be dangerous to health however the structural damage it could cause (roof/floor/wall collapse) is potentially very dangerous. The other consideration would be the spores produced by the fruiting body of dry rot - in sufficient quantity these could cause respiratory problems.

What is behind your question? If your property has a large amount of dry rot you would certainly know about it as certain areas would be in a state of collapse. Do you actually have dry rot or were you just inquisitive?



Dry rot in porch

Q Hi, I was wondering if you could help. I am currently in the process of purchasing a new property and when the survey was done it was noted that there may be dry rot in the porch way leading up to the property but none was detected inside the property. The other thing was that the property was treated for woodworm a couple of years back. It may sound crazy but I am unsure as to whether woodworm and dry rot could both be detected in the same house? Can I please have your advice as I am unsure whether to proceed with the purchase as I have heard that this could be very expensive to treat?

A Whilst it is not impossible, and assuming the porch is not enclosed, it would be very unusual for dry rot to be affecting external timbers forming a porch. It would be more usual to find wet rot. If it is dry rot we would expect it to be connected to an outbreak internally which would probably be obvious.

Woodworm is an insect and dry rot is a fungus, very different organisms, so yes it is possible for them both to be present in a property. Do not be put off proceeding at this stage. If the woodworm was treated a few years ago we assume a guarantee was issued. Why not get the company who did this back to look at the porch? They will either confirm it to be dry rot or wet rot with appropriate recommendations. If no guarantee exists then have the property inspected by a company who is a member of the Property Care Association by a surveyor who is CSRT qualified. Most do this for free so be careful as they are looking for work but as you are buying the cost of anything they find necessary should be knocked off of the asking price.



Dry rot returned after repairs

Q I rent a shop with a full repairing lease. The building is approx 100 years old. 6 months ago I had to pay out for repairs for dry rot. The builders replaced the affected floorboards and timber frames and re-plastered the affected masonry. They also sprayed the area with a chemical. They guessed it may have been caused by an overflowing drain on the outside of the building, this was rectified and they also installed 2 airbricks into the outside wall as there was no ventilation under the floor. The dry rot has now reappeared on an inside wall about 2 feet away from where they sprayed up to. Is it their responsibility? Did they not spray enough in the first place? The builders have told they owner of the building that the only way to eradicate this problem fully is by replacing the whole floor with a cement floor, which she is now insisting I do at my cost! Apart from this being unfair to someone who is only renting, is this really the only way ahead?
A Dry rot has to have a cause i.e. a moisture source that was not there previously. You state the property is 100 years old so the floor survived this long so something else has happened which you state was an overflowing drain that has now been rectified.

You state that builders did the work originally as opposed to a specialist contractor which may be part of the problem. Whilst there are many good builders the undersigned has been involved with many dry rot problems that were allegedly sorted out previously by a builder. Many builders do not fully understand dry rot. The spraying of a masonry biocide or wood preservative is very much secondary in the control of dry rot so do not place to much reliance upon this aspect of the work.

With regard to liability for the further dry rot it is difficult to say without seeing it. If the builder now believes the only way to deal with it is to put a solid floor in why was that not his opinion originally? He is basically saying he got it wrong first time so now wants a second bite of the cherry - at your expense! May be you should ask for your money back?

I would suggest that you obtain the opinion of a specialist independent surveyor such as myself or failing that a good specialist who is a member of the PCA (Property Care Association) formally called BWPDA.


Basement flat rot concerns

Q We are buying a basement flat (120 years old) and just had our survey. We have been warned that the air bricks are above ground level and that there might be inadequate under floor ventilation. The surveyor has said there may be ducts from the air bricks that go down to sub-floor level. Is there anyway of checks if this is the case? We are concerned about possible dry rot if there is no ventilation under the floor.

A My advice when buying a basement/semi basement flat is to be very careful indeed. I would be particularly concerned if the developer has recently 're-decorated'. Experience has shown that basement flats are more sucptable to the effects of condensation as they tend not to receive the benefit of sun light and the thermal gain from it. Solving damp problems in basement flats also tend to be more complicated hence expensive. Developers are there to make money and the more they spend on a property the less their profit so be careful. I am surprised that there are still timber floors in a basement but I have not seen the property. Naturally it depends upon a property's situation but many original basement floors have rotted away and have been replaced with solid floors. Is this not the case? Has the developer laid new laminate floors or something else over the original floors? If so why?

You should certainly seek the opinion of damp and timber specialists especially if there are no guarantees. Make certain floor boards are lifted and sub floor timbers are examined. If the developer puts up resistance walk away - it will be cheaper in the long run. Sorry to be a doomer and gloomer.


We have seen dry rot stains

Q My daughter has seen a house for sale but there is staining on the bedroom walls suggesting dry rot. The vendor stated that remedial work had been carried out to combat dry rot but cannot produce a certificate, Should she proceed?

A I do not understand what you mean by 'dry rot stains'? Dry rot is unlikely to cause staining on walls so there may be some confusion here. Moisture causes staining and sometimes, but not always, a consequence of moisture is dry rot. What does the staining look like? What is the vendor able to produce to verify the type of work that has been undertaken? Bills, photos etc? Was it definitely dry rot? Many people think wet rot and even woodworm is dry rot. If your daughter really likes the house then arrange for qualified (CSRT) timber surveyors to inspect the property and ask them to pay particular attention to the suspect area. I suggest you seek three opinions. If the vendor resists I suggest that you walk away.


Flood - dry rot - insurance -HELP

Q My daughter's end-of-terrace house was badly flooded by a burst tank in the loft December 2003. Damage throughout the house was extensive and her insurers paid for a reinstatement of the property. Now dry rot has appeared in the living room and the insurers have agreed to pay only a proportion of the repair costs. Should they be fully liable? When the house was reinstated early in 2004 only one or two floorboards were lifted in the living room for inspection. The original pine floor was covered with oak flooring. (It was not lifted because the replacement of the pitch pine timbers would have been costly and it was also thought that this work could have disturbed a cornice which would have been costly to repair). The living room has now been inspected by a wood treatment firm, a surveyor and the firm which carried out the original repairs and they all agree that the cause of the dry rot is most likely to have been caused by ingress of water from the 2003 flooding. As no other possible source of moisture has been found the insurers concede that this may possibly be the cause. They have agreed to pay for the replacement of the floor (about £1450) but not for the treatment and creation of a damp proof course (almost £4,000) or the removal, storage and replacement of the fireplace (about £500). The insurers suggest that the reinstatement work should have included a damp proof course under the living room floor. Does the fact that this was not provided make them liable? Does the fact that a surveyor was employed to look after my daughter's interests (and paid for by the insurers) alter the situation? I would appreciate your opinion.

A Before I am able to answer I would like some clarification on certain points:

1.  Is the living room on the ground floor and does it have an original suspended timber floor or is it a solid floor or is it a solid floor overlaid with timber?

2.  If it is an original suspended timber floor was it overlaid with oak flooring as a result of the flood damage work?

3.  I do not understand how the repair of a floor, if it is a ground floor, could disturb a cornice.  A cornice is a plaster moulding detail at ceiling height - are we misunderstanding something here?

4.  You mention a damp-proof course under the living room floor. Do you mean a damp-proof membrane?  A damp-proof course is normally incorporated into a wall or do you mean this?

5.  Is the dry rot affecting flooring timbers surrounding a fireplace hearth?

If you are able to answer the above we hope to answer your queries in greater detail in due course.


Q Thank you for your prompt reply. Here are my answers to your questions:

1. The living room is on the ground floor and has an original suspended timber floor (pitch pine on beams which are sitting on the ground).
2. The original floor was overlaid with oak flooring as part of the flood damage repairs.
3. I agree it is difficult to understand how the floor repair could affect the cornice but this is what was said at the time. The contractors claimed "all the hammering" could damage the cornice which would be very costly to reinstate.
4. Yes, I did mean a damp-proof membrane. It was discovered that none existed when floor boards were lifted for inspection but it was decided not to install one. I understand it was considered not to be essential at the time of the repairs. 
5. The dry rot is affecting timbers (one beam, an original floorboard and the oak overlay). The extent to which it is spreading will not be known until the fireplace is removed (this scheduled for May 30).

I hope this helps you to answer my queries.

A Thank you for your reply.

From what I now understand it would appear that the insurers are being very fair. If a damp proof membrane has never been present then it would be unfair to expect the insurance company to pay for one as this would be regarded as 'betterment'. Does it actually need a membrane? It has stood all of these years without one and only the flood (exceptional circumstances) has brought about the existing situation. I do not understand how £4000 is being requested for a damp proof membrane - it sounds a little over the top but I do not know the full circumstances. As for the potential damage to the cornice what can I say! Never heard this one before!

As a passing note it is just possible that overlaying the original floor with oak may have retarded the evaporation rate from the original floor affected by the flood to the extent that it increased the moisture content of the original floor sufficiently to bring about the germination and to sustain dry rot - just a thought.

Be interested to hear about the £4000 membrane work and how old is the property?


Dry rot, a porch roof and insurance

Q I bought my house three years ago and when I moved in I found the porch roof was leaking. I made a claim on my home insurance for this and they paid out. I now have dry rot in the porch presumably as a result of this leak. Do you think the insurance company should pay out for this? They are saying that they do not think a leaking roof would cause dry rot.

A Dry rot has to have a source of moisture to germinate and sustain growth. If there is no other obvious source of moisture then the leaking porch seems a likely cause. Dry rot may be a consequence of the leak and you might not be covered for this but go back and press your point with the insurance company and you may achieve success.

Contact Peter: Email - info@dampdecay.co.uk - Telephone: 015242 71794