Damp - Guarantees

Guarantee not in my name and surveyor did not find any damp

Q I moved into a mid-terraced 1903 property in September last year. I had a homebuyer's survey which picked up no problems with the damp course or any damp in the house. I have since removed all the wallpaper behind the front door (an internal party wall) as it was peeling and have discovered a mass of tide marks (though no salts) and some black mould growing. The wall also feels wet to the touch and the height of the tidemarks varies between a couple of inches and about two and a half feet, there is a concrete, I believe original, floor in this area. My neighbours who share  the affected wall had a damp course injected about three years ago and have had no problems since then, my own property had the walls injected in 1987 and are guaranteed for a further 10 years, however the guarantee was not put into my name by the solicitor (an issue I shall raise with them). I only noticed the problem in around November and I am aware of the problems with condensation, and have taken steps to reduce this, could this be the problem or is it more likely to be another cause? Also what would you suggest to be the way ahead with dealing with this problem, - another round of injecting from my side, or an alternative? Also how can I stop the black mould growing back after I have cleaned it up? I appreciate that preventing the damp would prevent the mould but I do have a small patch on one of my own internal walls and don't see where any water ingress is coming from.
A Mould will only grow from a pure water source i.e. rain water, tap water or condensation. It will not normally grow on a damp surface where the water is derived from the ground as this contains salts and minerals which act as a mouldicide. You should certainly get back the surveyor responsible for the home buyers report, ask his opinion and ask why he did not pick it up last September. It may be condensation and was not there then or it may be getting in around the front door frame now and was not last September. The wall has had two chemical damp courses injected so it is unlikely to need a third.

The fact that your name is not on the damp guarantee should not be an issue but the guarantee may state that assignment is necessary in a set period. It is the property that is guaranteed not the person. If for some strange reason this is an issue then most certainly take it up with your solicitor as due to a possible error on their part they could perhaps be held responsible for the cost of rectifying any damp problems that would otherwise have been covered by the guarantee that they did not arrange to assign it at the time of your purchase. If necessary ask them to write to the damp company.


Treat all walls myself and guarantee it?

Q I live in a mid terrace house built 1890. Do I only need to get the outside walls damp proofed or do you need the interior walls that I share with my neighbours done?? Also if we damp proofed it ourselves can you get a certificate for this or do we have to have specialist to do it?
A You only need to introduce a remedial damp course system into those walls in which active rising damp has been correctly diagnosed - this may mean some of the party walls with your neighbours since they are load bearing - you certainly do not have to do all walls 'as a precaution'.

If you did it yourself you would be guaranteeing it to yourself - so what is the point? Beyond this if you sold the house and it was then sold on several more times would you really want the then current owners knocking on your door in 18 years time asking you to come and sort out a damp problem in the house that you sold 18 years ago but you guaranteed the damp treatment in your name? This is what you would be getting into. You should really use a reputable specialist - it will save you money in the long run.


Would another company honour my guarantee?

Q I moved into my current house 2 years ago. I have found that I have damp in my kitchen. I have a copy of a 30 year guarantee from a damp proofing company stating that the treatment was carried out in 1982. However the company doesn't seem to be trading anymore. If I get a new company in to do the work would they honour the guarantee? Also would they provide another one?

A No commercially trading damp proofing company or any other type of company would honour the guarantee of a defunct company. It would be like asking Volkswagen to honour guarantees on cars built by Rover who went bust. Unless your guarantee is underwritten by a third party such as a product manufacturer (the paper work would make it clear if it was) then you are back to square one unfortunately. Sorry to bring bad news

Wall apparently damp again - What to do?

Q In 2003 I had a Chemical DPC carried out on a 1900's end terraced property that I own. All walls were treated with the exception of the section of wall behind the kitchen units. My property manager has since told me that there is a damp problem again and has had an inspection carried out and got a quote from a sovereign approved contractor to fix the problem. The contractor has said that there are high moisture readings in all the walls that I have previously had treated with the exception of the front wall of the property. I had previously paid for the sovereign 30 year guarantee and I also have the paperwork from the original contractor which indicates the work carried out.

My question is in 2 parts. Firstly - I have been advised by another contractor that the rising damp in the party wall between my property and the terraced house next door (which was previously treated on my side in full) will never be rid of a rising damp problem unless my neighbour has the work done on his side of the wall too. Is this correct? Should I have the work carried out again or will the problem keep returning? If so do you have any other suggestions as to how to solve the problem?

Secondly, if the initial DPC should be effective in all walls (as it appears to be in the front wall of the property) then I assume that the work carried out on the remaining walls is faulty and thus I should be able to go back to the original contractor and have him re-do the work free of charge. However, where do I stand if the original contractor will not return my calls yet I know that he is still trading under the same name as originally carried out the work?

A To answer your questions in the order raised:

1) It is possible to treat a party wall or any wall from one side only. The only part of the treatment process not possible on a party wall is the essential re-plastering on the neighbours side of the party wall. If someone has 'half treated' a party wall or needs access both sides then provided nothing exceptional exists they do not know what they are doing and have nothing to do with them. The Party Wall Act is of course relevant to such work.

2) You should most certainly get the original contractor back if there is a problem. Be careful however of one contractor commenting on another contractor's work. If the original contractor refuses to come back or answer calls write to him giving him fourteen days in which to investigate your problems under the terms of his guarantee. In your letter you should point out that if he fails to attend in this time you will be left with no alternative but to engage the services of another contractor and you will then seek reimbursement of your costs from him through the small claims court. I am not legally qualified and you should take legal advice or consult the citizen's advice bureau that this course of action is correct for your situation. Only write such a letter if you are prepared to go through with it.

An independent survey service such as I offer is useful in these circumstances.


Is rising damp guaranteed for life or treated every 10 years?

Q With rising damp, once treated is this guaranteed for life or is it a continual treatment every 10 years etc necessary?

A Most treatment for rising damp in the UK carried out by commercially trading damp treatment companies is covered by a 20 or 30 year guarantee with no further treatment necessary in between. Make sure that the guarantee is independently protected/insured in the event of the issueing contractor ceasing to trade - 20 years is a long time in the damp business! Be warned.


Damp and timber inspection required but it is already guaranteed?

Q I'm currently moving home and my current house has a 30yr guarantee for damp and timber that has 19 years left to run. The purchaser's mortgage adviser has asked for a damp and timber report. Why is this if the guarantee is still valid?
A This is not unusual but you should query this with your purchasers. Did their surveyor find a problem or is it just a routine request? They might not know that guarantees already exist. If it is necessary only get the company responsible for the guarantee to carry out the check and it is likely they will charge which is perfectly reasonable. It is not ethical to ask another company to check another company's work but if they do then it is almost certain they will find something to do and rock the boat!


I only have a Guarantee - No report - What should I do?

Q I have a damp proof course guarantee on the property I bought in April 2006. There appears to be damp patches on several of the lounge walls. I cannot trace the contractor and the company whose products were used say they still guarantee even if contractor goes out of business. I have this guarantee with various ref numbers but because I do not have the original survey and details of what was done they will not honour this, any suggestions please?

A A guarantee merely means that some work went on somewhere in a property. It is the report and specification that stipulates what type of work went on where and is therefore vital documentation in the event of a claim situation. It is almost certainly a condition of the guarantee that such documents have to be produced in the event of a claim. It is the responsibility of your solicitor to ensure that all the relevant paperwork is present and transferred at the time of purchase but sadly most are fixated on the guarantee document alone and do not check what supporting documents are necessary. We are aware of one lady who argued negligence against her solicitor for this reason and the solicitor agreed to pay for the work. Could be relevant in your case?

Without the report there is little you are able to do.

Q Thank you for your prompt reply. As the guarantee is from 1989 it would I assume prove a lengthy procedure to discover which solicitor lost the specification?


A I think you misunderstand. What happened before your interest in the property is not relevant. It is your solicitor that should have been on the ball and identified that not all of the paper work was present to enable you to pursue a claim should the need arise. The guarantee transferred to you was meaningless because it was not accompanied by the essential supporting documents. If you knew this before you purchased you could have obtained estimates for any work necessary and reduced your offer accordingly but you were denied this option because someone did not check that you had all of the necessary paperwork. The buck stops with your solicitor.


Contractor in liquidation - is my guarantee no longer valid?

Q I have recently discovered rising damp in my property. The property had a damp proof course in 1993 and the work is covered by a 30 year joint guarantee.  However the company that carried out the work have since gone into liquidation. Does that mean that my guarantee is no longer valid?
A You state that the damp-proof course is covered by a 30 year joint guarantee.  If it is a joint guarantee this implies that a third party other than the contractor is involved in part of the guarantee. In most cases this is the manufacturer of the products actually used and is a product guarantee only relating to the performance of the products used if applied correctly. You may have some recall against the manufacturer but do not hold your breath. This is the type of situation where an independent opinion from someone such as ourselves could save you money and be of assistance.

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