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Is Dampness In Buildings Always An Issue?

Posted on August 25, 2015 by Forde George

This is an issue which is invariably dealt with in detail within our residential Full Building Survey and in particular in respect of Listed or historic buildings. Dampness within modern commercial or residential buildings is relatively straightforward and usually due to specific internal or external defects, an item for a different discussion.

Dampness levels in older traditional buildings is more complex and, to some degree, subjective, dependent largely upon the ability of the owner to manage the dampness and emotionally cope with its presence.

High levels of dampness in a residential building are generally not welcome by an occupier and can lead to the building’s deterioration however its eradication is not necessarily the best course of action. Many of the buildings Forde George survey are for example cob and stone construction, both of which will inevitably exhibit a degree of dampness and, if managed using the correct internal and external finishes, as well as maintenance of the exterior generally, should not necessarily be of significant concern. However, when vulnerable elements at risk of decay exist, such as timber floors and other joinery items, these may need particular treatment for protection.

It is often a Client’s wish to control or eliminate dampness however which, in certain buildings such as cob, may be inappropriate. Whilst there may be options for excluding moisture within stone buildings, this will invariably require very careful detailing and extensive works. The desire to eliminate dampness from historic buildings may say more about the incompatibility of the Client with the building than the risk of the dampness itself.

An exception may be the conversion of formerly agricultural buildings where true conservation techniques may not be appropriate. Such conversion of stone buildings can include structural waterproofing to exclude dampness from ground and external wall areas.

As part of our building surveyor services Forde George is able to provide on dampness management techniques as well as methods of building conversion

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