Monday, February 18, 2013

Rising Damp: An update for 2013 (Part One)

Guest article from Joe Malone BSc(Hons) ICIOB Head of Asset Management ALMO Business Centre Leeds

‘….the view that rising damp is a myth may cause Building Surveyors to form a view that it is not worth learning how to properly survey for rising damp and the supposition that rising damp is a common problem has led to a glut of poorly trained industry surveyors and widespread misdiagnosis due to over reliance on hand held electrical moisture meters’

Gary's recent blog article on condensation damp has proven to be incredibly popular and with that in mind I was asked if I'd mind writing an update on rising damp. It may be worth mentioning that my own level of  expertise stems from two years research carried out into rising damp that resulted in a dissertation entitled, 'The Efficacy of DPC Injection.' I've been actively involved in surveying damp properties and more importantly, teaching damp investigation for a number of years now and think there have been a number of significant developments over the last 10 years to merit an update on current thinking, controversies and industry developments. If I may, I'd like to clear up one key controversy from the outset...

Is Rising Damp a Myth?

There have been a number of commentators who have done nothing to move this issue forward over the last few years. In particular Jeff Howell's book, 'The Rising Damp Myth' and Stephen Boniface, former Chair of the RICS Building Surveying Faculty, has also gone on record to state his belief that rising damp is a myth. Whilst I understand the sentiment behind their extreme view, it is perhaps a backlash to a DPC industry that promotes rising damp as a common occurrence. During my research into rising damp I came across a PCA examination paper for their National Certificate in Remedial Treatment from 2005 where a question started with the statement that, 'Rising damp is a common problem.' Of course we know it isn’t a common problem but it demonstrates the second of two extremes when a rather more moderate approach needs adopting. Both views cause a number of problems; the view that rising damp is a myth may cause Building Surveyors to form a view that it is not worth learning how to properly survey for rising damp and the supposition that rising damp is a common problem has led to a glut of poorly trained industry surveyors and widespread misdiagnosis due to over reliance on hand held electrical moisture meters. Even the poorly trained have a real sense of security gained in the knowledge that even if you misdiagnose, the waterproof renovating plasters applied internally will give the appearance of a dry wall thereby leading clients to conclude that your diagnosis was correct.                                                                                                                                              
After carrying out a substantial literature review on this question I can with confidence state two facts.

1. Rising damp does exist and is a scientifically proven phenomenon.

2. Although it exists it is incredibly rare.

The more common academic view is that between  5%  and 10% of damp properties will be affected by rising damp; my own research puts the incidence at  less than 5%. Please note that we’re talking about a percentage of damp properties here and not total properties in the UK.

So what exactly is rising damp?

The simple academic description would describe rising damp as 'an upward capillary migration of water in masonry. You'll find the reference to capillary action in most text books and it is in this area that most text books are long overdue an update. Bricks contain capillaries or microscopic tubes that are small enough to allow inter-molecular attractive forces between the liquid and solid surrounding surface; these forces allow a liquid to flow in narrow spaces against gravity. The problem here is that we now know that rising damp has two moisture transfer mechanisms; capillary action and diffusion. It is generally thought that molecular diffusion (Fickian) is the moisture transport mechanism for water molecules moving through cement paste. Some of you may remember this from your school physics lessons but in simple terms diffusion is the spreading of solutes from regions of highest to regions of lower concentrations caused by the concentration gradient.  It’s the same for concrete floor slabs; water moves up through the floor slab by a process of diffusion and not capillary action.

A New Definition for Rising Damp

It is time to propose a new definition for rising damp and I would suggest the following description:

‘Rising damp is an upward migration of groundwater in masonry walls. It will act in combination on the masonry units and their separating mortar joints or it will act primarily on the mortar joints. The moisture transfer mechanism in masonry is capillary action whilst the moisture transfer mechanism within mortar is diffusion. The major moisture pathway for rising damp is the mortar perps so it can be stated that there are dual moisture transfer mechanisms for rising damp, diffusion and capillary action’
Maybe not as snappy as the original definition but it clears up a number of issues and in itself can be used as an aid to diagnosis and specification. Since we know that the mortar joints are primarily affected then it serves very little purpose in drilling and injecting brickwork without also treating the mortar joints. We need to qualify this statement because we have something of an anomaly when it comes to discussing the mortar joints… Tests were carried out at South Bank University a number of years back which failed to replicate rising damp in laboratory conditions. The tests were bound to fail because account wasn’t taken for the fact that a new OPC mortar bed is impermeable to moisture, however, after 30-50 years of environmental exposure the mortar degrades and rather than providing an impermeable barrier it then becomes the main moisture pathway.
For reasons of practicality and aesthetics we should have completely moved away from injecting brickwork and retrofit DPC injection should focus on the mortar bed and perp joints. However; we're getting ahead of ourselves because we've not yet discussed correct diagnosis but we’ll discuss that and other issues in part 2 of this article.

Joe Malone BSc (Hons) ICIOB, Head of Asset Management, ALMO Business Centre Leeds

The writer of this article is an advocate of paid independent damp surveys and in no way endorses any damp proofing advertisement (PCA affiliated or otherwise) linked to this article.

Information/opinions posted on this site are the personal views of the author and should not be relied upon by any person or any third party without first seeking further professional advice. Also, please scroll down and read the copyright notice at the end of the blog.


  1. Hi Joe,

    A very interesting post and there are several points to reflect on.

    I feel that the inclusion of even a mention of Jeff Howell's book brings the post down, as that book has been so thoroughly de-bunked that it is certanly not worth a mention IMHO.

    I think that general surveyors such as RICS in private practice and those working in local authority housing have for too long allowed damp proofing specialists to dictate diagnosis and remedial action.

    In the past ten days I've looked at 6 council houses with DPC's installed and plastering carried out last year. The tenants are still complaining about mould growth, because of course the work recommended by the 'specialist' did not address the problem which the council tenants had complained of in the first place... ring any bells?.

    Of course I have fixed that with good advice this time round.

    But why did the council take the advice of an unqualified 'specialst' who simply stuck a meter in a wall and gave them a quote?

    Training of their own surveyors is the key and I am helping with that, but slating all spcialists is not the way forward and I cannot train these guys to my level in a morning. What I can do though is help them check the simple things, so where condensation, penetrating damp or a bridging issue is the cause they can put that right themselevs.

    They will also be less prone to damp-proofing contractors Bull===t!

    Nice post thanks for sharing


  2. Having seen supposed 'rising damp' diagnosis which turn out to be questionable, particularly where meters are used, i look forward to reading the rest of this article.

  3. Whilst I have often been quoted as stating "rising damp is a myth" the only time I have ever said that phrase (or similar) is once when delivering a paper at a conference and then using the intake of breath as a cue to then develop the argument further and explore the issue of damp. In other words I used the phrase provocatively (it usually worked). I then went on to state that whilst I accept rising damp (as a term often used by the public and professionals alike) might exist it is indeed extremely rare. I have at other times referred to the myth of rising dampness and explained what I understand without actually stating myself that it is a complete myth.

    Further, my concern is not so much whether rising damp exists, but how dampness generally is considered and diagnosed and remedial work recommended. My concern is with the unthinking approach taken by some professionals and contractors - together with the financial insentive on the part of contractors to 'find' work to be undertaken. This may not be as common as it once was, but it still exists.

    Having read your piece here and the second part I think there is a great deal of agreement between us.

    I mainly deal with historic buildings that never had a DPC in the first place and in the vast majority of cases the problems can be resolved by getting the building to work as originally intended. A way of explaining the differences I often use is that historic buildings tend to work by moisture management (usually ensuring it escapes before it is noticeable or causes damage), whereas modern buildings tend to be designed to work by moisture exclusion. Both approaches are perfectly reasonable, but are not usually compatible.

    I would regard major intervention into how a building functions (in terms of dealing with damp) as a last resort.

    In my experience the most common causes of damp in older properties are: raised ground levels above original levels (and often above floor or sole plate levels); blocked air bricks and other means of breathability being restricted; use of dense cement based mortar for repointing and/or rendering leading to trapped moisture.

    The other comment I would have is that there will come a point up a wall where the uptake of moisture in whatever way it may occur) will be slower than the rate of evaporation and removal of the moisture from the wall surface. I have rarely seen this zone being particularly high above ground and the more exposed a wall face to drying conditions the lower the zone will be. Indeed if the zone is below floor/sole plate, etc level it is unlikely to be causing a problem anyway regardless of whether there is a DPC or not. The times I have seen moisture rise up a wall to any height is when it has become trapped and no sooner has the impermeable surface (causing the moisture to be trapped) been removed then the dampness starts to dry and the problem recede.

    I hope my comments are helpful and clarify my position so that I don't keep getting misquoted.

    Stephen Boniface

  4. Rising damp skepticism...
    Rising damp is a phenomenon that is fully predicted by the laws of physics,has been researched on a worldwide scale, and has been documented since Roman times. Nevertheless a small number of people have expressed the view that rising damp is a myth and that it is, in fact, impossible for moisture to rise from the ground into the wall structure through pores in the masonry. A former chairman of the construction arm of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Stephen Boniface, has said that ‘true rising damp’ is a myth and chemically injected damp-proof courses (DPC) are ‘a complete waste of money’.
    Konrad Fisher's article "The Fraud of Rising Damp" points out that the historic city hall in Bamberg stands in the river Regnitz and its bridge remains dry without any chemical, mechanical or electronic damp-proof course. However, evidence suggests that not all walls are capable of supporting rising damp, so merely observing that rising damp does not occur in a particular wall does not disprove its existence in other walls.
    In 1997 staff at Lewisham Council in South London were so convinced that rising damp is extremely rare or possibly a myth that they are offered a reward of £50 to anyone who could prove them wrong.
    Water intrusion into the indoor environment can be attributed from causes other than rising damp. Moisture penetration has been an ongoing problem for residences as evaporation occurs at the edge of the damp area, resulting in “tide marks” due to salt deposition.The “tide mark” is commonly distinguished as a feature of rising damp. However, even after the water intrusion has been treated, these salt accumulations still persist. This suggests that rising damp is not always the cause for the water penetration.
    For more info refer to link:


  5. Research the Association that is recommended by your mortgage surveyor. Look at the claims made by them. See how they describe 'Rising Damp' as water that rises up a wall by capillary action, despite the fact that Jeff Howell and many others have consistently failed to ever reproduce this action. They will probably tell you that damp is controlled by a damp course - which it isnt. They will describe loads of 'symptoms' of rising damp - all of which are explained by simple things like condensation, penetrating damp, and humidity. They will probably tell you that your plaster will be contaminated with salts and need to be replaced with 'special salt resistant plaster' - which it doesnt. The whole thing is a giant con.. it sells millions of pounds worth of chemicals, and does nothing for your home.

    Many of these companies also use Big Words and Complex Terms like 'Damp Control' and 'Structural Waterproofing' and the just LOVE 'Flood Restoration' because it makes them look really important people with lots of technical know-how. All they actually manage to do is sell you more chemicals in the process..

    At this point I should probably include a picture of one of us looking down a microscope and doing some 'research' into how we can sell you more useless chemicals.. , or include a nice warm fuzzy video saying how nice we are... but I won't. We'll stick to facts, and give you some case histories which show you how damp problems were resolved, and how they were originally diagnosed as rising damp.

    Rising damp is a wonderful marketing tool used to sell millions of pounds worth of worthless chemicals and labour to an unsuspecting public, irreparably damaging structural brickwork in the process, and don't forget that they always want to re-plaster the walls with impermeable plaster - this just makes the problem come back in ten years or so..! Great for business if you're flogging rising damp treatments....

    We have often surveyed damp houses which have had more than one set of holes drilled - some - the worst we've seen, have had three or four sets of injection damp proofing holes and chemicals injected, and they are still sopping wet. When will people, surveyors, and the mortgage companies, wake up?

    Please.... DON'T be fooled into using injection damp proofing - it's a waste of money. Take note that they nearly always make you hack off the plaster to the obligatory metre high - as in the photos below, and give it a 15 year guarantee - then in 16 years, when all the plaster falls off again, its magically out of guarantee, or the company vanished into thin air.. in the 'Guarantee' conditions, there is ALWAYS a clause - the 'getout clause', that says damage from condensation isnt covered.

    So.. they do your 'Rising Damp' treatment, and tell you they have cured it... then when you go back to them with the same problem a year or two later ..... 'Oh No... our rising damp treatment worked well - what you NOW have is caused by a different problem - this is condensation... we dont cover this you know - sorry'

    The rising damp fraudsters are not stupid. They know exactly what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how to wriggle out of ever backing up a guarantee. Get a solicitor to check the guarantee - it isnt worth the paper it is written on - it doesnt even guarantee the work..

    Guarantee Protection Insurance..... Another HUGE con. It does nothing - but it does put millions a year into the pockets of the chemical companies who get huge kickbacks and commissions from selling it. It smells - its fraud.

    Every damp problem has a specific cause, and it is usually easy to fix that cause - for example, faulty guttering, external ground levels too high, concrete / cement render trapping moisture on outside walls, and so on. Our survey will outline any problems, and suggest solutions, which never include injection damp proofing!

  6. For the home owner who has no qualified knowledge over such matters but who has already spent thousands of pounds trying to have a damp issue in the building properly identified and treated, what do you recommend? When there is so much controvery on the subject amongst professionals, what does the novice do who needs help? I would be grateful if someone could introduce an honest and reliable surveyor or expert or whoever it is that is needed to come in, diagnose the cause of the damp issues and offer a solution that will last for many years, without that person having agenda or affiliation with the company that ultimately does the work. Please.

  7. The problem with the Damp industry is the fundamental lack of education, many in the industry passionately believe they are fixing and surveying issues but in reality there are measuring the conductivity of surface plaster with a Damp meter not fit for purpose, 99.9% of all surveys in the industry are misdiagnoses of trapped moisture.

    To expand, there is a whole industry based on the standard qualification CSRT, but if you research this “unique” qualification its requirements are so trivial that I would grade it as no more demanding than a grammar school entry qualification of an 11 year old. It takes a few days to gain and you pay for it. Essentially, the CSRT Surveyor applies his electronic damp meter to a wall, the red light eliminates ( of course red for danger to perceive the fear factor), and with that look of doom he announces the event of “rising damp” and the need to inject the wall with a magical product that will disperse and form a chemical barrier. This amazing feat that defies the laws of physics is often coupled with the removal of the plaster system and replacing with a strong cement based render that will not allow the wall to breathe and create more problems that the one misdiagnosed in the initial event! Its complete madness we are the only country in the world with rising damp, and certainly the only country to be so naive we actually formed an entire industry to fix this god like creation of rising damp.

    There are literally 1000’s of these “specialist surveyors” in the UK making substantial commissions selling chemicals to customers who often need to just increase ventilation, reduce ground levels or change the cement based plaster systems than trap moisture. They actually believe they are “surveyors” and can diagnose problems, they have been brain washed into thinking rising damp exists and the cure is to sell chemicals to remedy that problem. Often displaying tattoos and earrings these “surveyors” find their victims on the internet or even by trade Associations advertising their services my advice is research them the companies they represent and you will be amazed at the results ask to see formal qualifications! Which University did they attend? Which subject did they read? They will run for the door if you probe their back grounds. Ask them to explain in scientific terms this mystical event of vertical transmission of water. Why the magical transmission to 1.2M? Explain that in linear Physics. Their earring will shudder with embracement!

    There is not a single property, in the UK, post 1865, that requires a Damp proof injection and people should not buy their chemicals but instead contact a properly qualified professional who is a graduate in building science or similar.

    You would derive great benefit by searching “Rising Damp myth” and look at publications by professionals such as Pete Ward of Heritage house and Jeff Howell the author of the award winning book Rising Damp Myth, these are suitably qualified graduates and provide great advice on how to avoid the CSRT “Surveyor” and his chemical sales techniques.

    The word is spreading, and the days of this industry are certainly numbered, this is not an attack on the CSRT qualification or those who process it, I’m just simply letting the consumer know they are not dealing with a professional, and in all probability it’s someone completely clueless about building science and actual causes of inherent dampness. But more importantly the chemicals they intend to sell you and the process associated with the chemical “act of god” will not work. Don’t be fooled by them and don’t buy their chemicals.

    My qualifications? A chartered Surveyor of 35 years.

  8. In response to the comments above from the chartered surveyor of 35 years, I take on board what your saying regarding rising damp but could you please clarify the following, I have bought 5 houses throughout my life and every single one of them after having a RICS survey carried out for mortgage purposes came back with the statement 'high moisture readings were evident in lower parts of wall, we recommend you instruct a damp proofing specialist to carry out a survey" or words to that affect, why would a surveyor state this if what your saying is a non existent condition? I hear similar statements from other surveyors but you's do not help the cause by slipping these recommendations in reports - in my case all 5 properties I have bought, I hear surveyors saying similar to what your saying but without providing any solutions or advice to us homeowners, why don't the surveys give advice to remedy the damp walls rather than just passing the buck, I find it astounding that RICS surveyors refer us to advice from an industry that all you's do is slate, surely you guys could provide advice/recommendations that would solve the problems rather than unnecessary and costly works being carried out, in my case 3 of the 5 houses had a fair bit of damp proof work carried out

    1. Hi, I feel sure that the Chartered Surveyor is not saying that damp conditions don't exist in properties, he is simply stating his belief that DPC injection work is never required and that there are more appropriate solutions for dealing with the damp problems at source using nothing more than small building works. This is generally my view though there are rare occasions when pragmatically DPC injection can be used as a management solution rather than a cure. Joe Malone

  9. The author above is acutely correct, the error the RICS have been making is deferring the diagnosis of high moisture levels to “specialist surveyors” we have all been misled by the ability of these “specialist surveyors” to determine exactly what the problem is, and in most cases its simply trapped moisture.

    When deferring diagnosis to a PCA member or other specialists the RICS had no idea of the lack of education these “specialists” have and in recent years it’s been exposed by Which? Initially, and then by other experts such as Pete ward that they are little more than chemical salesman who’s objective is to diagnosis rising damp in every situation, in many cases costing thousands of pounds to rectify.

    The products they sell do not work, are unnecessary and potentially destructive for buildings and in some cases filling sound brickwork with silicon deposits/derivatives which will erode them in the long term.

    There is no such event as rising damp, it’s a myth, but corrective action from the RICS will take time and one argument is to have a minimum education requirement of an HNC/BSc for these “specialist surveyors” and disband the CSRT qualification, replacing it with a RICS Damp investigation module.

  10. I would just like to follow up with some technical input. The products that Damp Proofing companies sell to their clients cannot possibly work simply because the operator has no knowledge or control of the injection procedure in relation to the mortar beds composition, there is no initial analysis so resistance to flow or diffusion calculations are never performed.

    If any of their “magical treatments” were to work it would be DPC cream injection, but there are simply too many parameters and controlling functions, these include diffusion coefficients, brick absorption, Sulphate reactions to water diffusion, and most importantly the water content of the mortar bed itself and these are neglected in the application process itself.

    The chemical manufactures have lovely videos showing holes being drilled into mortar beds and the “magical cream” injected, spreading and diffusing in the mortar beds and leaving a residue that will prevent the tidal wave of rising damp so dangerously lurking below ready to rise at any given time.
    In reality the injected cream does absolutely nothing other than vortex around the injection hole and its dependent on the size and chemical composition of the mortar beds and thus highly variant, something the chemical supplier either neglects to explain or simply ignores the basic physics.
    The whole process is meaningless, it’s not required, and does nothing! to cap it all the Damp Company charges approximately £80-120 per M2 to hack off inject and render with a simple sand/cement render costing no more than £12 m2 and the injection cream £3 per running metre. It’s a disgrace, legalised deception, expertly exposed and utilised by the chemical salesmen.

    It’s a fact no one needs the Damp Proofing industry it’s a £200,000,000 empire based on misdiagnoses and wide spread use of electronic Damp meters that measure conductivity and not moisture, the whole industry needs regulation and educated to provide proper solutions to moisture problems in reducing ground levels, increasing ventilation and endorsing breathable lime plaster systems.

    More importantly, the industry should immediately stop injecting and damaging old buildings with silicones that do not work, sooner or later clients will realise for years they have been sold unnecessary remedies for a misdiagnosed problem and will seek retribution in the courts. We could see wholesale legal actions against Chemical manufactures.

    The PCA is at the root of this problem creating the “Specialist Surveyor” and awarding him with a meaningless CSRT qualification which is not a qualification at all. If you dig deeper and look at the PCA board members there is no evidence of any technically qualified board members but the presence of an actual Chemical manufacturing director! What function the director of a chemical manufacturer has within a trade body is beyond my limited logical thoughts apart from the obvious, he’s selling his chemicals to the other board members, and the membership as a whole.

    Lastly, it appears the PCA do have a life sciences graduate setting the CSRT examinations, and providing scientific advice in general to its members, and it’s probably as much use as a Vet in a hospital ward or an accountant in a solicitor’s office. The whole industry is “endemically deceiving the general public” and action needs to be taken in 2014. Before employing any Chemical Salesmen do your research or get a professional in.

  11. This thread continues to get some very interesting comments so thanks to all who continue to submit. I'd like to pick up on two points.
    1. Viv raised the question, 'what does the novice do who needs help?.' Find an independent building surveying with a specialism in damp investigation and pay for a full four stage survey. The money spent on this survey will probably save you thousands on not having to specify unnecessary work. The bottom line is that the general public appear to dislike paying for damp surveys and while they continue to think free surveys are a good thing and the accepted norm then they will continue to waste money on unnecessary remedial work.
    2. The second point I would make is in regard to the CSRT exam. Anyone can pass that exam after a couple of weeks work, they need no knowledge of construction technology or buildings and this is the problem. The last CSRT surveyor I met on site was a taxi driver with no building qualifications whatsoever but he'd passed the CSRT . He didn't even understand that the blue course of engineering bricks was actually the damp proof course. It is rather like when the ill fated Home Inspections were introduced and there was a rush of unqualified people paying for short courses on home inspection. This course was never going to make them fit for carrying out home inspections. You need to contextualise the CSRT, it is an unregulated course set by a trade body whose business is in generating income for their members.

    Joe Malone

  12. A Chartered Surveyor with 35 years experience has raised a point in regard to his own qualifications and this leads me to another point. Are you guaranteed that a Chartered Building Surveyor will have appropriate knowledge or training in damp investgation techniques? Unfortunately not, and whilst I agree with a lot of the contributors comments it is a fact that many Chartered Surveyors still abdicate responsibility for diagnosis because their own knowledge of the subject is inadequate and they don't carry the correct diagnostic tools. During my own building surveying degree damp was covered in one lecture and was woefully inadequate. I know from my involvement with Coventry University that the more forward thinking Universities are looking to address this problem but really I think it's an issue that RICS need to grasp and offer an alternative to the CSRT rather than getting into bed with an unregulated trade body like the PCA, an arrangement that can only end in tears. Joe Malone

  13. This thread is very concerning, if this so called “Qualification” being abbreviated to CSRT is no more valuable than the paper it’s printed upon, we have a very serious problem indeed.

    I have seen examples of a mock CSRT examination today on the internet and I would agree with authors above its pretty basic concentrating on selling chemicals rather than identifying and resolving issues.

    We should all know the fundamentals that a "fix" is not a solution in building science, and even if these remedies for rising damp (if it actually exists) do magically work they are not a long term solution.

    My advice is only deal with professionals, those with a proper University degree or a company that has access to one, and certainly never pay a CSRT “Surveyor” a fee for his services as Which? Identified are probably of little or no use.


  14. I have found this thread interesting, worrying, annoying, disrespectful to Chartered Professionals and old hat.
    First Point, its about time the building industry got rid of so called experts that are not affiliated with a recognised professional institution (RICS) who carry out building pathology in the field of damp investigations. The comments above all seem and read like frustrated people who have been poorly advised or have not been able to correctly digest the information that is put in front of them.
    Second Point, The RICS have many designations as Chartered Surveyor so don't put them all in the same category, you would'nt like a Chartered Surveyor of antiques carrying out a building survey now would you.
    Third Point, Chartered Surveyors that carry out valuation surveys for mortgage lenders are General Practice surveyors NOT Building Surveyors.
    Fourth Point. To correctly diagnose damp, condensation, building defects, basically anything to do with your home contact a Chartered Building Surveyor (Not Building Surveyor) but Chartered Building Surveyor, an earlier comment above from a graduate that was studying Building Surveying sounded as if he had chosen the wrong course because he wasn't being trained correctly or didn't know enough, well that's because he had not completed his training, to become a Chartered Surveyor after you graduate it takes another 3-5 years of intense training, that's why Chartered Surveyors within each designation are respected WORLDWIDE.

    So before you start talking about Chartered Surveyors, what their role is and what they specialise in, please do your research first.

    Industry Expert for 38 years MRICS Chartered Building Surveyor

    P.S Jeff Howell Rocks.

  15. I wholeheartedly agree with the above comment; likewise, I am a MRICS Chartered Building Surveyor and I offer Building Surveys to home buyers. I will not carry out the RICS Homebuyer's Report as I do not like the pre-formatted, computer generated content.

    I am constantly astounded by the different types of Chartered Surveyors who offer their services to the general public for house surveys. The vast majority of home buyers seem to believe that any surveyor, whatever type, are suitable to carry out comprehensive house surveys. As long as the fees are as low as possible, they do not seem to mind whether the surveyor is MRICS/FRICS or not. And to try and explain the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor and a Chartered Valuation Surveyor (General Practice) and you are simply wasting your breath.

    Recently I have come across individuals who simply state that they are associated with the RICS, companies that state they use RICS surveyors (without any proof), AssocRICS and even the new designations like Chartered Commercial Property Surveyors (this particular individual specialised in park homes!).

    The RICS do not help! They list any company on their website for a fee; whether Regulated or not and the public, if they do look, are supposed to know the difference between a Regulated and non-Regulated listing.

    Everything is driven down by surveyors offering to carry out surveys for lower and lower fees.

    The moral is, do not assume a "Chartered Surveyor" has specific knowledge; the term is too broad. Use a "Chartered Surveyor" who specialises in the area that you are instructing him/her for.

  16. Some points
    The RICS does not require chartered valuation surveyors to provide formal evidence of competence in damp diagnosis in its guidance note for the new residential survey suite of licenced templates. There is a note that there are higher expectations. I for one completely disagree with this approach and always will. There is no meaningful connect between the BS group and the residential group in respect to the roles played by chartered surveys in damp diagnosis. The residential (GP) working group originally devised the new guidance on residential building surveys.

    I was once asked if I could give my advice on a damp issue highlighted by a bank backed chartered valuation surveyor but was not allowed to because the bank said I was not PCA registered. Clearly RICS designation does not hold much sway in some quarters.

    If you ask a person selling a product how to solve a damp problem the answer will be based on that product. No great surprise there so lets get over this. 8 out of 10 cats would prefer to eat a sparrow but there is no sparrow cat food available. There is no "Sparrow Myth"

    Home owners, banks and lawyers all want fast, guaranteed repairs and not many vendors will allow you to drill holes in their walls "just in case". Companies give this group what they think they want. Giving someone a "correct diagnosis" is not always what they want to hear. What they want to hear is "stop the damp"

    I have measured hundreds of technically "damp" walls that no one is bothered about because the paint work is undamaged. No one has asked me to resolve a "damp" wall if there is no perceived problem.

    Defects are perceived by people and only resolved when people perceive them to be resolved. That is not science and science will cure that.

    In the BRE digest 245 there is a first principle to consider all other potential sources before you proceed to the diagnosis of rising damp set out. How wise.

  17. Some interesting points above and I'd like to add my own thoughts:

    1. I completely agree that there is a widespread lack of knowledge with regard to what Chartered Surveyors do. I have always thought of MRICS as being a little like the newly qualified doctor who then goes off to specialise in Paediatrics, gynacology or whatever specialism holds their interest. The wider public have no idea what Chartered Surveyors do so is there a problem with regard to how RICS market their members when the PCA have marketed their members to such a degree that mortage companies won't accept a Chartered Building Surveyors opinion because he isn't a PCA member?

    2. I don't want this to turn into a RICS versus PCA debate. I simply make the point that I do not believe you can adequately survey any building, even if that survey is limited to damp, if you have no building qualifications underpinning the basis CSRT qualification.

    3. I agree with the point about finding a Chartered Surveyor who specialises in the damp or whatever other specialism you seek but outside of his word that he specialises in it how would you know? I think a RICS specialist qualification to add onto your MRICS is long overdue. All mortage companies see is that CSRT is a damp qualification and MRICS to all intents and purposes despite being eminently more qualified than your average CSRT operative is deemed unqualified. It's ridiculous but it shows how successful the PCA have been in marketing their members compared to RICS.

    4. I do find the point amusing with regard to how much additonal training is required to become a Chartered Surveyor. Lets not forget the Chartered Surveyors who were gifted their MRICS status when RICS absorbed the old Institute of building control so not all Chartered Surveyors received the same training and the process for membership has constantly evolved over the years. achieving a level 3 competence sign off for building pathology does not make you any more expert in damp diagnosis than the CSRT qualification does. Joe Malone

  18. While the technical debate is no doubt very interesting, us poor home owners just want a workable solution!

    We have run of wall that is damp up to about 1m. There is no condensation. The external render is sound & the plaster & paper are falling off.. A local, seemingly reputable firm (that have been in business 100 years) have advised DPC injection into the mortar & replacement of the render. The work carries a 20 year guarantee. Do I tell them they are wrong?

  19. To answer the consumer above. I assume the Chemical Salesmen has recommended mortar bed injection with a damp proofing cream product? I can assure this process is absolutely pointless and a waste of money, it will not work.

    Firstly, its standard for a Chemical salesmen to apply his yellow Damp meter to your wall, which actually does not measure dampness at all, but in reality it measures conductivity, foil backed paper, pipes, clinker blocks and many other materials will cause their meters to indicate dampness and that’s all the CSRT Surveyor needs to conclude its “rising damp”. There will be no rising damp it does not exist.

    Look for elevated ground levels, blocked cavities, damp penetration, you say there’s no condensation what exactly is the relative humidity? This is probably trapped moisture between the render/brick interface, the wall breaths and cannot release the water vapour it has absorbed during the thermal cycling, this is because the cement render or other material is trapping it from evolving/evaporating.

    My advice is to remove a small section of the render, the wall behind it will be wet, but after a few days you will see it drying out, then if that’s the case remove the cement render and replace with a suitable breathable plaster matrix, this is assuming none of the above are contributing factors.

    Lastly, do not allow a Chemical Salesman (AKA CSRT Surveyor) to drill and inject your wall for a ridiculous fee it does absolutely nothing but line the pockets of a gravy chain who has enjoyed such benefits for years. There is now a director of a Chemical manufacturer on the board of a well know trade Association, apart from selling his chemicals and making profits from a process that does not work, we wonder why he’s on that board of directors? The deeper you dig the greater the level of distrust develops in the damp proofing industry.

  20. We are currently working with a client on an 18th century Grade 2 listed farmhouse. It is part timber framed and part brick; there are also outbuildings of clay lump. There were significant areas of damp at low level.

    The owner invested in a thorough survey prior to purchase but as many of the Chartered Surveyors above have stated it is very important to have a Chartered Building Surveyor carry out the work rather than a valuation surveyor. And, I would add, your surveyor should be experienced with the type of building being surveyed.

    In this particular case the usual advice was given to employ a 'specialist damp proofing company' to survey the property and carry out remedial works. The client consulted several companies and all of course quoted for chemical injection and waterproof cement render. We suggested that he should try a different route i.e. lowering of external ground levels (which in fairness his surveyor had advised), carefully removing cement renders and plasters and when dry applying traditional lime renders and plasters. He may have been sceptical but followed the first two pieces of advice and was amazed at how much the walls dried out such that he then gained quotes from specialist lime plasterers for the remainder of the work with no additives in sight.

    This has been a leap of faith for the client but I suspect that had a specialist Chartered Building Surveyor carried out the original investigation this would have been the initial advice. However, all is well and another old building is saved from the onslaught of inappropriate chemical injection.