buying a victorian house - survey shows damp problems


I am a bit of a novice when it comes to Victorian house, having only ever lived in a new house before (built in early 80s...). We just had a structural survey on the house we are proposing to buy and perhaps as expected for a 120 year old house the survey came back quoting damp problems in two of the downstairs reception rooms - high damp readings on the walls (floor coverings not lifted yet so dont know what the floor is like).
The house has never had a new damp proof course put in (I dont what if any it will have - perhaps an original slate damp proof course?).
We are having a damp proof company come in to do a survey next Wed to assess the nature of the work needed - though I know they will say that at least something needs to be done.
Just wondered what other's experiences of damp in Victorian homes are and damp proof courses etc. The last thing I wanted was to do major re-plastering, potentially replacing wood floors etc... Also would it be wise to get a new damp proof course put in? Am thinking of steering well clear of the house and pulling out of the purchase, but maybe I am over reacting?
Thanks, Nick
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Surveys done by damp treatment companies are a complete waste of time. They survive on doing work which doesn't need doing. If you want a damp survey, you will need to find a specialist surveyor who isn't part of any treatment company and expect to pay for it.

You are most unlikely to need to add a damp proof course. Most damp is condensation, caused by inadiquate ventilation and/or uneven heating. Probably next is penetrating damp caused by leaking rainwater paths or bad cases of missing mortar or raising the ground level too high against external walls. Use of incorrect non-breathable decorations can cause a problem which wouldn't otherwise be there. These are all relatively easy to fix, but you need to ensure that the presence of damp has not caused timbers in the house to start rotting, particularly dry rot. If part of the house is underground, e.g. a cellar or set into a hillside, then at 120 years old, it's quite possible the original external tanking may be failing. That's harder to fix.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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On Sun, 31 Jul 2005 09:50:48 +0000 (UTC), Nick Dawson wrote:

All Victorian houses have damp. That's why the skirting boards are so big! I have lived in an 1870 house all my life. We have damp patches on the lower parts of some walls, but we never have mould. You can smell it a bit musty when you come back from holiday, but otherwise you would hardly notice it was there. Leave it alone.
--
Jim
Tyneside UK
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We have a flat which is over 100 years old, and there was some damp when we moved in. Keeping the place aired, and using the central heating has sorted this out. Like others have said, you should usually just leave it alone, and I would agree with this. They are after your money!
Will.

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