Victorian Terraced House - Surver flagged up damp

Hi All,
I am new to this forum so apologies if I have place this thread in the wrong section.
I am having a bit of a problem at the moment with a house I am currently in the process of purchasing. This problem relates to the issue of 'damp'...
The property: 110 years old, 2 bedroom, stone built end of terrace property.
The issue: I have had a survey on the property done by a so called 'RICS' surveyor. He has advised that there is damp in the ground floor lounge and the ensuit shower.
He has advised that the damp in the ensuit shower room is penetrating damp but he thinks it could be because the shower room isnt well ventilated. He has suggest installing a ventilation fan.
He has advised that all the walls in the ground floor lounge, front, rear and both sides have damp. He thinks this is because there is no DPC. He has advised that I get a specialist damp survey done to look at th eissues further and provide a break down of any works required.
I have been reading a very many threads on this site in regards to similar issues people have had. I appreciate that older houses are expected to be able to breath... Would a property of this age have a slate dpc? (Which the surveyor should know about)... Would the real solution be to look at ventilation?
The house has stood empty for 6months approx, could this have lead to some damp issues?
I'm abit lost at what steps I could take now to resolve this, I'm a bit reluctant to go taking out more surveys.
Any help any one could provide would be much appreciated.
Thanks
RR1983
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RR1983


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interior french drains can really solve moisture problems, aso having ground around homes slope away from house, and not have downspouts dump water at foundations
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I gather the OP isnt from the US?
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On Thursday 03 January 2013 20:39 RR1983 wrote in alt.home.repair:

Hi,
You're clearly in the UK as you mentioned RICS.
1) Beware of "surveyors" "proclaiming damp problems". Sticking a 2 prong probe into plaster tells you bugger all of any value - especially if the house has been unheated for a long period.
It's fairly easy to see if there is a DPC - but it would require removal of a small section of plaster and render in a few test spots - something that's not particularly easy to get agreement to do if you have not bought the house. However, you could request it of the seller and see what they say.
2) You are posting via DIYBanter which is not a "forum" - it's a front end to USENET, a group discussion system that predates the web.
http://wiki.diyfaq.org.uk/index.php?title=Usenet
3) Whilst the laws of physics do not change around the world, for more localised knowledge of the law, surveyors and common victorian era house problems, you might like to post this to the uk.d-i-y group which is UK centric.
4) Lack of ventilation in the shower is easy enough to solve - put in an extractor fan either on a light switch trigger overrun timer, or with a humidstat (so it run when the air is damp).
The rest of his comments sound like hand waving arse covering as is sadly common with UK "surveyors" (which I'm loath to call a profession). Really, the only inspections that are really worthwhile are specialist professional ones (eg drains CCTV inspections, structural engineering by a structural engineer, electrician's full test and inspection report and GasSafe registered member's safety report).
Cheers,
Tim
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I see you are from the UK? They are mostly US on here where house construction is vastly different. And crap. You will get better advice here. https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups #!forum/uk.d-i-y
If the house has been empty for a while, there may be no problem at all. Your surveyer is a tosser, he can't actually tell anything in a house this age if it has been empty for a while. Especially in Winter
You need to get some heat in the place for a few weeks and then do some further tests. Make sure no-one has piled earth up around the outside walls too. Make sure there are no roof leaks/faulty/blocked gutters meanwhile.
Get your own two prong damp meter and read the instruction book. They are under 20. You will then know as much as these half wit surveyers on the matter.
Some Victorian houses have a discrete damp course. (usually slates) some don't. Some rely on (hard) engineering bricks. Though neither is as good as a modern damp course they are often adequate.
All showers should be ventilated in any house. The fact that it isn't may be the cause of all your problems if it was in frequent use.
If you just get a damp specialist firm in they will find a problem for sure, they are in the business of selling cures for (maybe non- existent) problems.
If there is a rising damp problem, all the chemical injection equipment can be hired at the tool hire shop and you can fix it yourself if cash is a problem, not rocket science.
If there is a penetrating damp problem, you can fix this yourself too.
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Indication that the OP isn't US? KWIM; ROFL.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Please do not use slang or acronyms if you want a sensible answer. What is a DPC and a RICS, for example!!!!
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On Friday 04 January 2013 16:23 Stormin Mormon wrote in alt.home.repair:

DPC = Damp Proof Course, eg water/vapour barrier low down in a brick or block wall, above the ground level (surprised that's not a common expression).
RICS = a local to UK organisation of surveyors.
Blame the proliferation of stupid web "forums" fronting USENET who think it's a good idea to blend uk.d-i-y and this group seamlessly into one page.
I hang out here because general building and woodwork is much the same and I occasionally get good ideas that I might not hear from the UK side. I do however know to shut about about electrical, gas and law/regulatory stuff - except in as much as I might be interested in how something is done over there :)
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On Friday 04 January 2013 20:15 snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote in alt.home.repair:

*splutter!*
Possibly in the same parallel universe where Afganistan is a civilised democracy.

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A question about the DPC. Here in the USA, I think the most common moisture problem is damp/wet ground causing moisture flow through basement walls that are below ground level. Walls that are above ground are generally covered with wood, plastic, some type of metal, from maybe a foot or so above the ground level up to the roof.
If the walls and roof are in good condition, the 1 foot high band around the entire house is only exposed to moisture when it is actually raining. The basement walls are continually in contact with the ground and its moisture and that is usually a much bigger problem than the moisture seeping thru the 1 foot unprotected band above ground. Are you saying that in the UK and elsewhere in the EU, for example, that there is a plastic applied to that unprotected 1-foot high band around the circumference of the house??
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"Rising damp".
The DPC is an impervious horizontal barrier that the whole house sits on. It stops water from rising from the ground by capilliary attraction into the structure of the building. In days of yore, engineering bricks, lead and slate was used.
Mid 20th century reinforced bitumous felt was used
Late 20th century to present plastic sheeting.
This is the stuff that would be incorporated into a brick/block wall during construction just above ground level.. http://www.wickes.co.uk/polythene-dpc-150mm-x-30m/invt/226580 /
General info about UK house construction re damp prevention. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damp_(structural)
Basements in new houses in the UK are virtually unknown.
From what I have seen in the USA basement walls are usually just painted outside before backfilling with bitumous paint.
As it happens I do have a subterranean wall. Here I have to apply a vertical damp proof membrane over the whole external (buried) surface.
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OK - What you are saying makes a lot more sense than my misunderstanding.
If most of the homes in the UK do not have basements, are the homes on a slab of concrete poured directly on the ground, with a vapor barrier either under or over the entire concrete, or is there no vapor barrier. Or, just a plastic film between the concrete and the wood that rests on the concrete with the rest of the concrete uncovered, or, are most home built with an exterior concrete wall that rests on footings to support the whole weight of the house with plastic between the top of the concrete and the wood that supports the house.
So many different possible combinations, I realize, but we in the USA don't know that much about UK and other non-USA housing practices.
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On Sunday 06 January 2013 23:46 hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote in alt.home.repair:

Depending on age of house, there are about a billion ways it may (or not) have been done.
New houses are usually:
Hole, "blinding" sand, plastic sheet (DPM), [insulation],concrete, [insulation], [screed]
[insulation] (foam board) position varies, depending partly on whether underfloor heating is to be installed and screed is optional in some cases but is usually used.
1950's house (mine)
earth, 4" concrete, bitumen, 1-2" screed
In one room there was no DPM, so I applied an epoxy paint on DPM (very good) then topped with special levelling compound.
16th houses might just have flooring bricks laid direct on earth (really).
Many houses from the victorian period to about 1950 ish (which is a real finger in the air and location dependent) would have had suspended ground floors - ie 8x2" or similar joists sitting on walls with some sort of damp proof pad then floorboards on top. Lots of external (airbrick or grate) underfloor cross-ventilation is needed so these floors run very cold in winter. There are probaly others and many variations on the above - my sample is mostly south-east England.
BTW lots of older homes do have basements - in London most victorian and edwardian period properties do, with a coal-chute coveredd with a 12" iron manhole cover in the pavement (cellars extended slightly forward of house)
After all - needed somewhere for the servants! (seriously) :->
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wrote:

The foundations depend on ground conditions. They mostly fall into two classifications. Strip foundations. http://www.buildingregs4plans.co.uk/foundation_floor_wall_3d_detail.php These are most common.
Raft foundation. http://environment.uwe.ac.uk/geocal/foundations/Fountype.htm
Where ground conditions are not good.
Or piles occasionally. Where ground conditions are bad.
A lot more insulation is incorporated nowadays than was usual in days gone by.
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That would make sense IF the house was occupied and the shower was being used. With a shower being used and inadequate venting, then you can get moisture build-up. It makes no sense with a house that has been empty for 6 months. And if the surveyor was aware of that fact, it suggest to me that the surveyor is a buffoon.
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