What's wrong with my wall?

Hi,
I've been looking round houses to buy, and one in particular I'm interested in. It's a 1930s terrace, and is in general need of refurbishment and decoration. However, when looking around the place I noticed that the wall paper on some of the walls was bulging in places. Pealing the paper back revealed a gritty white/grey power where the plaster was crumbling. Does anyone know what the cause of this is, and whether the walls need replastering or more major work?
The problem seems to occur on all the outside walls of the back of the house, all the other inner and outer walls are fine. So I'd suspect damp as the cause. But I can't see any evidence of damp anywhere. No patches on the wallpaper, the paper is still stuck to the bits that aren't powdery, no signs of mould, or green inside or out. So, could it be something else?
Any suggestions appreciated, -Duncan
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Probably the original horsehair, rat dung and sea shell plaster that my similar aged house is afflicted with. Nothing lasts for ever and plaster "blows" in patches in older houses. I'm sure by the time modern ones are 70 years old it'll be happening to them too. Tap the walls with a knuckle and where it's blown you'll get a dull sound. You can just rake those bits out and patch them up again if the rest of the wall is sound. There may well be damp of course but that needs checking for separately.
Dave Baker - Puma Race Engines (www.pumaracing.co.uk) I'm not at all sure why women like men. We're argumentative, childish, unsociable and extremely unappealing naked. I'm quite grateful they do though.
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Dave Baker wrote:

I've come to the same opinion as well. Since the problem affects the whole of that side of the house, uniformly from the floor downstairs to the ceiling upstairs, it can't be primarily caused by damp. I'd expect it to only affect the lower areas of the walls in patches if it was damp. So hopefully it's just crap old plaster. It's just odd that it only affects the one side of the house....
Thanks, -Duncan
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Duncan Lees <duncan-at-snsys-dot-com> wrote:

The plaster's gone 'live'. If there's no signs of damp, it simply ;-) needs replacing. If you can budget for this, a newly plastered house is quite an advantage.
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This sounds easy, but remember all the skirtings and architraves etc will have to be renewed, and any ornamental plaster will be scrap.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@argonet.co.uk London SW 12
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wrote:

As they will be anyway. Skirting and Archetraves are optional as they can be reused or replaced with more stylish stuff. And you can just use straight board if that will do you.
The heat gain will be in the order of 40+ per annum on a central heating bill I am sure. The resale value is the real safety net for doing a good job though.
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