Damp is one of those home issues that should never be ignored. While you may be able to address the cosmetic issues related to damp, it won’t go away unless you address the underlying cause.
Damp can be caused by structural problems with your property, or as a result of the way you are using your property. For example, if you have poor ventilation in your bathroom, you may find that condensation leads to damp on the walls and ceiling. Or if you have problems with your damp proof course, you could have rising damp which penetrates up through your walls from the moist ground outside.
Damp is usually pretty easy to spot, but it might be hidden behind furniture. Learning to spot the signs of damp can help you to take action much faster, before more extensive damage occurs. The most common signs of damp include:
- A musty, mouldy smell
- Patches of discolouration on the walls or ceiling
- Condensation on walls or windows
- Dark patches of mould on walls, floors, ceilings or around your windows
- Rotting or warped skirting boards
Once you’ve spotted damp in your home, it’s time to take action. Don’t wait for the problem to spread, call in a professional to get to the heart of the issue.
What does a damp specialist do?
A damp specialist is trained specifically to deal with damp and implement measures such as damp proof courses. They are trained to inspect the whole home for potential leaks and water ingress. They are also skilled at identifying the cause of the issue and creating a plan for addressing the damp.
They might sometimes work with surveyors before a property sale to document the extent of a damp problem so that the buyer knows what they are getting into. And finally, they will also implement damp proofing treatments, such as a damp proof course or basement tanking.
How to find a damp specialist near you
Damp proofing and damp treatment is something that attracts a lot of scams. Since it isn’t always easy to see what work has been done, it’s an easy choice for rogue traders to take your money and disappear before you realise they haven’t done anything.
To help protect yourself against rogue traders, there are a few extra steps you can take to protect yourself. Follow these steps for finding a qualified damp specialist in your area.
1. Find someone with experience
It’s not always easy to tell if someone has experience, as anyone can throw up a website that states they have decades of experience. But there are a few signs that can help you decide if a company is the real deal. First, look for reviews. Not only should you look at the quality of the reviews, but also look to see how far back the reviews go. If they’ve been in business for a few years, they should have a good track record of reviews.
2. Ask for recommendations
If anyone you know has recently dealt with a damp problem, they may be able to recommend someone. Or, you may have people in your network who can personally recommend their friends or family members in the trade. Be wary about anyone who is just starting up and finding their feet in the industry, as they may not yet have the expertise and skills needed to achieve the results you need.
3. Speak to multiple companies
It’s not always about finding the cheapest rate. By speaking to multiple companies, you should get an idea of who is telling the truth and who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Hopefully, none of them will do the latter, but if the message you get from the companies isn’t consistent, you should notice which one is the outlier.
4. Ask about their accreditations and associations
Many damp proofing specialists will also be members of specialist trade associations. These affiliations and accreditations aren’t enough on their own to guarantee a good service, but it’s a very good sign. These show that the companies are well-established and serious about making a good impression. It also shows that they are held to particular industry standards. Accreditations to look out for include:
- Property Care Association
- ISO Certification
- Trading Standards Approved
- Basement Waterproofing Association
- British Damage Management Association
- Contractors Health and Safety Assessment Scheme
These are just some of the associations and accreditation schemes you should look for, but there are many more. If you are sure if they are legitimate, always check the website and check that the company is listed as an approved supplier. It’s not uncommon for rogue traders to lie about their associations.
5. Ask about their insurance
Every contractor should have sufficient insurance to protect themselves, their workers, and your property. If something goes wrong, you want to know that they are covered. And if their contractors are injured in your home, you want to know that they are protected. Every contractor should be insured and this should also include insurance for any guarantee on their work. So if the company guarantees the work for 10 years but ceases trading after 2 years, the insurance company will uphold any guarantee.
6. Ask for a quote
By this stage, you should have a shortlist of companies to consider. It’s time to start asking for quotes. Some will offer a flat quote on the phone, but with the caveat that it could increase once they visit your property. Others will want to visit your property and assess the damage before they give you a quote.
Some offer something known as a damp survey. This is a preliminary report that will outline the extent and cause of the damage. This enables them to formulate a plan for tackling the damp problem.
You should be kept informed at every stage, with any change to the scope of work approved before they move forward. If you cannot get a rough price estimate from a company before they want to begin work, consider choosing a different company. You need to be able to make an informed decision, and this starts by being aware of the pricing.
7. Ask for a plan
A good damp proofing contractor will be able to tell you their plan for tackling the damp. This might start with diagnostic tools, including thermal imaging to assess the extent of the issue. A good damp specialist will want to know the cause of the issue before they start fixing it.
If their solution is to immediately install a new damp proof course without determining the cause of the issue, this should set alarm bells ringing. The damp could be caused by a wide range of issues, not just rising damp, so you want to know that they are considering all options.
How much should it cost to fix damp?
This all depends on the cause of the damp. It could cost anywhere from £400 to £4000 to address a damp problem in your home. If the damp is part of a wider structural problem, this could cost even more to put things right. But you don’t want to be paying £4000 for a £400 job, which is why it is important to do your due diligence when choosing your contractor.
What type of tradesman do I need for damp?
You might be wondering if you even need to hire a specialist? While a general builder can usually handle the work, you want someone with experience diagnosing the damp to tell them what needs to be done. You could start with a damp specialist to carry out a damp survey and tell you the cause of the issue. Then you could bring in a builder that you know and trust to carry out the work, for example.
What to do it a job goes wrong
If you have hired a damp proofing company to assess a damp problem and they don’t do a sufficient job of fixing the issue, your first step should be to return to the same company. While you might be upset or angry that the work hasn’t been done correctly, there are many reasons damp proofing can fail. The company should be given an opportunity to fix the problem before you escalate the problem further.
If the company will not agree to fix the problem and you think you may have been the victim of a scam, you can report them to trading standards. In the meantime, you may need to call in another company to fix the damp issue. As mentioned above, damp needs to be dealt with promptly to avoid more extensive damage to your property.
If you notice any signs of damp in your home, you need to act quickly as this will not go away on its own. By doing your research and asking the right questions, you should be able to find a reputable damp proofing specialist company to help address your damp problem and put things right. Ask for recommendations, read their reviews and check they are insured before any work takes place.