Damp houses dressed up as dry houses?

They are still out there; the ‘property dressers’ that is.

These people call themselves ‘property developers’, which implies that they improve or even make something. If this means they make money for themselves, too right – if it means they renovate or physically improve property, well, that’s not always the case.
Just before the Christmas break I was asked to survey a house in North Leeds.  My client was buying it to live in.  A three bed semi in North Leeds, built in the mid 30’s, three bedrooms – perfect, she thought.

It was unoccupied and unusually I was not allowed to pick up a key from the Estate Agents – the seller wanted to meet me there instead.  The young chap was friendly and all smiles, as he parked his BMW and strolled up the drive to meet me at the front door.

Once inside I took in the vista; laminated flooring or floor tiles everywhere; nowhere to get under the timber floors.

A posh kitchen, but with no extrator fan. One fireplace removed and the other bricked-up with an electric fire surround combo bolted to the front.  White and magnolia everywhere and of course buff carpet and a posh bathroom suite (no extractor fan again).

Oh woe and thrice woe.  Five minutes later and I’m writing notes about the poor sub-floor ventilation, unventilated, redundant flues, damp plasterboard applied via dot and dab on the remaining chimney breast and around the kitchen, open chimney pots over the redundant flues, rainwater pipes and gutters held together with sticky tape, tell tale mould stains around the spruced up upvc window frames…..

“Oh, we cured a leak during the modernisation and that will dry out, beamed the house dresser”.

This house looked dry – but is damp underneath. The floors are probably rotten (though hidden).

All the money spent by the vendor has gone on pretty fittings – none has been spent where this grand 80 year old house needed it most.

With no ventilation and double glazing everywhere, it is a condensation trap, which will come to light in mouldy splendour, once a family is installed.

Fortunately, my client has a detailed report with photographs of the problems and an idea of just how much money will be needed to fix these basic defects. She may buy the property; with a discount for the bad condition it is really in, or more likely the ‘dresser’ will refuse to budge and wait for another fly to enter his shiny laminated web.

In truth, most people, viewing this place, would just see a nice well decorated house and would want to buy it. The estate agent really went to town, with this ‘well presented’ residence.

To avoid financial pain and disappointment after purchase, it is really essential to get you’re your own damp and timber specialist to look for you – before exchange of contracts.

Don’t fall for the Property Dresser’s mirage.

If you are buying an old house or commercial building in Yorkshire why not take a look at my web site first, or try The Property Care Association web site?



Copyright © 2010 Preservation Expert. Legal Stuff: All the advice and information in the posts on my blog is made in good faith and is based on my experience and knowledge at the time of writing. However, nobody is infallible and whilst I’m confident that most of what I write about preservation issues is accurate, there’s a good chance there’ll be an error or two somewhere. I do change my mind about stuff, as I gain more experience. In view of this you must make your own decisions on whether to follow any advice I write and think about this; I could be wrong. No responsibility will be accepted by the author for any losses anyone may suffer as a result of any mistake or for the consequence of any action you take as a result of reading this blog. If you do suffer a loss, resulting from anything I’ve written, a verbal heartfelt apology will be your only compensation.