Architects Belfast Guide on Property Dampness
With the current downturn in the housing market, there are lots of good value properties available to choose from. Some of them may be in need of major refurbishment. Choosing an older house has many benefits. The main one is that the property will probably have lots of character. There will be details already in the house that you do not see that often in modern houses such as intricate detailed ceiling cornices, panels doors, wall panelling, carved woodwork, etc. The majority of these features are not put into newer properties as they are too expensive to create. Another benefit with refurbishing an older property is that the main structure and roof is already there. Although it may need some attention, you are not starting completely from scratch like building a new home.
One major problem that affects almost all older properties is dampness in some form or other. Over the years if a property is not maintained well, it will deteriorate. If water is allowed to enter the property, this can lead to all sorts of problems. It can come from everywhere through the roof, leaking pipes, through the walls, rising from ground level up through the floors and walls, etc. With careful attention, it can all be successfully fixed.
Dampness from a leaking water pipe or a leaking roof tends to be localized and relatively easy to repair as the cause is identifiable and remedial action can be taken to eradicate the problem i.e. stop the leak and the dampness will go away.
One source of dampness in older properties that is not so easy to fix is rising damp. Rising damp as the name suggests is damp rising from below ground level. A modern construction will have damp proof courses and membranes in the walls and floors to prevent the passage of rising damp, keeping the walls and floors above dry. Quite often in older properties, no damp proofing has been installed in the walls and floors or over time the effects of it has broken down allowing damp to bypass. In walls, the dampness can rise up the walls a foot or so leaving them constantly damp and sometimes giving a musty smell in the living area. A water tide mark will usually form at a point along the wall indicating the height the damp has risen. Depending on the severity of the rising damp problem the general rule by professionals in the business is that the best course of action is to install new damp proofing to the entire ground floor of the property. If only a section of the property is treated the dampness may disappear temporarily but may later reappear in other parts of the building. The damp proofing solutions available are effective but very disruptive to the property. For floors, the solution may involve taking up and replacing the ground floor slab. In walls, often the only solution is to strip off the plaster from all walls at ground floor level up to about 3 feet. Once stripped a new DPC is injected into the brick walls and then replastered.
Before purchasing any property, you are best to have it thoroughly inspected by professionals such Architects Belfast who will advise on any potential problems and what will be required to refurbish the property to modern building standards. They can provide all the necessary architectural services that you will need to make your project a success.