Basement-Conversion

Basement Conversion Considerations

Top 6 Considerations to Keep in Mind before You Start Basement Conversion.

You might have dreams of building your dream cinema to enjoy Saturday nights with your friends at home, or you might be thinking about taking your passion to the next level by building a gym Basement-Conversion-Afteror a music studio in your basement.

If you want to make the most out of your basement by converting it into a more useful space, then make sure that it is not an impulsive decision. Make sure that you go through our list of considerations that you should keep in mind before starting with your basement conversion project.

1. Consult a Professional before Starting

You might be excited and all pumped up to start a conversion project as soon as possible; however, it is essential to consult a professional to ensure that your house’s structure allows you to dig into the basement or not.

It is necessary to know how deep you can go into the ground because not all homes are built with a basement plan. So, rather than starting a project impulsively and regretting it later, you should consult an experienced architect, engineer or contractor and discuss the possibilities with them.

2. Don’t Miscalculate Your Budget

Once you start a basement conversion project, you cannot leave it halfway. Make sure that you get all the estimates from professional, experienced builders to avoid miscalculation. You cannot afford any miscalculation, thus consult a professional to ensure that you know how much money you would need to complete a project. Make sure that you keep a surplus amount just-in-case.

3. Get Legal Permission

Make sure that you consult the legal authorities to know whether you have legal permission for a basement or not. Checking if you need planning permission from the local authority is essential, as is compliance with Building Regulations and The Party Wall Act.

A company experienced in basement conversions would be able to guide you about how much time it requires for you to get legal permission and what terms you will have to agree with according to the legal agreement.

4. Make Sure That It Is Water-Proof

If your property is located in an area where the underground is usually damp, then you need to get help from a professional, ensuring that your basement is dry. Making sure that your basement is waterproof will help you protect your house from structural damage.

It doesn’t matter if you are planning to make a music studio or even a swimming pool, you need to ensure that your basement is completely waterproof.

5. Sufficient Lighting

Depending on the possibilities, you need to make sure that you make all efforts for maximum natural lighting in the basement. Moreover, if you have planned to convert your basement into a living area, bedroom, annexe, or a kitchen, then natural light will provide the basement with a refreshing environment, making it more welcoming.

6. Décor is Important

It is a horrible idea to overload your basement with furniture and decorative items. Basements are already considered dark and dingy; so overloading it with furniture will not be a good idea when looking for basement conversions. Thus, you should focus on keeping it simple and fresh.

Danford Brewer & Ives are basement conversion experts.  With many successful projects completed, we are the perfect partner for anyone looking to have a basement conversion.

To discuss your plans further simply contact DBI and book an appointment for one of our qualified site surveyors to visit you and run through the options with you.


Damp-Survey

Damp Surveys - What to Expect

What to Expect from a Damp Survey?

No one is looking for nasty wet surprises. Damp surveys ensure that there are no hidden surprises for you that might be causing major structural issues.

A damp survey is essential, especially when you are purchasing a new property. Once damp surveys are completed, a Damp Survey Report confirms whether a property is affected by damp or not. If yes, then it tells about what extent the property is damaged - mainly, the structure of the property.

As simple as it sounds, it might not be so simple. A simple damp survey can take about 1 to 4 hours. A surveyor usually examines a property physically before going to the next step and using specialised devices for damp detection.

The surveyor checks for indoor and outdoor flooring, wallpaper, floor lining, ceiling, gutters, downpipes, water lines, radiators, windows, and almost every single place where damp can set in. The surveyor makes notes of the findings. Sometimes, the surveyor might write down the conclusions of a few lines, but at times, there can be several paragraphs. The surveyor might also capture pictures of the damp damaged spots during a survey.

All of the data that is gathered by the damp surveyor is essential to make a damp survey report. A surveyor carefully stores every bit of information that he/she reveals during the physical examination of a property. Experienced surveyors are usually able to detect damp spots without the help of moisture detectors; however, if there are no signs of damp, a surveyor confirms it by using a moisture detector.

Sometimes, sellers purposefully try to disguise damp with fresh wallpaper and decorative items. Detecting damp might be too difficult in such cases; this is where surveyors take help of the moisture meter.

A damp survey does not only help understand the damage caused by damp, but a surveyor also points out the spots in the house that require immediate attention and damp treatment. The surveyor recommends measures to be taken for treatment of the damp damage. Also, it recommends whether or not professional help is required.

This is the reason that it is essential to ensure that a seller offers the latest damp survey report. Purchasing a property without a damp report can be a huge risk because you might end up buying a property that looks damp-proof; however, it might have severe damp issues that could lead to structural problems.

Overall, the damp surveys are essential for not only detecting damp damage but also help in figuring out the best ways to treat the damp damage. Also, the damp surveys can reveal how much it would cost to make your property damp-proof.

Even if selling your property is not on your mind, a damp survey is still essential, and is highly recommended; especially, if you live in an area that receives heavy rainfall and is prone to damp damage. Above all, the damp surveys help in ensuring that damp is not causing any structural issues to your property.

Danford Brewer & Ives are qualified and certified surveyors in structural waterproofing and remedial treatments.  All specialist works are covered by long term independent insurance backed guarantees.  If you are looking for a trusted company to carry out a damp survey then contact Danford Brewer & Ives today and book an appointment with one of our certified damp surveyors.


Damp-Survey-App

New Damp Survey App

New Application Case Study

Background
Danford, Brewer and Ives (DBI) offer a range of building services including damp proofing, timber treatments and basement conversions to customers in Yorkshire, Teesside, and the North East.

The Problem
We identified that our internal processes were lengthy and relied too much on traditional paper processes. Also, departments were working relatively separately which slowed down job completion and affected staff morale.

We were looking for an app-based solution that could streamline traditional paper-based processes and improve interdepartmental working.

The Solution
DBI worked closely with Genesis so they could understand our business and the issues we were experiencing. They studied each department, the tasks they completed and how each department
formed part of the complete job process from initial enquiry through to completion.

They looked for ways to simplify each part of the process, where possible and ensure that all information could be stored securely online, but also be accessible without a mobile signal.
Damp-Survey-App
Genesis ensured the solution would be straightforward to use, to maximise its usage. The Genesis development team built a back-office system which utilises Microsoft.net and is hosted on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform. There is also an app designed to be used on a mobile device when our staff is on-site.

“We have been running the app for over a year now and the efficiency savings are clear. Some of the best points for us are the co-ordinating of what were separate procedures, the survey section of the app makes us more consistent and ensures that important information is passed on at each stage. Improved efficiencies meant that a member of office staff who left did not need replacing. So far we have made annual savings in excess of £15k. ”
David Ingham. Managing Director

How The Damp Survey App Works

Time Savings

  • Back Office: 4.5 hours per week/ 18 hours per month
  • Surveyor: 2 hours per week/ 8 hours per month
  • Supervisor: 1 hour per week/ 20 hours per month
  • Operatives: 2 hours per week each. Example: 5 operatives save 10 hours per week or 40 hours per month. That's an extra "man week”

Benefits

  • Significant reduction in paperwork - all tasks are completed electronically
  • Improved efficiencies- employees complete each section of the job and it moves through the stages until completion
  • Increased customer satisfaction- customers receive quotes faster and if they call for an update staff can tell them what stage the job is it because they can access all the job details
  • Built-in templates- the app automatically pulls through key information to prevent the need for retyping
  • Job transparency - anyone can look up the status of a job, who is working on it etc.
  • Improved scheduling- jobs can be assigned for specific days and times which improves
  • planning and resource allocation
  • Always up to date - each time someone logs in they download the latest data
  • Associated documents saved within the system -time sheets, risk assessments, photos etc. can be completed and saved within the job
  • This app significantly improved our internal and external damp survey process.

rising damp treatments

The Top 4 Rising Damp Treatments

Water ingress is an inevitability. And for property owners it’s also an ongoing struggle, akin to a magician’s plate-spinning routine: just when one problem is fixed, one of the other structural weaknesses will start to teeter.

Whether you live in a farmhouse or a block of flats, the potential for damp looms large. For the latter (save for the upstairs neighbour leaving their bath taps running) condensation, and rainwater would be the main worries. For the homeowner, it’s all of the above - the full-house, as it were.

In this blog, we shall concentrate on the full house. What is rising damp exactly? It’s the common term given to the upward movement of groundwater in the lower sections of walls.

The process is known as capillary action (think of ink rising up blotting paper) and is characterised by a "tide mark" on affected walls.
The tide mark is caused by salts contained in the groundwater. When the water evaporates, the salts will crystallise, causing plaster to deteriorate.

With water continually creeping upwards, the situation will perpetuate and worsen.  Depending on the circumstances, wallpaper might peel; wood will become damp and rot. Moreover, a damp wall will lose more heat than it would otherwise.

It’s perfectly possible that the property already has damp proofing. For example, older houses tend to deploy a layer of slate between the brickwork, while modern houses include damp-proofing in the form of a synthetic damp proof course (DPC), about 15 cm above ground level.

Both serve as a barrier through which water cannot pass. Well, that’s the theory! The reality, however, is that a damp-proof course can be broken or incomplete, which allows moisture to find a way in. This is known as ‘bridging’.

All of this is, of course, the result of our inclement climate. But there are other factors that may hasten the moisture’s collection and progress. Poor drainage, for example, (check crawlspaces and/or the basement for standing water) or that the ground level next to an external wall might have been raised over time. Air bricks might now be blocked, and the ground level might now stand above the original damp-proof course.

So how is rising damp treated? It depends on the severity, and each case is unique. Leading examples of the rising damp treatments which Danford Brewer & Ives offer are:

  • The removal of surrounding soil or bridging material to a minimum of 150mm below the existing damp-proof course;
  • Injecting a chemical damp proof course or in some instances an electro-osmotic system;
  • Replacing any damp or rotten flooring;
  • Removing and replacing any plasterwork, skirting boards, radiators etc. if necessary.

A note of caution: we cannot stress highly enough the competence and experience of the person(s) investigating the problem. Misdiagnoses can and do happen; if the wrong form of treatment is administered, the chances are that it will have a little overall effect.

For example, salts left by rising water might cause plaster to yield; however, the heat from a fire can also cause salts in masonry to crystallise. As such, any damp proof course work in that particular area would be completely unnecessary.

At DB&I, we insist that our surveyors have the industry-standard Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatments (CSRT) qualification. (From 1st January 2018, this has been re-named Certificated Surveyor of Timber & Dampness in Buildings (CSTDB), yet it continues to be recognised as a professional qualification for surveyors in the property preservation industry.)

If you have any queries – whether it’s about treating rising damp, damp proofing or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offers, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As ever, we’d be delighted to hear from you.


how to save energy at home

Benefits of Basement Waterproof Tanking Systems

The different methods of waterproofing a basement and benefits of basement waterproof tanking systems

At the time of writing, it is getting colder and the rain can be incessant. Spending time in a cellar
might not, therefore, hold much appeal. One might venture down there to rummage for the
Christmas decorations, notice the damp and the wet, shrug, then head back upstairs thinking of
festivities warmed by log fires and the odd tipple.

That’s Christmas. But what about the New Year? Resolve, resolutions and renewal? Maybe; maybe not.
Yet it’s as good a time as any to consider how converting your cold, damp cellar might offer more
living space and, for the investment, a proportionally greater increase in property value.
In a climate such as ours, a damp cellar is a fact of life: without protection – in older buildings, say,
with floors built from rough slabs, stone or brick – hydrostatic pressure will result in water ingress.
Soil-retaining walls will be vulnerable – particularly where the cellar floor joins the wall – and, at best,
the cellar will only be suitable for basic storage (so remember not to park those decorations too
close to the walls).

It’s self-evident why tanking is named so: in effect, a waterproof tank is created. However, its job is
to keep the water out not in.

There are three methods of waterproofing a basement, they can be used separately or sometimes together:

A) Barrier protection. This process relies on an unbroken ‘monolithic’ membrane to keep
moisture out. It is achieved by applying different impervious coatings – cement renders,
slurry, resins, bitumen-based products, spray on systems and bonded sheets – to the existing
floor and walls.

B) Structural integral protection. In this method, the structure itself (waterproof reinforced
concrete) is the protection. This method might be used when constructing a new basement,
usually in combination with A or C, to meet new building warranty requirements.

C) A cavity drain membrane (CDM). This works by placing the drainage on the inside of the
structure, between it and a plastic membrane. Water then drips down the outside of the
membrane, gathering in a drip tray-style drain before it flows to a sump pump and then an
external drain.

We will discuss cavity drain membrane (CDM) some more, since not only is it our most popular solution, it is also the cleverest and, arguably, the most effective.

For starters, a CDM prevents a gradual pressure build-up against the construction. With options A)
and B), it would be necessary to dig drainage on the outside of the tank. With option C), however,
the drainage is on the inside; the moisture’s progress is halted by the plastic membrane. Moreover,
the air gap allows the structure to ‘breathe’ and dry out.

The membrane is usually a high-quality, high-density plastic such as polyethylene. It will be studded
in appearance – allowing water to drip down to the drain – and comes in various thicknesses e.g.
3mm, 5mm, or 8mm, and up to 20mm for the floor membrane. It will also be gas and vapour-proof
and will have a long-lasting guarantee e.g. 10 years. It is applied using sealed, fixing plugs.
The drainage channels are created around the basement perimeter, leading to the sump chamber,
while floor insulation will first be applied to offer maximum resistance to ground moisture
penetration before a floor membrane is laid for added waterproofing.

Where the wall membrane meets the floor membrane, vapour tape is used. In this way, a secure
moisture barrier is placed over the seams and it also strengthens the joins, keeping the membrane in
place.

The sump pump, meanwhile, is installed at the beginning of the process i.e. when only the basement
shell exists and before the membrane is applied. It is fitted in the sump chamber – the lowest point
of the basement – and connected to the drainage channels underneath the membrane walls. The
groundwater is then pumped out to an external drain.

With a lid on the chamber, the screed will be laid over the floor membrane and, depending on the type
of membrane used, plaster might be skimmed on to it directly.
Another solution is ‘drylining’, in which metal or wooden framing is fixed to the membrane, allowing
for a drywall finish. After that, the basement may be ‘fitted out’, with electrical and plumbing
fixtures added.

The work is always done in accordance with BS8102- 2009 – the code of practice for protection of
below ground structures against water from the ground.
At this point, the waterproofing would be completed. However, if the work were part of a larger
project, Danford Brewer & Ives might hand over to a partner e.g. a builder, architect or property
developer.

If, for example, we were assisting a property developer, we might advise them on making the best
possible use of available space and land. It might also be necessary, say, to provide underpinning if
the conversion of a basement compromises the structural integrity of the property by weakening the
foundations or removing walls.

The potential offered by tanking is enormous. And by making use of our expertise (Danford Brewer
& Ives are qualified surveyors with both CSRT (Certificated Surveyor in Remedial Treatment) and
CSSW (Certificated Surveyor in Structural Waterproofing) credentials) both householders and
building partners can gain significant living space and add value.

Moreover, we are skilful, efficient and cost-effective. If you would like more information on tanking,
structural waterproofing or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offer, such as
timber treatment, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re
more than happy to help.


Case Study: Basement Conversion Playroom Harrogate

Basement Conversion Harrogate - Playroom

Danford Brewer & Ives undertook a basement conversion on a property in Harrogate during the spring of 2018.
It is a terrace house, constructed of stone, with a slate roof, brick chimney, UPVC guttering, wooden windows and stone flag floors.
The owner’s intention was to convert the basement into a playroom for his children.  They also wanted a utility room, a toilet and two storage areas/cupboards, each separated by internal walls from a landing that leads to a new staircase.
The process was as follows:

  1. Damp Survey

We first needed to ascertain what level of damp the existing basement had. The survey was restricted to the basement and our readings (taken with the aid of an electrical conductivity-type moisture meter known as a Protimeter) revealed evidence of rising and penetrating damp to all areas, as well as water ingress.
Two major causes of the damp were the high ground levels and structural abutments, so we recommended that either the external levels were reduced or an internal barrier, incorporating a waterproofing agent or membrane, was applied and fixed to those areas - at least up to the level of the newly installed damp-proof course.
(NB We did not undertake a structural survey and always recommend that any worries/queries regarding such issues should be resolved using a suitably qualified person.)

  1. Structural and basement waterproofing

All structural and basement waterproofing work was undertaken in accordance with British Standards Document BS 8102:2009, the code of practice for the protection of below-ground structures against water.
It specifies a level of protection (grading from 1-3) based upon the end use of the conversion. In this instance, since it is being used as habitable accommodation, the required grade was 3.
One assumption BS 8102:2009 makes is that ingress will occur during the conversion’s lifetime - caused, for example, by a change in the water table, drains becoming blocked or heavy rainfall causing localised saturation.
After careful consideration of various methods of controlling persistent water entry, therefore, we recommended installing our cavity drain system to all areas indicated on the plan.

  1. Drainage

The cavity drain system’s effectiveness is based upon discharging free water, before pressure builds behind the system.
For this to be possible, an effective and fully maintainable drainage system was installed.

  1. Preparatory Work

The existing ceilings were stripped, with plumbing and electrics relocated in the ceiling.
Some timber repairs were required in the utility area. Where there were signs of deterioration, the timbers were cut back and replaced by either steel support brackets or resin ties.
The existing opening into the floor void was increased to approx. 2.4m wide by installing a new concrete lintel (that was subject to a structural engineer’s approval). An area, approx 1200mm back into the void, was then lined with a membrane and framed out to form a new storage area.
The existing single skin brick wall in the utility area was removed (no structural replacement was required) and the stone staircase was broken out and also removed.
We lifted the existing stone flagged flooring, which was kept for the client, and the floor was excavated by a depth of approx. 100mm to allow for the build up of the membrane and floor finishes.

  1. Waterproofing

A sacrificial screed was poured incorporating a 100mm x 75mm perimeter rebate. Once the floor was cured and prior to membranes being installed, the concrete was treated with an anti-lime coating to stop the build-up of free lime within the cement and prevent the drainage from blocking.
The walls were lined with an 8mm studded Cavity Drain Membrane. This was installed to at least the height of damp course level.
A perimeter drainage channel was installed, complete with servicing flushing points. The drainage falls and collects within the sump chamber and any water build-up is discharged via the twin pumps located within. Each pump has its own independent fused spur supply.
Once the drainage and pumps were installed, we flood-tested the system.
The floors then received a 20mm CDM which was sealed to the wall membrane as required. The system was then flood-tested again.

  1. Fit out

To be compliant with current building regulations, and as the basement is a habitable space, insulation was required (our specification was subject to Building Control approval).
We laid a minimum 50mm close cell insulation board on top of the floor membrane and covered it with a 22mm water-resistant floorboard.
The external walls of the basement were lined with 75mm timber frames and fitted with 75mm rigid foam boards. The internal walls were battened out using 50mm x 25mm timbers.
We also installed a new timber staircase.
A toilet area was formed under the stairs, supplying a new WC and basin. The foul waste collects in a chamber within the utility room and discharges into the nearest foul waste drains externally.
The ceiling received a 100mm wool insulation and all surfaces were then lined with a 12.5mm plasterboard.
The rooms were fitted out with a softwood skirting board. New doors were fitted to both the living area and utility room.

  1. Fixing to or through the waterproof systems

When fixing through the membranes, careful consideration was taken, including the possibility of an alternative method.

  1. Non-earth retaining walls

We carefully marked the position of the fixing at the required point and drilled. We filled the hole with a high-quality mastic and then inserted a propitiatory plastic fixing plug. More sealant was applied around the hole to form a seal before inserting the screw.

  1. Earth retaining walls

Specialist fixing plugs with purpose-made seals were used in order to maintain the integrity of the membrane.
It is important that the flushing/service points are easily accessible so that regular maintenance can be carried out to the drainage system to ensure that no blockages occur. Maintenance programs are available and are a condition of the guarantee.
As the works described involve a Party Wall, the Party Wall Act 1996 was therefore applied. This requires the owner of a property to notify his/her neighbour(s) of the proposed works and obtain the neighbours’ consent. A neighbour cannot unreasonably withhold consent, but should you require further advice or information, please initially contact our office or a suitably qualified party wall surveyor.
Danford Brewer & Ives are very aware of Health & Safety issues and dangers within our industry. Any work that we carry out is done so safely, in the best interests of our customers, the general public, and ourselves.
Guarantees
Upon completion of our specialist remedial works and full settlement of our final invoice, Danford Brewer & Ives issue a 10-year independent insurance-backed guarantee.
The client was thrilled with the final results and tells us the children are using their new playroom all the time.  If you have any plans to convert your basement into additional living space then contact Danford Brewer & Ives for expert advice and support.
Here is a short video showing how the project progressed and finished up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=461GGEh6QMg


how to treat woodworm infestation

Woodworm Treatment

What is woodworm treatment?

The term woodworm might conjure up cartoon-type images, but it is, in fact, something of a misnomer since it tends to be a different type of creepy crawly - beetles - that inflict the damage.

And there is one main offender: Anobium punctatum aka the Common Furniture Beetle. Although it mainly thrives outdoors, infesting the likes of tree trunks, branches and the like, the Common Furniture Beetle can cause serious damage if ever it creeps and crawls its way to indoor timber.

So how might that happen? Spring and summer is the time of year when the reproductive process starts – the beetles emerging from the wood crevices that are normally their habitat before the females return to lay eggs, which usually number around 30.
The eggs will hatch about a month later and the grubs will then bury themselves even further into the timber. They will spend about two to four years there, eating the wood and slowly maturing into lavae.

The lava will then dig a chamber just beneath the surface of the wood and the pupation process will begin – culminating when the adult beetle cuts a hole in the surface of the wood. Thus the process repeats itself.

It’s the by-product of the reproductive cycle – the beetle’s emergence holes and the dust (known as frass) they create – that are the tell-tale signs of woodworm infestation.

What is woodworm infestation?

The woodworm infestation can be highly significant because, depending upon the conditions, it can occur in a number of different timber types and products: from wooden ornaments, through furniture and building timbers.

It goes without saying that the latter can prove a particular problem: if left unchecked, an infestation of building timbers can compromise your building’s structural integrity, leading, in the most extreme cases, to total collapse.

In highlighting such an eventuality, it must be pointed out that there are other offenders besides the Common Furniture Beetle. There is, for example, the Death Watch Beetle, or Xestobium rufovillosum, which tends to be found in older buildings, particularly those with hardwoods that are either damp or have been affected by fungal decay.

And there is also the House Longhorn Beetle aka Hylotrupes bajulus. Larger than the other species, it can infest sapwood (the soft outer layers of recently formed wood between the heartwood and the bark) and is mainly associated with roofing timbers.

The good news, demographically-speaking for a North Yorkshire-based company like Danford, Brewer & Ives, however, is that the House Longhorn Beetle limits its habitat to just a small part of South East England. Even so, spare a thought for the owners of properties that suffer infestations: if left unchecked, they can lead to severe structural weakening in just a short period of time.

How to treat woodworm infestation?

So how to go about treating a woodworm infestation? When one is discovered, a particular course of action should always be recommended by a team of experts, who will assess the conditions and circumstances surrounding the case.

First of all, a surveyor will make a thorough inspection of the infested timber, noting the type of wood, its accessibility and assessing the various risks.

Then, the timbers will need to be cleaned thoroughly to remove excess debris, before preservatives are applied.

A common and cost-effective form of treatment involves either spraying or using a brush to apply water-based insecticides.

Treatment of smaller items such as furniture or even ornaments can, meanwhile, be undertaken using either heat or freezing treatment, as well as gas fumigation.

All such methods require both training and a high measure of competency and it goes without saying that DB&I’s team are more than capable of undertaking such specialist work. Moreover, we’re always keeping our eyes peeled for any new innovations and methodologies.
If you would like more information on woodworm - or any of the other building services Danford Brewer & Ives offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re more than happy to help


wet-rot

What Is Dry Rot?

If you ask most people what rot is, chances are they’ll conjure up a vision of wood left exposed to damp. So if it’s not old window frames trying, and increasingly failing, to fend off the elements, then it’s beams exposed to a leaky roof, or flooring and plasterwork lying prone near dodgy pipework.

Rot is caused by damp, so it follows that rot is wet – ergo there’s a thing called wet rot. But there’s also dry rot as well.
What’s the difference? Both have the same root cause: fungi, which breed and attack wood that’s exposed to damp. Timber with 20 percent moisture content or higher is most prone.

Wet rot is the more common type but is less serious and usually confined to timber that stays…wet. Door and window frames commonly fall prey.  Both wet and dry rot starts in the same way: when fungi produce millions of microscopic spores into the air.  If they fall on untreated damp wood they will germinate, via tubes known as hypha. These then spread to form a mass of threads called mycelium.  The mycelium eats into the wood, spreading through it using the hyphal threads which supply water and nutrients.

The difference between wet and dry rot centres on the type of fungi that infects the wood. There are several common types, but the one that causes dry rot is known as Serpula lacrymans.

And make no mistake: this is, as far as a property’s structural integrity is concerned, the enemy. It can destroy wood and, if left unchecked, can wreak havoc.  Moreover, unlike other fungi, it can spread from infected timber onto the surface of nearby stone or brick walls.  The hyphal threads penetrate mortar and plaster, meaning that large areas of the wall can become infected. The problem is compounded, well and truly.
How to spot dry rot? Its appearance might be given away by the affected timber appearing darker and also cracking. Wet rots, by contrast, tend to produce a bleaching effect.
Knowing how to tell dry and wet rot apart is hugely important, because each requires a different form of treatment. This is precisely where you need an experienced, professional service, such as that offered by Danford Brewer & Ives.

A detailed inspection should be carried out by a specialist, who will then submit a report detailing both the cause of the rot and the proposed action.

As a rule of thumb, the following areas will be investigated:
• The roof: are there blocked gutters, for example, or missing/broken/displaced tiles/slates?
• The walls: has the mortar/plaster deteriorated; is there faulty/missing damp proof course, blocked air bricks, cracked or broken pipes, or perhaps an overflow from the cistern/water tank?
• Internally: is there excessive condensation in, say, the bathroom and kitchen; moisture close to external faults, solid floors, trapped flood water, or defective plumbing?

Keeping on top of rot can prove difficult; even being aware of it is not easy. That said, a little time and effort in this regard can go an awfully long way.

Fortunately, though, strides are always being made in terms of greater understanding, improved solutions and best practice, meaning that not only is help readily at hand, but that it draws from a greater depth of knowledge. The upshot, therefore, is a better chance to combat and resolve the problem.

Danford Brewer & Ives have a team of experts who can produce reports and quotations for any necessary specialist dry rot work. Moreover, we keep abreast of all the latest innovations, methods and technologies.
If you would like more information on and detail about dry rot - or any of the other building services we offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance – then please contact us. As always, we’re more than happy to help.


How-to-treat-condensation

What Causes Condensation?

What Causes Condensation?

“In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1789. For the purposes of this blog, it’s (very briefly) worth considering whether he dreamt up this line while gazing out of his study window on a warm summer’s morning. Because if he did so in the depths of winter, after noticing patches of moisture on the window’s sill, then he might have added another certainty to the list.

Is there a homeowner out there who hasn’t sighed when he or she opens the curtains and sees such a thing? Or perhaps spotted that wallpaper near a radiator – over which he or she casually drapes clothes to dry during the winter months – has started to bubble and peel.

Add plaster deterioration to the list and it’s clear that the consequences of condensation can be a pain. But when one adds the potential for the growth of bacteria and mould (which may cause respiratory problems) and even rot (which may, if left untreated, cause structural problems) it’s clear that consequences of condensation can – if left unchecked – be significant.

‘But what can I do?’ asks the owner. Well…exactly. Simply living within walls and under a roof creates condensation; the very act of breathing is a contributory factor, as are cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes. Don’t worry, though: we’re not going to recommend that you always eat out, never bathe or do laundry – all the while holding your breath for as long as you possibly can.

Condensation is basically a dampening of the air until water gathers on cold surfaces such as windows, tiles and walls. And the colder the room, the worse it can be. Yet simple steps can help fight it. For starters, get hold of a dehumidifier and see for yourself how much water it can collect in a day.

Here are a few other ideas:

  • Temperatures might be on the low side, but that shouldn’t stop you from opening a window – if just a little – to reduce moisture
  • Wipe down surfaces, such as window sills, where moisture tends to collect
  • When cooking always use pan lids and open a window to ventilate the kitchen
  • When drying clothes, try and do it outside. But if that’s not viable (and, let’s face it, it isn’t quite a lot of the time) use a clothes horse rather than place clothes on a radiator. Better still, set up a dehumidifier nearby
  • If you use a tumble dryer that isn’t self-condensing, make sure it’s vented properly
  • When running a bath, turn the cold tap on before the hot; it’ll reduce the amount of steam
  • After bathing or showering, wipe down the tiles to remove the surface water. Then open the window and shut the door
  • When using extractor fans fitted in either the kitchen or bathroom, remember to close all windows and doors so they work more effectively
  • A temptation might be to switch the heating off to save money. However, heating set at a moderate temperature tends to be more cost-effective in the long run – while helping prevent condensation, of course
  • Always keep your house ventilated (even during the winter) and prevent the blocking of airbricks e.g. by leaves
  • Try not to place furniture against walls - particularly outside walls - as this prevents air from circulating freely and traps moisture

The war can never be won; it’s more a case of holding the enemy in check. But what if you’re losing the fight? Say you’ve bought a new property that does have damp and needs treatment?

Danford Brewer & Ives can help you. Damp is a tricky phenomenon to treat effectively – there are different types, misdiagnoses can happen and the wrong form of treatment can lead down a (potentially expensive) blind alley. However, we have the experience and nous to assess each and every situation and suggest an appropriate course of action.

Please contact us if you have any queries – whether it’s about condensation, damp, or any of the other building services we offer, such as timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions or building maintenance. As always, we’re more than happy to help.


Basement

Basement Conversion Cost

Basement Conversion Cost

While we’re pretty sure that, for most of us, a trip down to the basement might not be the stuff of cheap horror film nightmares, neither might it be particularly pretty. At best, a tumble dryer, fridge freezer and an iron/ironing board might be lurking down there. Mainly, though, it’s pipework, lots of clutter, paint peeling off dripping brickwork and a fusty smell.

Your basement might be full of things you’d half-forgotten about, just lying there gathering dust or going mouldy in the dank, dark air. In general, we don’t want to spend too much time down there. But if we think about it, the biggest thing lurking down at the bottom of those rickety wooden steps is something less tangible and clearly way more useful than a VHS recorder: it’s the potential of the place.

Just think a whole new living space. What might you do with it? Okay, you’ll probably have to go to the tip to chuck those old paint tins, and those toys the kids have grown out of will have to go to the charity shop. But you can fix the damp and give yourselves more space. Potentially much more space.

You also need someone who can do the job – which is where we come in.

There are two schools of thought here. The more traditional method involves simply sealing the basement using cement based products, which holds the water back. However, that also means pressure gradually building on the structure; for this method to be effective in the long run, then, drainage really needs to be dug outside.

By contrast, cavity drain membranes work by placing the drainage on the inside; using this method, the water ingress is controlled by the plastic membrane. Water then drips down the outside of the membrane, gathering in a drip tray-style drain before it’s routed via a sump pump to an external drain.

It’s an ingenious method, in that it prevents a gradual pressure build-up against the internal construction, while an air gap behind the membrane allows the structure to ‘breathe’ and dry out.

Yet it’s also simple and uses simple materials. The membrane itself is usually a high-quality, high-density plastic such as polyethene. It is studded in appearance – thus allowing room for the water to drip down to the drain - and comes in various thicknesses e.g. 3mm, 5mm, 8mm, up to 20mm for the floor membrane.

The material will also be gas and vapour-proof and can have a long-lasting guarantee e.g. 10 years.
The wall membrane is applied using fixing plugs and then the drainage channels will be created around the basement perimeter, leading to the sump chamber.

After this, the floor membrane will be laid, again for waterproofing. Vapour tape is then applied where the wall membrane meets the floor membrane. This implements a secure moisture barrier between the seams and also helps strengthen the joints, keeping the membrane firmly in place.

The ‘tank’ – the seal - is now complete, but let’s rewind for a moment. Earlier we mentioned the sump pump, which will be installed at the beginning of the process i.e. when we have our basement shell and before the membrane is applied. The pump will be fitted in the sump chamber, which will be at the lowest point of the basement and connected to the drain channels underneath the membrane walls. The groundwater is then pumped out from the chamber to an external drain.

With a lid on the chamber, screed or timber floors will be laid over the membrane whilst leaving the sump perfectly accessible.
The walls are then finished by dry lining in which metal or wooden frames are installed allowing for electrical or plumbing services to run out of sight.  The walls are then insulated, plasterboarded and skim finished as required.

Since ‘basement tanking’ is strictly our expertise – and a basement conversion is often required as part of a larger project, we’re an ideal partner for builders, architects and property developers.

If that’s the case, then sub-contracting this particular aspect of the work to us makes sense for all manner of reasons…
For example, we offer attention to detail: analysing the project and writing a specification after agreeing the finer points with the architect.

We can also assist developers in making the best possible use of available space and land. It might be necessary to provide underpinning if the conversion of a basement compromises the structural integrity of the property by weakening the foundations or removing walls, for example.

Moreover, we are skilful, efficient and cost-effective.

As you can see, the potential is enormous. By making use of our expertise, both householders and building partners can gain living space and add value. Basements don’t need to be left to clutter, mould and old copies of TV Quick.
A little imagination can go a long way...

So, how much will a basement conversion cost?

A typical basement conversion in the Yorkshire and Teesside area is usually in a Victorian terrace with an existing space in the basement. These basement rooms are usually cold, damp and badly lit.

Provided the existing head height is adequate the price guide is between £700 – £1,300 per square meter. If the conversion works require any digging out, excavating or underpinning the work becomes more complex and more expensive. Underpinning usually costs between £1,500 – £2,000 per square meter.

To help you understand and get an idea of how much your basement conversion might cost we have provided 4 possible basement scenarios. Each one is based on 30m square of space below ground in a Victorian end terrace house.


Option 1. Simple Basement Conversion

This basement is a single room with 3 external walls and 1 party wall. The head height is more than adequate at 2.2m. The room is currently being used a garden/ storeroom. In the winter periods, water appears to rise up through the stone-flagged floor and is leaving the space continuously cold and damp. There is an existing solid stone staircase leading up to the main house and a small light well to the rear of the room.
Using a cavity drain membrane system, we will transform this space into a warm, dry storage area.

To achieve this we will install a perimeter drainage channel with flushing points at each change in direction. As there is no natural drainage present we will install a sump and pump with a high level battery alarm system. The drainage and pumps are fully maintainable and when combined with cavity drain membranes forms a waterproof structure to comply with current British Standards 8102 (2009) – The code of practice for protection of below ground structures against water from the ground. Your basement is now ready for the ‘fit out’ stage.

A new insulated timber floating floor will be installed and the walls lined with independent timber studs. The 1st fix electrics for the supply of a new socket and lighting circuit will be carried out along with plumbing alterations to add a new radiator. The walls and ceiling will then be plaster boarded and plastered to a finish.

The electric and plumbing works will be finished and signed off as required. The basement conversion works are now complete and ready for decorating. As this space will only be used as storage Building Regulations do not apply and therefore insulation is not a requirement.

Summary

  • 4 walls, room area approx. 30m2
  • Cavity drain membranes to walls and floor
  • Drainage channel and mechanical pump system
  • Timber floating floor and studwork
  • Plasterboard and plaster finish
  • Electrics & Plumbing
  • Party Wall agreement
  • 10 year Independent, insurance backed guarantee.

Estimated Cost £ 21,000 + VAT (£700/m2)


Option 2. Standard Basement Conversion

A standard basement conversion would involve the same works as Option 1 with the addition of needing to have Building Regulations as the space is now to be used to provide an extra living space for the property. This will include the addition of insulation within the studwork and ceiling areas. There is also the inclusion of an internal load-bearing wall that would require lining with cavity drain membrane and stud work.

Summary

  • 4 external walls (30m2)
  • 1 Internal (load bearing wall)
  • Drainage channel and mechanical pump system
  • Timber floating floor and studwork
  • Insulation
  • Plasterboard and plaster finish
  • Electrics & Plumbing
  • Party Wall agreement
  • Building Regulations
  • 10 year Independent, insurance backed guarantee.

Estimated costs £25,500 + VAT (£850/m2)


Option 3. Complex Basement Conversion

A complex basement conversion has all the detail as standard basement with the addition of a more sophisticated pump system which includes a secondary pump with battery back-up. This type of basement conversion would also include digging out and creating a new external doorway with concrete access steps. Creating this opening would most likely require planning approval.

Summary

  • 4 external walls (30m2)
  • 1 Internal (load bearing wall)
  • Drainage channel and mechanical pump system with battery back up
  • Timber floating floor and studwork
  • Insulation
  • Plasterboard and plaster finish
  • Electrics & Plumbing
  • New external doorway with concrete steps
  • Party Wall agreement
  • Building Regulations
  • Planning permission fees
  • 10 year Independent, insurance backed guarantee.

Estimated cost £39,000 + VAT (£1300/m2)


Option 4. Complex Basement Conversion with Underpinning.

This type of conversion requires increasing the existing headroom. To achieve this the internal floor slab will be excavated to the required depth. The existing foundations will also require extending. This is done using a process called underpinning. With the help of our Structural Engineer we can design and specify the detail required to carry out these works in a safe and controlled manner. Once the underpinning is complete the drainage and membranes are installed and the fit-out completed.

Summary

  • 4 external walls (30m2)
  • 1 Internal (load bearing wall)
  • Drainage channel and mechanical pump system with battery back up
  • Concrete floor and studwork
  • Insulation
  • Plasterboard and plaster finish
  • Electrics & Plumbing
  • New external doorway with concrete steps
  • Party Wall agreement
  • Building Regulations
  • Planning permission fees
  • 10 year Independent, insurance backed guarantee.
  • Underpinning and excavation works

Estimated cost £76,500 + VAT