Basement-Conversion-Before

Professional Advice for Dealing with Damp

Professional Help & Advice for Dealing with Damp Problems

Damp is a common problem that should be identified and treated as soon as it gets a foothold in your house. Shockingly, damp problems can cause serious structural and health issues if left untreated. Fortunately, damp can be treated with a few simple steps that we will reveal in this guide.
One of the damp proofing and treatment specialists at Danford Brewer & Ives has shared his professional guidance for people dealing with the issue of damp in their homes. He holds years of experience in offering damp surveys and damp treatments to both commercial and residential properties. His vast experience has allowed him to gain professional insight into how people at home with little or no knowledge can treat various types of damp.

Expert Recommended Treatment for Condensation

Condensation is the most common form of damp and can also be the easiest to resolve. Condensation is caused when everyday actions such as cooking, bathing, washing and drying clothes create moisture in the air. The most common rooms for condensation to form in are the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms.
The wet air will then target areas of cold surfaces such as windows and external walls. You can identify these areas by looking for blackish mouldy spots, water droplets on the walls and window glass, small puddles of water on windowsills and peeling paint.
There are many small and simple ways in which you can reduce condensation in your property, for example:

  • Ensure that each room has sufficient ventilation, such as opening windows and using extractor fans.
  • Ensure that the property is moderately heated. Without heat, the wall surfaces will become colder and attract further condensation.
  • Make sure that there is sufficient insulation within your loft space. Condensation will form on ceilings where cold spots are created through insufficient insulation.
  • Dry clothes outside. If you dry clothes indoors on radiators, then this will add moisture into the air. Also, if you use a tumble drier ensure it is either vented or a condenser tumble drier.
  • Keep all airbricks clear to allow air to flow around the property.
  • Keep furniture slightly away from the walls to allow air to pass around it.

If the above suggestions do not help improve the condensation issues you are experiencing, then other steps can be taken. Contacting a damp specialist means you will be offered the correct specialist solution to deal with the problem effectively, whether it is a Positive Pressure Unit, heat recovery humidity-controlled extractor fan, additional air vents, improved insulation, heating, or most likely a combination of these to find the correct balance.

Expert’s Recommendation for Damp Penetration

Penetrating damp is caused by water penetration in the walls. The most common reason behind this type of damp is structural issues.
It is vital that the cause of water penetration is dealt with before anything else is treated. Experts suggest checking for the following:

  • High external levels, built up paths or flowerbeds
  • Blocked & overflowing gutters
  • Broken, leaking downpipes
  • Running overflows from cisterns and tanks
  • Porous masonry (under-fired bricks, porous stone, porous mortar)
  • Cracks
  • Defective render & pointing
  • Unfilled joints and perpends
  • Defective seals around doors and windows
  • Holes in walls – e.g. where cables or pipes protrude

If you see blotchy patches with crumbling paint and plaster inside your property that is wet with mould and mildew growth, then, unfortunately, you are dealing with penetrating damp.
Ensuring that your property, especially older properties, is kept well maintained will help prevent penetrating water.
Treatment of penetrating damp can require stripping material back to the bricks, but it only happens in severe cases. Materials that are severely damaged must be removed and replaced. Do not merely paint over damp because it will not solve the problem from spreading further.

Experts’ Recommendation for Rising Damp Treatment

Rising damp is the common term for the slow upward movement of groundwater in the lower sections of walls. Rising damp can be a sign that your walls were not adequately protected from the moisture in the ground outside. It could be that poor drainage is a contributory factor, so it’s certainly worth checking for standing water in crawlspaces and basements. Rising damp has to be corrected as soon as possible because it can lead to severe damage to your house.
Signs of rising damp can include:

  • Tide marks/staining
  • Salting – white powdery substance
  • Peeling paint/wallpaper
  • Skirting boards becoming rotten
  • Plaster blowing/crumbling

To check and treat rising damp, it is essential that you enlist the help of a qualified reputable damp proofing and damp treatment company that can identify the cause of rising damp. These companies can come up with the most effective solution.
No one property is the same which is why Danford Brewer and Ives carry out a thorough damp survey on each property to identify the what the root cause of the damp is and provide a suitable treatment to fix the problem.  If you have a damp issue and would like a professional damp proofing company to take a look then contact DBI today and book a site survey with one of our certified damp surveyors.


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.


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


Wet rot treatment

Wet rot treatment & why a timber survey is needed

If there’s ever a time to treat damp and wood rot, it’s springtime. But, then, if there’s ever a time for rot to sink its clutches into your property, it’s during winter.

After all, your property has born the brunt of the elements. But at what cost? The snow, wind, and rain might have gone but all can leave behind moisture, which finds its way in through various nooks and crannies.

Timber is where damp takes hold, and if it’s left untreated then rot can develop.

There are two types - dry and wet rot – and it’s the latter we shall focus on here…
…which is good news, in a sense. Why? Because wet rot is not as pervasive as dry rot. It tends not to spread as far, and its consequences tend to be less damaging. The latter can eat its way through a property, affecting wood as well as plaster and brickwork. In terms of structural integrity, it has the potential to be catastrophic.

Wet rot tends only to cause damage in areas that are – and remain – wet.

Poor ventilation below floors may be a cause of wet rot, as might rising or penetrating damp, water leaks and the like.
It’s caused by fungi which multiply in the right conditions and attack wood. Roughly speaking, timber with 20 per cent moisture content or higher is susceptible.

The process starts when the fungi breed by showering millions of microscopic spores into the air.

If they fall on untreated wood they will germinate – via tubes called hypha which spread to form threads called mycelium.
The mycelium eats at the wood and uses the threads (which supply water and nutrients) to propagate.

Again, however, when comparing how dry rot and wet rot can take hold, the latter is not quite so malignant. It will not, for example, spread onto the surface of adjacent stone or brick walls.

That’s because there is fewer mycelium – meaning that wet rot is typically confined to the area of dampness.
Even so, timber exposed to the damp will still lose its structural integrity if left untreated.

Tell-tale signs of wet rot might include a whitening, or bleaching, effect - which does not refer to the colour of the mould, but the shade that the timber turns when affected.

By contrast, brown rot will darken the wood, which will disintegrate in small cracks.
While different strains of fungi have different features, broadly speaking they are all similar in appearance and the treatments are also similar.
Regarding identification and treatment, it’s crucial that the type of wood rot – whether it’s dry or wet, in other words - is identified before any course of action is considered. Each requires a different form of treatment.

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

As a rule of thumb, the following (and most likely more besides) will be investigated:

  • The Roof. Are the gutters blocked? Perhaps tiles are missing, broken or displaced?
  • The Walls. Has the mortar deteriorated? Is the damp-proof course either faulty or missing? Are the air bricks blocked? Maybe pipes are cracked or broken, or a water tank is overflowing?
  • Perhaps there is condensation in, say, the bathroom and kitchen? Or maybe there’s moisture close to external gaps or cracks, floors, trapped floodwater, or defective plumbing?

Keeping on top of – or even being aware of – rot can be difficult, but innovations are constantly being made so better help and advice are readily at hand.
If there is doubt, a timber survey is probably your best bet to identify both the cause and remedy, which may include specialist treatment.
Danford Brewer & Ives have a team of expert surveyors who can produce reports and quotations for any necessary specialist works. Moreover, we keep abreast of all the latest innovations, methods and technologies.
If you would like more information on and detail about wet 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.


Basement-stairs

Damp Proofing Specialists Invest In New Technology

Damp Proofing Specialists DBI Invest in New Technology

At Danford Brewer & Ives we are striving to stay up-to-date with technology in the workplace. As within any business, we rely more and more on technology for daily tasks. The damp proofing industry needs to bring itself up-to-speed with technology not only to keep up-to-date but also to attract younger people into the sector. Younger people, whether they are in primary school or high school leavers, are becoming more and more technology-dependent, with most aspects of their lives involving technology at some point. Going into schools, speaking to younger people, informing them of the different roles that are involved in the construction industry, and showing them what technology is involved, will all help to inspire the next generation to join this industry.
So, what ways are we at Danford Brewer & Ives introducing new technology?

Our App

We have introduced a new app into our business which has been researched, developed and written uniquely for us. Working alongside development company Genesis Business Systems, and after 2 years of hard work and investment with the help of CITB, we now have an app which has updated all our systems and is a step towards updating the construction industry. It is also helping us to help the environment, hugely reducing the amount of paper used throughout the company!
Instead of using paper forms for surveys or job details, all our surveyors and site operatives now have tablets with digital forms and the ability to draw and take photos.
The app has allowed us to take enquiries in a more detailed form, ensuring the damp surveyor is provided with more information prior to the survey being carried out. We can record findings more clearly and pass it to the office quicker, allowing customers to receive reports usually within 24-48 hours of the damp survey been carried out. Information passed onto our onsite operatives is also clearer and allows them to complete forms quicker and easier.
Although this app has been designed for us, it can be adapted and rolled out to other businesses in the construction industry.

New website

At the beginning of 2018, our website had a complete make-over! Re-designed to make it easier for customers to view, faster loading speeds, and a live chat section, we hope that our new website provides the information our customers require clearly.

Phone system

Last year we had a new telephone system installed, which has increased the number of our lines, allowed clearer calls and smoother call transfers, with all our regional phone numbers now come in through the new system. We have also updated our on-hold music, which has been composed especially for us by Ryan Blockley!
As well as helping us update our systems, the main aim of using this new technology is to provide a better service for our customers! Happy customers and referrals are what every business desires. We at Danford Brewer & Ives strive to provide the best possible service we can to ensure customers are satisfied and happy.
With the help of new technology, training our staff and updating our methods and systems, we continue to improve. We want more comments like these -
 ‘I have always found the staff at Danford Brewer & Ives to be polite, professional, friendly and extremely helpful.  The surveys are carried out promptly and professionally followed by excellent written reports and I would have no hesitation in recommending their services to others.’
Estate Agents - Richmond
Thanks, can I say that your guy was first class and made every effort to keep the dust down to a minimum.’
I.G – Harrogate
‘very pleased with the efficiency with which the two chaps worked yesterday. Thank you to them as well!’
P.A – Keighley
If you are


damp proofing

How much does damp proofing cost?

Cost of damp proofing

It’s easy to jump to the worst possible conclusion when spotting, say, tell-tale bubbles and/or peeling wallpaper, or perhaps a dank and ugly patch of mould: that your property is as damp as a ducks’ nest, that the situation is catastrophic and that remedying the problem will come at the expense of that trip of a lifetime you’ve been hankering after.
The good news, though, is that it’s rare indeed that damp is as bad as it initially seems. Of course, the wallpaper will have to be stripped and the wall most likely re-plastered. But in most cases, the masonry itself will be retrievable. It simply needs to dry out.

Three main factors are responsible for damp: condensation, rainwater and rising damp, and it’s the latter phenomenon that we’re concerned with here.
So what is it? Rising damp is the common term used for the upward movement of groundwater in the lower sections of walls by a process called capillary action. It’s characterised by a "tide mark" on affected walls, caused by salts contained in the groundwater.
When the water evaporates, the salts crystallise and can cause plaster to deteriorate. And with water continually wending its way up, the situation will perpetuate. (A side-effect of rising damp, incidentally, is that a damp wall will lose more heat.)
So how to tackle the problem? It’s most likely the case that the property already has damp proofing older houses use, for example, a layer of slate between the brickwork, while well-built modern houses include damp proofing in the form of a synthetic damp-proof course (DPC), about 15 cm above ground level, to act as a barrier through which water – in theory - cannot pass.
However, the damp-proof course can be broken or incomplete, allowing moisture to find a way in – or rather up: ‘bridging’ as it is known.
Poor drainage can also be a factor, so it’s certainly worth checking for standing water in crawlspaces and/or the basement. Another factor, meanwhile, might be any raising of the ground level next to an external wall. If air bricks are now blocked, or ground-level stands above the original damp-proof course, then moisture can find a way up.
It stands to reason that the more damp-proof course there is, the less chance there is of rising damp developing. But just a few millimetres of ‘bridging’ is sufficient to cause it.
And how is rising damp treated? That depends on its severity and each case is unique. Examples of the treatments Danford Brewer & Ives offer are:

  • Removing the surrounding soil or bridging material to be a minimum of 150mm below the existing damp-proof course
  • Injecting a chemical damp-proof course
  • Replacing any damp or rotten flooring
  • Removing and replacing any plasterwork, skirting boards, radiators etc. if necessary

One important thing to stress, though, is the competence and experience of the person(s) investigating the problem: misdiagnosis can happen – and since the wrong form of treatment could then be prescribed, the overall cost will eventually be higher.
An example: we mentioned earlier how salts form causing plaster and wallpaper to peel. This might be a feature of rising damp but other phenomena (such as heat from a fire) can also cause salts in masonry to crystallise – resulting, perhaps, in damp-proof course work that is completely unnecessary.
And the cost? A good rough guide is £60 per linear metre +vat. Therefore, an average-sized living room of 4 metres by 4 metres would cost around £270 + vat per wall. But, as mentioned, each case is unique. What we can say with a measure of confidence, though, is that most jobs will take us a couple of days.
If you have any queries – whether it’s about 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.


DBI North West

Damp Treatment Experts Expand into the North West

Damp Treatment Problem in Cheshire?

Here at Danford Brewer & Ives, we’re going from strength to strength. Business is, we’re proud to report, on the up, and a natural consequence of that is that we’re expanding our reach from North Yorkshire…up and over the Pennines and into the North-West of England. So, then: Are you a homeowner, builder, architect or property developer in the North-West who might be interested in contracting (or subcontracting) one of the best in the business in the fields of damp treatment (Damp Proofing), timber treatment, basement conversions, extensions, and building maintenance? If so, then there’s no time like the present to get in touch. Fast response times are a natural consequence of good customer service – which is particularly good news if you live in the Cheshire area since that’s where our new surveyor is based.
Therefore, if you are situated in or near one of the following:

• Macclesfield • Poynton • Bramhall • Prestbury • Alderley Edge • Knutsford • Wilmslow • Cheadle/Cheadle Hulme • Buxton • New Mills

… we can cover all your concerns regarding specialist property care and preservation needs. The need to, say, cure rising damp or penetrating damp, undertake the waterproofing of basements or sump pump installations, might suggest that all is not well with your property, our trusted help will ensure that the problem will not become an emergency. And even if the damp has risen just that bit too far for comfort, or you finally decide that either a wet rot or dry rot treatment really is the utmost priority, then our local team of highly skilled and professional tradesmen will be quickly on hand to offer the full breadth and depth of their experience. As damp, timber and structural repair specialists, for example, we are fully conversant in this particular field: from examining timber defects and woodworm, through the use of anti-condensation units for condensation control, to the creation of damp and timber reports, Danford Brewer & Ives have the wherewithal to both examine the cause and offer the remedy, which may include specialist treatment.
Our expert surveyor can produce reports and quotations for specialist works that might be needed. Damp and wood rot can seem inevitable in a climate like ours, yet it doesn’t have to be that way: simple measures can help keep them at bay. And, as has already been mentioned, our expertise is offered not just to homeowners: domestic and commercial contracts are both undertaken, with a good chunk of Danford Brewer & Ives’ business coming as a partner for builders, architects, and property developers. We provide a skillful and efficient sub-contracting service, allowing you to play to your own strengths and so giving the customer all the necessary guarantees - not to mention peace of mind.
Guarantees? We offer long term insurance-backed guarantees on all works undertaken, and, local Fully Certified Surveyors in Remedial Treatments (CSRT) with The Property Care Association (PCA). So regardless of whether you’re in the business or not – whether you can tell your lateral restraints from your replacement stainless steel wall tie systems, or masonry crack stitching from specialist re-plastering – we have it covered. It’s nothing less than the level of service you should expect from an established company such as ours: a Specialist Property Care and Preservation Company from Yorkshire…which is now in Cheshire.
So if you’re in the North-West and feel you have the need for one or more of the services offered, then please get in touch. Not only do we offer a quick, efficient survey and quote procedure, Danford Brewer & Ives are more than happy to offer relevant advice as part of our commitment to you the customer. Contact us now!