A Community Network for Bowes Park and Bounds Green
Some outside brickwork is crumbling in places, which I have been informed is caused by rising damp. Can anyone recommend a builder or structural engineer who could come out and assess it and quote for rectifying it? See picture: Crumbling_brickwork.JPG
We are right in the middle of major rebuilding - as a result of an old lead water pipe splitting three feet below a solid floor with lovely original tiles. :(
So from our experience this week I can highly recommended Zoltan from Building & Decorating Solution Ltd. based in N17 - very good service and impressive speed at dealing with a job that grew bigger as the days went on!
I have renovated two wrecks of houses in the Bowes Park area in recent years and have had to dampproof both. You don't need a structural engineer - they deal with things like loads and the actual structure of the building itself. I'd always recommend a specialist dampproofing company rather than a general builder - this is a specialist problem that involves chemical reactions in the wall. I'd be wary of using an ordinary builder for this because I don't think they know enough. Each to his own trade…
To start with, you need a proper diagnosis. If it's an underground pipe problem like Richard's, it's a localised, penetrating damp problem and not really rising damp, which is damp rising up naturally from the substratum into your walls. For both my properties I've used Terminix Peter Cox, who were excellent. They deal with problems in the fabric of the building - eg rising damp and woodworm (Annobium punctatum - great name!) - and really know their stuff. Their work is also guaranteed for 20-30 years I believe so if the damp recurs they would fix it.
I'm pretty sure that if you have rising damp on the outside you'll also have it inside. If it's inside, the plaster will have to be hacked off the wall to a height of a metre (I gather that rising damp doesn't go higher than this). They would inject your wall with a substance that will spread to form a waterproof layer within the wall. The inside wall will then have to be replastered with plaster containing a waterproof ingredient and left to dry before decorating for about six weeks. It would also be best to use the plasterer provided by the specialist company; another plasterer may get the plaster mix wrong and that could invalidate the guarantee if damp recurs. I have also been told by Terminix's plasterer, and by my own plasterer, that you should not use bonding plaster on old inside walls as it sucks in moisture; walls should be rendered with sand and cement, then a plaster skim. More to it all than meets the eye!
You should be able to find Terminix online but if not let me know on 07738 702 060 and I can dig out my paperwork and give you their contact details. The surveyor who covers this area is Derek Dibley. He really knows his stuff but is also quite pragmatic so won't persuade you to have any work done that you don't need. They weren't horribly expensive and I feel very reassured by the service they gave. The plasterer they provided for my present property was the best and most knowledgeable plasterer I have ever used.
Hope all that helps.
Thanks very much for your detailed reply. I'm a bit confused about who you mean - Terminix (www.terminix.com) seem to only do pest control, there seems to be no discussion of correcting rising damp. Are these the same people you mean? But I have found Peter Cox: http://www.petercox.com/about-peter-cox.php Is that who you mean? But there seems to be no mention of Terminix on his site.
My problem is a strange one in that the damp seems to be only in the porch wall that divides 'my' house from the one next door (the next-door neighbour is involved as well). I say 'my' house because I actually own the upstairs flat of the house that's converted into two flats (with a share of the freehold on the whole building so it's still partly my responsibility), so I don't know what it's like inside downstairs, which is occupied by a tenant (the owner is abroad). There's not really any similar evidence of damp on the outside of that flat though; I'll have to have a chat with him. To add to the woes, the external bricks on the property are painted with impermeable paint, which exacerbates damp issues, so might have to be removed - I can't imagine how that would be done though, or what the walls would look like afterwards! These things always mount up don't they...
Anyway, thanks again
I've checked my paperwork and it's Peter Cox who do damp treatment and infestation (woodworm etc). They are specialists and provide an excellent service. To be honest, I don't know that I would trust a builder. A lot of them talk the talk but do they deliver? I wouldn't trust them to have enough knowledge. Each to his trade, I always say, and in the case of things like damp or gas fitting or electrical work, it's best to use a specialist (and for gas and electrics you have to now anyway).
Your situation does sound complicated especially as there are several other parties involved. But if you do decide to go with PC they will be able to diagnose the problem for you and you can take it from there.
Thanks very much for your help, I'll check out Peter Cox.
All the info Diana has given is spot on. You have also spotted a problem I was going to mention and that is the paint. Bricks need to breath and that is how they dry out from the rain. If you have a leaking rainwater pipe and they get too wet then the moisture will pass through and case damp patches inside the building. There are some very well educated academics who don't believe in rising damp and that all damp is the result of moisture from somewhere. The paint could be removed by a heat gun or paint stripper, or a combination of both. It will be hard work but worth doing in the long run. I think that may solve your problem. The soft bricks can be stabilized with Ronseal brick sealer. This waterproofs them. Very often people repair these damaged bricks by removing the damaged face and refacing with cement. If you had to repaint as the rest of the wall is painted modern paints do breath but it would be best to remove the paint. Tom
Thanks very much Tom, all very helpful information. I'll look into all of that.