First time buyer? – Our guide to Damp

08th Nov 18 | Back to blog

A little knowledge can sometimes go a long way, especially when it comes to buying your first home.

The thought of damp is enough to give anyone nightmares, not only because of the effects it can have on your health, but also the fact it can be costly to fix. Firstly, if you haven’t yet purchased your dream home you can still get the damp checked out, and if found, you may be able to negotiate on price too!

If you have already purchased your first home, don’t worry, we will give a few suggestions further down on how to make damp something of a distant memory!

There are several types of damp and each ones has its own warning sign to look out for as well as the most common tell tale sign, condensation and mould. The main three types of damp are rising, penetrating and lateral.

Rising Dampfirst time buyer

Rising damp is the most common of the three and often the one feared the most! Rising damp however is one of the easiest to spot, with the tell tale signs being that of tide marks. The tide marks are usually up to one metre high and leave a residue of water and salts. The area is often damp to touch and darker in colour, however if the area is dry, it may be a sign of a damp problem that has not previously been resolved.

Other signs of rising damp can include, crumbling plaster or paste if water has gotten through. Wallpaper tends to peel and skirting boards will begin to show signs of decay, especially if screwed/nailed into the wall these can show signs of rust. Along with all these signs there will be a damp musty smell in the air.

A helpful tip when buying a property is to check to see if a damp proof course has already been put in place.  Some older properties were built without one, so this may be worth looking into. Unless it has been rendered over, you will normally see it as a little black line between 3 inches and 2 feet from the ground, running all the way around the external walls.


first time buyerPenetrating Damp

Penetrating damp originates from the outer walls on which it can be seen, especially after rainfall. These patches will get bigger after it has rained. Walls that are more exposed to the elements tend to suffer more from this. You should also check the roof, ceilings and any other interior walls where the external damp patch is.

Leaking pipes, broken roofing, faulty windows and brickwork can also be a cause of penetrating damp as well as the render on the house its self.


Lateral Dampfirst time buyer

Similar give away to rising damp and similar causes of penetrating damp, lateral damp is caused by intrusion from an outside wall, leaky pipes, missing roof tiles and overflowing gutters. It can appear anywhere on the wall and will cause dark damp patches, mildew in crevices and also create crumbly wet plaster. Spores will also appear.




Condensation can often be a sign that something within the home is not quite right. This usually occurs due to poor ventilation within the property but can also be a sign of damp. Before buying you will want to make sure the issues is identified as it could lead to further problems down the line.

Black mould is a sign most commonly associated with condensation and is potentially life threatening, especially to babies and young adults as well as the elderly and anyone who may be suffering from a lung condition. Keep an eye out when going around the property for black isolated spores. Some sellers will often wipe down anything that could be identified, however on close inspection it will still be noticeable.

Before buying a property, a survey should be carried out by a qualified professional should always be carried out. As a first time buyer you should take as much precaution as possible.

Here we have a few simple tips to help reduce condensation within your home:

  • When cooking, ensure that you cover your pans with a lid to reduce moisture. If you have a canopy extractor fan, ensure that you have clean filters (charcoal filters should be replaced every 3-4 months).  If needed, also ensure that you have opened a window. Don’t turn off the extractor fan or close the window as soon as you finish cooking – leave it open for 15-20 minutes afterwards to clear the air.


  • Similar to when cooking in the kitchen, when having a bath or shower turn on an extractor fan or open a window to get rid of the steam. This will help to reduce condensation that appears on your bathroom windows, but won’t eliminate the problem.


  • Where possible, try not to dry clothes on your radiators. If you have no choice but to dry clothes inside we would always advise that you ventilate these rooms.


  • If you have a washing machine or tumble dryer in your property, ensure that it is vented correctly.


  • Double glazing, loft insulation and draft proofing will help to reduce the amount of heat that is lost from a property. Installing insulation will help to keep the temperature of the surfaces inside your property high.


  • Do not use Portable gas bottles and paraffin heaters as they  produce a lot of moisture, along with a lot of toxic fumes. Not only is this form of heat causing excess condensation in your property, it is also a health and safety hazard.


  • When cooking, having a bath or a shower or boiling a kettle, keep the doors to those areas closed. This will stop moisture escaping to other rooms.


  • Many families have house pets and plants that produce moisture. Cover fish tanks and if you are suffering from excess condensation look to move your plants outdoors.


  • Try not to jam pack bedroom wardrobes or kitchen cupboards. Doing this will reduce the ventilation and trap warm air which will allow mould to develop.


  • Make sure that your furniture is at least 50mm away from the surrounding walls so that air can move around the property. Try and position furniture onto internal wall instead of the colder external walls.


  • We all have a room that we spend a lot of time in. Why not open the window slightly to improve the ventilation in the room? Breathing is a major cause of condensation, so this will help to improve the ventilation in your property.


  • Have a constant amount of heating in your property rather than nothing will improve the internal temperature. This will avoid major peak or troughs. Try to couple this with turning the heating on full when you walk into your home.


  • If you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom or kitchen then condensation can occur. Make sure that you wipe down the surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen after you’ve bathed or cooked.  The moisture that is on the tiles or surfaces will quickly turn to mould which is difficult to completely remove.


  • Adequate ventilation is essential to allow the moisture to escape from a property before it turns into condensation. Installing a humidistat fan to the kitchen and bathroom can improve the humidity levels and reduce condensation.


First time buyer – Choosing the best report

With a new home there could still be issues arise, the your best bet would be to carry out a New Build Snagging report or a Condition report, this can be used for a modern house with no obvious sign of faults. However, should you suspect damp within the property on viewing, this wouldn’t be the best option.

Should you suspect damp within the property, you should opt for a Homebuyer’s Report. This report will highlight issues such as damp and subsidence as well as covering and outstanding and necessary issues.

If you are choosing to purchase an older, more run down property, then the best report to go for would be a full Building Survey. This report is the most comprehensive and will carry out the most thorough checks, including under the floorboards and in the attic space, as well as listing any other issues found.

If you are a first time buyer and have any concerns over damp, contact us today to discuss .

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