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BP 10 October 2016

DAMP PROOFING According to a new survey, damp problems damage property values, increase the time that homes are on the market and reduce ‘let-ability’. With the right diagnosis and the right approach to treatment, it does not have to be this way, says Hudson Lambert. While damp in housing may feel like OCTOBER 2016 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 35 a concern of the 1970s or 80s, it still proves to be a significant issue in a good number of British dwellings. The English Housing Survey: Homes 2011 (published in 2013) found that, although declining, the number of dwellings with damp problems was as many as 600,000 dwellings. It remains a huge concern. While issues such as cramped rooms, bad smells or even overgrown gardens deter people from property purchases; a new YouGov survey, commissioned by Safeguard Europe, reveals that while all of those would turn many people off, by far the most common – and widely experienced – deterrent is damp. Of the 1,296 potential buyers surveyed in August this year, 91% said that if they came across damp in a property they would be discouraged from making an offer. YouGov also asked people what they would do should they discover the presence of damp once their purchase was underway; 42% said that they would simply walk away, with 48% saying that they would demand a reduction in price, some by as much as 20%. For those looking to sell property, the message is clear: thoroughly identify and deal with damp problems before putting it on the market. The implicit finding of the survey is that investing in remedial works now would lead to a better price and less time on the market. With homes currently selling for an average of £214,000, a 20% drop in price equates to over £42,000, far more than the cost of dealing with damp. Regionally, this average 20% reduction in offer would be: £29,000 in the north and north east, £28,000 in the north west, £40,000 in the midlands, £43,000 in the south , £31,000 in Scotland, £34,000 in Wales, and a staggering £69,000 in the South The survey also revealed how common damp is. In total, the pollsters talked to 2,030 people – both homeowners and renters – and found that almost half of them (49%) had lived in a property with damp problems. The proportion of people who have lived with damp rises to 52% when only those who rent are considered, perhaps indicating that landlords are more reluctant than homeowners to invest in remediation. However, landlords should be aware that damp can be classed as a statutory nuisance under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The survey showed that people are aware of the potential negative impacts of damp on health as well as its negative impact on comfort and the aesthetics. According to the NHS, those living in damp properties are more likely to suffer from respiratory infections, allergies and asthma. Some 66% of those surveyed cited negative health effects as an issue that would deter them from considering a property. There is also awareness that damp walls are much poorer insulators than dry ones. Other research has shown that masonry treated externally with a water-repellent cream, for instance, can reduce heat loss by up to 29%. Better still, such a treatment would be classified under TREATABLE CONDITION


BP 10 October 2016
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