First Time Buyer’s guide to damp

Damp is a word that sends shivers down any homebuyer’s spine, but it’s important for first time buyers to be aware of the tell-tale signs of damp and what they can do to alleviate the issue.

Damp isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker; if you have already bought a property prior to spotting the signs, don’t despair just yet. If you haven’t already bought it, you could use those damp patches to negotiate a better a price.

There are different types of damp to keep an eye out for and each has their own warning signs.


When spotting condensation it may just seem like being a normal part of an older house, but it can be a potential sign of more severe issue.  A large amount of condensation can be a sign that there is too much water vapour inside the property, which is also a further sign of an ongoing damp issue or a lack of ventilation, which is something else to keep an eye out for before purchasing a property.

Black mould is a dangerous, life-threatening issue for the elderly, young children and those with an existing lung condition.

Keep an eye out for spores on the walls and ceiling and also inspect the window and doorframes.

Rising damp

This type of damp fills any house buyer with a sense of dread. You can make use of various visual and touch signs to identify rising damp in a property; tide marks on the wall, up to a metre high is a strong sign of its presence, leaving behind a residue of water and salts. These are darker areas and are damp when touched. Dryer areas are still a concern as this is a sign of a previous damp problem which was not properly addressed and is liable to crumble. Wallpaper can also peel away and skirting boards will show signs of decay; nails or screws in the skirting board with signs of rust indicate the presence of damp.

Lateral damp

The signs are similar to those of rising damp, but the difference being the area of intrusion is from an outside wall, missing tiles, leaking pipes and even overflowing gutters. Keep an eye out for dark, damp patches on the ceiling and wall, woodwork and crevices for mildew. Crumbling or wet plasters, as well as spores are also a strong signs.

Penetrating damp

This kind of damp originates from outside walls and can be seen on the exterior of a property, with patches of damp that get bigger after heavy rainfall; inspect walls that are more exposed to these elements, such as the roof and ceilings. Fixing these damp patches won’t end the problem altogether; leaky pipes and faulty joists in windows and walls should also be addressed; this can become an expensive fix as it becomes an issue with the brickwork.

Before purchasing you should always pay for professional survey to be carried out, especially with something as serious and expensive as a property purchase. Surveys are expensive, but this is a wise investment to ensure you won’t run into any unexpected surprises down the road. Check out our surveys blog to figure out which survey is best for you.

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