If your walls feel damp or have paint and plaster peeling off them, chances are you have damp. Your first thought may be to cover it up and put your property straight back on the market. But chances are there’s no need to panic as this unsightly problem can normally be treated and prevented by getting in touch with a damp proof specialist.

Whether you’ve identified a small patch in the corner of a room or your entire home has that less-than-arid feel to it, there are normally a few things that can be done to keep your new property damp free. And the even better news is, it doesn’t usually involve as much work or expense as you may think.

What they do

Damp comes in three flavours: rising, penetrating and condensation. Your damp proof specialist will identify the variety, then try and find the cause.

Condensation is the most common cause of damp. It’s caused by moist air condensing on walls in humid rooms like kitchens and bathrooms and usually happens in winter causing unsightly mould. Dehumidifiers and better ventilation systems can cure this type of damp.

Rising damp means that water underground or next to walls is rising up through the fabric of the wall. It happens where the damp proof course (DPC) has become damaged, particularly in older buildings, or when the ground level around the house has been raised. It can be treated by installing an effective DPC and ensuring damp can’t bridge the course.

Penetrating damp usually happens when damage to exterior bricks lets water in, your roof or gutters are damaged or your windows are allowing moisture to enter. This can be remedied by identifying the root cause and fixing it, then using water-repellent treatments on exterior surfaces.

What they charge

The main thing to remember when getting quotes for damp proofing is that it’s crucial to accurately identify the cause of the problem. With an expert diagnosis, an expensive-looking repair job could actually be unnecessary and be as easy as mending the gutters or ensuring roof junctions are watertight. Most damp proofing companies will be happy to give you a free report and quote.

Some guide examples for damp proofing costs are as follows:

  • Excavate soil around semi-detached house to lower level to below DPC – £550
  • Install new DPC in a three-bedroom terraced house – £300 – 400
  • Inject silicone damp proofing in a semi-detached house – £2000 – £2,500
  • Clear a blocked wall cavity to remedy DPC bridging – £100 – £200
  • Seal and screed a 4 x 5 metre floor – £2,500 – £3,000

What to ask

As mentioned earlier, many damp proof firms offer a free visit and report if you have a problem. Make sure you get a few opinions and if all the firms are identifying the same problem, that’s a good sign. If they are all offering different treatments, start to question their diagnoses.

If you are still unsure, contact an independent surveyor for an impartial survey.

It’s also important to make sure the work is guaranteed.

Trades to trust

The Property Care Organisation (PCA) represents specialists across the UK who can be trusted to resolve problems affecting buildings. If a damp proof specialist is a member of the Damp Proofing Association, they’ll be qualified and vetted to know their trade.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different damp proof specialists to ensure you pay a fair price for the job and their diagnoses are the same.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references or photos from previous jobs. If the damp proof specialist is competent and professional, they’ll be pleased (and proud) to show you both.