How To Avoid Damp Scams
During many of our damp works, we discover properties that have fallen victim to damp scams.
It’s the same story again and again: a panicked homeowner discovers signs of damp and contacts a damp company to fix it, only for the damp to return with a vengeance.
We show up and discover useless damp treatments were either misdiagnosed by an amateur or deliberately mid-sold by predatory salesmen. Either way, our clients end up having to pay twice to fix one problem.
We’re not just talking about small cowboy outfits either. There are nationwide companies with aggressive sales teams who are more interested in selling the most profitable treatments rather than providing a long term solution.
They might send round a “damp expert” – who’s actually a glorified salesman – to walk around with a moisture meter, point at a damp patch on your wall and try to sell you expensive damp proofing treatments.
If you don’t know what to look for, many forms of damp can be misdiagnosed. For example, many forms of damp have similar symptoms to rising damp. But if the source of the damp is from elsewhere (a cracked wall or leaky plumbing, for example) then installing a new DPC isn’t going to do anything to fix it.
Worst of all, you won’t be able to tell it’s not fixed at first. These companies will put new render on your walls that make everything look as good as new. But beneath this new coat of paint, the damp will continue to spread.
Damp scams can devastate your property value
Falling for a damp scam will come back to haunt you if you ever want to sell your property. You might assume the expensive damp repairs you purchased fixed the issue, only for a surveyor to inspect your property and discover a damp problem.
This can lead to the purchaser negotiating tens of thousands of pounds off the price to cover the cost of rectifying damp problems that you already paid to have fixed. I’ve seen it happen many times in property purchases and it’s devastating for the seller.
How do you know who to trust?
The easiest way to spot a bonafide damp expert is the amount of information they gather before diagnosing your damp. From second one, they’ll be asking questions about the visual signs of damp, when it appeared, the history of the property and so on.
Then they should send round a damp surveyor who will perform a thorough inspection of the property and present you with a detailed report of how damp is entering your property and what needs to be done to treat it.
Red flags are if you feel that the wool is being pulled over your eyes or you’re being pressured into a sale. Ask questions: a real damp expert will be able to explain their findings in detail and show you the evidence. If you’re unsure, seek a second opinion.
We’ve written a number of guides for the most common types of damp and how to spot them. They’re a great place to start if you’re unsure whether you’ve been given the correct damp diagnosis.
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How to spot a damp scam
- If the damp surveyor just walks around with a moisture meter instead of performing a thorough inspection of both interior and exterior.
- If you’re not asked detailed questions upon enquiry, and treatments are suggested before a damp surveyor has visited your property.
- If you feel that you’re being pressured into a sale, or the damp surveyor isn’t able to provide detailed answers to your questions.
- If the report they present reads like standard jargon they’ve recycled rather than specific for your property.