WE are moving out of SE1, but not that far- just as far as Nunhead SE15.
The basement flat we are buying needs some work doing to it and I'm after some recommendations.
A damp survey by Kenwood quotes a price of £3.5k (incl VAT)to fix the quite substantial damp problem and replaster. A friend tells me that Kenwood tend to bump their prices up and it would be possible to get it done cheaper. Does anyone have any experience of damp proofing?
The place has been renovated by a 'property developer', who I think has done a bit of a bodge job in some areas. He has built a very nice brick and glass conservatory on the back complete with underfloor heating (and incipient damp problem). The roof appears to be made of corrugated plastic at present and needs replacing. Would we get a roofer or a conservatory expert to do this? Again, any recommendations gratefully received.
The polycarbonat roofing for conservatories is available at most places like Wickes, it's lightweight and not difficult to fit, but you need to get a proper bloke to fix it.
As for damp proofing...well, it's my experience that damp will always come through - there's so much undergroud water in London. If the man who converted the place didnt put in any damp course he was in breach of regulations. But rising damp is not so tragic, and I've often found it's easier to just rub in down and paint it regularly rather than wreck the whole house.
I would be very wary of buying a basement flat that has damp. It is almost impossible to remedy unless you are prepared to strip the place down to the bare walls throughout, insert a water bar into the walls and tank below. Most Victorian houses have brick walls that after four or so courses below basement level spread out as a foundation, - the brickwork absorbs water, and the warm dry rooms we want to live in suck it in pulling off the plaster as the water enters. It is controllable if you have a very well ventilated space ( as Victorians tended to do ) and/or if you don't mind replastering now and again as Jackie says. For kitchens and living rooms it is OK but not for bedrooms which have less circulating air. Actually 3.5K seems rather cheap if they are guarenteeing the work.
The surveyor we used effectively said that if we were worried about damp we should not buy an old property with a semi-basement. However he pointed out that the propoerty had stood for a long time and so was unlikley to fall down.
We had a damp quote before we bought the property which was high. Since then we have found that there were several reasons for damp: a leaking pipe; a Virginia Creeper sealing damp in; sopme damp from our neioghbours, a leaking shower tray; an uncapped chimney; a failed attempt at tanking and so on. We have solved several of these and have sort of given up on the rest.
My advice would be to get a sensible builder in. (He may have ideas like coating the external brickwork to limit the amount of water getting in.) Or alternatively a surveyor. We used the latter when our roof was leaking and the builder admitted to being unsure of the cause. The surveyor got it right and cost less than £200. Much less than we might have overpaid a dodgy roofing contractor.
In terms of conservatories it is also probably a good idea to consider using a general builder rather than a specialist firm, who may be spendign a fortune on sales and marketing and therefore need to recoup this money.
You should be able to find a local builder in Nunhead. Ask your neighbours. You might, if you trust them, ask your estate agent (especially if they also manage rented property), or even go to your local building merchants and ask them. Worth remembering that trades people come across each other a lot. So my builder recommended a carpet supplier, who in turn recommended a painter when I needed one in a hurry.
How old is the building SarahMc? Most old buildings will have some damp...and as I say, it's not enough to make buying the property too hazardous. Surveyors have to point it out, but it's really something that one can live with.
We have decided not to buy it- too many probs apart from damp. Also it's suffered from some bodge jobs and poor workmanship and we just don't want to take that on. It's very sad but we are going to keep looking!
Oh dear, honestly if you find something you love in an area you want to be dont be put off too easily. In my professional life I really have been around this block dozens of times. Almost ANYTHING is fixable and most things are fixable for fairly simple money. What IS to be avoided is something next to a noisy road or a huge shopping complex, something that just hasnt got enough square footage, something that's never, ever going to get any sunlight....those things are impossible to change. But most of the other things are perfectly soluble. And dont let surveyors and snotty builders put you off. I was a builder all my life and I really (for a change) know of what I speak.