Damp can be a problem in any home and one that can lead to numerous issues, but often the problems aren’t necessarily found until it’s too late. Buying a house with a major damp issue can prove problematic but it can also cost a lot of money to rectify. There are many ways of detecting and diagnosing damp, but what can you do it before you actually buy a property? And what are the tell-tale signs? This post looks into the red flags of damp in more detail and provides some information on the best course of action if purchasing a property.

The Major Issues – Structural Problems

The importance of getting a professional and thorough structural survey on a property before you buy cannot be underestimated. Major, and even dangerous, issues can easily be missed otherwise and cause huge issues further down the line. Damp is often a primary cause of these issues. The below are some of the things a survey will track down….

-          Subsidence

-          Heave

-          Settlement

-          Structural Cracking

-          Rising Damp

-          Penetrating Damp

-          Timber Issues – woodworm and fungal decay


Checking for Damp Before You Buy a house

Homebuyers must always check thoroughly for mould and damp problems before they commit to a sale. Often, home buyers are naïve to the amount of remedial work their property needs in order to cure damp. While many cases of damp need simple and inexpensive treatment, in extreme cases the building’s structure may be a danger resulting to lengthy and costly remedial work.

When viewing a property, take thorough observation at the main areas below to catch out any damp problems.

Where to Check for Damp

checking for damp when home buying


You can instantly tell if the basement is suffering from damp. There can be evidence of moisture ingress and mould growth, combined with a damp and cold atmosphere. Moisture within the basement will quickly destroy paintwork, so look out for discolouration or damp patches on the walls.


Do the floorboards feel spongy? This means the wood beneath the flooring is beginning to rot and decay because of moisture seeping in from the ground.

Walls and ceilings

You will notice wall discolouration or paint and wallpaper peeling off the walls. Bad cases of damp may result to re-plastering using a damp proof membrane first of all to cure and prevent any further moisture seeping into the walls. Minimal black mould can be cured by a mould wash concentrate which will cleanse and eliminate black mould. Use an anti-mould paint, and only an anti-mould paint to redecorate the walls. Simply covering the walls with normal paint will not prevent further outbreaks – the mould will continue to come back.


Bathrooms may suffer from excessive condensation due to showering, bathing and the use of hot water. Condensation in bathrooms often leads to a rapid and unhealthy spread of black mould and other fungi. If the bathroom is suffering from condensation, you know mould is going to follow, and fast.

Closet with water heater

There is going to be a small amount of moisture damage surrounding the water heater, however if the dry wall is soft in that room, there may be a chance of a larger moisture problem elsewhere in the property.

Sniff out the smell!

Keep your nose open to a musty smell. This is one of the first tail signs that a property is suffering from damp, even if you can’t see it.

The best way to ensure your property is completely clear from damp is to call in a surveyor to check the property for you. If damp is found, contact the vendor and negotiate the price. If the damage is minimal you could potentially cure the damp conditions yourself, however always consult a professional if you are not sure.

If you think there is an elevated issue or structural risks associated with the property you are intending to buy, you can commission a RICS Home Buyer’s Report to identify problems and look at a range of solutions. 

Rising Damp

If you are buying a property, the major issues such as rising and penetrating damp need to identified and dealt with.

Rising damp is the most common form of major damp, and is caused by moisture rising up through the walls and salts being deposited on internal fixtures, fittings and decorations. Although it’s common, it’s relatively easy to misdiagnose and it’s best to have a professional inspect the property before employing any fixes.

Penetrating Damp

Roof problems on a property can also be to blame for penetrating damp – problems with tiles, guttering or chimney abutments are relatively easy to spot but can be expensive to fix so it’s worth knowing about them as soon as you possibly can.

Condensation is another form of damp which can be easy to spot. The one good thing about excess condensation is that it’s usually caused by existing occupants - if you are buying the property make sure you spot areas to improve including where to install extra ventilation and how to remove vegetation from outside walls.


Quite often, employing an expert damp proofing specialist to sort out the issues is more than enough. Injecting a chemical damp proof course and re-plastering and painting the walls is quick and generally affordable. Here at Permagard we are more than happy to advise you on the best solution for your home.

Read our guide to How to Get Rid of Damp for more information on identifying damp or browse our damp proofing productsContact us today for more information and assistance.