Your queries answered
Q The house next door to me is a rented property which is very damp. I had my house damp-proofed 20 years ago but now the damp from my neighbour’s hall is coming into my hall. Can you advise what steps I should take to resolve this?
A First, it will be necessary to build up a picture of the full extent of the problem you are experiencing. A number of questions must be considered. For example, where is the damp and what form does it take?
You mention that it is in your hall – is it near the door or it is it coming from the roof? What is the party wall in the hall made of?
What type of roof is there and is there a chimney nearby? Is there a basement or a bathroom on your neighbour’s side or any other adjoining external structures that may lead to damp in your property?
Answering these questions will help you to identify possible sources of the dampness.
I would also be interested to know why your house was damp-proofed 20 years ago – was there a similar issue then and if so, what remedy was employed?
Much information needs to be gathered to identify the cause and mechanisms of the problem, before a reliable decision on the remedy can be made.
Generally speaking, the main causes of dampness are water penetration through walls, windows and roofs; rising dampness from ground level; leaks from pipes and drains; and condensation.
Moisture can travel a long way inside a structure where building materials act as a wick – drawing water to areas where it can evaporate. If you notice staining in one spot, it doesn’t always mean the source of the leak is close by.
Initially, a visual examination is necessary and this can involve a basic sketch of the party wall and adjoining constructions, floors and roofs; looking for obvious causes. Depending on the findings, further investigations may be necessary.
I would recommend speaking with your neighbours to check if they are experiencing similar problems. I would also contact the landlord of the house to explain the situation. I would expect that they will be reasonable about this.
If they are not forthcoming, it is worth noting that there is legislation concerning inspection/works to party structures contained within the Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 – but that would be a last option.
In any case, I recommend that you seek professional advice to eliminate the possibility of the dampness arising from your own house (ie a leak) and then seek to reach an agreement with the landlord of the neighbouring house if it is likely the damp is arising from there.
You should also discuss this with your insurance company or broker.
Jim Drew is a chartered building surveyor and member of the western region of Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland ( scsi.ie)
Q I rented out my home for the first time about six months ago, as I moved abroad, and let the property myself to a single tenant before leaving. I noticed that the rent stopped coming in last month and I phoned the tenant who said that she was sorry but couldn’t afford the rent any more and had to move out.