Jun 07

Here at Premier Heritage we have inspected many types of structures suffering with damp and wood rot over the years, but this was a first, the inspection of a large Motor Home.

We were called in to advise the owner on the type and causes of wood rot affecting the plywood timber decking forming the accommodation area of the motor home, this recently discovered during his routine ‘spring clean’ of the vehicle in preparation for use over the summer.

Motorhome with a wood rot problem

Motorhome with a wood rot problem














The obvious cause of the wet rot decay was due to the timbers contact with moisture, in part due to the poor detailing and water proofing of the structure beneath the vehicle and the sawn ends of the decking which are exposed within the side storage boxes.

Wet Rot affected timbers

Wet Rot affected timbers

Wet Rot in a side storage box

Wet Rot in a side storage box














We are pleased to confirm that with a bit of help from Premier Heritage the owner has now reached a satisfactory agreement with the suppliers / manufacturers of the vehicle and repairs / modifications are currently in hand.

What to do if you suspect Wet Rot in a motorhome / caravan

It is important to get any signs of wood rot checked out by a professional qualified surveyor  who will be able to diagnose the type of wood rot (Wet Rot, Dry Rot etc) and help advise the best cause of action to take.

Feb 28

There have been some recent events where there has been confusion and dispute over quotes/reports relating to damp and timber problems returning (or not properly rectified) after specialist contractors’ work to eliminate the problem. In many cases where the problem clearly has not been alleviated the Contractor has relied on the documentation signed at the time of the acceptance of the contract.

The following guidance should be considered by the householder (‘layperson’) should they be seeking specialists for damp and timber infestation problems.
Always ask for a survey and written report – these should describe the problems in full, give any instrument readings obtained and the methods to be used to effect a solution.
Always ask if the system being offered will cure the problem you have – always get this in writing and a full report before accepting any contract.
Always ask if there are other damp issues in your property which the system cannot rectify – get the answer in writing.
Always ask if there are any ancillary matters that are your responsibility in relation to the problems you are experiencing – if the answer is yes or even no then, again, get this clearly identified and confirmed in writing, whatever the case.
Never accept a quote only without a full report, especially if offered at the time of the visit.
Always read the report fully and any small print/guarantees and other information provided prior to accepting any work.
If you do not know the company or surveyor always ask that he is suitably qualified, – for example – one of the following qualifications CRDS, CTIS or CSRT. For waterproofing (‘tanking’) it is CSSW. These are all UK nationally recognised qualifications.
If you do not know any company then it is prudent to look for one that is a member of the Property Care Association (PCA) – member Surveyors have to be qualified as described above.
Always determine if the person visiting is simply  a SALESPERSON, say responding to your enquiry to an advertisement and just there to get a ‘quote’ or simply to sell a product/system (distinctly not advised), or is  PROPERLY TRAINED AND QUALIFIED to undertake specialist damp/timber surveys – if in doubt then ask for a specialist (qualified) from that company or select another company.
By considering the above guide, any person having specialist works undertaken will reduce the risks of dispute should one develop where the argument finally relates to the documents and contract.

Feb 23

There has been much ‘debate’ in recent years over the existence of rising damp in buildings. Indeed, there has even been a book written on the subject, “The Rising Damp Myth” in which the author claims exactly that – rising damp is a myth.

Rising damp

By definition a ‘myth’ is 1. Any fictitious story, or unscientific theory, belief, etc, and 2. Person or thing whose existence is fictional or unproven account.
As part of the introduction the author of ‘The Rising Damp Myth’ also states:
“For the fact is that rising damp is a mythical building defect, which only came to widespread prominence in the 1960s —-” and “The rising damp myth has become so powerful, and so deeply ingrained in the psyche of the construction professions, that to question it is to invite denial and even ridicule.”
So what about the truth?

Does it or does it not exist?

And do the claims made in the book ‘The Rising Damp Myth’ stand up to scrutiny or is the author simply just making it up?

To find out the truth read the independent review of “The Rising Damp Myth” and draw your own conclusions.

Download an independent Review of “The Rising Damp Myth”

Aug 18

At Premier Heritage we see many different kinds of damp proofing systems installed in properties. The document link below is to an independent review of a European system of damp proofing that we have  now seen being fitted into properties in the United Kingdom.

The document is a must read for fellow damp professionals as well as  members of the public considering the installation of a damp proofing system.

European Damp proofing system

A European damp proofing system


A Review of an Environmentally Driven Damp-Proofing System

Jun 15

Premier Heritage are proud to launch their new Property Problem Photo Library!

The photographs we have on display show a variety of insect infestations along with the culprits responsible for the damage, as well as wood rotting fungi and numerous types of dampness.

Premier Heritage Photographic LibraryEnvironmental conditions within a building, structural dampness and building defects all contribute to the causes of fungal decay and in some cases accelerated beetle infestation and to minimise the risk of timber decay and other problems good property maintenance is essential.

The photographs shown are for interest only and should you require guidance or advice on any particular concerns affecting your own property then please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss or arrange an independent survey of your property.

See also our building defects the maintenance section, showing photographs of a range of common building defects that are responsible for and or contribute to structural dampness and timber defects in properties.

To visit the photo library click on the Photos section on our navigation!

Jun 07

Powder Post Beetle Advice

It has become extremely popular over the past decade or so, to rip up those carpets, drive down to your local timber yard and purchase and lay that beautiful oak floor that you’ve always craved for!

Costs a lot of money, but hey………. it looks great, feels great and more importantly will last for years.

But hang on, what’s this…………. You start to notice little holes appearing in the floorboards, what can it be? Its woodworm, the little blighters have got into my new floor.

However the culprit in this particular case is unlikely to be your ordinary woodworm the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum) as generally found in domestic housing, as well as period and commercial buildings, but is more likely to be Lyctus Brunneus, otherwise known as the Powder Post Beetle.

Powder Post Beetle following emergence from oak floor boarding

Powder Post Beetle following emergence from oak floor boarding

Powder Post Beetles are insects that attack the sapwood of wide pored hardwoods such as Oak & Elm and over the last 10 years or so we at Premier Heritage have investigated numerous cases of this particular insect. It seems to be becoming more frequent with reported cases most commonly in flooring, but also identified in new furniture, as well as structural and decorative oak timbers introduced during new build construction.

Powder Post Beetles attack the sapwood that has a sufficient starch content (greater than 3%) and it is evident therefore that it is a very specialised insect indeed and has very specific requirements, especially in relation to starch. Indeed, it is the starch content of potentially susceptible hardwoods which make them prone to attack by the Powder Post Beetle.

It should however be noted that as wood ages the starch content declines (due to bacterial action) and therefore after around 10 years or so, the levels will have dropped so that infestation/activity is no longer possible.

Furthermore, given the special requirements of the insect it is not going to infest the existing old hardwood timbers (if any) or those softwoods found in housing.

Given the very special requirements of the insect and the wood it attacks (newly converted wide pored hardwoods with sufficient starch content), then your normal domestic house will not contain such timbers, except where they have been introduced to form a new hardwood floor.

Powder Post Beetle

Powder Post Beetle damage to a newly laid oak floor













It is also extremely unlikely that this insect will fly into your property where such susceptible timbers have just been laid, but almost inevitable the insect would have been introduced with wood already infected; this occurs where such wood may have been stored, i.e. timber yards, furniture manufacturers etc.

What to do if you find Powder Post Beetle in an oak floor

If you find woodworm in your new Oak floor what should you do?

• Well firstly the infestation needs to be correctly identified; incorrect identification could result in unnecessary chemical treatments being applied and as such the floor should therefore be inspected by a qualified Timber Infestation Surveyor (CTIS or CSRT).

• Having identified that the infestation is the Powder Post Beetle then it should be considered that the flooring materials would almost certainly have been infested prior to purchase and being laid in your property. You should therefore consider taking the following initial action.

Contact and advise the contractor who laid the floor (this is with whom your contract would normally be formed) or the suppliers of the timber, that the flooring is infected by woodworm and as such should be considered ‘defective’ and not of merchantable quality.

Powder Post Beetle frass and beetle emergence holes

Powder Post Beetle frass and beetle emergence holes













If the wood is of aesthetic value then it may be argued that the damage (holes) make it not fit for its purpose. If one examines the wood and finds elongated surface scoring then this indicates that the damage was present when the wood was sawn and planed, i.e., long before you bought and laid it in your property.
You should then consider the following actions:

1] Ask for the wood to be replaced as it was supplied defective.
2] If the damage is very minor (on a few sapwood edges), then you could consider using an ‘injector’ to apply a wood preservative into the holes and this could be an acceptable solution. Nevertheless, inform the supplier of the problem and it may be prudent to put them ‘on notice’ that if the infestation should worsen then you will expect them to take appropriate action over it.

Note: Do not chemically spray the entire floor! Most floors retain some form of stain or varnish that would limit chemical uptake. Also treatment in most cases, to be fully effective, rely on chemical being applied to both sides, which after the floor is laid won’t be possible, and clearly to lift the floor would be very expensive, and almost certainly cause irreversible damage.
Finally, don’t let the supplier of the timber fob you off with the ……”It’s nothing to do with us mate – you’ve got woodworm”. Yes you have, but inevitably this insect was brought in to your home with the new hardwood, and it is therefore certainly the supplier’s problem.

Jan 13

Premier Heritage has recently completed timber and damp surveys of the Victorian canopies over the platforms at 2 of the busiest railway stations on the main line linking London with the West Country.

Platform 3 at Salisbury Station that has recently been given listed status by English Heritage.

Platform 3 at Salisbury Station that has recently been given listed status by English Heritage.

These structures which date back as far as the 1830’s provide weather protection for the main platforms and waiting passengers, and are supported on a series of cast iron stanchions and steel trusses. The structural timbers forming the canopies are of pine and underclad with tongue and grooved pine boarding.

One of the complicated Salisbury roof trusses on platforms 2 & 3.

One of the complicated Salisbury roof trusses on platforms 2 & 3.

Planned maintenance and proposed new roof coverings called for a full condition survey of the structural timbers to be undertaken.  This would determine any timbers that required repair or replacement as a consequence of timber decay, resulting from water ingress / damp penetration, but more importantly would also determine any timbers that were considered at risk, so as to allow preventative works to be undertaken, along with any targeted timber treatments.

The underside of Platform 1 at Basingstoke Station.

The underside of Platform 1 at Basingstoke Station.













The surveys included conventional techniques along with full moisture assessment of structural and other timbers and also included the use of the Micro Probe used for the non destructive investigation of concealed timbers. (For more information on the Micro Probe and to see it in action click here)

Moisture assessment of one of the main supporting timbers.

Moisture assessment of one of the main supporting timbers.













On completion of the surveys (which were carried out over a three month period) detailed reports were provided outlining the extent and areas of required repair and any other maintenance issues required to prolong the life of the canopies.

The underside of platforms 2 & 3 Salisbury Station.

The underside of platforms 2 & 3 Salisbury Station.

Dec 23
As Britain comes to a grinding halt as a consequence of the winter conditions and heavy snow fall, many of Britain’s home owners may well be at increased risk to the effects of dampness, that caused by condensation, one of the most common causes of dampness in buildings today and one that is often mis-diagnosed.
Typical Condensation beads of water and steamed up window glazing.

Typical Condensation beads of water and steamed up window glazing.

Condensation is normally associated with mould growth, and it is this that gives an idea of the potential scale of the problem. In many cases it is the mould that gives rise to the ‘musty’ odour frequently associated with a damp house.
Surface mould growth on walls and ceiling

Surface mould growth on walls and ceiling

Double glazing and improved insulation increases the risks of condensation, in some cases without adequate ventilation the building can become hermetically sealed!
Condensation (beads of water) forming under window.

Condensation (beads of water) forming under window.













The advice given below can go someway forward to helping with the control of condensation and mould problems.

The Control of Condensation

The control of condensation is based on two very simple primary measures, supported by a number of secondary measures.

Primary Measures

1. Improve Ventilation.

Condensation mould generally occurs in areas where the walls are obstructed by furniture and other stored effects.

By improving general ventilation this will sweep away the internal moisture-laden air and replace it with drier air from the outside (yes, the external air is drier than internal air most of the year!)

Use mechanical extractors and ventilation (where fitted) and keep bathroom and kitchen doors closed during use to prevent moisture movement to other parts of the house.

2. Improved Heating.

Coupled with ventilation, heating should be set or applied to give a low-level background heat. This will ensure no rapid changes to the environment, and will facilitate slight warming of wall surfaces over a period of time, thus reducing the risk of condensation.

Secondary Measures

  • Remove excess sources of moisture – avoid drying clothes inside the house and the use of liquid gas and paraffin heaters.
  • Insulate cold surfaces.
  • Prevent other sources of water ingress and penetration.
  • Install dehumidifiers, these can remove excess moisture from the air.
  • In areas of continued risk to mould, wash down walls with mould / fungicidal washes and redecorate using specialist Anti-mould paints.

Further condensation advice on the control of condensation can be found in our condensation advice leaflet. Click here to download our condensation advice leaflet.

Please note that the advice given above is given in good faith and does not constitute a specification for the control of condensation, if further advice or a survey is required please contact our office.

Oct 26

Premier Heritage has recently completed a timber condition and defect survey of historic Worsley Court House in Salford, Manchester close to the Bridgwater Canal.

Worsley Court House was constructed on the site of the old village stocks and completed in early 1849, soon after on the 4th August the first court hearing was held where two local men were accused of fishing on the Bridgwater Canal and on the private fishing ponds of the Earl of Ellesmere. They were apparently found in the possession of a large eel and a 6lb carp, with one of the men found guilty and allegedly fined two pounds, a lot of money in those days!

Although operating as a Court until 1908, the building has been used in many ways over the years and has served as the Town Hall, as well as being used for public functions, dances and concerts, in some way fulfilling the function of the village hall. In 1973 it was purchased by the Salford District Council and is now a distinguished venue for weddings, public meetings and other private functions.

Despite its traditional external black and white timber framing and decorative gabled walls the Court House is a purely Victorian building with lavish internally panelled walls and a huge fireplace.

The building, which is now Grade II Listed,  has been extensively extended over the years with numerous wings being added, however like many buildings of its age and construction it is vulnerable to the affects weathering and dampness and over the past decade or so; various structural timbers have had to be replaced due to fungal decay.

Premier have undertaken a detailed survey of the timber framing, which included the use of the Micro Drilling system and well as conventional survey techniques to advise on the on incidence to timber decay and future repair strategies.

Front entrance to the Worsley Court House

Front entrance to the Worsley Court House


Non destructive detection of timber decay

Non destructive detection of timber decay

More conventional decay detection of a corner post

More conventional decay detection of a corner post

The timber panelled wall of the Oak room

The timber panelled wall of the Oak room

Closer inspection reveals wet rot decay to decorative timbers

Closer inspection reveals wet rot decay to decorative timbers

Oct 15

Paul Carter of Premier Heritage was delighted to be informed that he had won the recent photographic competition held by the Property Care Association (PCA). The PCA, which incorporates the British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association (BWPDA), had held a competition to find some of the most interesting photos from within the property care industry. The winning photograph taken by Paul, was one of two entered and shows what is commonly referred to as plaster fungus, it is however a specie of non wood rotting fungi called ‘Ink Cap Fungus’ (Coprinus spp), a fungi that develops on wet brickwork, plaster or timber.

‘Ink Cap’ fungus growing on the underside of timber lintel

‘Ink Cap’ fungus growing on the underside of a timber lintel

The winning photograph shows the fungi development on a large timber oak lintel.  Our other entry,  Peziza spp,  was taken in a fire damaged farmhouse that had been saturated as a consequence of extinguishing the fire and its continued exposure to the weather.

Peziza; plaster fungus development on saturated ceiling plaster

Peziza; plaster fungus development on saturated ceiling plaster

These pictures along with other entries can be seen in the current publication of the industry magazine ‘Property Care’.