The chances are that your home insurance does not cover the potential risk of rising damp in the home. This is because, when signing your policy, you will have agreed to a list of assumptions that your property is in a ‘good condition’.
If your property does suffer from rising damp, it is therefore deemed not to be in a good condition, though you should check what your policy states a good condition is. Furthermore, if you fail to disclose this before taking out home insurance, there is the potential for the policy to be null and void with the insurer invalidating the agreement.
It is for this reason why we strongly recommend that anyone seeks a property survey to be carried out by damp proofing specialists to assess the condition of the home and advise of any work that needs to be carried out. This can potentially save on expensive, as well as invasive, repair works further down the road that would not be covered by your home insurance.
In order to be able to claim the costs of repairs on your insurance policy, the damage must be as a result of a definable event. Rising damp, as a result of a defect in the property – either structurally or otherwise – that is not of the direct result of a single event, will not be covered.
Rising damp is likely caused by damage to the Damp Proof Course (DPC), with cracks in the membrane, slate bed or other DPC material allowing for moisture to rise through the materials of the wall which, eventually, leads to damp spots in the home. Such damage is likely to occur over many years.
A definable event is when you can pinpoint the cause of damage to one specific event, such as a storm compromising the structure of the property, directly resulting in a leak. When damp results from a leak due to a reason such as this, that is classed as a definable event that you should be able to claim on your home insurance cover.
Of course, all policies vary so it is best to check your own individual policy’s terms and conditions to check as to whether you can claim the cost of damage on your home insurance.
Just like a new car, you wouldn’t commit to buying unless the proper checks and precautions had been taken to ensure that what you are buying is good value for money. A home is likely to be the most expensive thing that you will buy, which is why a property survey is essential, as it can save you a world of pain further down the road.
Until the point of exchange, you are not legally bound to purchase the property even if you have had an offer agreed in principle, as this will be Subject to Contract (STC). This means that if a survey was to come back and highlight issues that you were either completely unaware of or did not know the full extent of, you can still choose to back out. Alternatively, you can also total up the costs of any required repairs based on quotations and use that to renegotiate the asking price, freeing up funds to repair the damages that you are taking on.
If the seller is unwilling, or simply unable, to lower the asking price, then the cost of damages could mean that the real price of the property is out of your budget. Without a property survey, you can easily end up taking on much more than you bargained for, potentially resulting in unmanageable debt.
Damp is the most common issue picked up by surveyors when conducting a property survey and while the majority of cases require routine repair jobs, damages to the structure of the home, potentially resulting in rising damp – as well as wet and dry rot – can be expensive and time-consuming.
If your home is suffering as a result of rising damp, then do not panic yet as it is likely to be an easy fix for damp proofing specialists such as those found working for Garratt’s Damp & Timber, who can come out to inspect the property and problem areas. Most cases of rising damp are a result of a default in the DPC, which can usually be fixed through an injection into the mortar bed of brickwork to prevent the migration of ground water up through the pores of mortar. Rising damp that has occurred will bring ground salts up that reside in the plaster, such salts can absorb internal water vapour and as such, it is common practice to remove the contaminated plaster and replace it.
Equally, if the reason behind the weakening of the DPC cannot be put down to the ageing of materials alone, the team can work to rectify any issues that compromise the DPC. These include:
If any of the above is the root cause of rising damp stemming from a compromised DPC, the issue will only continue to rear its head again and again unless it has been rectified. Treating the symptom and not the issue itself can, and likely will, lead to costly repairs in the long-run, none of which would be claimable on your home insurance cover.
Even if you are looking to claim for damp proofing as a preventative measure, you cannot claim this on your home insurance as, for the same reasons outlined above, there is no definable event that has caused damage to the property. As a rule of thumb, your house or building insurance does not cover damp problems of this kind. The costs of any work will be the responsibility of the homeowner to finance.
For more information on how to deal with suspected rising damp in your home, please call the team at Garratt’s Damp & Timber directly on 0208 535 7536 for a free survey. Alternatively, you can also reach us by sending us a message via our contact page here and we will get back to you as soon as we can.