Damp proof Courses and Modern Property

Who are we?

Our independent surveyors offer Building Surveys also known as Structural Surveys and Home Buyers Reports. Our surveyors also carry out Specific Defects Reports (often known as Engineers Reports or Damp Reports) for things such as dampness, cracking, etc.

We can also carry out Independent Valuations. Note these are not for bank lending but are to advise you how much we feel the property is really worth. If you have a property problem we may even already have written an article on it and we would refer you to the many articles we have on our website. All our independent surveyors are more than happy to chat to you about your property.

Please Free Phone us on 0800 298 5424 and surveyor will call you back.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

If we were to be asked yes or no does a modern property need a Damp Proof Course?

With a modern property we mean after the war and we are assuming a cavity wall construction also known as a stretcher bond construction.

Our answer would be yes however we are getting involved in more problems in relation to damp problems in modern properties so we thought we would tell you a bit more about them in this article.

You would have thought after a few hundred years of building properties we would manage to be able to build them and make sure they are dry

We seem to be involved in an increasing number of technical problems on new work. This maybe because the traditional tradesman is disappearing and we seem to have what we can best describe as advanced DIYers in many cases doing things far beyond what they should be doing.

Changes in how the local authority surveyors monitor the buildings we think will lead to problems

In years gone the builders have been kept in check to some extent by local building control surveyors who knew the local builders however with the development of private building control surveyors who work nationally all over the country there is no longer the same sort of local knowledge which we think will lead to problems.

How does building control and dampness in buildings work?

The building control department via their surveyors sets out the minimum standards that you should build to which are within the building regulations and the building regulations approved documents. The builders have no choice about these minimum standards however they still get it wrong.

Damp Proof Courses too low

The green line represents the damp proof course that's to low


A close up of the damp proof course that's to low

As far as we are aware and for as long as we can remember a damp proof course was approximately six inches or 150mm or two bricks or one big stone above ground level. If it is not then there is a danger of problems occurring relating to dampness. We have very recently come across two brand new properties where the damp proof course has been too low. On one of them it was at ground level and on the other it was one brick above ground level. In both cases we are well aware that what has happened is that the house has been built correctly and then for whatever reason landscaping around it has not been carried out correctly. For example in one case we found French drains.


Damp Proof Course at the right height that is still causing problems

We have also seen problems occur where a damp proof course is of the right height but due to the paving being right up to the building we think there will be problems in years to come.

Damp proof course at the right height

If you look closer you can see that the joints are starting to be washed away by the rain where it's bouncing off the pavement beneath

Tarmac driveway to high so damp proof course too low

The second case we want to bring to your attention is a perfect example of where building control approval has been given but it still doesn't make it correct. The house is built on a slight sloping site (not as sloping as shown in the sketch!) and there's a tarmac drive next to it. Due to lack of coordination or site management or simply no one caring the tarmac drive is above the damp proof course in most areas, in other areas it will simply tip any rain water against the building.

The damp proof course is actually below ground level on the photo you are looking at

Damp proof course re-appearing above the tarmac drive

Even at best you only have two courses between the ground and the damp proof course.

In days gone by we used to use the French Drain

A French drain is simply where we dig down by the side of the property and put a pebble dash stone that allows the water to get away quicker. Ideally there should be a pipe at the bottom that is perforated. We were pleased to see one on a building recently that had some problems however when we dug it out we discovered that the French drain was for show only.






A French Drain being dug out

Nothing there


So we decided to dig deeper

With some French drains we barely had to scratch the surface to discover that these French drains were for show only! The green line represents the damp proof course and the airbrick is practically underground

The above photos show French drains being used as little more than decoration.

Eyes wide open, don't take anything for granted

There is a phrase that we come across quite a lot which is don't assume anything. This is so true of the building industry. We have given you a few examples regarding some very simple things to be going very wrong in modern property construction.

If you would like us to look at anything you have like this or a similar problem you don't know the answer to we would be more than happy to come and have a look.

Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.

Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at www.DilapsHelp.com and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site www.DisputesHelp.com.

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the website are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.

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We would refer you to other interesting articles on our website:

Do you need a Damp Proof Course in an older property?

Damp Proof Courses what are these for?

Why have one of our surveys?