Listed building survey findings in Surrey. Poor damp treatment advice from the banks surveyor.
We carried out a listed building survey of a property in Surrey recently and felt that it was worthy of discussion. Not because of its unique history or design, the property is Grade II* listed, designed by Lutyens who was commissioned to design a house for Miss Jekyll’s Swiss Head Gardener. Much of the original fabric and character has been kept relatively untouched. Works undertaken by the owners has been exceptional using traditional, breathable materials throughout. A true dedication for perfection and preserving a piece of British History.
But all of that aside, prior to surveying we were informed that the mortgage surveyor had highlighted beetle activity in the loft space that would require chemical treatments within the first 3 months of ownership. A common recommendation given by ill informed surveyors giving poor recommendations. Firstly, the building is listed, so any material change, and treatment will require listed building consent, which will never be agreed. Secondly, Dr Brian Ridout – who writes in the English Heritage book – Timber Decay in Buildings – says that timber treatment is never needed and if timber is dry it, i.e., below 16% moisture content, beetle activity cannot survive.
What is particularly concerning is that this type of poor advice and recommendations destroys the character and performance of our historic buildings. These changes are often irreversible and come at a significant cost, both in the short term through unneeded chemicals, but also, long term as these changes can be highlighted when the property is sold as non-lawful changes.
We give clear advice to our clients on our building surveys. Follow the advice of Historic England and BS7913. Do not use chemicals or miracle cures in your property. If the timber is dry, it will not need any form of treatment. If damp, then find the cause and deal with that and you will solve the problem.
For further advice please feel free to contact us.