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Flood issues for older properties

2020 can only described as wet so far. Storm Dennis brought floods to many across the UK which resulted in damage to many homes. We have been busy answering client concerns about water damage over the last few weeks and it saddens us that many are being given inaccurate recommendations by both their insurance companies and tradespeople. Recommendations that will only lead to major damp problems in the future.

The good news for those of you living in a solid walled property (usually built before 1930), is that any moisture issues arising from the recent wet weather can be remedied in a durable way that will ensure your property can deal with any future weather issues.

‘Breathability’ is the key word to remember when remedying any damp issues in your older property. A solid walled construction must allow water to escape via the external face. Modern damp proofing techniques and building methods generally concentrate on stopping moisture from getting into a building however by doing this they don’t allow moisture to escape which can lead to damp issues. If said modern materials are put onto a wall that hasn’t fully dried out, the bricks, mortar and timber will rot or erode.

So what should you be doing?

Using the correct materials and methods is essential. The only way to allow moisture to be released from a wall, is by the use of traditional materials. In contrast to cement based products, lime is permeable and will allow moisture to travel through, and out of walls, eliminating damp issues and creating a healthy environment.

If you are in a position where an insurance company has appointed a loss adjuster and recovery contractor, be sure to insist of someone who has experience of historic properties. This will help to ensure that no preliminary work is carried out that could be detrimental and that repair work is sympathetic to the age of your property

The use of a heater may be recommended to you, however these will only dry the external face of the walls and timbers. Depending on the extent of the damage and thickness of the walls, it could take up to 12 months for a wall to fully dry out and unfortunately it’s difficult to ascertain where any damp pockets may remain.

If you are lucky enough to have lime plaster and render in your property, ensure that this is not removed. If you don’t have lime, then use this as an opportunity to reinstate appropriate materials and future proof your property.

For detailed advice on flooding in older homes, take a look at Historic England’s useful guide:

It is also advised to contact your local conservation officer who will be able to offer suitable guidance and may even be able to point you in the direction of reliable contractors.

If you would like more advice on how to address damp issues contact us at

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