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07th July 2015

Rising damp in your house?  I doubt it!  Traditionally built houses were inherently dry ! Its only misguided building practices and a lack of maintenance that causes problems.

Some people just go to Uni and decide what they want to do.  Others follow their nose - they try this, and try that - an experience here, a disaster there - and finally they find their feet. 

I'm writing this first blog for Mike, seeing as he's currently living in a Tipi, and renovating a timber frame whilst he's on the SPAB working week on a farm somewhere.  They're all frantically Tweeting about what a great time they are having, so no doubt when he returns, all we will hear about is new ways of looking after old timber frames.  It's how we all learn - by doing it - by getting dirty and making mistakes. 

Mike started with us after 'meeting' me on a linked-in forum.  We were all having a go at the 'damp wallies' that seem to infest the British property scene.  I just call them wallies - Mike, to give him credit, was carefully questioning them.  He asks a very carefully worded, and pertinent question and waits...  and listens to the meaningless drivel that comes back.  Carefully, bit by bit, he built his case against the damp industry.  I think his favourite question was "Please can somebody give me ONE well documented case of Rising Damp?"  Over a period of some three years, not one case ever appeared.  Plenty of diversionary tactics, blogs that appeared all over the place purporting to be from 'experts' in various forms of damp proofing - but never that elusive answer he was looking for.  Lots of International friends joined the hunt - well respected folk in the United States, who roll about laughing at the mention of 'Rising Damp' - together with well informed English surveyors, and some heavyweight support from the Scottish conservation scene.

The plot thickened - and Mike started experimenting - taking samples, buying test equipment, getting a thermal imaging camera - now he's even got a £1000 thermo hygrometer.  Now this chap, with all this equipment is positively dangerous when it comes to the Property Care Association, and their claims of Rising Damp... He takes samples - he takes photos, he digs, he scrapes, he measures - and still the elusive Rising Damp never appears...  He leaves behind him a trail of happy clients - relieved to find they don't have to spend thousands tanking their walls with toxic sludge, but probably need to get a new fan for the bathroom. 

In his spare time, he has a boat.  It's well travelled.  It's one of these things that has a sail - I think he even knows how to make the thing go places just by flapping the sail - I'd want a nice big shiny diesel engine linked to my on board navigation computer - but Mike's one of these chaps who stares at the stars, sucks his finger, and yanks the tiller... 

And he drinks lots of the New House cider !



About the author

Michael has had a varied career in the construction industry, spanning 35 years as a  roofer, builder, carpenter & joiner, before studying building surveying, conservation and building pathology.  He lives in Kent on his 1936 traditionally rigged (gaff, ketch) yacht.

More about Michael

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