A wet winter followed by a warm summer means ideal conditions for the growth of the Dry rot fungi. A poorly maintained property, where excess water is permitted to enter the fabric of the building through the wetter Months, sets up ideal conditions for germination and often abundant growth of wood rotting fungi through the warmer Summer Months.

The long, wet Winter of 2012/13 through into the exceptionally long warm Summer of 2013 has seen a drastic rise in Dry rot enquiries to The Preservation Company and here is why:

Dry rot needs 3 elements to grow: AIR / WATER / FOOD

Water ingress is one of the major factors in producing an environment ideal for growth. If we use timber as an example of food; the spores land on damp timber, feed off the timber and “rot” the wood,. This eventually over time results in the complete breakdown of the structure of the wood, which could be your first indication of a problem.

Dry rot spores are always present in the atmosphere and simply need to find the right environment for germination.

Reddish brown Dry Rot Spores

Germinating spores produce hyphae (strands).  Like roots, the hyphae strands grow and then colonise to produce mycelium growth as shown below.

Dry Rot – “cotton wool like” Mycelium

If one of the 3 elements is then removed (such as the water drying due to a long hot summer),the Dry Rot becomes “stressed” and produces a fruiting body (sporophore), which sheds its spores into the atmosphere in an attempt to reproduce and continue the lifecycle and growth of the Dry Rot fungi.

 Fruiting Body / Sporophore

The Dry Rot fungi (Serpula Lacrymans) – Lacrymans means weep or cry to reflect the tear like droplets sometimes found in severe cases. As the following picture, taken recently, beautifully illustrates

If you think you have any of the signs of Dry Rot the most important thing is to act quickly. Dry Rot favours dark, damp conditions and is thus often difficult to locate (under floors and within roof voids). However once discovered , it can be readily eradicated simply by taking better control of your home environment, repairing any building defects that have contributed to the outbreak and of course the specialist use of timber and masonry preservatives and appropriate re-instatement works.


Outside of Morris and Young Perth - Rot repairs

Leading Scottish accountancy firm, Morris & Young, is based at 6 Atholl Crescent, right in the centre of Perth. Known as ‘The Fair City’ since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Sir Walter Scott in 1828, Perth is notable for its architectural diversity and solid sense of history as it sprawls outwards from the banks of the River Tay.

Atholl Crescent is a prime location near the Perth Playhouse, Concert Hall, Black Watch Castle and of course the River Tay. A majestic curve of white Georgian three-storey terraced townhouses, the accountancy firm shares the street with the RSPB, the Citizens Advice Bureau and a Masonic Lodge. The Crescent was built between 1797 and 1803, and offers a fine example of this period’s best and most handsome traditional townhouses.

Around 18 months ago, the proprietors of the adjacent property notified the owners of No. 6 that there was a visible rot attack to the front right corner of the building, shared by both houses. Initial operations were undertaken to halt the progress of the rot, but an exploratory survey earlier this year revealed both wet and dry rot to joist and rafter ends at ground, first and second floor levels.

Typically of so many period properties, the damage had been caused over many years by rainwater ingress coming into contact with unprotected internal timbers and setting up ideal conditions to allow successful germination of wood-rotting fungi.

In a residential property, it is usually relatively easy to section off an affected area. It is also reasonably straightforward to request that the occupants reside elsewhere for the duration of the works. However, with almost 40 Morris & Young staff occupying the building, the partners were understandably loathed to vacate the premises.

Fortunately, after due consideration the majority of the staff members were rehoused in temporary alternative office accommodation, allowing us significantly more freedom.

Immediately we arranged removal of light fittings, electrical switches, wall mounted heaters and carpets. The servers for the property were positioned in the worst affected room so it was crucial that prior to any stripping-out works they were sectioned off with sealed partitioning.

Morris and Young Perth scaffolding going up to deal with rot attack

Scaffolding was erected to the front elevation of the property and we created a special opening access to ensure only a limited need to venture through to the rear of the property. In that way, all debris removals and timber replacements could be brought in and out using window openings and the scaffolding, thus minimising disruption to the few remaining accountancy staff.

Fixing the problem itself was a considerable challenge, especially as we had to take into account structural strengthening works carried out to the front elevation due to previous settlement. While removing, repairing and renewing all decayed timbers with sterilisation treatments, we had to make a considerable effort not to disturb the masonry. It was particularly important to ensure that all temporary supports were doubled and that only limited removal and re-instatement was carried out at any one time.

Inside of Morris and Young Perth rot attack     Inside of Morris and Young Perth temporary supports

We are delighted to report that the works are now complete and our clients are pleased that we worked perfectly to schedule – if not a little ahead – with minimal disruption. Taking advantage of the temporary relocation of most of their staff, Morris & Young have even decided to redecorate their offices as soon as we leave, so their employees will return to clean, fresh and most importantly safe surroundings.

If you’re concerned your commercial property needs some attention, contact us today to see how we might be able to help.

Inside of Morris and Young Perth internal plastering after rot repairs

So you’ve made the monumental decision to move house and you’re busy preparing for all the emotional and financial highs and lows that entails. You’ve found a buyer and you’ve set your heart on a perfect property in a desirable location. However you’re just a little concerned about the damp you’ve noticed on the kitchen ceiling and now your chartered surveyor or solicitor has picked up on possible timber defects that may require professional attention…

You’ve been referred to The Preservation Society for a specialist survey – what exactly can you expect to get for the pricey of a survey?

For a start you will benefit from our Managing Director Gavin White’s thirty solid years of experience in the building preservation industry. White holds CSRT status and Hidden Defects Insurance Auditor status – both qualifications cement The Preservation Company’s ability to fully assess properties and undertake a full property ‘Health Check’.

Gavin White

All initial survey requests will be carried out by one of our CSRT certified Surveyors within 24-72 hours. An average survey takes between 60 and 90 minutes and, unless we have been instructed otherwise, we feel we are only doing the client a true service if we examine all of the potential issues that may affect the property in the short, medium and long term.

Of course, the time spent surveying your property depends very much on the size and accessibility of the building; an empty house minus furniture or floor coverings is far more straightforward than a fully furnished premises!

Bespoke reports are sent out via email within 24 hours of survey completion and you can expect our findings to be highly detailed and several pages in length. Surveys include photographic evidence of any problems found and White’s professional advice as to whether or not any areas need further attention.

Should our survey uncover issues that require remedial treatment, The Preservation Company is of course well equipped to carry out that treatment.

Our team have specialised in preservation and repair for most of their working lives and combine over 100 years of experience and skill, so you can rest assured your property would be in excellent hands as we attend to any condensation, rising damp, penetrating damp or rot found during the survey.

In the event we are unable to treat a diagnosed problem, we have direct links to virtually all disciplines and will refer you to a specialist firm accordingly. As Gavin White explains, ‘Even if there is nothing that will benefit us directly in revenue terms, we want all clients to feel good about our service and professionalism.’

If you need a survey to be conducted as part of a home report, or you have recently discovered cause for concern within your existing property, why not contact us here – we provide surveys for both residential and commercial buildings and would be only too happy to give you the benefit of our expertise.

Homeowners beware: we are coming into what is known as “condensation season”!

Condensation is the most common form of dampness found in properties. It can lead to mould, peeling wallpaper and damage to fabrics, including curtains and the clothes hanging in your wardrobe. Damp can also provide a suitable breeding ground for house mites that, along with mould, can aggravate respiratory problems such as asthma. The effects of damp also leave the property cold and smelling distinctly musty.

Ultimately condensation can lead to wet rot which, although harmful, can be effectively eradicated if it is caught early on by an experienced specialist surveyor. However, wet rot can soon lead to the more serious condition of dry rot, which is easily one of the most significant, disruptive and expensive predicaments to affect a property.

Condensation in bathroom / shower room - The Preservation Company

Condensation occurs as a result of improved standards of insulation, double-glazing and draught-proofing. Although these treatments provide better heat retention, the resulting lack of ventilation introduces stale air and encourages moisture.

If condensation is an issue in your property, then a balanced heating and ventilation system is the key to preventing further problems. Here are some ‘common sense’ tips to reduce the chances of condensation damage:

  • In the kitchen keep the door closed while cooking, ensure lids cover pots of boiling water and use any ventilation means available, such as windows or extractor fans.
  • Around the house and especially in kitchens and bathrooms, keep window trickle ventilators open all year round. Open windows to remove excess humidity for as long as possible (not just for the initial period after cooking, showering or using a tumble dryer).
  • Never dry clothes on radiators.
  • Keep furniture away from close contact with external walls and eliminate general clutter from walls, wardrobes and under beds.

All types of property damp issues are potentially destructive and an incorrect diagnosis of rising damp – when it is in fact condensation – can be both expensive and disruptive.

We can offer a range of condensation solutions from advice in lowering humidity levels in the home through to recommendation of ventilation products.

Should you have any concerns, contact us today for a full property Health Check.