Buying or selling a house with dry rot can be a big challenge for both the buyer and seller. In comparison to wet rot, dry rot is more dangerous. It is a type of fungi that spreads rapidly without showing any signs of damage.
If you are trying to sell a house with dry rot, it would be a smarter idea to treat dry rot to a certain level at least, before you put up the house for sale. If you live in a place where dry rot is a common problem, it is highly advised that you get your home inspected professionally before putting it up for sale.
You might think that it is not essential to treat dry rot before selling the house; however, it can leave a significant impact on its selling price. If a buyer detects dry rot, you will likely get a lower price for your house in comparison to the amount you pay for treatment. If dry rot is mostly on the surface of the wood and has not penetrated deep into the wood or not caused any structural damage to the house, then the chances are that you will have to pay less for treatment.
Sometimes, dry rot treatment can be simple as cleaning rot where you only need wood treatment along with a fresh coat of wood paint. In such a case, you would only spend a few hundred pounds maybe, but you will probably gain thousands of pounds on your property’s value.
As a buyer, you would have to keep your eyes open and be well aware of how you should inspect dry rot. You might not take dry rot seriously before purchasing the house, but after purchasing, it would be on your shoulders solely to treat dry rot if you do not want to deal with further structural damage.
At Hitch Property Constructions, we offer timber repairs work from simple timber repair to almost new structures, renovations, and extensions.
What Causes Dry Rot?
Dry rot spores are present in the majority of homes but will remain completely harmless until the spores come in contact with both moisture and timber. Dry rot is caused when a lack of ventilation combined with dampness provide the ideal conditions for fungal attack. It tends to grow in places people don’t look such as under floorboards and in lofts which often allows the outbreak to go unnoticed and cause significant timber damage.
Dry Rot Life Cycle
The spores will begin to grow when in contact with timber and moisture and produce fine white strands (similar to cobwebs) known as hyphae. Hyphae allow the dry rot fungus to feed on the timber, leading to the timber losing its strength and eventually becoming structurally unsound. Eventually, the hyphae will run out of timber to feed on, so it grows into cotton wool-like mass known as mycelium. Mycelium will spread a considerable distance in search of new timber to feed on, meaning a dry rot outbreak is capable of spreading all over a building, attacking and feeding on timber in the process. Fungi is best suited to dark and damp areas with little to no breeze. When these conditions change, the dry rot’s survival is threatened, and its natural reaction is to create a “fruiting body” or sporophore. This pumps dry rot spores back into the atmosphere, searching for new areas where dry rot can grow, and the process starts all over again.
Dry Rot Impact on Buying/Selling a House
If dry rot is left untreated, it will be allowed to spread all over a property and therefore, to make the treatment process even more expensive. It is this expensive treatment that is often a deal-breaker for potential home buyers, so it is crucial not to ignore any signs of dry rot in your property. It is not just the treatment cost that will deduct the property’s value but also the time and effort the buyer will have to go to deal with the dry rot outbreak. If you suspect a dry rot outbreak in your home, don’t hesitate to contact a professionally trained surveyor who will either put your mind at ease or recommend a treatment plan tailored to your property.
Bought A House With Problems Not Disclosed
After the upheaval of moving home, your focus will be on settling in – the last thing you need from your new house is an unpleasant surprise. Unfortunately, sometimes a buyer will discover an expected problem with the property, which should have been disclosed by the seller. But what can they do about it?
The onus is on the buyer to fully investigate a property. However, during conveyancing – that’s the legal process of selling and buying a home – the seller will be asked various questions about the state of their property which they must answer honestly. If they don’t, they can be sued for compensation under The Misrepresentations Act.
The property information form that a seller will fill out covers a wide range of issues. A seller’s responses must be full and truthful – they can refuse to answer a question, but that should make the buyer’s suspicious and cause them to rethink the purchase. The duty to be truthful extends beyond this form to all communications with the seller whether they’re in person or through a solicitor or estate agent.
Equally, sellers should not hide or cover potential problems with a property, such as large cracks or evidence of damp, that might prevent a buyer or surveyor discovering them.
Commissioning a survey
In addition to a thorough conveyancing process, many buyers also commission a survey. This involves a qualified chartered surveyor inspecting a property for defects and potential problems. You can choose how comprehensive the survey is, and some give an overview of the condition of a home others take a detailed look at the structure. Not only do they provide extra peace of mind, but you can also go back to the surveyor and seek compensation if they have missed a major fault.
Discovering an undisclosed problem
When you buy a home, you are likely to discover lots of small snags that you’ll want to fix – a dripping tap, a sticky window and so on. If you are in a new build home, the developer should return to resolve this kind of issue. Otherwise, these aren’t the kind of problems you would go back to a buyer for.
However, undisclosed problems that could have an impact on the value of a home are. These include:
- Disputes with neighbours.
- Planned development in the area that could affect a property.
- Damp or dry rot.
- Structural defects.
- The presence of Japanese Knotweed, a fast-growing and very damaging plant.
- Works that do not have planning permission.
Seeking compensation from the seller.
Whether the misrepresentation was fraudulent (the seller lied on purpose), negligent (they didn’t take enough care to provide the right information) or innocent (they believed they were telling the truth), you can take action if you discover this kind of issue.
As a buyer, you will have to show:
- The misrepresentation is a fact and not your opinion.
- The information influenced your decision to buy the home.
- The information was false at the time contracts were signed.
- You have suffered loss because of it.
If a defect emerges between exchange of contracts and completion, the buyer can refuse to go through with the sale, request a reduction in the price of the house or ask for damages to be paid.
Often it takes living in a home to find out a problem such as a difficult neighbour or that planning permission hasn’t been granted for an extension. Initially, you should talk through the problem with a property solicitor to establish whether you have a case. You usually have six years from buying a home to start proceedings.
If the dispute is settled in your favour, you will be awarded damages. This may equal the difference between the value of the home when you bought it and the true value once the defect has been taken into account. Depending on the issue, this can run into thousands of pounds.
It’s also possible to rescind the contract altogether, particularly in fraudulent cases, which would mean the seller buys their home back for the amount you paid. However, this has a wider impact, especially if your purchase was part of a chain, that often makes it too complicated to carry out.
Check out our range of timber repairs Melbourne at Hitch Property Constructions.
Selling with peace of mind.
If you’re selling a home and are unsure of some information relating to it – perhaps work was done years before you owned it, and you do not have the relevant documentation – you can protect yourself with indemnity insurance which your conveyancer can help you buy.
You could also consider selling your home to us. We buy homes of all shapes and sizes and in various conditions. We will organise and pay for any valuations we need, once we’ve finalised a price with you, we won’t go back on that.
A few signs that might help you detect dry rot:
- Pungent smell
- Puckered wood or bumpy wood
- Soft or spongy wood
- Wood cracks
- Paint cracks or chipping
- Wood discolouration
If you see any of these signs, make sure that you inspect it further by poking the wood with a screwdriver or a knife.
However, if you are purchasing a house where dry rot is a common problem, it is advised that you take a professional with you so that there is no chance of missing any sign of dry rot. An expert will not only investigate dry rot, but he/she will also tell you about the scale of damage. Getting a professional’s help is a smarter idea than trying to investigate dry rot by yourself because detecting it requires experience.
In case you have already bought a home, and found dry rot in it, then hiring a professional to investigate dry rot should be your top priority. After investigation, make sure that you get dry rot treated at earliest to stop it from spreading and causing devastating damages to property.
What Is Dry-Rot And How Do I Choose A Dry-Rot Expert?
These are two questions we are frequently asked by clients who are worried they may have a problem with the dreaded dry-rot timber decay at their property. And worried they should be, because dry-rot is the most insidious and destructive type of decay that can affect both domestic and commercial buildings, of any age. The majority of the fungal attack is often hidden, as it spreads under timber floor voids, behind panelling, joinery timbers and wall plaster. Given the right conditions, it can grow very rapidly and cause thousands of pounds’ worth of structural damage in a very short time, destroying all untreated wood on its way in search of wood. To add to the problem, the remedial work is also disruptive, and complex so it should only be carried out by experts who are qualified and specialise in dry-rot eradication.
What causes dry-rot?
Like all wood destroying fungal attacks, dry-rot needs moisture to germinate and grow. Usually, the moisture has been brought about by a building fault or plumbing leak, which has made the concealed timbers wet, creating the perfect conditions, especially if the ventilation is also limited. Dry-rot spores can’t germinate on timber with moisture content less than 20%, so it is very important to ensure your property isn’t damp because a dry property is a safe property.
How can I recognise dry-rot?
Like most serious problems, you often don’t have to be an expert to know that something is not right. The first sign of a problem is maybe noticing something unusual happening, such as your furniture constantly being covered by a fine rust/red dust or a constant smell of mushrooms. Alternatively, you may have noticed that your floor is bouncing or the skirting boards have cracked. Occasionally a fleshy white and red mushroom type fungus called a fruiting body will appear, if it does, it’s a clear indication that the attack is virulent and advanced.
Can I treat dry-rot myself?
Dry-rot is far too serious a problem to try and eradicate yourself and should only ever be dealt with by a qualified dry-rot company. Because the mycelium is capable of growing through the masonry in search of its food source, timber, it needs to be carefully traced to find the full extent of the attack. The plaster will have to be removed, and the complete exposed areas then need to be thoroughly treated with a fungicidal masonry solution. The unaffected timbers have to be treated, using a high-performance preservative, before replacing the affected timbers with pre-treated timber. The walls are then re-plastered using a specialist re-plastering system.
We have a wide range of Melbourne timber repairs for your home renovations. Check out Hitch Property Constructions.
How Wood Rot Destroys Home Sale Values
Wood rot is a serious problem to be faced with if you are selling your home in Johnson County. If you’re in this boat, you’re not alone – approximately 20 billion board feet of timber are destroyed by wood rot in the United States each year– for more than is damaged annually by fire! Replacement wood used to repair damage caused by wood rot accounts for almost 10 per cent of the annual wood production in the U.S. alone.
That’s a lot of wood. And often a driver for finally getting wood rot replaced is the pending sale of a home. Wood rot scares buyers & wood rot destroys home sale values. It can be a sign of really bad things to come for the rest of a home’s exterior. A basic principle in real estate transactions is that the buyer is expected to perform their due diligence. This would include having a property inspected. If the buyer’s inspection finds problems, the buyer can terminate his purchase offer or try to negotiate with you to pay their repairs. By the time you’re at this stage, you don’t want to start over. You may even end up conceding far more than the cost of the repairs themselves to keep the process moving or appease the buyer.
Deck SpackerWood rot isn’t just an issue for siding…a common source of dry rot is wood decks. Decks themselves should be made of either cedar, redwood, sunwood or pressure-treated lumber which all resist dry rot and wood rot. The deck should have at least a 1/2″ air gap between it and the siding that allows water to run down between. In Johnson County, code now is to have spacers installed between the ledger board and the siding which allows water to run off. Old decks have the ledger attached directly to the siding a lot of times and are a big place for wood rot. Older or DIY decks may not meet these standards, and buyers will take note. Windows and doors are also a prime location for dry rot due to improper flashing and caulking. They all should have drip flashing over the top edge and proper caulking around all edges. Where there is more than a 1/4″ gap, backer rod (flexible foam rope) should be laid into the gap and then sealed with high-quality silicone caulk. Wood rot is even becoming prevalent in homes built or remodelled in the past 20 years. A home’s price, location or type of siding doesn’t exempt it from damage. These are all things we take into account here at Neighborhood Painting when accessing your homes exterior surfaces, including decks before prep work begins.
If you are in the process of prepping your home to sell, make sure you don’t have any lingering wood rot issues. Even the sign of wood rot can decimate your sale value. Remember, you only have a few seconds to make a first impression, and a well-maintained exterior is the type of curb appeal that can add big $$$ to your bottom line!