Holey moley! The effects of woodworm

Woodworm is the generic term for a number of species of wood-boring insects. The insects lay their eggs on timber and their larvae bore through the wood thus damaging and weakening the structure. The larvae then pupate before emerging as adult beetles and flying off to lay eggs on fresh timber.

It is the emerging adult which leaves the tell-tale flight holes and bore-dust (often the first signs of infestation). The most common wood-boring insect infesting structural timbers in buildings in this country is the Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium punctatum).

Early identification of woodworm infestation often means that a surface treatment with water-based insecticide will kill-off any active infestation and have the residual effect of preventing any re-infestation. Any heavily infested and unsound timber may have to be replaced using structural repair methods.

There are also instances where chemical treatment is not necessary such as where infestation is by bark borer (Ernobius mollis) as this insect only feeds upon bark and outer sap rings and infestation dies out when bark is removed. Correct identification can, therefore, save property owners hundreds if not thousands of pounds in unnecessary treatments.


Dry rot - what are the tell tale signs?


Dry rot can cause extensive damage to the structure and fabric of a building and correct diagnosis and treatments are essential to ensure eradication.

The True Dry Rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans) is malignant and will even spread through masonry to find timber to attack. The term itself is a misnomer, however, it stems from the fungus  requiring a relatively low moisture content in timber to survive. Strands develop to form mycelial growth and fruiting bodies give off millions of spores of red dust (often the first sign of a concealed dry rot outbreak). The fungus itself will thrive in concealed areas and will usually start to appear on exposed surfaces when it has already caused extensive damage behind. Prior to mycelium (fern-like growths) and fruiting bodies (mushroom-like growths) appearing, more subtle signs such as warping of timber surfaces can be detected or, indeed, evidence of the damage already caused to structures such as cracking to walls and ceilings or excessive movement to floors.


Dry rot eradication involves removal and replacement of infected timber and sterilisation of surrounding structure with with biocide (as the fungus can lie dormant in masonry and attack fresh timber). remedial work can require significant disruption and exposure  and often incurs significant expense. This can be reduced by identifying the problem early, however, serious damage is still likely to have occurred. Where appropriate, the use of timber engineering epoxy resin repairs can limit disturbance and reduce costs. This method of repair is particularly beneficial where decayed bearing-ends of large section beams can be renewed insitu (the alternative being complete replacement of the entire beam).

It is essential that defects allowing the original source of moisture are addressed and the building is then maintained to guard against future moisture ingress.

Our surveyors are experts in dry rot diagnosis and our  reports will specify in detail the correct eradication measures to provide the most cost-effective solutions.





Would you trust this man to carry out your rising damp survey?

Rising damp is not as common as you may imagine and is frequently misdiagnosed for other problems (usually condensation or rainwater ingress). Unnecessary remedial works are often carried out by inexperienced/ unscrupulous contractors (characters not unlike Mr Rigsby below!)
Rising damp is a particular phenomenon where surface tension in the pores of masonry allows moisture to rise by capillary action (imagine dipping the bottom half of a sponge in water and watching the water soak up in to the top half). Rising damp rarely rises to a level above 1m due to the effects of evaporation and gravity. Rising damp can also put timber floor joists and wallplate at greater risk of attack by fungal decay and this will also be considered by the surveyor when assessing the property.
The most effective and economic solution to the problem of  is the installation of a silicone based chemical damp proof course by either low pressure injection or silane diffusion via holes drilled into the masonry structure.
Rising damp also carries hygroscopic salts from the ground and these have the ability to absorb atmospheric moisture, meaning, even if the  issue itself is addressed by installation of a remedial damp-proof course, residual problems can still occur (such as crumbling plaster, staining to decoration, peeling wallpaper and possibly an unsightly "tide mark". Where these salts contaminate plaster the plaster must be removed and re-instated with either a salt retardant base coat or lathed membrane prior to the finishing coat being applied in order to provide a completely dry rising damp solution. This part of the solution is also frequently excluded by some contractors in order to successfully bid for a job, however, it is even more costly and disruptive to undertake after the event.
Our expert surveyors will undertake a damp survey and prepare an appropriate specification for rising damp treatment in their damp report.


"Is time of the essence? Do you require an urgent timber and damp survey?"

Are you facing a closing date deadline for the house of your dreams? Don’t be rushed in to making a hasty decision or walking away from a house with potential damp or timber decay issues
Rowallan Specialist Surveys will undertake a prompt, efficient and professional timber and damp survey by a fully qualified CSRT surveyor to determine the nature, extent and cause of any problems picked up in the Home Report. This can often be the same or next day should urgency be a factor.

Upon instruction a damp survey, dry rot survey, damp survey or a combination of all will be carried out with direction taken from the Home Report section “Dampness, Rot and Infestation”. Quite often our report can allow the Home Report surveyor to downgrade suspect areas from a “dreaded” Category 3 repair or if remedial work is required you will have the confidence of knowing how extensive/ expensive remedial works are likely to be.

A detailed written timber and damp survey report will be prepared stating all observations and recommendations together with a specification for any remedial works required and a cost assessment for any specialist treatment which may be required. This allows customers to make informed decisions and factor costs into their budget.

Purchasing a property can be a fantastic investment, and even an asset, if you look after it properly. Our expert advice will help you protect and maximise your returns from it. When one of our fully qualified surveyors conducts a thorough inspection you can trust that the professional report we provide you with will detail the most appropriate advice and cost effective solutions to maintain or enhance your property's value.

Many people tend to view our services as an unnecessary cost and seek unqualified, often “free” advice from contractor who can often underestimate or overestimate the amount of remedial work necessary.

We are experts in damp-proofing, rot eradication and woodworm infestation control so you can be sure that you are getting the right advice prior to purchase.