In severe cases, dry rot can cause serious structural damage that is potentially dangerous and expensive to treat. So it’s no surprise that the presence of dry rot can put many buyers off a property or, at the least, drive the sale price down significantly.
How do you know if your property has dry rot? What exactly is it? And what to do if you can’t sell because of dry rot! Our team of property experts have created this guide to answer all your questions.
What Is Dry Rot?
Dry rot (Serpula lacrymans) is a fungal growth that can destroy any wood or timber it comes into contact with. Unlike wet rot, which can only thrive on wood with a moisture content above 50%, dry rot can spread through wood with relatively low moisture content (20% to 30%). This means that dry rot can cause damage far beyond the source of damp. If left untreated, it can spread through an entire building.
What Causes Dry Rot?
Humid places with poor ventilation are a prime breeding ground for the fungi that cause dry rot. When dry rot spores, moisture, oxygen and limited ventilation combine, dry rot can spread through timber in all types of building — from old to new and residential to commercial.
On their own, dry rot spores are often harmless, but in the right (or wrong!) conditions, they can develop, germinate and cause serious property damage.
How Do I Know If My House Has Dry Rot?
Catching dry rot early will prevent the damage from spreading and causing serious structural problems in your property. Unfortunately, dry rot is most common in the “hidden” areas of a house, such as under the floorboards — an unpleasant, musty odour is often the most noticeable early sign of a problem. If something doesn’t smell right, check for the following signs of dry rot, or call in a specialist to identify the problem.
- Cracking timber that has darkened in colour — cracks are typically “cuboidal”, and the timber becomes so dry it crumbles.
- Mycelium — white or grey cotton wool structures called mycelium appear as the fungi spread from wood that no longer has sufficient moisture to feed on.
- Dry rot spores – if these appear in patches of rust-coloured dust, you have a dry rot problem that is only likely to get worse.
- A damp, musty odour — this is often the first sign of a problem.
- A silky, grey mushroom-like skin — during the final stages of dry rot, the fruiting body creates large mushroom-like structures.
Can Dry Rot Be Treated?
Dry rot should be treated by an expert with specialist skills, experience and equipment. If caught early, it can be eradicated relatively quickly and easily, allowing you to progress with selling your home.
There are different types of treatment available depending on the severity of the dry rot. A qualified surveyor will be able to advise you on the next course of action — removing the decayed wood using a chemical treatment and replacing it, drying out the wood by improving ventilation or killing the dry rot by heating the affected area.
“What to Do If I Can’t Sell Because of Dry Rot?”
Every house can be sold, it’s just a case of finding the right buyer.
Dry rot, especially if it has been left untreated for a long time, can be a hassle to repair, and it is far from cheap, which will put off some buyers — especially if structural damage appears in the survey. A serious case of dry rot could also make your home unmortgageable, narrowing the pool of potential buyers to those who have the cash to purchase the property outright.
There are two options if you want to sell your house more quickly.
- Seek expert help to treat and eradicate the problem before selling — this will take time and money, but it could ultimately lead to a quicker, less stressful sales process.
- Sell to a cash house buying company — House Buyer Bureau has the funds to buy your home outright without the need to secure finance, and we buy properties in any condition.
House Buyer Bureau is a genuine quick house sale company (one of very few). Over the past 10 years, we have spent over £365m buying more than 2,100 properties. We are good at what we do — don’t take our word for it, check out our client testimonials.