How To Sell A House With Dry Rot

Tree Trunk Covered with Tree Mushrooms

Selling a house with dry rot can seem like an impossible task. In fact, even owning a home with dry rot can seem like an impossible task because dry rot is seriously damaging both to the home itself and the value of your overall investment. If you own a home that has dry rot and you’re considering selling it in the near future, there are several things to know before you actually sell your home.

What Is Dry Rot?

Dry rot is a fungus that causes the wood or timber in a home to rot. This kind of fungus uses damp timber as food, and then it spreads and develops across all of the wood in a home. While there are a few different kinds of dry rot, the most commonly known one is brown rot fungus or Serpula lacrymans. Throughout the UK, this is the single most damaging type of dry rot in indoor wood construction materials. Keep in mind, too, that the damage is primarily done to the timber in a home, but it can spread to other building materials like brick and stone. You can even find dry rot in walls because it can get into plaster, too. It can eventually damage those as well. It begins as tiny little spores that spread throughout the timber. When they find the right conditions, they start to grow long white strands, and that germinate into a much longer mass.

What Causes Dry Rot?

There are a number of different dry rot fungus causes, but the primary one is that the wood in your home is exposed to damp conditions for one reason or another. For example, if you have a leaky roof or a blocked gutter, you might experience dry rot. You could also experience this problem if the home has a condensation issue or there’s a slow leak in a pipe over a long period of time.

Dry rot can happen in wood with a moisture content of as little as 20%. When that moisture content grows to 30 or 40%, the dry rot really begins to spread very quickly.

Dry Rot Early Signs – What To Watch Out For In Your Home

There are many different signs of dry rot in a home to watch out for. Early signs of dry rot are going to include unpleasant smells in the house. Often a home with dry rot smells damp and musty. It might also smell like mushrooms.

The next most prominent sign is noticing the dry rot itself. What does dry rot look like? Dry rot tends to be white or grey, and it can be very fluffy. It spreads through mycelium growth, and the filaments, called hypha, branch out and grow. They can spread several millimetres every single day, too, so they tend to grow very fast.

Once the dry rot is present, you’ll begin to see the fungal growth really happen. Serpula lacrymans itself is a rusty red colour, and it looks a bit like a sponge. The structure comprises sporophores, and the growth begins as the dry rot has truly progressed into the latest stages. The sporophores release additional dry rot spores, and those begin to settle on more timber, which infects more of it.

At that point, the affected timber will look dark and dried out, like it’s been dry-rotted. That’s where this type of fungal issue gest its name. It cracks and breaks up, and that process is called cuboidal cracking. What does dry rot look like on walls? You’ll see colourful patches as well as dark dried-out patches too.

It may help to use a search engine to find dry rot images so you can better identify them if you see something suspicious in your home.

The Smell Of Dry Rot

You may notice a range of different smells as dry rot begins to take hold. Most people will tell you that the dry rot smell is a fairly earthy one, and others will simply describe the scent of mushrooms. At its simplest, it’s going to smell unpleasant.

It’s important to note that the scent of dry rot isn’t actually harmful. The damp conditions that help it spread are harmful, as they can lead to other fungi with far more harmful spores, but in and of itself, it doesn’t hurt anything.

That smell, though, does grow far stronger as the dry rot begins to spread throughout the house. This is a good thing, though, because as it gets worse, you’re more likely to catch the problem before you actually decide to sell your home.

This is an incredibly serious problem to have in any home. Dry rot, if left unattended, can eventually create issues for the structural integrity of any home, and that may mean entire portions need to be rebuilt. There have been several cases over the years where part of a building collapsed because of dry rot, and that collapse resulted in fatalities. Fortunately, that’s not the situation for every case of dry rot. Instead, most aren’t as bad as you might imagine, and while they all have the potential to get very serious because it can spread so quickly, they aren’t all serious at the outset.

What Is Wet Rot? How Is It Different?

There is actually a problem called wet rot, and it is different from dry rot, even though they are both caused by high moisture content in the home and fungus. If you have timber that is affected by wet rot, you’ll find the wood to be quite spongy to the touch and in appearance. Wet rot fungus is black, white, or yellow. It begins to occur when the timber moisture content is 50% or more. Unlike dry rot, wet rot will actually stop spreading as soon as the timber dries out. Once the moisture content drops below the necessary 50%, the wet rot won’t spread any further.

How Do You Prevent Dry Rot In A Home?

There are a number of different ways to prevent dry rot in a home. The most important one is to check your home periodically for problems. You’ll want to look for broken roof tiles or those that have slipped out of place. Additionally, you’ll want to look for damaged flashings, blocked gutters or those that are leaking, and leaking pipes. All of those can create conditions that make it easy for dry rot to invade in the spread.

You’ll also want to check the inside of your home on a regular basis for dampness. Checking the ceilings and the walls, as well as behind the furniture and in the cellar and attic are all good starting places for this process. If you see anything suspicious, you’ll want to investigate further.

Keeping your home dry and well-ventilated throughout is a must, too. Make certain you minimise any condensation inside your home. You’ll often see this problem on windows and other surfaces when the temperature changes. If you start to notice that, it’s best to start doing a bit of looking around to be sure you don’t have dry rot trying to form somewhere in the house.

Treating Dry Rot

If you suspect dry rot or you’ve even confirmed dry rot, your best next step is to contact a dry rot repair or treatment company. Often you can just type something like “dry rot repair near me” into a search engine to find a company that can help. They will usually do a dry rot survey of the house to confirm that it is a problem. Then they will help you understand how to treat dry rot and build out a treatment plan to help you get rid of it.

The typical treatment process for dry rot involves three key steps. Initially, the company will work to understand the original cause of the problem, then they’ll have that fixed. For example, if the dry rot was originally caused by a roof leak, you’d want to have that problem addressed before you did anything else because if you simply repair the dry rot but not the leak, you’re simply going to have the problem all over again.

Once the original issue is fixed, the company will then work to dry the affected area to make sure the fungus can’t return. Often the company will start by ensuring the area has plenty of ventilation and damp proofing all of it.

When things are dry, the company will begin to treat affected timber and replace any of it that has been affected by the problem. That may involve cutting out some timber and replacing it, then spraying fungicide on other parts of the timber.

How Much Does Dry Rot Treatment Cost In The UK?

Dry rot treatment cost can vary. It depends a bit on how extensive the dry rot itself is. One occurrence of dry rot could cost as much as £1,000, then there will be the cost of extensive repairs on top of that. If the case is incredibly extensive, you can expect to spend up to £20,000 repairing it. It’s important to note, too, that dry rot is not covered by home insurance if you have a standard policy. In fact, most policies have a clause that specifically excludes it.

Selling A House With Dry Rot

If you’re looking to sell a house and you know it has dry rot, you may be in for a rough time. How much does damp devalue a house? It will decrease the overall value of your property if you have not had it addressed or repaired quite a bit. In fact, it may make it so some buyers can’t even bid on your house because, unaddressed, dry rot can make a property unmortgageable. A buyer’s survey always checks for problems like dry rot, so if it’s there, they will absolutely find it. Most banks will only offer a reduced mortgage or no mortgage at all until the dry rot has been addressed, so many buyers will reduce their offer or walk away from the sale entirely if your property does have a dry rot issue.

What do you do if you still want to sell your house? There are a couple of options. First, you could look into having the problem repaired before you put it on the market. You’ll want to get several quotes before you do so, though, as the cost to fix it could vary from company to company. You could also sell directly to a cash buyer. Keep in mind that you will likely get less for your property in this manner, but if you just don’t have the cash to fix the problem, this is a good workaround. A cash buyer doesn’t need to mortgage the property, and if you’re upfront about the problem, they’ll work with you. Many cash buyers will usually want to make repairs to flip the property or let it, anyway, so most of them are prepared to buy homes that have at least a few problems.

To sell your home to a cash buyer, you can either advertise for a cash buyer or work with a company that specifically advertises they will buy houses for cash. While many people think these kinds of companies may not be worth their time, the reality is that they will often pay up to 80% of market value for a home, even one that has serious repair needs like dry rot. What’s more, though, is that to work with one of these companies means gaining access to an easy, fast process that will mean you can sell your home quite quickly. In most cases, as soon as you contact one of these companies, they’ll send someone out within about two days of the initial contact. That individual will take a closer look at the home, and then make an initial offer. If you’re happy to proceed with that initial offer, they will usually send out a professional valuation service to help finalise that offer. Even at that point, if you’re uncomfortable with the prospective offer, you can walk away from it. You simply have to look it over and decide whether or not it makes sense for you to move forward with it given the dry rot issue in your home and what it might cost you to repair the issue. If you’re happy with it, you move forward, and the process can be closed in about two weeks. If you’re unhappy with the offer, you can then decide what other options you might have available to you.

You Can Still Sell Your House!

Selling a home with dry rot is possible, but it will take some work on your part. Your best bet is to simply keep an eye out for any potential dry rot problems in the first place so you never have to worry about selling your home with this problem.

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