New Build Home - Condensation & Mould Growth

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by Stinkerson, May 14, 2009.

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  1. To any of the legal minds out there or anyone that has been through this before.

    My missus and I bought a new build 2 bedroom apartment last year; we finalised and moved in at the end of June. It is a mostly open plan apartment with the living area, dinning room and kitchen in one large area.

    All was good; we did a full check and gave our 'Snag List' to the company representative. These small issues were rectified and we were more than satisfied with the place and life went on without a hitch.

    Around the start of December we noticed a fair amount of condensation building up on all windows within the apartment. We had to wipe down all the windows and surfaces around the windows every day to ensure the condensation didn't leak onto the carpet or any other area.

    I should point out that we took all precautions to prevent this, all extractor fans were being used in the kitchen and bathroom, all vents on the windows were open (all the time) and we only had the central heating on for a maximum of 3 hours a day.

    After speaking to the company representative and showing him all the pictures we took (he came to visit us) he informed us that it wasn't the company or builders fault and it must be the way we live (to much heating, vents not open, etc) This seemed like a we were getting the brush off but the company remained firm.

    Around 3 weeks ago my missus was having a clean and noticed a strange smell in our bedroom (where out 5 month old son sleeps in his cot next to out bed), it turns out that the draws at the bottom of the wardrobe (free standing, not built in) had a build up of mould in then, this was damaging everything in the draws as well as some of the clothing hanging in a separate part of the same wardrobe .

    We called the company and they sent out the Site manager as well as the PR rep for the company. They both stated that it still wasn't the company's fault and this was common in new build homes (sounds like utter bo**ocks to me). The next action that could be taken was to speak to the NHBC (Building companies ombudsmen?) to see whether it was a structural problem.

    This is going to happen in the next week. The company state that if it is a structural problem (which the assure us it isn't) they will get the whole thing rectified. However, if it turns out it's not a structural / building problem they say they will not be paying for anything and there will be no form of compensation.

    So, here's my point. How can there be a massive build up of condensation that leads to mould growth if we are taking all precautions (as listed on the companies website) to prevent this?

    As I see it there are only 2 parties involved, us and, as stated above, we are taking all reasonable precautions and the Company that claim there is nothing wrong with their work.

    Where do we stand with compensation?


    Has anyone come across this type of thing before?

    Thanks for reading, I know it's a bit of a long post!
  2. Citizens Advice Bureau should be a first port-of-call. Take lots of photographs as evidence.

    New-build homes can suffer from condensation as the plaster dries out, but on it's own this shouldn't cause the mold. The spores have to have come from somewhere to breed in your damp areas.
  3. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    New buildings tend to have very good insulation to comply with building regulations. The downside is, there is little ventilation in terms of drafts, only fans, extractors, aircon etc. plus of couse open windows, which may not be possible for security reasons.
    New concrete, plaster and other materials "sweat" for a couple of years and humidity builds up - its normal.
    I had the same problem with a wardrobe, but seem to have noticed it earlier than you - a wipe down with disinfectant kills the mould spores.
    My old chap is an architect/surveyor/building inspector and we solved it by installing vents in the bedrooms (a person produces about 1.5 ltrs per night apparently), and an aircon/dehumidifier in the open plan lounge/diner/kitchen to suck air through the place.
    Literally about a gallon a day of water was produced in the first year.
    The building regs are not strong in this area, I dont think you have much recourse but good luck.
  4. All new builds are now pressure tested to make sure that they are pretty well air-tight. As others have mentioned a new build that has a concrete base and a plastered interiors will take a long time to dry out properly, add in the moisture from the occupants and suddenly it can become a big problem. The speed with which a modern house is put up and the fact that rain will not have stopped play during construction means that the whole interior will have a considerable amount of water to lose before things level out. It will probably take at least a year.

    The trickle vents fitted in modern double glazing units is IMHO no longer adequate and you will find you either have to fit bigger ones or leave a window ajar.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. I see this pretty much every day. As a poster said above, these flats are air tight due to the windows used and air can't circulate despite vents being open and extractor fans working.

    I bet you £10 to go towards Holidays for Heroes that if you move the free standing wardrobe there will be a build up of mould behind it.

    Keep all items of furniture about 2 inches away from the walls esp, the outside walls and this includes the beds. Wipe the walls and skirting boards down with anti mould stuff (Dettol make a great one) and that should do you for about 3 months. Other advice I've given is to try and fit a stronger motor in the extraction fans for the bathrooms but I think there is a limit of the motor you can put in the fans, someone on here will know more about this than I do.

    Did your builders do as many have and paint your walls with diluted emulsion, this doesn't help, if you haven't done so already, re-painted using silk. This slows the growth down and makes it easier to wipe clean.

    Never heard of anyone being able to claim against the builders for this and I know a number of people who've tried but don't let that stop you trying.
  6. Cheers for the replies, all good stuff.

    We've got an appointment booked with the CAB on friday, so should see where we go from there.

    The compnay did say it would take a while for the new building to 'breath and settle' but they said about a 3 month period.

    If it does take up to a year that means that by the time the cold season is on us the building should be good to go moisture wise.

    With regards to installing and upgrading vents and preventative measures including silk type paint: Surley the building company would be wise to this and should adjust their installation of these measures accordingly?

    If I went ahead and fitted all the measures myself would I be able to get a reimbursment from the compnay for doing a job that they should have seen fit to carry out themselves?
  7. My gut reaction to condensation is lack of ventilation, even if the building was not giving out the moisture from the building process you produce a lot of water vapour in the house any way and if you do not get rid of it you get condensation, reality.

    So it may not be the builders fault.
  8. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    One of the reasons for using watered down emulsion is to allow the walls to breathe, and release the moisture content held in the plaster and walls. If you cover it in a less vapour permeable paint layer (or wallpaper) before it is fully dry you will slow the process down even further. The builders therefore did the right thing, and you should redecorate however you like, but only once the walls are dry.

    Why should they put in uprated extractors which are only required for a relatively short part of the property's lifespan, and draw more current than required for the rest of it?

    As already advised, wipe with mould killer, and open the windows wide whenever possible. This will sort itself out in due course. The other option is for builders to not put properties up for sale untill they are fully dried out - you will then pick up the bill for a property sitting empty for 12 months before purchase.

    Man up and stop looking for compo - it is just one of the joys of a new build property, partly brought about by the modern insistence of virtually hermetically sealed housing.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. It used to be a requirement that there was an air vent above each doorway leading into the hall except bathrooms or kitchens to improve circulation. This is no longer the case and seems to have been replaced by the exterior trickle vent.

    Might be worth investigating further.
  10. It's not about 'manning up and looking for compo'

    I paid a great deal of money for a product - that product is now faulty.

    If it is a normal thing that does occur with the majority of new builds then that’s a nause but I am willing to except it.

    To not be told any of this by a company that builds these properties and deals directly with the customer through all aspects of the purchase is totally unacceptable.

    As mentioned earlier I have a 5 month old son and after doing a bit of research I have found certain types of mould can cause lasting problems, such as asthma, in infants. Would I have to 'man up' if my son contracted a respitory problem that lasted a lifetime?

    Is that acceptable?

    No it is not.

    As for the company spending a little extra on upgrading extractors and such, why not? The cost of building a building with 8 apartments in is far outweighed by the price paid for each apartment. A few thousand on giving the customer piece of mind is a small price to pay.
  11. Poor airflow perhaps.

    Will get condensation in a new build but if you have badly placed externally vented fans, the bulk of the airflow might just be a short path between external air via vents/window--->extractors.

    We had this in our bathroom following a "professional" installation. Fcukwits had put extractor fan intake about 1m away from vented window.

    If really bad might want to think about a dehumidifyer. We got one following a water leak and the replastering of hall, stairs and landing.
  12. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    • Like Like x 1
  13. Didn't know that about the emulsion, always had the distinct impression it was to make the paint go further!

    I see ongoing mould problems in flats built well over 2, 5 years plus by the same building companies so I'm not sure about your comment re the motors in the extractor fans being only relevant for a short part of the property's lifespan being correct. I know that where my advice has been taken and better motors fitted that the mould problem has improved although not been eradicated.
  14. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    Ref the paint - I had my whole house replastered following a massive refit. On the advice of the builder, I painted with watered down paint, no problems. My father in law helped out, but didn't water down for one wall. It took considerably longer to dry out. I am sure there is a more scientific background somewhere for this, but that was good enough for me!

    Ref the fans, they need to be fit for usual purpose. Most are not that great anyway, but will cope with normal useage. Heavy use areas (shower rooms without outside ventilation etc) will always suffer.
  15. Mould in itself is not the issue, its the spores it produces that cause problems. Small amounts of condensation, or black mould, will not cause an issue as long as its cleaned up using a suitable product. If the mould is another colour, the dampness could be caused by leaking pipes/sewage or from an external source, but from your descriptions it sounds like simple condensation

    What you have described, and what everyone else has said, is a regular problem affecting new builds. Whilst it is a bit of a nause, simply opening your windows a small bit and leaving internal doors open helps quite a bit. Check your window vents to see that they are not blocked and plug in a de-humidifier and your problem will go away