Dry rot aggressively spreads between terrace homes in Barkingside


Historically part of Essex until 1965, Barkingside is now part of the London Borough of Redbridge and is prominently known for being the headquarters for children’s charity Barnados. Set in the very sought after location and only a tube ride away from central London, lies a brick mid-terraced property.

Timberwise London Surveyor, Michael Horton, was called upon to carry out a damp and timber survey, paying particular attention to the ground floor of the property to determine the extent of a Dry rot fungus (Serpula Lacrymans) outbreak. As the Property A and neighbouring property, Property B had suffered a water leak due to a defective water pipe.

Once the subfloor void was exposed in Property A it was clear that the mycelium (the Dry rot strands) was tracking under the floorboards, doorframe and other adjacent areas. Cuboidal cracking and shrinkage were noted to the door frame of the bathroom as well the door frame leading through to the lounge. Within Property B fungal decay was also revealed below the floorboards in the hallway and beneath the stairs, spore dust also thickly covered the kitchen floor.

The Methodology

In this situation, there is no doubt that there was a knock-on effect to Property B as a direct result of the Dry rot problem in the adjacent property. Dry rot is often very misunderstood, and underestimated, especially in relation to its ability to devastate a property. Dry rot spores are omnipresent and when combined with a moisture content of 20% or higher and above an almost airless environment it makes for the perfect breeding ground for Dry rot to grow further.

The Dry rot fungus can spread through brickwork, track along steel beams and travel great distances in order to find its food source. It’s not uncommon to hear that people have fallen through the floorboards due to Dry rot because they are just unable to bear the weight of a person walking across them. This is because the Mycelium removes all of the starch within the timber, stripping the timber of its structural integrity.

The scope works included hacking off all adjacent plaster back to the brickwork and removing the resultant debris, all skirting, architraves, floor structure and associated timbers within 500 mm of the Dry rot outbreak. As a precautionary measure, to ensure there was no mycelium present, the doorframes were removed and the stud work exposed.

 A person’s home is likely to not only be their single largest investment it is also a vital piece to their personal story so it can be upsetting when your home comes under attack. So yes, it’s important to wear your “technical hat” and ensure the solution to eradicates the Dry rot outbreak and safeguards the property from further outbreaks, but it is also important to lend a sympathetic ear to the client. Fortunately for both properties, Timberwise were able to identify and carry out remedial works and provide a guarantee before any serious, or permanent, the damage was done to their home

Michael Horton, Surveyor

Once all of the affected timbers were removed and cut back for safety reasons, Timberwise Operatives then proceeded to sterilise the adjacent brickwork, once complete and dried all of the affected damaged timbers were replaced. In replacing the joists into the wall pockets it was essential that the joist ends were wrapped and protected to ensure there was no contact between the timber and the masonry, therefore, eliminating the remote possibility of further contamination and ultimately another Dry rot outbreak. In the case of both properties, after very careful substantial works, the customer was able to redecorate and enjoy their property safe in the knowledge that there will be no further re-occurrences of Dry rot from the area treated.

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