Timber Decay

Few people would dispute the prudence of identifying the nature of a problem first, before throwing money at a solution. Yet homeowners continue to spend vast sums on unnecessary chemical timber treatment that would be better directed towards appropriate repair and improved maintenance.

Misdiagnosis of fungal and insect attack is rife and the mention of ‘death watch beetle’ alone can induce panic. Inactive woodworm holes are re-sprayed each time a property changes hands and excessive treatments applied to mild decay that poses no real threat.

Additionally, surveys for mortgage lenders are frequently undertaken by remedial treatment contractors with a vested financial interest in their own recommendations. Therefore, always question the need for treatment.

The Cause

There are a variety of insects that burrow into and weaken timber, but not all of them require any chemical attack. In fact, this can sometimes be pointless.

There are also many types of fungi, some wood rotting; some harmless. Some fungi can even help identify a building defect as they will only germinate if copious amounts of water are present. As with wood-boring beetles, they can sometimes be often misdiagnosed resulting in the wrong solution being recommended.

The Remedy

Sadly it only takes a minor and unnoticed building defect to allow water to become trapped in the building fabric and replicate the conditions of that of the forest floor.

Because dry timber will not be vulnerable to attack, successfully arresting decay involves eliminating moisture and promoting drying – for example, rectifying faulty gutters, providing extra ventilation, and possibly isolating vulnerable timbers. Decayed timber only requires removing as far as is necessary to carry out the repair. The eradication of dry rot in particular is best entrusted to independent specialists.

Chemical treatments just address the symptoms of decay, not the causes. They should only be used where an attack is serious and dampness will be hard to eliminate quickly or effectively. Spray-, brush- and injection-applied products are amongst those available. Some are restricted for use by specialist applicators

Timber Framed Buildings

Some of the oldest and most interesting buildings in Britain are timber-framed. The majority of timber-framed buildings are listed and therefore statutory protected. The longevity of historic timber-framed buildings means they are highly complex and individual structures.

Timber-framed buildings are vulnerable to decay, particularly where impervious materials have been introduced. Structural integrity can be put at risk as a result of the introduction of impervious materials.

Unfortunately, timber-framed buildings are not always understood when their condition is being assessed. this can lead to inappropriate recommendations that result in unnecessary, damaging, and irreversible work. Timber-framed buildings are special and deserve to be surveyed in a manner that befits their age and historical value.