Oh no! A dry rot disaster in Design Festival Week

I knew it, I KNEW it would happen today – a tenant disaster! I even tweeted as much last week. Everything was going so well, notwithstanding a bad back swiftly dealt with by popping some cocodamol and shouting a lot. All the bare plaster was undercoated at Project Warwick then the ceilings painted white and the walls a wonderfully funky deep green chosen by the clients (not got a pic of this yet).

The en-suite ceiling was given a sheen coat ready for the wall to ceiling joint to be sealed in black. I love the slate tiles more every time I see them! The entrance stair walls were prepped and whitewashed, it was all going so so well….. it really seemed as though we were going to be off to London early tomorrow for the DesignersBlock party to kick of our visit to 100% Design & Decorex.

And then disaster struck. Our tenant in Project Payne had mentioned that there was some damp in her room and we went to check it out at the end of last week. Not the simple lack of ventilation / cold room problem I’d hoped for but a definite tracking patch of damp on the ceiling above her bed, ominously positioned under the shower room newly installed a few months ago. Hmmm. We scheduled a visit with the lads who’d worked on the plumbing. The problem with refurbished old buildings is that access is often a nightmare and this was no exception. As the ground floor flat had been refurbished before the first floor one, all the plumbing work for the new en-suite was done from above, access wasn’t possible from below as a) a different tenant lived there and b) a suspended ceiling jammed with rockwool had been installed to the ground floor bedroom to give better sound protection from the room above.

So how to deal with the damp patch on the ceiling? The en-suite floor was fully tiled, so access had to be from below, plus I needed to assess if there was any water damage within the void. We cut a little hole….

Boy, was it wet up there. As the day progressed the hole got bigger and bigger and bigger until there was more plasterboard on the floor than there was on the ceiling! The original lath & plaster ceiling was sodden, as was the rockwool and new plasterboard ceiling. All these materials had served to soak up the water leak over several months, explaining the length of time between the en-suite starting to be used by the new tenants upstairs and the damp patch showing downstairs. And the cause? A dodgy waste connection. So so so annoying, a split washer leading to such destruction.

But worse? Because it’s taken so long for the water to make itself known, months in fact, the original ceiling joists and plaster laths are soaking wet and that little buggar Serpula Lacrymans has taken hold – disaster! Instead of simply being able re-board tomorrow, there’s a whole heap more chemical induced work to do to counter the currently flourishing strands and fungus. I can’t quite believe that our tenant got out of bed this morning in this flat and now there’s such destruction. More pertinent perhaps is the fact that as I haven’t been able to get hold of her today as she’s a doctor on a 14hr shift, and she’s expecting to come back to what was her gorgeous pad at 10pm to go straight to sleep. It’s a landlords life, eh, and not so great for a tenant today 😦

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