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CASE STUDY: Dr Damp (Aaron West) Sussex Heritage Damp Restoration

CASE STUDY: Dr Damp (Aaron West) Sussex Heritage Damp Restoration

Posted by Celtic sustainables on 11th May 2022

We love it when people and companies come back to us time and time again for sustainable products. Here we catch up with Aaron (aka Dr Damp) from Sussex Heritage Damp Restoration to find out exactly what he's been up to.

Dr Damp is an expert in his field and has been involved in many damp restoration projects throughout Sussex. His knowledge and experience in the area is evident in his work, which has been praised by the many satisfied customers he has worked with. He understands the importance of making sure that no further damage is caused to the property and takes the time to ensure that the best methods are being used for the job. Dr Damp is an excellent choice for any damp restoration project in Sussex.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started SHDR?

I am a fully trained property Surveyor but known more as an eccentric enthusiast called Dr Damp, a science and nature loving nerd! I love everything to do with the natural world and it’s constant desire and power to claim back the homes we built on her land. I breed Death Watch Beetle and film Dry Rot on time lapse cameras just for fun! The slow process of decay is fascinating, the weapons nature uses to bring a house down to its foundations is awesome. I started SHDR because of my experience in the damp proofing industry and the realisation that damp doesn’t need sealing, or ‘proofing’, it needs evaporating or diverting. I have seen this practise work hundreds of times and saved my customers thousands of pounds.

What made you want to work in restoration?

Historic buildings are the legacy to our construction past. They are the elders of the property market, and they warrant respect. What I have seen in my short time is nothing short of abuse and neglect. The period properties I survey deserve more respect and understanding. Not blanket damp proofing and unsympathetic materials. Therefore I am in restoration, to protect and to preserve our construction past.

A lot of our customers old and new, have struggled with damp issues in their home at some point in their life, what are the common issues people come to you with?

Most common problem above all is that the damp in question has been seen to by Damp Proofers or Builders who just want to patch up, seal up or upsell damp proofing products. The customers that come to me are the ones that listen to their gut instincts and want a second opinion. My biggest gripe is that I can’t get to everyone first and say ‘STOP!’ save your money and take a more holistic and cheaper path.

What struggles have you had with tackling such a varied number of issues?

Damp symptoms display themselves in a multitude of different ways. Sometimes the puzzle is easy to solve, and I can crack a case in 10 minutes. Sometimes though it can take a lot longer to work out where the root source is coming from. This is why monitoring properties and engaging with the property owners is crucial to successfully eliminating damp issues within a property. Experience helps solve many damp and decay conundrums, but patience is the silver bullet!

What can our readers do today to help with eradicating damp problems in their home?

Look at the signs. They are natures red flags. Be thankful for them. Don’t wipe them away or paint over them. Use them to guide you and look beyond the cosmetic damage. Damp symptoms don’t just appear out of nowhere. They’re being fed by a source of moisture. Where is that source of moisture coming from? Why is it suddenly causing this issue? Look behind the symptoms, look above, below…think of it as a riddle. Find the source, and you’ve guessed the riddle. YOU can do this!

What products have you purchased from Celtic Sustainables, and what did you use them for?

We have purchased quite a bit from Celtic Sustainables from…

Thermafleece - Cosywool Sheeps Wool Insulation, Earthborn - Silicate Masonry Paint, Earthborn - Casein Filler, Earthborn - Silicate Primer, Lime Green Solo - Onecoat Lime Plaster, Ready Mixed Fine Lime Mortar - (CLM35), Hessian - Lime Mortar Protection, Ready Mixed Superfine Lime Mortar - (CLM66), Roundtower - NHL 3.5 White, Roundtower - NHL 5 and quite a bit more.

Everything we purchase from Celtic Sustainables are used for the repairs and restorative works undertaken on traditionally constructed & listed Properties. There is no deviation on products when treating period properties. Modern materials are not only incorrect, but a waste of money and cause more harm than good.

How did the products purchase help with damp issues?

They release moisture thus alleviating damp issues. They move and undulate with the building and can tolerate seasonal movement. They are the only choice when working on old structures. Once the root cause of damp is fixed, drying out is the next in line, and the materials purchased from Celtic Sustainables aid that drying process. There are no alternatives…no matter what anyone tells you. Like for like…full stop.

Have you ever worked with Lime before?

Yes, for many years, it is a wonderful product to work with. But sadly, it is undervalued and not used that much within todays building industry. Cement is the go-to material for most tradesman as it’s quick to set, appears to be solid and waterproof, yet it is a total false economy when used on a period building. If you show a traditional property cement, in any form, you will slowly kill it.

How did you find the installation of the Thermafleece insulation?

Much nicer than the glass fibre insulation. Less fibre fallout in the atmosphere, less irritation to the skin and eyes. Safer for the customers and the Operatives. Everyone is happier when sheep’s wool is used. It also smells lovely, and you don’t need so much. A common trait of modern insulation is that it’s piled up so high, it blocks cross ventilation in the eaves and caused lofts to sweat. You get none of this with Thermafleece.

How did you find Celtic Sustainables and is being sustainable important to you?

I research every product to death! I scour the internet and look for the product I need, then I deep dive the company who are selling it. I look for integrity, ethos, and price. Celtic Sustainables came top of the class in all the above, hence why I keep coming back for more. Sustainability is important as it’s the logical path forward. Any company that believes in the protection of the planet gets my backing.

What other environmentally friendly features does your business have?

We will always choose to repair a home rather than restore a home. Lessening the amount of work to a property and removing the need for multiple trades, lots of vehicles, demand on materials, lots of waste, is our way of giving back a bit to the environment.

We also have a service called Homeguard which MOT’s and Services our clients homes. This "stitch in time saves nine" mantra stops small defects turning into bigger ones and the need for major works and materials to be required. In my opinion, this is the future of the property industry.

Do you use any of our other products? Like the lime, insulation, or Treatex for woodwork?

We are currently using the Treatex on a timber clad listed building…once we’d stripped off all the plastic paint that is!

What are your plans for the future?

We see ourselves as the ‘Resistance’ against the destructive and futile methods of both the construction and damp proofing industry. They have destroyed and accelerated the decline of so many period buildings that it is quite scary and massively disrespectful.

Every period building is like a monument to the old school tradesmen that built it. Their names are even scratched and etched into its very fabric. We owe it to them to conserve their work and keep their legacy upright.

Their work is being destroyed by the ignorance of the modern-day tradesmen. It upsets me to see this. The clients we work for have sometimes spent tens of thousands trying to sort out damp problems that only needed a few hundred pounds and some sunshine to cure. Where is the honesty and integrity? We must start putting the buildings first, and not the profit margin. If we don’t, there will be nothing left to show our grandchildren in years to come. Change is coming!

If you would like to know more about Aaron and the work that he carries out, please follow the link to his website: