Selling a House with Dry Rot

A problem that can't be ignored. Get help below.

Okay, homeowner - you’re ready to go ahead and sell your home.

Congratulations! It’s a big decision.

However, before you go ahead and list your home, there’s a common concern that you may have to deal with. The term “Dry Rot” is certainly an ugly-sounding one, and for those of you who encounter it in your homeowning adventure, it could prove to be a costly one.

So, what exactly is dry rot? How do you identify it? How can dry rot influence the selling of your home. There are many questions that come along with this home-owning dry rot problem, and we’re here to help you guide you through it!


What is Dry Rot?

Dry rot, plainly speaking, is bad news.

Let’s first go over the causes of dry rot.

The condition develops when excess moisture builds up on wood structures in the home; this moisture builds up harmful types of fungi on the wood. This fungus attacks the wood, breaking it down and causing it to weaken and rot. The term “dry rot” comes from the fact that this affected wood appears dry and stiff.

If you have any structures in your home that are made of wood, you’re at the risk for dry rot.

All that needs to happen is for the timber in your home to start being soaked with moisture content above its acceptable levels (anywhere from 20%-30%, for example). After that, the dry rot spores will start to appear and develop into the fungus; from there, the fungus can spread throughout your house to other wooden structures. This can be wood destroying.

Take a Read: Selling Your House With Mould and Fungi


How to Identify Dry Rot

You may believe that your home is immune to dry rot but according to 2010 study by the Communities and Local Governments English Housing Survey, the proportion of dwellings in the UK with damp problems was at 7%. That may not sound like a lot but with over 23.7 million homes in the UK, that's over 1.6 million homes with damp issues.

The first thing to to do identify dry rot in your home is to examine the wood closely. If you see any type of fungal growth on the wood - sometimes it will appear to resemble cotton wool - or water droplets, the wood is likely afflicted with dry rot.Example of Dry Rot in Timber

Additionally, the wood will appear smaller or sunken, and the wood structure will begin to crack and darken. You’ll definitely notice when the wood is infected when the skin of the wood has a type of “growth” on it.

Eventually, you’ll notice the fungal growth itself on the wood. You may also notice the smell of dry rot that permeates the house. This won’t be fun. The smell is very distinct - dank, ugly, musty. Things will smell very off, very earthy.

A note - this isn’t a problem that can just be ignored. Eventually, dry rot - if left untreated - will cause weakening of the timber, which could compromise the structural integrity of the house. It's absolutely essential to fix the problem before serious damage to life and property occurs.


Dry Rot: Early and Late Signs

Here’s a helpful list of the early and late signs of dry rot in the household:


Shrinking wood Sunken wood Cotton wool-like fungus
Water droplets on the wood Darkening in the wood Cracks in the wood


Fungal growth on the wood Peeling or patchy “skin” on the wood Damp, musty smell


Wet Rot vs. Dry Rot 

There’s an alternative to dry rot that might also harm your home - that’s wet rot. This is from a different strain of fungi, and it generally doesn’t spread as far since it doesn’t have the “jumping” ability of dry rot. There are some very distinct differences between the two problems:

  • Wet rot will show as black, brown or white rot strands, while dry rot is generally a greyish colour
  • The fungal infection will show as orange or brown with dry rot, and wet rot will show up as yellow or white
  • Dry rot leaves wood hard to the touch, while wet rot produces softer wood

It’s integral to determine the exact type of infection the timber in your home has - wet or dry rot - before you try to treat it. Knowing the type of rot is essential for helping to get rid of the problem.


How To Treat Dry Rot

So, now that you’ve found out that your home is afflicted with dry rot … how can you treat it?

Luckily, if caught early enough, there are some very effective treatments.

The first step is to identify the source of moisture that's causing the dampness to the wood and fix it. You’ll have to search through the home and seek out any rising damp plus any water source (it could be from damaged pipes or blocked gutters, for example) that has damaged the wood; without stopping that problem, any treatment is worthless. Investigate, and if you have to, seek out a professional that may help.

An example of dry rot treatment:

After that, it’s time to attack the problem directly. You can take several different strategies in this case - be sure to consult with a professional to see what solution (or combination of solutions) is the most effective. You could: 

  • Chop out all of the decayed wood. This includes spreading a chemical treatment such as fungicide in the area that's showing the rot, then replace the wood
  • Dry out the wood. Replacing affected timbers and increasing ventilation for the home
  • Heat the affected area to kill the dry rot. Although that type of treatment is generally considered controversial

After this, be sure to damp proof your house to prevent further dry rot problems. Again, check in with an engineering or house repair professional before you start any sort of treatment.


Selling Your House With Dry Rot

If you’re getting ready to sell a house that’s affected with dry rot, know that this problem can severely affect the eventual price. Potential buyers won’t be too enthused to dish out a great deal of money for a home that has this type of affliction, and the presence of dry rot can also prove to have a negative effect on the potential buyer’s ability to secure a mortgage on the property.

It goes without saying, it’s essential to secure those dry rot repairs on your home before you put it out on the market. As an alternative, you may want to look at what Yes! Homebuyers can provide for you. Regardless of the size, age, condition or content, Yes! Homebuyers provides a quick, private house sale for the interested party.

Learn more about how we can help.