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Netley House, Gomshall, Guildford, Surrey, GU5 9QA

Non-Destructive Surveys using Rothounds®

As an independent team of building professionals, material scientists and specialist surveyors, H+R are experts when it comes to investigating problems arising from buildings, construction materials or building occupancy.

Heritage conservation and building pathology are particular specialisms, and much of our work involves dealing with decay and damp which can adversely affect both organic and inorganic materials and be detrimental to the health of the building’s occupants. For buildings and structures of special architectural or historical significance, it is especially important to preserve original building materials and construction methods wherever possible.

H+R offer sustainable solutions that eschew the use of chemical treatments or damaging interventions. Real financial and time savings can be achieved by not carrying out ineffective or inappropriately specified work. Our surveys are designed to provide the optimum level of detailed information and practical recommendations that our clients need to make informed decisions about effective remedial action or refurbishment works.


To help with non-destructive building surveys, H+R use Rothounds® as non-destructive detectors to investigate building problems.

Rothounds® are specially trained search dogs that have been taught to detect the presence of active dry rot – Serpula lacrymans – in buildings. The Rothounds® are deployed to detect live fungal spores in the air, and can track down an outbreak before it becomes visible – perhaps because it is hidden behind plasterwork, under floorboards or behind panelling.

The ultimate non-destructive detection technique, Rothounds® do no damage as no costly exposure work is needed to confirm the presence of dry rot. With the maximum of ease and convenience, searches can be conducted in occupied, inhabited and furnished buildings.

Because Rothounds® can detect an outbreak much earlier than they can be found by conventional methods, early effective intervention is often possible. Substantial cost savings can be made if detection takes place before the structural integrity of original timbers is compromised, meaning that the timbers can be retained.

Rothounds® can be deployed as a specialist service available to surveyors and architects, contractors and developers, and home owners or property managers. They can be used to ascertain the likely presence and extent of a dry rot problem either before a property purchase, or as a confirmation that successful remedial work has taken place.

The benefits of using Rothounds® in a preliminary timber decay survey can be summarised in four main points:

  1. Rothounds® can work in confined spaces such as cellars, roof spaces and building voids, that may be inaccessible to human surveyors.
  2. The dogs work at high speed and can search in excess of 20 rooms per hour with great efficiency.
  3. The animals have been trained to distinguish easily between active/inactive dry rot and other fungal infestations.
  4. Rothounds® can indicate the extent of a dry rot outbreak.

While Rothounds® can provide a valuable non-destructive investigation method, it is important to recognise that they are only one of several approaches that may be needed.. Once the presence of an infestation has been detected by the Rothounds®, H+R will be able to carry out more detailed investigations.

CCTV and high power fibre-optic instrumentation may be used to inspect concealed cavities and decay detection drilling utilised to establish the degree of decay, while moisture distribution levels can be recorded with the help of specialist electronic devices. A detailed report will then be drawn up with details of all areas of dry rot activity found in the building, as well as expert advice on probable causes and recommended remedial action to control dry rot decay in the short and longer term.