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Description:

Subsidence is one of the most serious problems a property can suffer, potentially affecting not only your home’s structural safety, but also its resale value.

What Is Subsidence?

Subsidence is a very specific issue that occurs when the ground under your house collapses, or sinks lower, taking some of the building’s foundations with it. This puts strain on your home’s structure as one side sinks, causing cracks to appear. It’s a different problem to heave, which is when the ground moves upward and forces some of the foundation up with it, and landslip/landslide, which is when land moves down a slope or is washed away, and takes part of the property or foundation with it.

Tell-tale Signs Of Subsidence:

It’s important to examine each sign you spot in detail before assuming the worst. Cracks often lead homeowners to suspect subsidence. However, they’re much more likely to be caused by natural shrinkage and swelling as temperature and humidity change. New or freshly plastered homes usually develop small cracks as plaster dries and the structure settles. If a crack is caused by subsidence, it will be:
  • Thicker than a 10p coin (more than 3mm)
  • Diagonal, and wider at the top than the bottom
  • Visible internally and externally
  • Found close to doors and windows
It may also extend below the damp-proof course (a layer of waterproof material in the wall of a building near the ground, used to prevent rising damp).

Other signs of subsidence include:

  • Wallpaper crinkling at wall/ceiling joins
  • Doors and windows sticking as frames warp
  • Cracks where an extension joins the house

In some cases, the problem may be monitored; which involves digging a hole beside your home to find out what’s causing the problem, and tracking how far and fast the property is moving. This can take around a year. In most cases, this will end with finding and removing the cause of the subsidence. However, in serious cases, your home may need structural support from a process called underpinning to help strengthen the foundations.

Your insurers will be concerned about the exact cause, possibly because they are considering Third Party Liability. For example, if the subsidence is a result of construction or demolition, or due to defective materials or faulty workmanship.

Clearys Loss Assessors have dealt with all types of subsidence claims. We can help you compile, submit and negotiate your claim to a satisfactory settlement. Our aim is to minimise your stress, time lines and maximise your entitlement under your policy.

Tips:

In the event of SUBSIDENCE:

  • This is a structural issue and not to be treated lightly
  • Underground water from multiple possible sources may be the cause.
  • Historical issues at the site may contribute to it - from changing water table - to soil type - to underground works in the past
  • Removal of large trees (or the addition of plants) may contribute to ground movement
  • Policy cover is often very concise with higher excesses applying.
  • Suitable approach to initial investigations is critical - including Drain surveys, Mapping surveys and Geo-technical Surveys.

Contact us for help.

Case Study:

When Subsidence affects your property there is a process that needs to be followed
When our Assessor visited the property he found that external walls had structural cracking, internal ceilings also had extensive cracking. Clearys Loss Assessors reported the claim to Insurers. We also instructed an Engineer on behalf of our clients to carry out a full structural survey, organise trial holes, soil and drainage tests etc. The Loss Adjuster also employed an Engineer on behalf of Insurers who disagreed with our clients Engineer’s findings. To ensure that our clients’ interests were protected we arranged for an independent Engineer to carry out a further survey, who agreed with our Clients Engineers report. The claim was settled satisfactorily.