What to do if your home has subsidence

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If you have an existing home and are worried about subsidence, the first thing to do is to take some photos of the cracks or what you think could be subsidence, then:
Check whether your buildings insurance covers subsidence issues (most will).
Contact your insurer, explain your concerns and ask for their recommendations of what to do next. 
  If the insurer suggests it or you are looking at buying a home you are concerned may have subsidence, then contact a RICs surveyor and if required send them the photos you have taken, they may be able to make a recommendation of what to do without a visit.
  Either the surveyor or if they suggest get a structural engineer to visit your property and produce a report.
 

What you really want to know is what is causing the subsidence:

  • Settlement of land under your house, for example caused by an old mine shaft
  • Damage caused to the land from water, for example a leaking drain 
  • Water table changes which cause the land to dry out such as clay
  • Slippage of land, for example on coastal cliffs 
  • If a new property, it might just be settlement following the build 
  • Vegetation such as tree roots or vegetation being too near a property
  Once you have identified what is causing the subsidence you can work out (or take advice) as to whether this is a permanent problem or something that can be fixed relatively easily.
If you own the property then talk to your insurer about whether they will pay to fix any of the damage caused by the subsidence – and what can be done to permanently fix the problem.
If you are considering buying the property, they make sure you can insure it for a reasonable price.
If you are considering buy the property and there is already subsidence damage which you will need to fix, make sure the current vendor’s insurance company will cover the cost.
Once you know the problem and are sure you can insure the property, make sure your existing or new lender is aware of the problem.
If your mortgage lender is concerned about lending on a property subject to subsidence, speak to a broker that has placed mortgages for properties in a similar situation.
If work is required to fix the subsidence and the insurance company lets you organise your own works, make sure you secure three quotes from subsidence experts.

 


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner, author of
Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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