Research suggests that up to 20% of residential properties in the UK could be at risk of subsidence. The South East of England is one of the worst affected regions, with large numbers of properties built on clay-rich soil which typically expands in the winter months and shrinks during the hotter period. However, there are a variety of different causes that can lead to subsidence. If you’re considering selling your home that has a history of subsidence check out our guide below.
What causes subsidence?
In short, subsidence occurs when your property sinks and the foundations become misaligned. Typically, different parts of your home will sink at different speeds, which can cause serious damage. Subsidence jeopardises the structural integrity of your home and ignoring the signs of the problem can mean you’re living in an unsafe property.
Signs of subsidence in a house
Most people correlate interior or exterior cracks as a sign of subsidence. Whilst these can be an indicator, subsidence cracks are usually accompanied by other signals. However, it is worth remembering that subsidence can lie dormant for years and it may only become apparent if you experience a very dry summer, a leak, or if trees are absorbing ground water around your home.
Keep an eye out for subsidence signs including:
- Your house appears slanted or wonky
- Rippled wallpaper
- Door and windows hard to open and close
- Cracks around doors and windows
- Cracks between the property and an extension
- Diagonal cracks across walls
- Cracks that appear thicker towards the top
- Cracks which are wider than a 10p coin
How much to repair subsidence?
Subsidence can cost up to £50,000 to repair in severe cases. However, data from the Association of British Insurers suggests that the average expenditure to remedy subsidence is £6,250. Only around 10% of properties that are impacted by subsidence need underpinning – the process of strengthening the foundation of your home. This is the most expensive and disruptive way to fix the issue and is the only solution in some subsidence cases.
Is subsidence covered by house insurance?
Subsidence can be a grey area for some insurance companies and claims of this nature can be complex and take a long time to settle. Typically, insurance companies will not act immediately and will, instead, employ a surveyor to monitor the movement of your home and investigate the cause of the subsidence.
It is not unheard of for insurance companies to reject claims, arguing that any damage was caused by settlement movement as opposed to subsidence. However, settlement movement is only commonplace on extensions and new build properties due to soil compression. Most insurers, nonetheless, class all downward property motion as subsidence and you should be able to claim for any surveying or building work carried out to fix the problem.
Selling an underpinned house
There is no reason why you cannot sell your home, even if it has subsidence. Understandably you will need to go through the correct procedures and a surveyor will need to visit your home to assess the issue. Your surveyor will give you one of two answers:
- The subsidence on your property is historic. This means any continued movement is unlikely and there is no need to carry out any work other than to improve the look of any damage.
- The subsidence on your property is active. This means you need to have work carried out to remedy the ongoing subsidence problem.
Breathe a sigh of relief if your subsidence is historic – this will simply be included in your property details when selling and a buyer will be completely aware. Similarly, if your home is already underpinned you will be able to sell as normal, any viewers will just be kept in the loops as to the previous issue.
However, it certainly is not doom and gloom if you want to sell your home. You could either carry out the work yourself or, sell your home for a much lower price so that the new owners can carry out the necessary repairs. Alternatively there are options available if you’re tired of feeling stressed and sit at home fretting, “will I ever sell my house?” At Doorsteps, we offer a hassle-free way to sell your home with no hidden fees. Request a call back today and secure a free valuation from an experienced online agent with subsidence knowledge.