Monday, 21 September 2015
How to Reduce the Risk of Subsidence
Subsidence can be an absolute nightmare to suffer from. Not only can it be costly and inconvenient to repair, but it can also be catastrophic to your insurance policy and (in worse-case-scenarios) could lead to the loss of your home.
Steps to take to reduce the risk of subsidence
There are a number of simple steps a homeowner can take to reduce the chances of a subsidence problem affecting their home, some to be taken before and some after you purchase a house. Never the less; no methods are certain to be 100% effective, so you should always make sure you have insurance for subsidence.
Good research is fundamental to any purchase, particularly one as costly as buying a house. One of the less common, but still notable, causes of subsidence is a history of mining excavations around or beneath a property. You should make sure you carry out all of the relevant checks before you buy a house.
Because pipe and drain leakage can also cause subsidence, it is advisable to undertake a drain inspection as part of your pre-purchase surveys, as well as at regular intervals during your occupancy. Drain surveys can also help to reveal tree root incursions, which in themselves could indicate another possible subsidence cause.
Trees are often found to be causes of subsidence, and you should take care when planting any new trees to make sure they are a safe distance away from both your property and your neighbours'. Willow tree root systems have been known to spread for forty metres, while apple trees need at least ten metres. When assessing whether existing trees could constitute a potential threat, you will need to consider the age of the tree in relation to that of the property in addition to the species of the tree in question. In some instances, removal of a tree may be the best course of action to prevent subsidence.
If the tree is particularly old then there is a chance that it may be protected by a preservation order, in which case, chopping it down may not be an option. Tree felling can also cause heave (which is the polar opposite of subsidence but still just as damaging) where the soil has become dependant on a tree to balance moisture levels over a long period of time, and the absence of the tree can cause the ground to swell. It might be possible to manage tree growth with a regular routine of tree pruning or pollarding, but this must be done with care to avoid encouraging growth. If in doubt, you should consult a specialist for advice.
Renovations are fast becoming an entirely separate area of subsidence problems. Where planning permission may not be required on some types of house extensions, like a lean-to or conservatory, improper and insubstantial foundations are being laid beneath them. An extension with insufficient foundations will settle over time, just as the original property had to do at some point, but because they are not adequately supported they will settle unevenly or sink lower than the rest of the house. To avoid this type of subsidence, all you need do is take the appropriate measures when building extensions to your home.
If your property has encountered subsidence at some point, even if it has had work carried out to rectify the problem, you are likely going to struggle to find home insurance for your home. With HomeProtect you can obtain a reasonable quote for subsidence insurance which is based on how at risk your property is now, not on the risk it faced while undergoing subsidence.