Subsidence

Underpinning And Building Regulations

Generally speaking, if you have to carry out essential maintenance on your foundations then you will not require planning permission. But, there are several notable exceptions.

If you live in a listed building or a designated area, such as a conservation area/national park or other area of outstanding natural beauty, then you must be sure to check with your local planning authority before undertaking any work. Even though you will not usually require planning permission, building regulations will still apply.

What is building work?

When you have to underpin all of your foundations (or part of them) you should be aware that the work is defined as "building work", which means that certain measures must be taken to make certain that the underpinning will stabilise the movement of your building. If there are any sewers or drainage systems adjacent to or beneath the planned work, then they will need to be taken into account during the planning process.

Pre-emptive stabilisation

Underpinning is a construction method that increases the depth or size of a building's foundations, usually for pre-emptive or reactionary stabilisation purposes. It can involve the excavation of soil underneath existing foundations and its replacement with denser material (often concrete) in strategic phases at tactical locations. There are other underpinning techniques that are implemented differently, but most types are extremely disruptive, expensive and time consuming.

Underpinning works

It is vital that underpinning works are given the attention they require; particularly in terms of design, methodology, risk assessment and implementation of safety procedures. When proper procedures are not followed correctly underpinning can potentially be extremely damaging, causing catastrophic damage or ultimate collapse (bringing about the exact result they are intended to prevent). There are a number of variables that need to be considered when planning underpinning works.

Underpinning used to be the standard first response to noticing a subsidence issue, but these days it is often treated as a last resort. The massive expense has made insurers more reluctant to splash out so readily, and more research into the subsidence phenomenon has revealed that other steps can be considered before underpinning works need to be used. In any case, such decisions must always be made by trained professionals and whatever is done about it, a confirmed case of subsidence will negatively affect your home insurance and cause you to require specialist underpinning insurance in future.

Insurance

No matter how old a case of subsidence or what type of underpinning you have had done to fix it, underpinned property insurance. If your house has been underpinned in the past then you will know that insurance for underpinned houses is seen as a higher risk than insurance for similar properties without subsidence issues.

Underpinned insurance can still be obtained from non-standard insurance providers, but it might be harder to find. With HomeProtect you can get underpinned house insurance online, with a competitive quote based on the risk you face today (not the risk you were at during the underpinning process).


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