All buildings move and settle but proceed with caution if you suspect subsidence and seek advice
What is subsidence?
Subsidence is the downward movement of a surface. If your house is sitting on shifting ground then it can cause the property to move on its foundations. Subsidence issues can often be related to extreme weather conditions, which impact the solidity of the ground that your house is on, compromising the building’s foundations.
What is subsidence damage?
Damage caused by subsidence will often present itself as growing cracks in the walls and ceilings of a home, particularly around the windows and doorways. It is caused by ground movements that impact the building’s foundations.
What should I do if I think I have subsidence?
You should contact your buildings insurer if you suspect subsidence at your property. Your insurer can provide direction on how to manage the risk, and can arrange for an inspection to confirm subsidence before recommending remedial action.
Signs of subsidence
All buildings move and settle over the years, sometimes leaving hairline cracks, but these are rarely cause for concern and are only cosmetic. The difference with subsidence is that large cracks appear both inside and outside the property in a very short period of time.
Common symptoms of subsidence include:
- Doors and windows getting ‘stuck’ and becoming harder to open or close.
- Cracks appearing in plaster inside the house.
- Cracks appearing in brickwork outside the house.
- Sudden cracks appearing after extremely dry weather.
- Diagonal cracks that are wider than 1mm and wider at the top than the bottom.
If you suspect that your property is showing signs of subsidence then you should refer to a builder or a professional surveyor for advice. If they confirm that your property is being affected by subsidence then the solution will often involve the removal of nearby trees (vegetation can draw moisture from underneath the building), relining leaking drains or strengthening its foundations.
Home insurance for houses with subsidence
Subsidence is usually covered under your buildings insurance. If you are searching for a new insurer then you may well have to contact a specialist insurance provider such as HomeProtect to obtain cover, since most standard insurers will refuse a property known to be suffering from subsidence. This is also the case for property’s with a history of subsidence. On that note, if you are looking to buy a property then check the surveyor’s report for any signs of subsidence in the past.
What if you discover subsidence after switching insurance provider?
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has an agreement with all its members that if subsidence is identified within 8 weeks of switching provider, your previous insurer has responsibility for handling the claim.
Home insurance for subsidence
- To get a quote, find out about the building’s history including when the subsidence occurred.
- Details of any claims, particularly those related to the subsidence.
- Rebuild cost of the property.
- Approximate year of the building’s construction.