From an insurance perspective ‘Subsidence’ is the name for any structural movement, be that sinking, leaning or rising. Subsidence is also the name for a specific type of movement. We have put together a guide below which advises of details of common terms used for movement which you may come across.
The most important thing with a property that has, or is, suffering from subsidence is to have a structure report from the surveyor or engineer that did the fixing. This report must be presented to the insurer to prove the subsidence has been corrected and this will always be required. A specialist insurer will evaluate the risk on a case by case basis and make you an offer that is as fair as possible. This is because not all houses that have subsided are the same. However, you will pay a higher premium due to the history of the property.
If you don’t have a report you are unlikely to find an insurer who will offer you protection on a house that is sinking (or that you can’t prove is no longer sinking) at any price. The next best option is to take out buildings insurance that will not include subsidence cover. A good specialist insurer can provide standard building and contents insurance but they won’t pay out on any subsidence related claim.
How do you fix subsidence?
Always refer to professional for advise on this area, it is a not a DIY fix. Depending on what the issue is will usually underpin the property. This basically means lying new or more foundations to hold the structure more firmly or strengthen the ground below. If the structure is leaning or pulling apart they could also bolt it together with big steel staples but again not a job for the keen DIY expert.
What Is Subsidence?
The downward movement of a structure or the ground that supports it. Most commonly this is due to the drying out of earth with high clay levels, where tree roots have grown and unsettled the land and foundations or where a water leak has washed away the earth. Other cases worth noting are if the structure is in an area with previous mining
What Is Landslip?
Landslip is when the land around and under a structure slips or moves sideways from being on a slope or through eroding and falling. For example, towards the edge of a cliff or in the event of heavy rainfall slippage can occur when ground becomes saturated.
What Is Heave?
Generally speaking land heave has the opposite effect of subsidence as is aptly named for when a structured is heaved upwards. If the ground becomes waterlogged it can swell and push the property up rather than sinking it. Autumn is the danger period here when the earth is driest after the summer and can then swell with the autumn rains. High clay areas are most commonly effected by this.
What Is Settlement?
Often much less serious, and even a natural part of the building process, settlement occurs soon after a structure has been erected. As the ground becomes compacted with the extra weight, small shifts occur as everything settles in. Builders will often return to a new property a few months after is has been finished to check and repair the minor cracks that can appear as a result. Obviously severe cases need to be remedied but you shouldn’t automatically panic if this is what you think you are experiencing as it very normal for a house to have a period of settlement.