Quote Ref: WS1

Property owners urged to look out for signs of subsidence

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Given the recent very dry spell, an industry specialist is urging homeowners to look out for signs of subsidence and heave, which may be more likely during hot, dry weather.

Subsidence is where a property starts to move downwards – this could be due to any number of reasons including trees close to the property sucking out moisture under the foundations or simply the property being built on shrinkable soils such as clay.

Heave is the upward movement of the ground underneath a property – this can be caused by excavations (such as building a basement) or a change in water levels under ground which affect the soil (including burst drains). 

Stephen Bradley from UKinsuranceNET says that the sooner any tell tale signs are spotted, the easier it may be to repair: “Subsidence and heave are very costly to treat. Making sure you know what signs to look out for are key.

“For subsidence these may typically include cracks thicker than a 10p coin that go diagonally; may be wider at the top than the bottom; and. are visible internally and externally. For heave, this cracking is more likely to be vertical.

“Of course, these may be signs of something less serious, but if you are unsure, speak to your insurer first. They can then carry out a full survey to see whether it is subsidence / heave or not”.

Association of British Insurers statistics show that UK property insurers receive around 35,000 domestic subsidence claims in a normal year, at a cost to insurers of around £250 million.

For further information, you can read UKinsuranceNET’s Guide to subsidence and subsidence insurance here.