A new report from claims management solutions provider Crawford reveals that the UK’s long, hot Summer has taken its toll on some properties, with a 400% increase in subsidence claims compared to last year.
But it isn’t just the weather that is to blame says the study, but a number of other factors taken into combination too:
- local authority budgets, and the departments that deal with tree maintenance have been hit hard in the last decade due to the financial crisis. With most councils reducing their tree pruning programmes, thousands of urban trees have grown far larger than is desirable, exacerbating the risk of subsidence;
- the financial crisis also depressed the housing market with fewer people moving home, and choosing instead to extend their current properties. The quality of these extensions – especially their foundations – is variable. Many conservatories, for instance, have been built straight onto existing patios without any additional foundations, making them vulnerable to subsidence;
- extensions have also moved the external walls of many properties nearer to large garden trees.
Another source - remote monitoring company Moniteye - are tracking properties in London and noticing alarming trends. These properties are monitored remotely every 8 hours and the data confirms cracks are widening due to the combined effects of the unusually dry summer weather and moisture seeking tree roots, causing clay shrinkage of the founding sub-soils.
A spokesman said: “Despite heavy and short periods of rainfall, the overall trend is suggesting an insurance subsidence claim surge is on the horizon. A subsidence claims surge has not been experienced for a number of years but our data shows the rapidity of crack movement directly correlated to the hot summer we have just had”.