Own a property in London? Here's what you need to know about subsidence

Own a property in London? Here's what you need to know about subsidence
Posted by Gary Cooper

You don’t hear about it much when it comes to London property, but if you’re looking into buying property here in the city, it’s worth knowing the score when it comes to subsidence.

Subsidence is the word used for the moving or shrinking of the ground beneath your property. That sounds pretty frightening, but it usually happens very slowly over a long period of time. The result can be cracks in the building and your foundations will move.


How to spot subsidence in your home or when trying to buy a property in London

You might see new cracks in your plaster or brickwork that appear suddenly and are wider than 3mm. These often appear during particularly dry weather.

Is the crack on both sides of the wall? This can indicate your problem is a result of subsidence, too. Also, the cracks will often be wider at the top than at the bottom.

It’s important to say that not all cracks are caused be the ground beneath your London property moving or falling away – so don’t panic. Cracks in the walls can be caused by a range of things that are fixable.


However, if you do think you have a subsidence problem, you can do the following:

Inform your home insurance company

If you do think you have subsidence problem, tell your insurance company and explain that you think an expert should check it out. This is of course optional and you can choose to hire a pro or chartered surveyor to come and look yourself – you may not have to go through your insurer immediately.

If you need expert advice on choosing the best home insurance for your property, Outlet has a Money team that can help with all aspects of your home finances. They offer mortgages and a range of protection products, giving unbiased, impartial help. Click here for more information.


Keep an eye on it

It can take months or years to see any change in cracks on your property, which makes it difficult to assess the damage subsidence will cause. Even so, start by monitoring the situation. Measure the crack on a weekly basis if you have the time and even take pictures in case you need them.


How does it happen?

Subsidence can be caused by a number of things. Most commonly, tress are the culprit as their roots grow and cause movement beneath the surface. Roots also suck as much moisture as they can from the ground, causing dryness.

Clay soil has proven to be less sturdy that other types and can cause subsidence in certain situations. Clay holds a lot of water, but if that dries up in warm weather, the ground can begin to shrink.

Leaking water from burst pipes or other sources can also cause cavities in the ground that lead to subsidence.


What do we do about it?

The good news is in many cases, there is a solution for subsidence. You will probably need to consult a professional, chartered surveyor and possibly a structural engineer to advise you of the right course of action.

Fixing defective drain or water pipes can fix the problem. As well as filling underground gaps and stabalising the soil beneath your property. Underpinning the foundations of your home is also a solid solution.


To talk to Outlet about any property concerns you have, call us on 020 7287 4244 and one of our friendly team will be happy to help. If you're selling or buying a property and believe it migh have subsidence, we'll be able to help you with professional contractors who can assess the situation. And don't forget we offer financial services if you need home contents insurance or buildings insurance, from the Outlet Money Team. 


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