As a homeowner, discovering uneven floors or unsightly cracks across the walls can be unsettling. These issues are not just cosmetic; they’re potential red flags for subsidence—a serious threat to your property’s stability.
Our expert guide to the most common subsidence warning signs will arm you with the knowledge to spot these early and take decisive action to protect your home.
What is Subsidence and Its Common Signs?
Subsidence can cause various issues in your home, from sinking floors and large cracks in walls to doors and windows sticking. Recognising these common signs is crucial for early detection and addressing potential risks before they worsen.
1. Sinking or sloping floors
If your floors start to sink or slope, it could mean trouble underneath your house. The ground might be falling in, and you need to check it out fast. You don’t want the floor dropping more because this can really hurt your home’s structure and safety.
Floors that are not flat can tell you that something’s wrong below, so don’t ignore them.
Look for gaps between skirting boards and floors too. These signs show that the foundation of your house may have problems. It is important to take action early to keep small issues from getting bigger and costing more money later on.
If you see these changes in your floors, get a professional to look at them right away. They will know if it’s a sign of subsidence and what needs fixing.
2. Large cracks in walls
Large cracks in your walls shouldn’t be ignored. They often show up around doors and windows or where an extension joins the main house. These aren’t just small hairline cracks; they’re big and you can see them on both the inside and outside of your place.
This kind of damage points to subsidence, which means the ground under your home might be falling away or shrinking.
Pay attention to these warning signs early on. If you catch them soon enough, you can sort out the problem before it gets worse and costs a lot more money. Doors and windows that stick are another clue that something’s not right with your house’s structure, so keep an eye out for those next!
Doors and windows sticking
Doors and windows that stick or won’t close right can be a real headache. Sometimes, it’s not just the wood swelling from wet weather. It could be a hint your house is having subsidence issues.
If you notice your doors or windows are tough to open or they’re fitting poorly in their frames, don’t ignore it.
This problem often means the shape of your door and window openings has changed because the ground underneath is moving. Cracks might also show up at the corners of these openings – telltale signs that all is not well with your home’s foundation.
Keep an eye out for these warnings so you can take action before things get worse.
Wallpaper creasing with no signs of damp
Wallpaper creasing without damp can be a sneaky sign of trouble. If you see wrinkles or folds in your wallpaper and there’s no water around, the walls might be shifting. This is because the earth under your house could be moving, which pulls on the walls and makes the paper bunch up.
Now look for gaps where your home extension joins to your main building. It might have moved because of subsidence too. Look out for these changes – they’re key signs that shouldn’t be ignored!
Extension moving away from home
If your home has an extension, it’s important to watch for gaps forming where it joins the main building. You might also notice that floors in the extension are tilting or that doors won’t close easily anymore.
These signs could mean the ground is moving beneath the structure, pulling your extension away from your house. This situation needs quick action to keep your home safe and prevent more damage.
Cracks appearing where the extension connects to your house are a major warning sign too. They’re often wider than simple plaster cracks and can get bigger over time. These diagonal cracks suggest serious issues with foundation stability.
If you see these problems, call a structural engineer right away for advice on how to fix them before they get worse.
How to Identify and Address Subsidence Risks
To identify and address subsidence risks, it’s crucial to understand the causes of subsidence and regularly check for signs of tree damage. Early detection is key in preventing further structural issues, so if you’re concerned about your property, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice and guidance on potential solutions.
The importance of early detection
Finding subsidence early can save you a lot of trouble and money. If the ground under your house starts to collapse, it’s serious. You need to act fast so it doesn’t get worse. Cracks bigger than small ones in walls are warning signs.
They might show up around doors and windows first.
If your doors or windows stick when you try to open or close them, don’t ignore it—it could mean your house is shifting because of subsidence. Check for puddles that shouldn’t be there or skirting boards coming away from the wall.
These things tell you something’s not right beneath your home, and catching these clues quickly can stop bigger problems later on.
Understanding the causes of subsidence
Catching subsidence early can save you stress and money. To do that, you need to know what causes it. One main reason is the type of soil your house sits on. If you have clay soil around your home, it can shrink in dry weather and swell when wet.
This movement makes the ground unstable and might cause your house to sink or tilt.
Another thing that leads to subsidence is trees growing too close to your home. Tree roots can suck moisture from the soil, making it shrink faster than normal. Also, leaking drains underground can wash away or soften the dirt under your foundations; this creates gaps that make the foundations drop down into them.
It’s smart to check often for these problems so you can fix them before they get bigger. You’ll want to take care of any leaks right away and think about getting deeper foundations if needed—especially if building regulations suggest it for where you live.
It helps a lot to understand how these issues affect your home’s safety and value over time.
Checking for signs of tree damage
To identify signs of tree damage that may contribute to subsidence risks, here are some essential steps to consider:
- Look for large, mature trees close to your property with expansive root systems that could potentially affect the stability of the ground.
- Check for any noticeable signs of stress or disease in trees near your home, such as abnormal leaf loss, dead branches, or leaning trunks.
- Examine the soil around trees for any visible signs of movement or cracks, which may indicate underlying root growth causing soil displacement.
- Assess the proximity of trees to the foundation of your property and consider whether their roots could be encroaching on underground structures.
- Consult with a qualified arborist or tree surgeon to evaluate the health and impact of nearby trees on your property’s structural integrity.
What to do if you are concerned about your property
If you are concerned about your property, follow these steps:
- Look for visible signs of subsidence around your home, such as sinking or sloping floors.
- Inspect walls for large cracks, especially around doors and windows.
- Check if doors and windows are sticking or not closing properly.
- Examine the exterior of your home for puddles or signs of ground movement.
- Observe if skirting boards are separating from the walls, indicating potential subsidence.
- If you notice any of these warning signs, consult a professional to assess the situation and recommend necessary actions.
The Cost and Impact of Subsidence on Your Property
Subsidence can significantly devalue your property and addressing it can be costly, so understanding the implications is crucial. Click to learn more about how subsidence impacts your property and what you can do about it.
How much does subsidence devalue a property?
Understanding the financial impact of subsidence is crucial for you as a homeowner. It’s common to feel concern regarding how much value your property might lose due to this issue. Let’s delve into the specifics:
|Aspect of Subsidence
|Impact on Property Value
|Visible Cracks in Structure
|Significant decrease, potential buyers may offer 20-25% less
|Sticking Doors and Windows
|Reduces appeal, could lead to a 10-15% drop in offers
|Long-term Structural Damage
|Heavy devaluation, up to 50% if safety is compromised
|Insurance Claims History
|May increase premiums and deter buyers, affecting value
|Deducted from property value, depending on extent of subsidence
|Obligatory information can lead to renegotiations or reduced offers
Subsidence issues can severely impact the market value of your property. Early detection and rectification are imperative to minimise these financial consequences. Remember, subsidence not only affects your home’s aesthetic appeal but also its structural integrity, making it a critical concern for potential buyers and valuers alike.
Dealing with insurance and making a subsidence claim
Dealing with insurance and making a subsidence claim can feel overwhelming, but it’s crucial to act promptly. Contact your home insurance provider as soon as you notice any subsidence warning signs, such as sinking floors or large cracks in walls.
Be prepared to provide evidence of the damage, including photographs and any relevant documentation like structural surveys or reports from professionals. Keep in mind that many insurance policies cover subsidence-related issues, so don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a loss assessor you need to address this issue.
When making a subsidence claim, it’s vital to understand the potential costs involved in fixing subsidence and how much it could devalue your property if left untreated. Properly documenting the damage and understanding your policy coverage are essential steps when dealing with insurance companies.
Fixing subsidence and the potential costs
If your home is experiencing subsidence, promptly addressing the issue is crucial. The method used for fixing subsidence depends on the underlying cause. Underpinning, which involves strengthening your home’s foundation, is a common solution for addressing subsidence.
This process can be costly and may require extensive structural work. Factors such as the property’s size, the subsidence’s severity, and accessibility to the affected area all contribute to determining potential costs.
Insurance coverage plays a significant role in managing expenses when dealing with subsidence. It’s essential to understand your policy and whether it covers subsidence-related damages.
Selling a Home with Subsidence
When selling a house with subsidence, it’s important to be transparent and provide potential buyers with all relevant information. A structural survey is crucial for buyers, and disclosing any subsidence history is essential in ensuring a fair and successful sale.
Selling a house with subsidence: tips and considerations
- Disclose all known information about the subsidence issue to potential buyers to build trust and transparency.
- Obtain a thorough structural survey of the property to provide interested buyers with a clear understanding of the subsidence and any necessary repairs.
- Consider investing in professional underpinning or other structural repairs to demonstrate proactive efforts in addressing the subsidence problem.
- Highlight any improvements or preventative measures taken to mitigate future subsidence risks, such as tree removal or soil stabilisation.
- Work closely with an experienced estate agent who has expertise in selling properties with structural issues, ensuring they can effectively communicate the situation to potential buyers.
- Be open to negotiations and flexible regarding pricing, taking into account the cost of necessary repairs and potential devaluation due to the subsidence issue.
- Utilise targeted online advertising and marketing communications that address concerns related to subsidence while also promoting the property’s strengths and unique features.
- Emphasise any transferable warranties or guarantees for completed repair work, providing additional reassurance for potential buyers.
The importance of a structural survey for buyers
Before buying a property, getting a structural survey is crucial. This survey can identify any potential subsidence issues that might not be visible to the untrained eye. A thorough inspection can reveal underlying structural problems such as soil shrinkage or foundation issues, helping buyers make informed decisions and avoid expensive repair costs later on.
Remember, a small investment in a structural survey now could save you from significant financial and safety concerns in the future.
Subsidence can remain hidden until it causes major damage, making it essential for buyers to take precautions before finalising a purchase. By having a proper structural survey conducted, buyers can ensure that they are aware of any existing or potential subsidence risks associated with the property they intend to buy.
What to disclose to potential buyers
Before selling a home with subsidence, it’s crucial to disclose all the known information about the subsidence issue to potential buyers. This includes providing details of any previous subsidence-related repairs, insurance claims, and structural surveys.
Additionally, it’s important to share any ongoing monitoring or maintenance that the property requires due to its history of subsidence. Transparently disclosing this information will help potential buyers make informed decisions and understand the responsibilities and risks associated with owning a property affected by subsidence.
When disclosing information about subsidence to potential buyers, remember to include specifics such as the causes of the subsidence, past repair work completed, insurance coverage details related to subsidence damage, and any warranties or guarantees on repair work.
Subsidence Warning Signs Recap
When it comes to the safety and value of your property, being aware of the warning signs of subsidence is crucial. Sinking or sloping floors, cracks in walls, sticking doors and windows, and puddles around the perimeter are all indicators that should prompt you to take action.
It’s essential to identify and address any subsidence risks early on to prevent further damage and potential devaluation of your property. Remember, prompt attention can save you from expensive repair costs later on.
Understanding the impact of subsidence on your property’s structure and value empowers you to make informed decisions for its maintenance and preservation. By recognising these warning signs early, you can protect your home from serious damage caused by subsidence.
Helping you with subsidence claims
Proving a subsidence house insurance claim can be a slow and arduous process. Your insurers will usually want to appoint their own engineer to investigate and possibly challenge the assertion that there has been subsidence in order to possibly avoid any liability that they may have. Hence, it is prudent to have someone working on your behalf who will fight your corner and prove that you do in fact have a subsidence damage claim.
N.J. Carroll & Associates Loss Assessors can offer you the professional advice that you need and ensure that you receive a fair and adequate settlement. Do not hesitate to contact us and one of our experienced Dublin Loss Assessors and claims handlers will discuss any issues you have regarding your subsidence damage claim.
N.J. Carroll & Associates Ltd are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Our Financial Regulator Certificate number is C41330. Niall Carroll is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. We are also a member of the Irish Claims Consultants Association.