House sinking

47
Posted 26th NovEdited by:"Uranus"
Hi, I have concluded that the back of my house is sinking very very slowly, and has been for a number of years.
Won't go into all the evidence, but please just assume that what I'm saying is correct.
At the moment, the only problems are that doors are very difficult to lock and in the kitchen the floor tiles are starting to get misaligned / rising up a bit in places.

My question is, do I report this to the home insurance people now, or do I wait for something major to happen? My policy obviously has subsidence cover, but I'm unsure if there is an impact to it if I haven't reported any suspicions prior to a major claim.
On the other hand, I'm worried that if I report my suspicions, I will be told to go and fix it myself else any future subsidence claims will be ineligible.

Any thoughts please guys?
Ta.
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I think you’d be safer reporting it sooner rather than later. I can see no downside to doing that (if it’s subsidence you should be covered, subject to the usual quite large excess) but the risk in not reporting it is that the insurer will say you haven’t given them the chance to limit any damage.
Why remove my posts? I have asked politely if the member agrees that they gave wrong advice - it helps the OP
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deleted1471098
Uranus26/11/2019 14:26

Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion …Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion regarding the severity of the issue?Implying that the current symptoms all arose in recent days rather than a period of years, perhaps leading the insurer to arrange unnecessary repairs which might be recognised as being due to my own incorrect reporting sometime later?


You are simply stating that you have noticed the issue following a recent period of rain. The issue could have existed for years but you weren’t aware of it.

The experts will look at it and determine the cause which they will report on to the insurance company. You are not an expert and are not expected to know about subsidence.

If you say you knew about the problem when you bought the policy you will lose all cover, have your insurance cancelled immediately and have to declare that to all future insurers which will make premiums go sky high if they will even insure you at all. Be careful as in the terms and conditions you will have declared that you are not aware of any issues with the building.
Edited by: "deleted1471098" 26th Nov
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I think you’d be safer reporting it sooner rather than later. I can see no downside to doing that (if it’s subsidence you should be covered, subject to the usual quite large excess) but the risk in not reporting it is that the insurer will say you haven’t given them the chance to limit any damage.
If it is subsidence, then why wait until cracks you can fit your hand in form on the side of the house before doing anything when it will be astronomical to fix???

Start the fix immediately and it will save you and your insurance company a lot of money!
yes, it has an impact but that’s life and it’s why you have insurance. READ THE POLICY. Please don’t leaf through it. A claim will take months or years. Yes it will affect the value of your house and the resale market for it but that’s life. You already have the problem. It is unlikely to go away.

my first house had subsidence. Sorry to hear it’s happened to yours but it will get fixed and it will sell. The focus now is on getting it back to tip top condition so people want it when you sell it.
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deleted1471098
I would contact them and say that you suspect your house maybe subsiding. They will send someone out to look at it.

Just be aware subsidence claims have an excess of usually £1-3k depending on your policy. It will also make your house very difficult to sell in the future too even when fixed. I would also mention that this has only happened since the recent rains, as if they think you have been ignoring it and were with a different insurer when the issue started you might not be covered.
Edited by: "deleted1471098" 26th Nov
tell the insurer. i had the same problem but i never claimed and it turned out not to be subsidence i don't think but the floors in the house were being displaced due to the age of the house, it was a 3 storey victorian house.
deleted147109826/11/2019 14:15

I would also mention that this has only happened since the recent rains, …I would also mention that this has only happened since the recent rains, as if they think you have been ignoring it and were with a different insurer when the issue started you might not be covered.


Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion regarding the severity of the issue?
Implying that the current symptoms all arose in recent days rather than a period of years, perhaps leading the insurer to arrange unnecessary repairs which might be recognised as being due to my own incorrect reporting sometime later?
Avatar
deleted1471098
Uranus26/11/2019 14:26

Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion …Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion regarding the severity of the issue?Implying that the current symptoms all arose in recent days rather than a period of years, perhaps leading the insurer to arrange unnecessary repairs which might be recognised as being due to my own incorrect reporting sometime later?


You are simply stating that you have noticed the issue following a recent period of rain. The issue could have existed for years but you weren’t aware of it.

The experts will look at it and determine the cause which they will report on to the insurance company. You are not an expert and are not expected to know about subsidence.

If you say you knew about the problem when you bought the policy you will lose all cover, have your insurance cancelled immediately and have to declare that to all future insurers which will make premiums go sky high if they will even insure you at all. Be careful as in the terms and conditions you will have declared that you are not aware of any issues with the building.
Edited by: "deleted1471098" 26th Nov
deleted147109826/11/2019 14:31

You are simply stating that you have noticed the issue following a recent …You are simply stating that you have noticed the issue following a recent period of rain. The issue could have existed for years but you weren’t aware of it.The experts will look at it and determine the cause which they will report on to the insurance company. You are not an expert and are not expected to know about subsidence.If you say you knew about the problem when you bought the policy you will lose all cover, have your insurance cancelled immediately and have to declare that to all future insurers which will make premiums go sky high if they will even insure you at all. Be careful as in the terms and conditions you will have declared that you are not aware of any issues with the building.


Thank you. I will do that.
Uranus26/11/2019 14:26

Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion …Thanks, but wouldn't this lead to possibly an incorrect conclusion regarding the severity of the issue?Implying that the current symptoms all arose in recent days rather than a period of years, perhaps leading the insurer to arrange unnecessary repairs which might be recognised as being due to my own incorrect reporting sometime later?


i would call them and don't start stating that you have subsidence, just state that you have noticed recently, maybe over the last few weeks, that the doors are sticking and the kitchen tiles are getting moved so how would you go about getting this assessed by the insurer and making a claim for repairs? let them tell you it may be subsidence.

it is a risk you take as they will send a structural engineer round to investigate and if there cracks on the external walls then the surveyor may report that the issue has existed for a while and that you are playing dumb.
never give insurers "solutions" or even potential "solutions". only give insurers problems and symptoms.
just imagine what structural surveyors actually do if they find their own homes suffering from subsidence; i bet they don't let onto their insurers their occupation
I’m pretty sure your obliged to report anything within a certain time of noticing it so leave it and somehow they prove you knew months prior and they could invalidate insurance.
Get a surveyor to "officially" confirm it, then you have something solid to go to your insurance with (you'll have to pay, but it could be taken off the excess)
Thanks all.
Whats the best / worst scenarios if there is confirmed subsidence?
Could I end up better off? i.e. a rebuild of the back of my house? (albeit with a few £k excess).
Could I end up worse off, or facing massive inconvenience - e.g. having to vacate the home for months? do I have to pay for my own accommodation and perhaps claim it back eventually?
so are there cracks on the brickwork or just the internal movements that you have noticed?
Uranus26/11/2019 15:57

Thanks all.Whats the best / worst scenarios if there is confirmed …Thanks all.Whats the best / worst scenarios if there is confirmed subsidence?Could I end up better off? i.e. a rebuild of the back of my house? (albeit with a few £k excess).Could I end up worse off, or facing massive inconvenience - e.g. having to vacate the home for months? do I have to pay for my own accommodation and perhaps claim it back eventually?


it will be very difficult to get the insurer to pay up as this is a huge cost and they will not fork out big sums easily. they will look to prove that you have known about the issue all along and lied when you took out insurance or that you failed to tell them about symptoms when they first appeared and so increasing the damage.

it is not good news for you even if you manage to get them to pay for the repair as the house will then be considered vulnerable in future as it could happen again depending on what had caused the subsidence. your insurance premiums will go up in the future, probably by a huge amount and you may be refused insurance when you disclose that you had subsidence in the past and will need specialist insurance. the value of the house will be affected as potential buyers will be concerned that it had suffered subsidence unless many years have passed since it was rectified and there are no sign of further problem.

this is the worst scenario.

depending on the extent of the subsidence, underpinning can usually be done while you continue to live in it.
Uranus26/11/2019 15:57

Thanks all.Whats the best / worst scenarios if there is confirmed …Thanks all.Whats the best / worst scenarios if there is confirmed subsidence?Could I end up better off? i.e. a rebuild of the back of my house? (albeit with a few £k excess).Could I end up worse off, or facing massive inconvenience - e.g. having to vacate the home for months? do I have to pay for my own accommodation and perhaps claim it back eventually?



any speculation will just do your head in. Contact your insurer ASAP, what will be, will be. You are no longer in command of what will happen.
esar26/11/2019 15:35

Get a surveyor to "officially" confirm it, then you have something solid …Get a surveyor to "officially" confirm it, then you have something solid to go to your insurance with (you'll have to pay, but it could be taken off the excess)


I'd be inclined to do this first, purely to keep it off record with the insurance company.

Or a builder who'll have a look if you know any as a starting point.


It could be that the door just needed adjusting and the floor tiles haven't been laid well or screed breaking up.
Edited by: "ScubaDudes" 26th Nov
How long have you lived in the property? Did you have a full building survey carried out when you purchased? Are any of the neighbouring properties affected? Is it terraced, semi detached or detached? Sorry for the questions.
ScubaDudes26/11/2019 16:46

I'd be inclined to do this first, purely to keep it off record with the …I'd be inclined to do this first, purely to keep it off record with the insurance company.Or a builder who'll have a look if you know any. It could be that the door just needed adjusting and the floor tiles haven't been laid well or screed breaking up.


the OP needs a structural engineer, not a surveyor as they are not versed in subsidence, only a structural engineer will be able to do a proper assessment. i would expect they charge about £2,000 to do a full survey as I had this done for my house when the neighbour wanted to build a block of flats next door and i got them to pay for it as part of the party wall agreement.

if there are no cracks on the brickwork then it could just be movement of the floor joists. in my house they had dropped due to age as these joists are made of wood.
mutley126/11/2019 17:01

the OP needs a structural engineer, not a surveyor as they are not versed …the OP needs a structural engineer, not a surveyor as they are not versed in subsidence, only a structural engineer will be able to do a proper assessment.


Incorect.

"A chartered surveyor will be able to work out whether or not there is subsidence and what the likely cause is."
mutley126/11/2019 17:01

the OP needs a structural engineer, not a surveyor as they are not versed …the OP needs a structural engineer, not a surveyor as they are not versed in subsidence, only a structural engineer will be able to do a proper assessment. i would expect they charge about £2,000 to do a full survey as I had this done for my house when the neighbour wanted to build a block of flats next door and i got them to pay for it as part of the party wall agreement.if there are no cracks on the brickwork then it could just be movement of the floor joists. in my house they had dropped due to age as these joists are made of wood.





ricsfirms.com/res…ce/

A chartered surveyor will be able to work out whether or not there is subsidence and what the likely cause is.


Another link here that might help op - ricsfirms.com/res…ng/



Edit - @tregs beat me to it.
Edited by: "ScubaDudes" 26th Nov
A lot of overcomplication. Only one thing necessary - contact the insurer, state the known facts, let them decide the next step, which will probably be a visit from one of their people, and/or a loss adjuster.

Once reported you’re in their hands as to what happens, and you may well be entirely happy with the way it’s dealt with. If not, there are various options, including the appointment of your own loss assessor. One potential issue of course is the date at which the problem first arose.

Early days though. Good luck, and let’s hope it’s something trivial.
Thanks again.Something which may or may not be significant is that the home insurance is due for renewal in 2 weeks.
It auto renews.

I wonder if that will have any impact? Do I wait till the cover renews? Seems a bit suspicious to be reporting a problem right at this time.
If you wait long enough, you'll have a beach front property in Australia
Uranus26/11/2019 17:42

Thanks again.Something which may or may not be significant is that the …Thanks again.Something which may or may not be significant is that the home insurance is due for renewal in 2 weeks.It auto renews.I wonder if that will have any impact? Do I wait till the cover renews? Seems a bit suspicious to be reporting a problem right at this time.


I’d wait until after the renewal. Shouldn’t make any difference but always better to play safe, and from what you’ve said another month or so isn’t critical. I think I’d be looking for something reasonably specific to report in due course, such as maybe a door that’s become particularly difficult to lock.
This is subsided and is still standing so tell your insurance and get it fixed.

39128723-vxSVm.jpg
OP - as others have said, report it to the insurer and keep it simple. say as little as possible and claim ignorance even if your house is half into the ground by now just say you did not think anything of it and thought it was something else, like all old houses are prone to doing this and that or the wet weather affected the doors but you got a bit concerned when the kitchen floor tiles moved so you thought you should ask about claiming for repairs.

i don't think it is worth paying for a structural engineer to do a survey as the insurer would do that anyway and they would pay for it. good luck and hope it all turns out well or at least the insurance will cough up.
Why remove my posts? I have asked politely if the member agrees that they gave wrong advice - it helps the OP
themorgatron26/11/2019 19:32

Worth a …Worth a read.https://www.subsidenceforum.org.uk/pdf/Structural%20Movement%20in%20Buildings.pdf



A very well written and informative article, thanks for posting.
m4rmite26/11/2019 18:24

This is subsided and is still standing so tell your insurance and get it …This is subsided and is still standing so tell your insurance and get it fixed.[Image]


I was just reading about this yesterday
atlasobscura.com/pla…e-3
39130313-YYE77.jpg
m4rmite26/11/2019 18:24

This is subsided and is still standing so tell your insurance and get it …This is subsided and is still standing so tell your insurance and get it fixed.[Image]


Good chance it's was built by local bricky in exchange for free drinks.
With subsidence it's best to get it fixed soon as possible. My friend just brought a house where the whole gable wall had come down a couple of courses. The owner had brickies in there to do remedial work. The floors dipped and pretty much nothing was level. After some digging and under pinning. They found out the old lead pipe to the house had a leak and the water had turned the clay soft. Something so small had done so much damage into 10s of thousands. But really it could be mines , drains , movement etc. But something that should be addressed early.
Edited by: "kash2013" 26th Nov
kash201326/11/2019 21:47

With subsidence it's best to get it fixed soon as possible. My friend just …With subsidence it's best to get it fixed soon as possible. My friend just brought a house where the whole gable wall had come down a couple of courses. The owner had brickies in there to do remedial work. The floors dipped and pretty much nothing was level. After some digging and under pinning. They found out the old lead pipe to the house had a leak and the water had turned the clay soft. Something so small had done so much damage into 10s of thousands. But really it could be mines , drains , movement etc. But something that should be addressed early.


Reading this and the article linked a few posts above by @themorgatron I am wondering if it is something to do with a leaking pipe or drain. Certainly my neighbours don't have any issues and there are no trees within 50 feet.

I will contact the insurance firm tomorrow. I am mindful the renewal is up in a couple of weeks but I don't want to delay it now that everyone here is urging immediate contact.
Edited by: "Uranus" 26th Nov
I would suggest you avoid all contact with your insurance unless you are willing to risk the value of your property decreasing, possible by a lot. It's not just the down value, hardly any insurer will touch you afterwards (you current one is legally obliged to), any that do will be charging a big premium.

Sound out a couple of builders first and get their opinion.
themorgatron26/11/2019 23:26

I would suggest you avoid all contact with your insurance unless you are …I would suggest you avoid all contact with your insurance unless you are willing to risk the value of your property decreasing, possible by a lot. It's not just the down value, hardly any insurer will touch you afterwards (you current one is legally obliged to), any that do will be charging a big premium.Sound out a couple of builders first and get their opinion.


OK so if the builders confirm it's subsidence, then I'd be going to my insurance company right?
However, if the builders find it is something else, it will still likely cost thousands, hence I'd still go to my insurance company anyway?
I'm not sure under what circumstance I would get this kind of work done privately and yet affordably. What am I using the builders for other than to confirm the root cause before going to my insurance company?
Uranus27/11/2019 00:29

OK so if the builders confirm it's subsidence, then I'd be going to my …OK so if the builders confirm it's subsidence, then I'd be going to my insurance company right?However, if the builders find it is something else, it will still likely cost thousands, hence I'd still go to my insurance company anyway?I'm not sure under what circumstance I would get this kind of work done privately and yet affordably. What am I using the builders for other than to confirm the root cause before going to my insurance company?


I found that builders will not give you their opinion as they don't want to get involved and they are not experienced with this sort of thing as it is a very specialist area. You don't want dodgy builders telling you nothing is wrong and they can fix it for you cheaply, only to find the house continues to sink after you have paid them, so it wasted money. Subsidence will cause more damage, the longer it is left without remedial work.
Edited by: "mutley1" 27th Nov
I think it's a catch 22 situation. Your doomed if you don't and your doomed if you do .
Get the builders in to ask opinions if the suspect drains, water pipe damage or trees.
Even call a structural engineer for a quote and opinion. Or a underpinning company as they will have a lot of experience in this field.

link

Link 2

Think this is the situation that the above post is trying to avoid for you.
Edited by: "kash2013" 27th Nov
themorgatron26/11/2019 23:26

I would suggest you avoid all contact with your insurance unless you are …I would suggest you avoid all contact with your insurance unless you are willing to risk the value of your property decreasing, possible by a lot. It's not just the down value, hardly any insurer will touch you afterwards (you current one is legally obliged to), any that do will be charging a big premium.Sound out a couple of builders first and get their opinion.


This is horrible advice.

Typically, subsidence is caused by foundation movement due to a compression or expansion of clay soil due to a differing amount of moisture, either by leaking drainage, or tree roots extracting moisture from the soil.

A builder will not have the correct knowledge to identify the problem, mitigate it and effectively deal with it before moving to remedial repairs of your home.

If you want to avoid insurance, you can instruct a chartered surveyor to undertake investigations, but this can be costly, Typically a subsidence excess is around £1000 and is not collected until your claim is ready for remedial repairs. Your options are wholly dependant on what route you can afford to take, but I wouldn't delay notifying your insurer, as it goes against any sound underwritten policy, as you effectively remove your insurers opporunity to mitigate the loss, and they have, and can invalidate policies and claims due to this.
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