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Is subsidence a massive deal in London?

(41 Posts)
SecondaryBurnzzz Tue 26-Nov-19 20:05:00

Just got the survey back on our new house, stating that we should get a structural surveyor in to check for subsidence. There are cracks around the bay. It is a 1910 house and is on London clay.
If it is subsidence, do we find out how much to underpin?
Is underpinning always the best treatment? the cause would probably be the clay, as no trees near by.
Not sure whether to be freaked out by this and think about pulling out, or whether it is a just a fact of London life, and go ahead anyway.
What do you think?
Thanks in advance.

Chewbecca Sun 01-Dec-19 07:45:24

If there is subsidence and you re negotiate the price, you don’t want to just look for the cost of repair to be covered, rightly or wrongly, the house also has a lower value, an underpinned house has a lower value than one that’s not been underpinned.
I live on clay in Essex and you do see a reasonable amount of subsidence but I would avoid buying a previously underpinned house, it knocks maybe 1/3 off the value IMO.

IheartNiles Sun 01-Dec-19 07:51:17

That is crap @Chewbacca it might knock a third off if needing doing (and no insurance) but not if fixed and in desirable area. We’ve had loads of underpinning down this way and all the houses have sold at the same price.

Chewbecca Sun 01-Dec-19 07:51:58

It’s what I have seen in this area.

FusionChefGeoff Sun 01-Dec-19 07:58:48

We had a house once that had been underpinned due to a burst water pipe that caused slippage / subsidence.

We were naïve and didn't really know what it meant until we tried to get house insurance!! Bloody nightmare. So if you can avoid underpinning as a solution that saves a lot of issues in that area.

We sold pretty easily I think and for a good price in a relatively slow market so it didn't seem to have too much impact but, as it was a good 'starter' home it may we'll be that others were as ignorant as we were smile

Zebrasinpyjamas Sun 01-Dec-19 08:00:58

I live in South London where subsidence is common on particular streets. We pulled out of a house that had signs of it. Next door had been underpinned but not "our" one.

Its a bit odd as theoretically an underpinned house is more stable and should be fixed but for us the worry was not being able to get insurers (our solicitor warned us to get buildings insurance before we exchanged in case we couldn't get someone to take it on. We couldn't even get insurance quotes online for example) and the problems with selling it on later. It was too much of a risk for us as 1st time buyers.
The house we pull out of did sell though so clearly not everyone feels the same as us.

NemophilistRebel Sun 01-Dec-19 09:14:55

North London / Herts border here and a lot of the old Victorian terraces have had underpinning to their bays.

It’s all been done so long ago that most people don’t know

A neighbour recently was extending and their builder found the underpinnings.

Luckily for them it doesn’t affect insurance for them

TreesRUs Sun 01-Dec-19 16:36:43

I’ve never heard of subsistence in London so presume it’s rare.

Gosh! Most of London is built on London clay which is variously unstable. If you’ve ever had a structural survey on a house in London the risk of subsidence is usually marked as raised - really surprised by this! it’s a very well known thing IME.

stucknoue Sun 01-Dec-19 16:39:27

They might just be covering themselves. A house that old will have cracks, when I sell my house it will take this into account pricing it so not all sellers will drop the price

Southwest12 Sun 01-Dec-19 17:50:32

My house in south east London had been historically underpinned when we bought it. It then needed underpinning again, insurance paid out no problems, moved me out for 12 weeks while it was done. Both my neighbours were underpinned, so all three of us within a two year period. The insurance monitored it for almost a year before they decided to do the work. When
the floors came up there were huge cracks in the dried out clay, really deep too.

Didn't stop me selling six months later, buyers paid double what we'd paid for it 8 years earlier. The history of subsidence had no impact on the sale price at all.

SurveyorScott Mon 02-Dec-19 08:45:27

Just to add some context, most of the UK has clay geology smile

You need more than just clay to get subsidence on your home though, but recent warm/dry summers have made it more common again.

SecondaryBurnzzz Mon 02-Dec-19 10:34:35

Thanks everyone again, still waiting for the SE to go in - god I hate all of this waiting!.
I'll let you know what they say.
The area we're moving to will (hopefully) be the happy recipient of a Bakerloo Line extension, so maybe by the time we move, the place may have gone up in price a bit any way.

I am vacillating between panicking and wanting to pull out and thinking "f it" every house most of the houses in the area will be affected the same way.

I will just have to be patient and see what the experts advise.

BubblesBuddy Tue 03-Dec-19 10:44:10

If it is subsidence it is far better for the existing owner's insurance to pay. You may not get this covered on your insurance as it is a known fault. You could ask for money off but the owners should claim. That is what insurance is for: if they have it. They really should get this sorted out before they sell. I would not buy a house where it has not been sorted. If the claim is agreed by the owners and their insurance, and the repair is going ahead, that is acceptable.

If a house is underpinned, or structurally repaired, it is a much better purchase than one that has not been. Buyers can be certain of what they are buying and only foolish buyers do not see the advantages of effective structural work having been carried out.

The situation you now have will delay the purchase and you must get this agreed before you buy and getting money off is not the answer. An owner would be very silly to agree to that if they have isurance.

Clay soils can lead to subsidence and heave. London Clay is a culprit like any other clays. Poor foundations are also to blame and lack of accounting for trees.

BubblesBuddy Tue 03-Dec-19 10:45:20

No. Most houses will not be affected. Many houses will have the correct foundations, not have dessicated soil and could even have been reapired.

SecondaryBurnzzz Wed 04-Dec-19 14:15:51

The structural engineer has just called to say that the cracks are 'fine' and that he does not think there is any evidence of subsidence.
PHEW!
Thanks so much for all of your advice, I really appreciated it.
Now need to get on with packing!

NemophilistRebel Wed 04-Dec-19 16:36:36

That’s brilliant news! Good luck with the rest of the sale 🥳

SecondaryBurnzzz Wed 04-Dec-19 16:46:37

Thank you NemophilistRebel grin

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