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Settlement cracks/something serious?

(33 Posts)
YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 12:58:01

I live in a Victorian terrace in London.

Since the summer I’ve noticed a few cracks appearing ... 1st plasterboard hairline cracks, now 1 in exterior bricks (a diagonal crack front door to windowsill), an interior door misaligned, and now a fairly big crack around window frame which has JUST appeared

Am wondering what’s going on? My 2 neighbours have told me they have had similar, do not appear to be very concerned..

House is on market so expect my buyers’ survey to pick up... Can I claim on my building insurance if in middle of a sale?

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YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 13:00:05

Picture here

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Zebrahooves Sun 04-Oct-20 13:08:17

I would be concerned about the external crack, especially if it mirrors any internal cracks and the door going out of alignment would definitely be a concern.

If you have any cracks that taper too, so wider at the top than the bottom and next to doors and windows, these would indicate subsidence.

I think you need to get it checked.

PigletJohn Sun 04-Oct-20 13:22:45

have a look round the drains. Do you see any sunken ground, cracked paving, or repaired patches?

have you got a water meter?

YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 13:44:53

Hello - thanks for replies. There has been a dip in pavement outside for at least 4/5 years

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YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 13:45:39

This is the external cracked brickwork

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YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 13:47:07

PigletJohn

have a look round the drains. Do you see any sunken ground, cracked paving, or repaired patches?

have you got a water meter?

The cracked paving is out on the street... under the puddle! I don’t have a water meter

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ProudAuntie76 Sun 04-Oct-20 13:47:27

I think you need to get a surveyor out for those cracks.

YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 13:49:49

YouCrackMeUp

This is the external cracked brickwork

The external pic is posted wrong sorry, the white part is top, looking down (holding iPad out of window!)

I’m a bit worried TBH, although as I pay £700 pa for insurance which covers subsidence (at freeholders insistence ) I guess any work could be claimed?

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ProudAuntie76 Sun 04-Oct-20 14:25:22

It could be claimed if there is new subsidence or drainage issues causing new cracks.

If you are selling then any potential buyers would be getting a survey anyway and any unresolved issues with subsidence etc could result in them withdrawing an offer. You should aim to get this looked into ASAP so it doesn’t slow down the sale of the house. I wouldn’t just be relying on the buyer’s survey.

PigletJohn Sun 04-Oct-20 14:57:50

sunken paving usually indicates a water leak. If there is a lif nearby for a stopcock or something have a look and see if it is wet. The water co will mend it when they have nothing else to do.

the concrete next to your path looks patched. Has it been repaired?

PigletJohn Sun 04-Oct-20 14:58:09

lif = lid

YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 15:46:14

Thanks @PigletJohn

The concrete DOES look like it has been repaired: but must have been a long time ago. I’ve been here 10 years and it wasn’t new/wasn’t mentioned in survey at the time

I had a homebuyers survey when I bought, no mention of subsistence/movement

Roof was an issue then (needed £10k o work) so may have deflected attention I suppose ...

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YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 15:47:44

Here is the concrete path,... do you think a water leak has caused this? Puddle is near water stopcock for house (on street) but it’s rain vs a leak

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Guymere Sun 04-Oct-20 15:49:30

First of all contact your insurance company. You do need to claim for this. You could also appoint your own structural engineer. Many surveyors will defer to them anyway!

I’m not sure if it’s subsidence or heave. Subsidence is where the ground dries out around the foundations and the house sinks
(Subsides). Heave is where there is too much water in the soil. It’s common with clay soils. This might be a water leak but it could be because the soil is retaining water that was previously drunk by a tree. Is the dip in the pavement where there used to be a tree? Has anyone nearby cut down a tree?

I would say any buyer will now run a mile and you must get this fixed before you sell via your insurance.

EggbertHeartsTina Sun 04-Oct-20 15:53:54

“I had a homebuyers survey when I bought, no mention of subsistence/movement”

I don’t think homebuyers surveys are detailed enough to pickup potential subsidence, especially if the cracks weren’t there then

Guymere Sun 04-Oct-20 15:55:51

Just to explain a bit more: heave pushes up on the foundations because the ground has expanded. It makes walls move outwards. Only a detailed survey will tell you what’s really happening.

Guymere Sun 04-Oct-20 15:57:36

If there are no cracks when a survey is done; there are no cracks. Potential subsidence or heave is impossible to detect if there are no cracks.

PigletJohn Sun 04-Oct-20 19:23:10

London clay is very prone to turning to mud and washing away if there is a water leak, leaving a cavity. Trees can also cause subsidence (and heave when they are cut down) but this seems to me to be less common.

Look for the position of incoming water pipes, and downpipes from gutters and bathrooms, and signs of sunken ground or repair. AFAIK every Victorian house in London has broken and leaking clay gullies, unless they have been replaced. I'm told there is a house where they did not break, but I have never seen it.

Dawnlassie Sun 04-Oct-20 19:49:45

Just consider that if you contact your insurance company you might be expected to mention this on questions from the buyers solicitor. There is usually an information sheet a seller gets asked to fill out. In terms of the actual issue I have no idea.

YouCrackMeUp Sun 04-Oct-20 20:13:56

@Dawnlassie: this is what I think...

So see if it’s an issue for my potential buyer, if she balks at survey I will put a move on hold, fix this on insurance and try again in springtime?

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Guymere Sun 04-Oct-20 22:01:44

I do think it’s unfair to ask a potential buyer to pay for a survey when you already know there is a problem. To be fair, it’s your problem. The buyer may not even get a mortgage. May not get insurance. So you do really need to sort it out on your insurance. I think any buyer won’t be wanting to fork out for a survey to tell them what you already know.

Guymere Sun 04-Oct-20 22:19:44

Some notes on heave - Autumn heave is a known issue in London.

QueenStromba Mon 05-Oct-20 09:08:42

Guymere

I do think it’s unfair to ask a potential buyer to pay for a survey when you already know there is a problem. To be fair, it’s your problem. The buyer may not even get a mortgage. May not get insurance. So you do really need to sort it out on your insurance. I think any buyer won’t be wanting to fork out for a survey to tell them what you already know.

Yep. I was quite annoyed when our surveyor found buckets in the attic of a superficially perfect looking house. If we wanted to buy something that needed that level of work we'd have been looking at stuff that looked like it needed it for a hell of a lot less money.

FurierTransform Mon 05-Oct-20 09:45:52

Your house is on the market... definitely don't involve the insurers... Cases like this take YEARS to conclude - they won't even do anything before measuring the crack propagation for a full 12 months...

I hear this is happening all over London at the minute - multiple long dry periods + clay soil = this. I wouldn't be too concerned - it'll probably close back up over winter.

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