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HELP!!! Subsidence!!!

(20 Posts)
fircone Tue 15-Sep-09 11:45:30

Some biggish cracks have appeared in the kitchen and bathroom above. I got a structural surveyor in and he says that we have some subsidence due to clay soil and trees adjacent to house.

Now, I have googled mercilessly and now I'm hyperventilating and sweating. If we get the house monitored/underpinned etc etc it seems that the problem may be dealt with, but we will find it hard to get insurance in future and, worse, will never be able to sell the house or have to sell it at a loss, which we really can't afford to do.

I have been discussing with dh should we get in a builder/decorator to do a good plastering job and sell and run now, if possible? If a buyer's survey indicates the problem, then obviously we can't escape and would have to deal with the subsidence, but would it be worth the gamble to try to escape?

We don't need to move, and of course don't want the expense, but neither do I want a house with major problems.

alypaly Tue 15-Sep-09 11:49:02

You are responsible for the report that you give to your potential purchasers and you have to make a report about anything that is wrong with the building. You can be liable for up to six months after you have sold it if you dont tell them. It happened to me with a boiler.So its the same with structural and it will be easily traceable if you try and cover it up...especially if their surveyor is a good one.

Also my BF's home has subsidence and he cant get insurance unless he pays thro the nose

GooseyLoosey Tue 15-Sep-09 11:50:37

I think that the cost is usually covered by insurance and that if you get the appropriate certificates (ie that it has been underpinned and won't fall down again), all should probably be well.

Look at your own insurance and then ring some insurers for "quotes". You don't have to give them your correct address. See if they are prepared to quote for a house that has been properly underpinned and what difference it makes. You can also arrange insurance on the internet - see what comes up when you put details of this in and assume that the work has been done properly.

I wouldn't sell and run - if the buyer finds out what you have done, it will all get very nasty.

PestoSurfMonster Tue 15-Sep-09 11:50:56

DH is a structural engineer specialising in subsidence, will ask his opinion when he gets home.

<<wonders if it was DH who came to Fircone's house>>

You in the South East Fircone?

fircone Tue 15-Sep-09 11:53:30

May well have been your dh! Such a nice man, stayed for hours, can't wait to see him again.... Only joking!!

PestoSurfMonster Tue 15-Sep-09 11:54:56


CMOTdibbler Tue 15-Sep-09 12:01:01

You need to contact your insurers and get this dealt with properly - this may include underpinning and tree removal/reduction.

Your insurers will have to continue to insure you in the future. TBH there are an awful lot of houses with subsidence - some areas of London especially are notorious for it.

DH is an insurance claims specialist, who has a special interest in subsidence, so if you need advice, he's happy to help

fircone Tue 15-Sep-09 12:28:06

Thanks for that. I have examined our insurance and currently are covered - of course when I took out the insurance I had no idea about any subsidence.

This is all a bugger. Weep.

PestoSurfMonster Tue 15-Sep-09 12:29:24

Don't be upset Fircone, DH deals with subsidence every day of the week. It's not at all uncommon, especially if you live on London Clay.

fircone Tue 15-Sep-09 12:32:52

Thank you, but snivel, weep, trapped here for ever in crumbling house... aaagggghhh!!!

toja555 Tue 15-Sep-09 13:37:36

PestoSurfMonster, could you specify where the London Clay is based mainly?

PestoSurfMonster Tue 15-Sep-09 13:39:35

I can't without pinching DH's geo-something map and he's out in London today (dealing with subsidence claims!). Can try and have a beak when he's home.

expatinscotland Tue 15-Sep-09 13:41:51

'I have been discussing with dh should we get in a builder/decorator to do a good plastering job and sell and run now, if possible? If a buyer's survey indicates the problem, then obviously we can't escape and would have to deal with the subsidence, but would it be worth the gamble to try to escape? '


If you didn't want the expense of maintaining a home and you don't want a home with major problems, why didn't you just stick to renting?

This will come up on any survey and, as mentioned, if you sell it and they invariably find out you covered it up you could get, quite rightly, majorly sued.

Reallytired Tue 15-Sep-09 13:44:46

Subsidence isn't the end of the world. It can be fixed and the trees removed. I would get it fixed under insurance. You would have a five year guarentee of any work done.

Lots of older properties have cracks. Its certainly not the end of the world and ofcourse buyers will be able to get insurance for subsidence that is fixed. You will pay a £1000 excess and the insurance company will redocorate your house and possibly redo your bathroom for you.

Anyway if you got subsidence you would need to repoint the outer walls as a half decent surveyor will notice it from the brick work.

willowstar Wed 16-Sep-09 06:20:22

we just bought a house that had had subsidence and was underpinned back in the 80s. Before we bought it we paid for a full structural survey and was told it was absolutely fine, no further signs of movement and so it didn't put us off at all. It is a fairly common occurance in the area we live in. Underpinning is a major job but you should be covered by insurance and you get certificates that last for years.

As for getting insurance. Yes, we had a major major problem getting insurance from any mainstream insurer...(we also live in a high flood risk area...yes we do like to live life on the edge!) with quotes of £160 per month and above for a 3/4 bed detached house. We panicked big time, our own mortgage provider wouldn't insure us for gods' sake. Anyway...the day we moved in we were able to take over our vendors insurance policy...£55 per month. That was through Lloyds TSB who had underwritten her mortgage. Go figure.

Just food for thought. As for your idea of plastering and doing a runner....shoddy, but I think you know that already!

Cazwa Wed 16-Sep-09 21:46:42

We bought a house with 'historical movement' and I remember when filling in the insurance quote stuff it asked me whether it had suffered subsidence and thought well, no, the survey said movement... we got a mortgage no problems etc. the survey played it down.

Fast forward 5 years to April this year when we were trying to sell our house. Had a dreadful survey come back saying subsidence which put our buyer off and she pulled out, survey said she'd struggle to get insurance. Fortunately the next one wasnt too bothered and had a better survey, we sold last month.

I have to say the house became a millstone around our neck after the first survey, we thought we'd never sell it. We also plastered over cracks but it was so obvious from the outside that we werent really hiding anything, just trying to make it less obvious to buyers.

We took a big hit on price but were so desperate to sell we swallowed it.

Blu Wed 16-Sep-09 21:54:03

We bought our house knowing that it had had subsidence problems and been underpinned.

The undepinning was done by the insurance company, and the only downside is that we had to continue to be insured by that company when we bought, rather than shopping around. I contacted the insurance co and ascertained that they would continue to insure us, as new owners. But actually the quote is fine, and the excess is normal. This is because the idea is that when insuracne companies pay out for underpinning, or other remedial works, they do it to solve the problem. If you try to sell ANY house in an area of London clay it will be picked up in the survey - and I was happier knowing that it had already been dealt with than that I may have all that to come.

Most of the houses in our road have ben underpinned.

Llamarama Thu 17-Sep-09 21:50:09

Our house has had subsidence and been underpinned, all before we bought it.
Didn't put me off buying. The way I see it, as there is a problem with subsidence in this area generally as there is in many areas round the country, better buy the house that has been underpinned than the one down the road, as the house that has already been underpinned certainly isn't moving anymore, but the other one may well do if not now then in years to come, and then you have all the hassle and expense of getting the underpinning done.
Our insurance is not any more expensive becaue of the underpinning, only thing is we have to use the insurance co that was the previous owners at the time of the underpinning, but they're no more expensive.

SingleGuyM Sun 11-Oct-09 05:25:44

Occasional reader, first time poster. Apologies in advance, but this is a bit of a long one...

I'm not a Mum (obviously), nor do I have any intention of becoming a parent, but I am currently in the process of negotiating to purchase a property with evidence of subsidence and wanted to share my thoughts. And yes, the original post annoyed me a bit.

I'm meeting the vendor in a few hours to discuss where we both stand (hence me not being able to sleep), but as he's in his 90s, I'm not holding out much hope. He's currently unwilling to listen to the Chartered Surveyor's report and am facing a Chartered Structural Engineer's costs at my own expense in hope of getting him to see some sense, but without any guarantee the purchase will progress.

Thanks to Google and some of the posts on here, I've discovered that the sensible solution would appear to be for him to start a claim through his insurance, which would allow me to purchase the property with that in place, taking on the insurance policy and the purchase price being adjusted accordingly. As he is (strictly speaking) currently unaware of the problem because I commissioned the survey and not him, he could arguably put the house back on the market and hope someone else doesn't notice it.

In his case, I would possibly excuse him because he's old, quite stubborn (like me) and is sure it's a lot of fuss over nothing.

Fircone: I'm sorry, but I don't think I could extend the same courtesy to you. How would you feel if the tables were turned and you were your prospective purchaser? I'm no Christian, but "do unto others..." really isn't that bad a place to start when it comes to living your life.

You're already aware of the problem as you've commissioned an official survey, so it would hopefully show up in any searches / report their solicitors do, so I don't think there's any way of getting around it, not that you should try to.

Check your insurance policy again, be sure you know what you're covered for and then contact them. I'm TERRIBLE at putting things off* and would implore you not to make the same mistake I previously would have and not attempt to address this properly now.

This is exactly why we pay the unpleasant evil of house insurance. Yes, it MIGHT limit your market slightly when it comes to sell if your house has been underpinned (much less than if the problem hasn't been addressed, the new purchasers can't get a mortgage or insurance at all and basically only want to offer you the value of your land) but it is more likely that they would simply be limited in their choice of insurers and mortgage providers.

Now isn't a good time to sell, no matter what the papers are spinning, and it won't be a good time for a few years. So that time would be much better spent on the limited cost of the excess of your insurance policy to address the problem now than hoping you can sneak it past someone else at a later date.

I think from your original post that you know what you were suggesting is morally wrong. I hope that you do the right and sensible thing and wish you the very best of luck in getting it sorted.

* My most recent example being refusing to take 'advantage' of Government scrappage scheme for my 10year old Rover, bullishly declaring I would drive it until it dies... only for it to do so on the last day of September, just before the majority of car manufacturers put prices up again and withdrew their best offers. Am thinking of getting a backwards tattoo on my forehead saying I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS YEARS AGO so every time I look in the mirror, I'll remember why I should stop putting things off.

HerHonesty Sun 11-Oct-09 08:19:11

i'm a bit of a believer in karma myself. ditch and run and who is not say the next house you buy will be even worse? If you can hide subsidence anyone can.

Getting subsidence dealt with is not a massive hoohaa. Get it done, keep the certificates and then when you do sell, its one more thing your previous buyers arent going to worry about.

regardings insurance, its customary any new buyer will be able to carry forward your insurance if you sell in the next few years. They cannot withdraw your insurance on the basis of this claim. We had a house with a collapsed drain and this is what we did, their comes a point in time where they disregard the underpinning.

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