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messageSubsidence
Posted by scrawford August 27, 08:17PM

Is anyone having bad subsidence compared to other years?

We have developed huge cracks in a number of walls, and I was wondering if this is specific to my house, or more general in the East Dulwich area due to all the hot weather.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was august 27, 08:18pm by scrawford.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by jonnywalker August 27, 08:26PM

many houses suffered last summer with the long period of dry weather, internal plaster cracks tended to close up a lot earlier this year but are opening up again now even more with the hot spell. One of the joys of living in south east London

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by tomskip August 27, 10:18PM

How do you know when the cracks are bad enough to worry about? Does anyone know?

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by malumbu August 27, 11:45PM

When it happens it is very quick, gaps opening up in weeks. Otherwise it is movement, few old houses are square. Bomb damage has also contributed. Keep your fingers crossed as it is a pain sorting, a pain insuring, and a pain selling.

Other sources are nearby trees etc, roots go further in dry weather.

The clay is horrid. cracks in summer, water-bound in winter, breaks gardening tools etc etc.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue August 28, 12:53AM

If the cracks are really huge, you need to get them looked at. You probably need to get them looked at anyway.

I have had a nightmare year with subsidence to my bay. It was so bad they didn't even bother monitoring it.

Currently have a case with the Financial Ombudsman. Too tedious to relate here. It was over a year from the time I made the insurance claim to the time the building eventually finished.

I was living in my kitchen for six months.

But no way could I have afforded to pay for all the remedial work myself.

Good luck!

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by cella August 28, 06:27AM

Agree it's probably worth making a claim through your insurance as they will identify the cause and monitor progress leading to repair. We've just had it done here - did take 3 years though from start to finish and lost a lovely cherry tree in the street too.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by SpringTime August 28, 08:09AM

All is not lost when it comes to selling. Provided works have been done and you've a guarantee and/or certificate of structural adequacy (I think) then selling should be easy - in fact I'd rather buy a property that had been "fixed" than a house that might need to be underpinned in the the future.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Nigello August 28, 10:01AM

Does a thin (about the width of a sweeping brush filament), 1 foot horizontal line about 2 1/2 feet up a ground floor wall on the inside mean subsidence?

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sally Eva August 28, 11:07AM

What they did for us was monitor it -- the gap closed in the winter -- they still declared it as subsidence (just because we reported it) so we had to pay the £1000 excess and cut down the trees which were reckoned to be doing the damage. However we got a certificate of structural adequacy which I am glad to learn should make it easier to sell (there are historic signs of subsidence and we had problems when we bought).

[www.reallymoving.com]

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Dyson Repairs August 28, 11:18AM

Whatever you do, do not lodge a claim with your insurance company. They immediately place a subsidence "marker" against your property. That can have a calamitous effect on your premiums and also on your future sales prospects.

Underpinning, say of a bay is not too expensive to have it done privately. IT would certainly cost you a lot less than several years of hiked premiums and loss of value of your property.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Penguin68 August 28, 11:38AM

Yes, there is a completely weird phenomenon in the Insurance industry. If you have subsidence properly put right (with structural engineers certificates etc.) you will be charged far higher future premiums, even though your property is now in far better condition (and with less risk) than that of your neighbours. You may even find the property uninsurable except with your existing insurer, who is obliged to offer cover (I believe). And yet the actual risk of further damage is far smaller, once it's been underpinned or whatever. You are not really being charged for risk at all, but the insurer is trying to get back their costs through higher premiums. Which entirely negates the concept of shared risk through insurance (where those not claiming 'pay' for those who have to). It's a disgrace, Mr Growser (which will only make sense to pensioners who remember Toytown in Children's Hour on the Home Service).

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue August 28, 05:01PM

Dyson Repairs Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Whatever you do, do not lodge a claim with your
> insurance company. They immediately place a
> subsidence "marker" against your property. That
> can have a calamitous effect on your premiums and
> also on your future sales prospects.
>
> Underpinning, say of a bay is not too expensive to
> have it done privately. IT would certainly cost
> you a lot less than several years of hiked
> premiums and loss of value of your property.


I used to say the same, but I have changed my mind.

Also, I understood that you had to declare any history of subsidence when you sell your house, regardless of who has paid to fix it.

Or are you suggesting lying to your purchasers and their solicitors?

Also, depending on the circumstances, it is not just underpinning. In my case it involved complete taking down and rebuilding of the bay, installing new stone pillars and window sill made by a stone mason, plus finally replastering and redecoration of the exterior and living room.

Plus three new windows.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Tashmed August 28, 08:05PM

I live at the top of the Rye on the Nunhead side and am currently going through the whole rigmarole with my insurance company around getting it fixed following some large cracking appearing last summer during the heatwave. To complicate matters further a large Ash tree which is contributing to much of the issue is on Southwark Council land who are certainly dragging their heels on the matter.

13 months in and no remedial work on the horizon but it is all insured and I'm glad it is!

Anyone who suggests going private to rectify the issue (no matter how minor) and then not declaring it when asked if you have any history subsidence by an Insurance company is committing 'non-disclosure' which could result in future claims being declined. I'm not trying to scaremonger- I work in Insurance!

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Dun August 28, 08:58PM

My neighbour was paranoid about subsidence and would have a surveyor, Martin Hemming from Half Moon Lane () come out every 2 years to look at cracks. Each time he would check them out and reassure her that they were fine, not subsidence. He didn’t charge her much for this and she was reassured. If I remember correctly it was the diagonal cracks that were considered more likely to be subsidence. We bought and sold a house that had been monitored for subsidence and had no problem selling it so wouldn’t be too worried.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by SpringTime August 30, 11:30AM

Nigello Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Does a thin (about the width of a sweeping brush
> filament), 1 foot horizontal line about 2 1/2 feet
> up a ground floor wall on the inside mean
> subsidence?

Doubt it - sounds more like plastering.

If the cracks are growing in diagonal/vertical lines and evident both inside and out then I'd recommend a survey.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Plough Man August 31, 08:23PM

Tashmed Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I live at the top of the Rye on the Nunhead side
> and am currently going through the whole rigmarole
> with my insurance company around getting it fixed
> following some large cracking appearing last
> summer during the heatwave. To complicate matters
> further a large Ash tree which is contributing to
> much of the issue is on Southwark Council land who
> are certainly dragging their heels on the matter.
>
> 13 months in and no remedial work on the horizon
> but it is all insured and I'm glad it is!
>
> Anyone who suggests going private to rectify the
> issue (no matter how minor) and then not declaring
> it when asked if you have any history subsidence
> by an Insurance company is committing
> 'non-disclosure' which could result in future
> claims being declined. I'm not trying to
> scaremonger- I work in Insurance!

You work in insurance. Well, that figures.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by alexablue22 September 08, 04:13PM

Really helpful to read all these. Thank you, Sue for highlighting the thread.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by LouieM September 10, 12:40PM

I have to wade in and agree that you shouldn't try and fix subsidence privately - especially if you are planning on selling at some point in the future. We had subsidence in our house near Forest Hill and it was a royal pain to get sorted - three years badgering Co-operative insurance and even having our own tests done at great cost (although we eventually managed to claim these back too). However, when we came to sell, our buyers were very pleased it had all been sorted and - crucially - our premiums with Co-op did NOT go up. The only thing we had to do was make sure our buyers took over the same insurance policy when we sold. I wouldn't touch a privately fixed house with a barge pole.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by LouieM September 10, 12:41PM

Nigello - in answer to your question, we were told only to worry about cracks you could fit a £1 coin into. Hairline cracks really aren't such a problem.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Lemming September 10, 02:17PM

I would be wary of rushing to my insurer as a first port of call and mentioning 'subsidence'.

If you're concerned, employ a structural engineer to assess. He or she can tell you if it's subsidence or not. If it is, or could be, proceed to insurer. If it isn't, remedy privately (it's only going to be cosmetic repairs in this case anyway).

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by scrawford September 10, 02:17PM

Hi I started this thread as I have subsidence in one corner of my house (which is on the outside wall as well). I have found a company on the internet (Geobear) which uses foam under the area affected. Am waiting for their site visit to provide a quote. From what ive read they’re not cheap. One advantage of this company is that you do not have to declare this to your insurance if you go private. I’ll let you know how I get on.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was september 10, 02:27pm by scrawford.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue September 10, 08:20PM

scrawford Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hi I started this thread as I have subsidence in
> one corner of my house (which is on the outside
> wall as well). I have found a company on the
> internet (Geobear) which uses foam under the area
> affected. Am waiting for their site visit to
> provide a quote. From what ive read they’re not
> cheap. One advantage of this company is that you
> do not have to declare this to your insurance if
> you go private. I’ll let you know how I get on.


Geobear is the firm my insurance company employed for my bay. They injected resin.

This was only the very start of the required work to deal with the subsidence and its effects. Obviously every case is different, however.

You may not "have to declare this to your insurance if you go private", but as noted above, you have to declare subsidence if/when you sell your house.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit was september 10, 08:26pm by Sue.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue September 10, 08:24PM

Lemming Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I would be wary of rushing to my insurer as a
> first port of call and mentioning 'subsidence'.
>
> If you're concerned, employ a structural engineer
> to assess. He or she can tell you if it's
> subsidence or not. If it is, or could be, proceed
> to insurer. If it isn't, remedy privately (it's
> only going to be cosmetic repairs in this case
> anyway).


Some years back, I had cracks in my bathroom wall at the back of the house.

I contacted my insurance company who sent a surveyor.

The cracks were not due to subsidence. I didn't have to pay anything for the surveyor, I was not covered for the repairs by my insurance company, a builder did the required work (can't remember what it's called but it's very common, the back of the house was falling away - less awful than it sounds! - and had to be fixed back again, a relatively quick and easy job).

There was no "subsidence" marker applied anywhere, to the best of my knowledge, and my premium wasn't affected.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Lemming September 11, 08:46AM

Sue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The cracks were not due to subsidence. I didn't
> have to pay anything for the surveyor, I was not
> covered for the repairs by my insurance company, a
> builder did the required work (can't remember what
> it's called but it's very common, the back of the
> house was falling away - less awful than it
> sounds! - and had to be fixed back again, a
> relatively quick and easy job).
>
> There was no "subsidence" marker applied anywhere,
> to the best of my knowledge, and my premium wasn't
> affected.

Consider yourself lucky. (Well.. the first time anyway.)

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue September 11, 11:53AM

Lemming Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sue Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > The cracks were not due to subsidence. I didn't
> > have to pay anything for the surveyor, I was
> not
> > covered for the repairs by my insurance company,
> a
> > builder did the required work (can't remember
> what
> > it's called but it's very common, the back of
> the
> > house was falling away - less awful than it
> > sounds! - and had to be fixed back again, a
> > relatively quick and easy job).
> >
> > There was no "subsidence" marker applied
> anywhere,
> > to the best of my knowledge, and my premium
> wasn't
> > affected.
>
> Consider yourself lucky. (Well.. the first time
> anyway.)


I only posted that in response to the people on here who think that as soon as you contact your insurance company re any kind of cracks they immediately mark it down as subsidence on your file or whatever.

In my experience that was not the case.

Though obviously the work done this year was clearly a result of subsidence.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Penguin68 September 11, 12:22PM

Just to add that 'movement' may not equate to subsidence (although subsidence is always a result of movement!). Most houses of any age do flex, and this will cause small cracks - which can be exacerbated by e.g. heavy trucks bouncing over speed bumps. Additionally additions to houses can pull-away - but this can be sorted without it being a function of subsidence (often they are not tied-in in the way that original features are).

It is when the cracks are wide and opening quickly that you need to be concerned. Photographing any external cracks with a ruler will allow you to judge movement and its speed (and give you a record if there are stable cracks for any future sale issues!).

Subsidence is a problem when the conditions are worsening - past evidence of movement (even quite substantial movement) may not necessarily be evidence of continuing problems. Removal of trees can cause movement which then stabilises, for instance. If the house is still standing there is no reason why it won't continue to stand.

[And some evidence of movement locally dates back to bomb damage - if the house is still here after that, it ain't going anywhere - a friend discovered a wall more than a foot out of true through that cause - 60 years and more after the bomb had fallen!].

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Lemming September 11, 02:09PM

Sue Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I only posted that in response to the people on
> here who think that as soon as you contact your
> insurance company re any kind of cracks they
> immediately mark it down as subsidence on your
> file or whatever.

They might, they might not.

However, if the option exists to take this initial decision out of the hands of a for-profit business - by way of a relatively modest outlay to a completely impartial (and possibly better-qualified - at least in terms of the first person the building insurance people send over) expert.. there's a good chance you might be glad you did.

Experiences may vary and it's nice to see some kind words for the industry on here, but equally I doubt there are any shortages of people who feel their insurer has been an absolute bastard as soon as the opportunity arose.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue September 11, 07:39PM

Lemming Wrote:
-------------------------------------------I
> doubt there are any shortages of people who feel
> their insurer has been an absolute bastard as soon
> as the opportunity arose.


I have a case with the financial ombudsman at the moment, but the main problems were with Sedgwick aka Cunningham Lindsey, rather than the insurance company (although the insurance company dealt very badly with my complaint).

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by cella September 11, 11:06PM

Interestingly, we have just finished a tortuous three year subsidence claim and were compelled to deal with the same company(s). Awful experience with the lowest level of customer service. Very stressful and just working up the energy to put in a formal complaint with the insurers who always insist on contracting them.

messageRe: Subsidence
Posted by Sue September 12, 10:45AM

cella Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Interestingly, we have just finished a tortuous
> three year subsidence claim and were compelled to
> deal with the same company(s). Awful experience
> with the lowest level of customer service. Very
> stressful and just working up the energy to put in
> a formal complaint with the insurers who always
> insist on contracting them.


Very interesting. I had a PM from another local person who is also going down the financial ombudsman route due to problems with Sedgwick/Cunningham Lindsey.

I can't understand why insurance companies continue to use them.

Due to their incompetence, I had to live in my kitchen for nearly six months, and developed two separate debilitating physical illnesses, both of which were worsened by stress and one of which was probably caused by stress. I am still under hospital treatment for both of them.

On occasion I had to go to bed for days because I was so ill, but I was unable to lie on the sofa in my living room, which was completely boarded up, there were no windows, and almost all its contents (those which could be moved upstairs) were taking up the whole of my spare bedroom.


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