Subsidence: Do you know what to look for?

Posted on Thursday, September 9, 2021

51% of homeowners don't know what the signs of subsidence are and of the one in five who have spotted potential signs, 26% didn't take any action, according to new research from LV= General Insurance.

Subsidence is when the ground beneath your property sinks because the soil is unstable. With summers becoming hotter as we experience more heatwaves, homes across the nation are at their most susceptible to the risk of subsidence. Claims soared last year and back in 2018 because of exceptionally hot years, and LV= GI is urging homeowners to understand the signs to ensure any issues can be identified as early as possible and dealt with quickly.

Amongst those who have spotted signs of subsidence in their homes, the most common response was to call their insurer (51%), while just over a fifth (22%) had professional checks undertaken by building surveyors. Worryingly, over a quarter (26%) didn’t do anything at all.

On top of this, 53% of homeowners don’t know if subsidence damage is even covered by their current buildings insurance policy.

Spotting the signs:

· Distinctive diagonal cracks appear at the edges of windows and doors - usually wider at the top than the bottom and around 3mm thick or thicker than a 10p coin.

· Doors or windows stick for no reason, or close easily in winter but not summer.

· Tearing wallpaper not caused by damp.

Top tips to help prevent subsidence:

· Prune trees and large shrubs to prevent soil from drying out. Seek professional advice from a tree specialist if you need to.

· Check water pipes and guttering for leaks which can wash away or soften soil.

· Lay porous materials around the home, like gravel or grass, to allow water to drain naturally.

Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= General Insurance, said: “During the summer months, intense heat can affect our foundations and lead to subsidence, especially if your home is built on clay soil. Our research has found that many homeowners don’t fully understand the significant signs of subsidence, and we want to help consumers be confident enough to spot them at an early stage.

“It’s also a good idea to carry out any precautions on your home, as making small changes early on can help make a difference. From our research, we can also see that a high proportion of homeowners don’t know if their buildings insurance covers subsidence, and I’d encourage them to check so it’s not a potential costly problem in the future.”

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