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  • Marc Tate

Remedial Work for Subsidence

Subsidence is one of those issues that strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners. It can be a total dealbreaker for potential buyers when surveyors spot signs of it and people know that if it isn’t put right, it will likely get worse. The main reason subsidence scares people so much is they associate it with major remedial work which can be very disruptive and expensive. Depending entirely on the cause and degree of the subsidence, however, this is not necessarily the case. Here are some common possible remedial work options for subsidence.


Underpinning


Let’s address this one first because it’s what everyone immediately thinks of when they hear they have a subsidence problem and what they’re afraid of as it can be major work and, thus, expensive. Interestingly, there are some statistics which suggest that only 10% of properties with subsidence actually require underpinning so it is likely to not be as commonly required as people think. It isn’t necessarily as major as people think either. It depends on the type of property and the severity of the subsidence.


Underpinning involves removing the soil which has been moving and causing the subsidence under a property and extending the foundations to a depth below the soil movement, to a more stable bearing. Obviously, this can be a huge job which is very costly and disruptive but, if you catch the problem early enough, it isn’t always.


Removing/Cutting Back Trees


Subsidence can have many causes but when on a clay based soil, trees growing close to a property is one of the most common ones. The solution to this is as obvious as it seems. Stop the tree from getting its roots any further under the property and sucking away the moisture, causing clay shrinkage subsidence. Keeping a tree trimmed or trimming it back quite severely is often sufficient but, unfortunately, sometimes the tree will need to be removed.


Fix/Replace Pipes


Sometimes, broken leaky water pipes under a property or near its foundations can be the cause of subsidence so the solution is simply to get them fixed or replaced.


Less Common Causes


Marc encountered a case of subsidence a few years ago where the owner was very worried the property would need underpinning but, when Marc investigated the problem, he discovered that it was actually a retaining wall at the boundary, which had been holding the soil underneath the property in place, beginning to bow and fail that was causing the problem. The solution, therefore, was to stabilise that wall to prevent the soil from moving further. In another case, it was found that the property was built over wartime excavations in the chalk hill used that had been used to store bank documents and the tunnels were collapsing.


So much of how subsidence is remedied depends on what’s causing it and how severe the damage is. That is why it’s so important to use someone like Marc who is an expert on subsidence with a huge amount of experience in diagnosing it and advising on how to fix it. That way, you know exactly what you’re dealing with and won’t fall into the trap of having a huge expensive underpinning operation carried out when it isn’t necessary. To speak to Marc about subsidence or any issue in your property you’re concerned about, get in touch on 01273 281624 or email info@tatesurveyingservices.co.uk.

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