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Check on subsidence and use a professional RICS surveyor

RICS surveyor for subsidence

Do you have a problem with subsidence?

Following a very wet spring in the UK, some property owners are finding cracks appearing. When water leaks into the soil, it can soften or wash away foundations – this is often noticed when the foundations are on chalk or a mix of sand and gravel.

You can also find it in counties like Cornwall, where mining activity was once commonplace. Tunnels collapse and cause soil movement close to ground level.

What are the first signs of subsidence?

The first signs are visible cracks in a particular area of the property. We suggest monitoring these cracks over time, but if a sudden crack appears of 3mm or wider, there is likely to be some movement in the ground. Check out your outside brickwork and interior plasterwork. 

Are your doors and windows sticking, or has the wallpaper ripped?

If you have solid floors, do you have a slope or a dip in the floor?

We suggest asking a surveyor for specialist advice

If you do have subsidence, the sooner you address the problem, the better, and your insurers will likely be helpful in handling any claim.

A RICS surveyor can assess the damage and will use the right tools to discover if it is subsidence and if this is caused by a cracked drain, a water main, tree roots or even a natural spring.

Around 70% of all subsidence claims are associated with tree roots, as trees are notorious for sucking the moisture out of the soil. Problems such as these can be eased by removing the tree, but sometimes, this is not the best action, and it may just need pruning to reduce its thirst.

Pipework

Some homeowners or landlords find the soil below their property is being washed away due to a leaking drain or water main. In most cases, fixing the problem is often enough without having to underpin the property.

Subsidence caused by tunnels and mining 

When properties have been built above tunnels or mines, this can lead to extensive stabilisation work.

If this applies to you, or you think it might, you can order a mining report if you live in a former mining area, or you can run a property search. Sussex is notorious for tunnels. Smugglers built some, others were secret passageways between terraced houses and some held secrets from the war, but all could have a negative impact on your property.

Preventing further subsidence

Your foundations can be underpinned to prevent further subsidence but this is a disruptive and costly procedure depending on the cause and the extent of the damage. Apparently, the Institution of Structural Repairs only recommend this solution as a last report.

Can you claim from your insurance?

Sometimes, your insurance policy will cover the cost of the investigation repair if the insurance company’s loss adjuster feels it is fair. You will have to pay your insurance excess, which can be found in your insurance documents.

How can a RICS surveyor support me?

A survey can deal with your insurance company and assist with a claim. Suppose the RICS surveyor has carried out the investigation. In that case, they can also support you with finding a solution and the design and arrange for any work required. 

Frequently, the insurance company will want to appoint its own expert—at its own cost. You will need to establish who is handling the investigation at the start.

Confidence in a RICS Surveyor

RICS is the world’s largest professional body for chartered surveyors and as such, their members will offer concise, impartial advice; an assessment and costs; and act to manage the project for you.

RICS Surveyors have a strict code of conduct and hold professional indemnity insurance. They are professionals who have to update their skills and knowledge regularly.

At Charles Cox Property Group, we have an in-house consultant surveyor, Gary Edwards, who is an MRICS. We also offer a specialist surveying service for rooftops, chimneys and high buildings using a drone. This service is well-used and extremely useful as we can’t always access high buildings to check brickwork, pipework, leading, tiles and rendering. Charges for this service start at £200 + VAT.

If you would like to know more about how we can support you as a landlord or block management company, please get in touch.

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