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Subsidence damage heats up

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  • 22/08/2003
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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believes recent high temperatures and low rainfa...

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) believes recent high temperatures and low rainfall will result in a rise in subsidence damage to the country’s housing stock.

The trade body has released a free brochure dealing with subsidence issues and has highlighted houses built before 1970, particularly Edwardian and Victorian properties, as being most at risk due to having shallow foundations.

The problem of subsidence arises when rain eventually arrives causing soil to expand. This is rarely uniform, and as a result the ground experiences ‘differential heave’, causing buildings to move and crack. The situation is made worse by any nearby trees which also remove water from the ground.

John Sparkes, professional information officer at RICS, said: ‘Finding the cracks and notifying your insurance company can be the easy part ‘ rectifying the problem can be very complex, costly and disruptive to the household.’

RICS pointed out that a claim may well involve many parties, insurers, loss adjusters, building surveyors or engineers and the building contractor.

Sparkes said: ‘Our experience is that there is little coordination between all the parties and owners can often feel they are ‘piggy in the middle.”

The free brochure: What to do when the earth moves is available by calling the RICS Contact Centre on 0870 333 1600.


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