Subsidence is a difficult subject as it could result in some cracks in a wall or the ground beneath swallowing the property though this is unlikely and is more likely a result of the property being onto a mineshaft. If you are buying a property that has a history of subsidence then you should have a history from discovery to the previous underpinning assuming that it was fixed.
Selling a house with subsidence
What causes subsidence?
There can be a few causes of house subsidence, we can split them into some sections though.
1. Clay soil beneath
Many homes are built on clay soil which when either wet or dry expands or contracts depending on its state, over time this can cause some degree of movement and the property’s foundations tend to move with it causing problems. In periods of flooding or drought, the effect can be more noticeable
2. Tree roots
Depending on the type of tree and how close to the property it is planted it can cause subsidence problems. Even if the tree is cut down the roots may remain or rot causing the foundation of the house to be damaged.
3. Uneven surface
Building on a slope can be fine but over a long period it can also slowly shift the property’s foundations down the hill, there are many factors to this mostly what the foundation of the property are building into and on top of.
The biggest problem that can cause subsidence for properties in England is old mineshafts which can cause sinkholes, risks and have warranted us to create a whole page for the subject which you can read more up on here. If your house is affected by mining it might fall under Coal Mining Subsidence Act 1991.
How can a structural engineer fix subsidence?
Usually, subsidence is a problem with the property’s foundations, this requires a fix called ‘underpinning‘. Essentially the existing foundations are reinforced, they are exposed and the existing soil under them is reinforced to stop the property from sinking. It creates more stable soil beneath the foundations. The property is then monitored for any further movement. Normally there will be some form of guarantee for a period of time with most work undertaken due to the cost which can run up to the tends of thousands of pounds. underpinned property should remain stable if the work is completed correctly.
How much does subsidence devalue a property?
There can be loads of different ways subsidence can reduce the value of a property. This might be:
- if the subsidence has been treated or not,
- when it was treated?
- have there been subsidence claims on insurance?
- how much has the subsidence affected the property from a small crack to a collapse?
- what caused the subsidence – was it large tree roots or foundations laid into clay-rich soil?
With so many variations it can be difficult to give a one size fits all discount on just how much subsidence devalues the property. You can usually expect between 10% – 25% of the open market value to drop due to subsidence.
Help to sell a property with subsidence
Unfortunately, it is hard to sell a property that’s having issues with subsidence, you can’t get a mortgage and you cannot get it insured. If the costs involved are too much money to get the problem rectified it might be best to cut your losses and sell – but to who? A cash buyer is one of the options.
How long do you have to declare subsidence?
There is no time limit on how long ago a property suffered from subsidence though as time goes on and if there is no movement it becomes less relevant. The largest factor might be how long ago insurance was claimed if more recently fixed with ongoing issues. You’ll find it is mentioned in a TA6 Form when selling.
Buying a house with minor subsidence?
If a house has active subsidence or untreated subsidence it is not recommended to purchase it, you will be unable to get a mortgage or insurance. Cash buying companies will normally be one of the few places that will buy a property of this type. If you are still determined to buy a property with subsidence make sure you ask:
- what type of subsidence is causing the problem?
- if or when there was any work carried out to help?
- what is the estimated cost to repair the damage or fix the subsidence will be?
House underpinned 30 years ago, what to do?
Mortgage and insurance may want to know about any subsidence however, after around 15 years if there has been no movement the rates become more favourable or at least less important.
Seller did not declare subsidence, what do I do?
A seller may not declare subsidence but it’s normally picked up when the property has a full structural survey undertaken or insurance is looked into as there may be claimed against the property. Solicitors might also find the info when arranging paperwork. Unfortunately by the time you’ve invested in a survey or solicitors and found the problem, it may be a lost cause as you wouldn’t be able to claim back the cost of a surveyor or solicitor cost. It can sometimes be more cost-effective to cut your loss than attempt to fix a property suffering from subsidence issues.
Are you selling a house after a subsidence claim?
You can sell a house with subsidence but expect subsidence to devalue a property’s price significantly to account for the increased cost in maintenance and insurance.
How do surveyors check for subsidence?
There are lots of ways and tools to look but some of the more common is looking for cracks or windows and doors that stick, sloping floors can also be a giveaway or a problem. They will look at the ground underneath the foundations (is there clay?) and if the area has any historical subsidence.
Are you selling a house with subsidence at auction?
You might find this better via a specialist’s auction house as it may have access to potential buyers who are more willing to take on properties with a history of subsidence or have a history in fixing problem properties.
If you’re stuck with the sale, contact SpeedPropertyBuyers on 01903 331 599. Our experienced and friendly team will guide you through the whole process. You will get an initial offer quickly and you can proceed within your chosen timeframe. We work fast!