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Is it Possible to Prevent Subsidence?

(July 15, 2023)

Subsidence is an incredibly common issue, not just in the UK but across the world. According to Today’s Conveyancer, around 5.76 million homes in Britain are currently experiencing medium or high subsidence risks. This number is set to sky-rocket by the year 2070, particularly in London, Kent and other areas in the south of the country, something that is mainly due to the fact that they experience, drier, hotter summers, claims The Guardian. With these threats looming over millions of homeowners over the next fifty years, it’s no wonder that people are wondering how to prevent subsidence from occurring and we’re on hand to help.

 

What is subsidence?

Subsidence occurs when the ground beneath your property starts to move. Usually, subsidence refers to the shrinking of the soil underneath your foundations, which is something that happens for several reasons. Subsidence can cause a building to sink, slope or lean to one side, resulting in knock-on effects as a result of subsidence occurring, including:

  • Cracks in exterior and interior walls
  • Windows and doors becoming jammed or sticky
  • Sinking floors
  • Extensions coming away from the main building
  • Chimneys moving away from the house
  • Water stains on walls and ceilings
  • Noticeable leaning of the property
  • Driveways, garden paths and patios becoming sloped or uneven

 

What causes subsidence?

There are several different factors that could trigger, or cause, subsidence. One of the most notable causes is planting trees or large shrubs in the vicinity of the property. This is something that a surveyor will pick up on if you’re looking to buy or sell your home. This is because it can cause cases of subsidence. In addition, some of the other things that could cause subsidence include the following:

  • A building has foundations that is sat on top of clay soil – this type of soil changes greatly with different weather conditions, shrinking in the summer and expanding in the winter as moisture levels increase and reduce. However, clay soil is more drought-tolerant thanks to its high moisture content, generally
  • Land that is prone to drought on a regular basis – consistently dry soil will shrink, therefore increasing the chances of subsidence problems
  • Leaks – leaky drain pipes and guttering can result in excessive amounts of water, causing soil to expand, or it could end up either washing soil away or making it too soft
  • The overall age of the property & how well it’s been constructed – a period property might be more at risk of subsidence simply because of how long it’s been on the land. Older properties, on the other hand, are built from bricks and mortar, making it more flexible. In turn, this makes them better equipped to deal with ground movement
  • Mining – if your house has been next to or on the site of a former quarry or mine, then that immediately makes the property more susceptible to subsidence because the ground underneath has been weakened, rendering it “unstable”. Before you buy a house, you can purchase a subsidence claims reports from the Coal Authority to see if the house is affected
  • Groundworks are poor – if the foundations haven’t been built correctly, or if they’re incredibly poor quality, then subsidence is almost inevitable. You can have in-depth home surveys and evaluations done to check these factors

 

Can subsidence be prevented?

If you’re not worried that your house is currently experiencing subsidence, it’s only natural for any homeowner to want to take the necessary steps to prevent it from happening. One of the most simple and preventable measures you can take is to not plant trees or shrubs too close to the house. There are several different tree species that should absolutely not be located anywhere near a building. Some trees need to be planted up to 40 metres away, such as a Willow tree. Other trees that you should avoid planting are as follows (list starts at 5 metres and ends at 40 metres):

  • Yew
  • Magnolia
  • Laurel
  • Holly
  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Laburnum
  • Birch
  • Apple or pear
  • Cherry
  • Damson
  • White Beam or Rowan
  • Hawthorn
  • Walnut
  • Beech
  • Sycamore
  • Maple
  • Lime
  • Cypress
  • Ash
  • Plane
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Oak
  • Poplar
  • Willow

Other things you can do is making sure that all leaks in pipes, drains and gutters are fixed and working properly. This prevents excess moisture from entering the ground beneath. If, after all of that, you’re still experiencing excess water, place a water butt underneath to catch water that isn’t going smoothly down your drains.

You should have your drains inspected either bi-yearly or once-annually with a camera to make sure they haven’t become compromised, as they too can leak excess moisture into the ground soil. Aside from that, you should look out for the early signs of subsidence, allowing the issue to be rectified by a competent subsidence expert, such as us here at Geobear. The signs of subsidence are as follows:

  • Cracks in external and internal walls
  • Doors and windows that stick
  • Patios, driveways or garden paths that bulge or slope to one side
  • The property is noticeably leaning 
  •  Any extensions to the property are coming away from the main building 

 

How can subsidence be rectified?

When it comes to subsidence problems, the sooner the issue is identified the better. Here at Geobear, we can inspect your property, looking for signs of subsidence and surveying the severity of them. We will then offer the best possible subsidence solution that is seamlessly tailored to your case. No one job is the same when it comes to subsidence, which is why we endeavour to offer bespoke options and execute sterling, unrivalled underpinning solutions.

We offer innovative underpinning solutions that are non-disruptive and highly-effective. Using the resin injection method, the substance will fill all of the voids underneath your property, expanding as it goes. This helps to stabilise and strengthen the ground underneath, restoring your property back to top condition. All signs of subsidence will disappear and you’ll be able to enjoy your home or resume your work as quickly as possible again. We are pleased to serve both domestic and commercial clients, so you’ll always be able to count on us for all of your subsidence needs and requirements.

 

If you would like further information about how we can help you with subsidence issues on either your commercial or domestic property, then get in touch with a member of our dedicated, friendly professionals today – we’re able to serve clients throughout the UK.

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