Mortgages for properties with a history of subsidence

Mortgages for properties with a history of subsidence can be challenging.
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Mortgages for a house with a history of subsidence

Mortgages for properties with a history of subsidence come with their own unique set of challenges and considerations. Subsidence, the downward movement of a building’s foundations, and settlement, a common occurrence in new structures, are critical issues that directly impact a property’s structural integrity and value. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the nuanced distinctions between subsidence and settlement, explore the implications of each on property ownership, and unravel the complexities involved in securing mortgages for properties with a history of subsidence.

From understanding the influences of environmental factors like tree roots to navigating the intricacies of property transactions affected by subsidence, this guide provides essential insights to equip homeowners, buyers, and investors with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions in the realm of real estate affected by subsidence and settlement.

Can you get a mortgage on a house with subsidence?

Certainly! Getting a mortgage on a house with subsidence can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Subsidence refers to the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land, which can subsequently affect the stability of a property. This poses as a risk factor that mortgage lenders seriously consider.

Lenders are generally cautious when it comes to offering mortgages on properties with subsidence issues because it affects the property’s market value and its resale potential. A comprehensive survey is typically required to assess the extent of the damage and the potential costs associated with repairing the subsidence. These surveys help lenders determine the level of risk involved and whether it falls within their acceptable limits.

There are specialised lenders who may consider providing a mortgage on such properties, usually at higher interest rates due to the associated risks. Furthermore, some mainstream lenders might also consider it, provided you have a substantial deposit and a solid plan in place for repairing the subsidence issues.

Another crucial aspect is insurance. Having a suitable insurance policy in place that covers subsidence is essential. Some insurers specialise in high-risk properties, and their coverage might make the property more appealing to mortgage lenders.
In conclusion, while obtaining a mortgage on a house with subsidence is more complicated and may come with higher costs, it is feasible with thorough research, a substantial deposit, and appropriate insurance coverage.

How does subsidence affect the value of a property?

Subsidence can significantly impact the value of a property due to the structural issues and potential repair costs associated with it. When a property is affected by subsidence, it means that the foundation of the building is unstable, causing the house to sink gradually. This structural problem raises concerns about the property’s safety and longevity, making it less attractive to potential buyers and investors.

Firstly, the immediate cost of repairing subsidence can be substantial. The repair might involve underpinning the foundations or removing and replacing affected soils, among other solutions. These repair costs directly reduce the property’s overall value because any potential buyer will need to consider these additional expenses when purchasing the property.

Besides repair costs, subsidence often leads to higher insurance premiums. Insurers see subsidence as a high risk, and thus, the cost of insuring such a property increases. This added long-term cost can also deter potential buyers, further lowering the property’s market value.

Moreover, the stigma associated with subsidence can affect a property’s value. Even if the subsidence issue has been resolved and repaired professionally, the history of subsidence can make buyers and investors hesitant. The fear of recurring problems or overlooked damages may lead to lower offers, impacting the property’s market value negatively.

Finally, mortgage lenders are usually more cautious with properties affected by subsidence, often requiring higher deposits and offering less favourable terms. This limitation can reduce the pool of potential buyers, limiting the demand for the property and, subsequently its market value.

What is subsidence?

Subsidence is a geotechnical issue where the ground beneath a building or another structure starts to sink or settle, causing the building to move downward. It is not the same as “settlement,” which is the natural sinking of a building into the ground over time. Subsidence is usually uneven, meaning that one part of the building might sink while another part remains stable, often leading to structural damage.

Which properties are more likely to be affected by subsidence?

Certain properties are more susceptible to subsidence based on various factors, including their location, construction, age, and surrounding environment. Here are some types of properties and conditions that are more likely to be affected by subsidence:

Properties on clay soils: Clay soils are particularly prone to volume changes with moisture variations. In dry weather, clay contracts, and in wet conditions, it expands. This continuous expansion and contraction can lead to subsidence. Parts of the UK, such as London, southeast England, and some areas of the Midlands, have significant clay soil deposits, making properties in these regions more vulnerable.

Older properties: Older buildings, especially those built before the 1960s, might have shallower foundations compared to modern standards. These shallow foundations make them more susceptible to ground movement and hence, subsidence.

Properties near trees and large shrubs: Trees and large shrubs can absorb significant amounts of water from the soil. If these plants are close to properties, especially on clay soils, they can cause the ground to dry out and contract, leading to subsidence. Oak, willow, and poplar trees are particularly notorious for causing this issue due to their extensive root systems.

Properties built over or near old mine workings: In areas with a history of mining or other underground excavations, voids or cavities might cause ground instability. Regions in the UK, like parts of the North, Midlands, and Southwest, have historic coal mines, which can be a risk factor.

Properties with poor drainage systems: Leaks from damaged drains, water mains, or sewage pipes can soften or wash away the soil beneath foundations, leading to subsidence. Older properties with outdated drainage systems might be at higher risk.

Houses on filled land: Properties built on land that has been filled, such as old quarries or landfills, can be at risk if the fill materials compress or degrade over time.

Properties in drought-prone areas: Extended periods of dry weather can cause the ground to lose moisture, especially in regions with clay soils, leading to subsidence.
To protect properties and identify potential subsidence risks, homeowners should regularly monitor and maintain their homes, be aware of local soil conditions, and consult professionals if they notice signs of structural issues.

What are the signs of subsidence?

Signs of subsidence in a property can manifest in various ways. Here are some common indications that a building might be experiencing subsidence:

Cracks in walls and ceilings:

  • Look for cracks that are more than 3mm wide, especially those appearing suddenly in walls, ceilings, and plasterwork.
  • Cracks are often tapered and might be wider at the top than at the bottom.

Doors and windows sticking:

Doors and windows may start sticking or becoming difficult to open and close due to the altered shape of their frames caused by subsidence.

Cracks in external brickwork:

Check for cracks in the external brickwork or rendering of the property. Diagonal cracks in the brickwork, particularly around doors and windows, are a common sign.

Expansion joint widening:

The expansion joints in the walls may widen, indicating that the property is shifting.

Skirting boards or wallpaper:

Look for crinkling wallpaper or separation of the skirting boards from the walls, which can signal movement in the building.

Floors becoming uneven:

Floors may become uneven, sloping, or showing signs of distortion.

Each of these signs individually might not confirm subsidence, as they can also be attributed to other issues such as temperature fluctuations, humidity, and the natural settling of the building. However, the presence of multiple signs or worsening symptoms over time could increase the likelihood of subsidence, warranting further professional assessment and intervention.

Eligibility criteria for obtaining a mortgage on a property affected by subsidence

Obtaining a mortgage on a property affected by subsidence involves meeting specific eligibility criteria set by the lenders due to the increased risks associated with such properties. Here are some key factors that lenders may consider:

Detailed survey and report:

  • A comprehensive structural survey by a qualified surveyor is usually required. The survey should detail the extent of the subsidence, its causes, and recommended remedies.

Repair and maintenance plan:

  • A clear, professional plan detailing how the subsidence will be managed or repaired. Lenders will look for assurance that the property’s value won’t further deteriorate.


  • Availability of adequate subsidence insurance. Securing such insurance can be challenging, but it is a crucial requirement for most lenders.

Deposit size:

  • A larger deposit may be required as lenders tend to be more cautious, and a significant deposit reduces the lender’s risk.

Property valuation:

  • The lender will assess the property’s current value and its projected value after the subsidence issues have been addressed.

Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio:

  • Expect lower LTV offerings; lenders may not be willing to lend a high percentage of the property’s value due to the associated risks.

Credit score and financial stability:

  • A solid credit score and proof of financial stability to ensure that you can manage mortgage repayments alongside potential repair costs.

Specialist lenders:

  • Consider approaching lenders specialising in high-risk or non-standard mortgages. They may offer products tailored to properties affected by subsidence but might charge higher interest rates.

Are there any mortgage lenders that specialise in subsidence properties?

Yes, there are mortgage lenders who specialise in non-standard properties, including those affected by subsidence. These lenders often have experience and products tailored to handle the additional risks associated with such properties. However, keep in mind that terms and conditions, such as interest rates and deposit requirements, might be less favorable compared to standard mortgages due to the increased risks.

Here’s a general list of types of lenders who might offer mortgages on properties with subsidence issues:

Specialist mortgage lenders:

  • Lenders specialising in non-standard or high-risk properties often cater to subsidence-affected buildings.

Building societies:

  • Some building societies have more flexible lending criteria and may consider applications for properties with subsidence.

High-street banks:

  • While less common, some high-street banks may have products or partnerships that cater to non-standard mortgages, including those for properties with subsidence issues.

Non-bank Lenders:

  • There are non-bank financial institutions that offer a variety of mortgage products, some of which might be suitable for properties with subsidence.

Broker-arranged lenders:

  • Mortgage brokers might have access to a range of lenders, including those who specialise in non-standard properties. They can assist in finding a suitable lender.

How much does it cost to fix subsidence in a property?

Fixing subsidence in a property can range from moderately expensive to highly costly, depending on the severity of the issue, the size of the property, and the corrective methods required. Here are some general cost guidelines:

Survey costs:

  • Before fixing subsidence, a professional survey is necessary. A structural survey could cost anywhere from £500 to £1,000 or more.


  • Underpinning, which strengthens existing foundations, is a common solution. The cost can range from £1,000 to £1,500 per linear metre, making the total cost potentially quite substantial.

Tree removal or pruning:

  • If trees are causing soil shrinkage, removal or pruning might be necessary. Costs could range from £500 to £5,000 depending on the tree size and location.

Repairing cracks and internal damage:

  • Repairing cracks and redecorating can vary, but minor repairs could start at £500, going upwards based on the extent of the damage.

Drain repairs:

  • Repairing damaged drains contributing to subsidence could cost from £500 to £1,000 or more, depending on the level of damage.

Legal and professional Fees:

  • Solicitors and professional consultancy fees can add to the cost, varying based on the complexity of the case.

Monitoring costs:

  • Ongoing monitoring might be required, which could also add to the overall costs.

In summary, an overall budget of £10,000 to £50,000 might be necessary for moderate subsidence issues, but in severe cases, costs could escalate beyond £100,000. These are estimated costs, and actual expenses could vary based on location, contractor rates, and the specific circumstances of the property. Getting multiple quotations and professional opinions is advisable for a more tailored and accurate cost assessment.

What are the risks of buying a property with subsidence?

Buying a property with subsidence comes with several risks and challenges, some of which include:

Structural integrity:

  • Damage to the Foundations: Subsidence can compromise the structural integrity of the building, leading to issues such as cracks in the walls and uneven floors.
  • Ongoing Movement: Even after repairs, there might be ongoing structural movement requiring continual maintenance and repairs.

Financial considerations:

  • High Repair Costs: Fixing subsidence issues can be costly, involving underpinning, crack repairs, and sometimes even major structural adjustments.
  • Resale Value: The property’s resale value might be adversely affected due to its history of subsidence, making it potentially harder to sell at a desirable price.

Insurance challenges:

  • Increased Premiums: Insurance premiums for such properties are often higher, and it might be challenging to find comprehensive coverage.
  • Limited Options: Some insurance companies might be reluctant to insure a property with a history of subsidence.

Mortgage difficulties:

  • Limited lenders: It might be challenging to find a mortgage lender willing to finance the purchase due to the increased risks associated with subsidence.
  • Unfavourable terms: The mortgage terms, like interest rates and deposit requirements, might be less favourable.

Legal and regulatory compliance:

  • Meeting Regulations: Repairs and modifications must comply with local building regulations, adding another layer of complexity.
  • Legal Due Diligence: Thorough legal checks are necessary to ensure that all historical works are documented and compliant with regulations.

Long-term commitment:

  • Continuous Monitoring: The property might require ongoing monitoring and maintenance to manage and prevent future subsidence issues.
  • Uncertain Future Costs: Unexpected costs may arise in the future due to recurring or new subsidence issues.

What are the benefits of buying a property with subsidence?

Buying a property with subsidence may not seem like an attractive option due to the associated risks and challenges. However, there can be some benefits to purchasing such a property, including the following:

Lower purchase price:

  • Negotiation Leverage: Due to the subsidence issue, buyers may have more room to negotiate a lower purchase price.
  • Below Market Value: Such properties often come at prices below market value, allowing for potential savings.

Investment potential:

  • Value Increase: If the subsidence issue is correctly resolved, the property’s value could increase over time, offering potential capital gains.
  • Rental Income: After necessary repairs, the property might generate rental income if you choose to lease it.

Customisation opportunities:

  • Personalisation: Repairing the property gives buyers an opportunity to customise and renovate the house to meet their preferences and needs.
  • Modernisation: The need for repairs can be an opportunity to modernise older properties, improving their functionality and appeal.

Market competition:

  • Less Competition: There might be less competition from other buyers due to the stigma associated with subsidence, allowing more time and flexibility in decision-making.
  • Choice and Availability: Buyers might find that there are more choices available in their preferred locations.

Learning and experience:

  • Project Management: Managing the repair process can be an excellent learning experience, providing insights into property maintenance and renovation.
  • Professional Network: Buyers might have the chance to build a network of professional contacts, such as surveyors, builders, and architects, through the repair process.

Environmental contribution:

  • Sustainability: Repairing and maintaining an existing structure might be seen as a more sustainable choice compared to building a new property.
  • Tree Preservation: If trees contribute to subsidence, solutions other than removal might be sought, contributing to environmental preservation.

The role of insurance in covering subsidence

Insurance plays a vital role in managing the financial implications of subsidence in properties. Having a comprehensive insurance policy can provide homeowners with the necessary financial support to undertake repairs and mitigations against further subsidence damage.

Coverage of repair costs

An essential aspect of insurance in cases of subsidence is covering the costs of repairs. This can range from minor fixes, such as filling in cracks and redecorating, to more substantial undertakings like underpinning to stabilise the foundations of the property. Having insurance means that homeowners can address and rectify the damages caused by subsidence without bearing the full financial burden of the repair costs, ensuring that the property remains safe and habitable.

Professional consultation and assessment

Insurance policies often include access to professional consultations and assessments to determine the extent of the subsidence and the best approach to remedy the issue. Insurers can guide policyholders through the process, ensuring that they receive expert advice on managing and repairing the subsidence effectively and professionally.

Ongoing monitoring and maintenance

Some insurance policies might cover the costs of ongoing monitoring and maintenance to prevent further subsidence issues. This proactive approach is essential in minimising future risks and damages, ensuring that the property is continuously monitored and any potential problems are identified and addressed promptly.

Policy conditions and excess

It’s important to note the conditions and excesses applicable in the insurance policy. In subsidence cases, insurers often apply a higher excess, meaning that the homeowner will have to contribute a more significant portion towards the repair costs. Understanding these terms is crucial to ensure that the insurance coverage aligns with the homeowner’s expectations and financial capabilities.

The legal implications of buying a property with subsidence

Purchasing a property with subsidence carries several legal implications that buyers should thoroughly consider to safeguard their investment and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. These legal considerations revolve around proper disclosure, regulatory compliance, and contractual stipulations among other aspects.

Disclosure and due diligence

One of the paramount legal aspects to consider is the full disclosure of the subsidence issue by the seller. Sellers are legally obliged to disclose known defects, including subsidence, that could influence the buyer’s decision. Buyers, on the other hand, should conduct thorough due diligence, engaging professional surveys and legal checks to uncover any subsidence issues and assess their implications accurately.

Regulatory compliance

Repairs and modifications made to address subsidence must comply with local building regulations and standards. Buyers should ensure that any previous subsidence-related works carried out on the property meet these legal and regulatory standards and that necessary approvals and certifications are in place. This compliance is crucial to avoid future legal complications and ensure the property’s safety and habitability.

Contractual considerations

Contractual agreements should meticulously outline the terms concerning the subsidence issue. This includes the representation and warranties concerning the property’s condition, the agreed remedial actions, and the allocation of responsibilities and costs pertaining to the subsidence. Proper contractual provisions provide legal clarity and protection for the buyer, ensuring that they receive what they have agreed upon.

Future liability

Buyers should also consider their future liabilities regarding the subsidence. Understanding and planning for potential legal obligations, such as necessary disclosures in future sales, liability for subsequent damages, and obligations towards neighbours or other third parties, are crucial to manage risks and expectations effectively.

Insurance and mortgage implications

Subsidence can influence the property’s insurability and mortgageability. Legal considerations include ensuring that adequate insurance cover is obtainable and that mortgage lenders are willing to finance the property considering the subsidence issue. Adequate legal preparations and considerations are essential to navigate these practical implications successfully.

What are the different types of mortgages available for properties with subsidence?

Obtaining a mortgage for a property with subsidence can be more challenging, but there are specialised mortgage products and lenders that might be willing to provide financing. Different types of mortgages that could be available for such properties include:

Specialised subsidence mortgages:

  • Some lenders specialise in offering mortgages explicitly designed for properties with historical or current subsidence issues. These mortgages may have specific terms and conditions tailored to manage the risks associated with subsidence.

High-risk mortgages:

  • High-risk mortgages, also known as subprime mortgages, are aimed at properties or borrowers deemed to be of higher risk, which could include properties affected by subsidence.

Renovation mortgages:

  • These are specifically aimed at properties in need of repair or renovation. A part of the mortgage might be released in stages as repair work progresses, ensuring that funds are utilised in improving the property’s condition, including fixing subsidence issues.

Bridging loans:

  • Bridging loans are short-term financing options that could be used to secure a property swiftly, allowing time for subsidence issues to be addressed before securing a traditional mortgage or selling the property.

Commercial mortgages:

  • If the property with subsidence is intended for commercial use, a commercial mortgage might be suitable. Lenders specialising in commercial properties might be more adept at evaluating the risks and potential of a subsidence-affected property.

Buy-to-Let Mortgages:

  • For investors planning to rent out a subsidence-affected property, buy-to-let mortgages might be an option. However, terms may be stricter, and interest rates higher due to the perceived risks associated with subsidence.

Self-Build Mortgages:

  • If the intention is to rebuild or extensively renovate a property affected by subsidence, a self-build mortgage could be considered. This type of mortgage releases funds in stages as construction progresses.

What should I do if I find out a property I’m interested in has had subsidence?

Discovering that a property you’re interested in has had subsidence is a significant consideration, and it requires a careful and informed approach. Here are steps to guide you through this scenario:

Obtain a detailed subsidence report:

  • Engage professionals to conduct a thorough survey of the property. A structural engineer or a chartered surveyor specialising in subsidence can provide a detailed report on the current condition of the property, the extent of previous subsidence, and any ongoing risks.

Review repair and maintenance records:

  • Ask the seller for comprehensive documentation regarding the subsidence. This includes information on repairs, maintenance, and any professional consultations or services utilised to address the issue.

Consult with insurance companies:

  • Check insurability: Engage with insurance companies to understand the availability and terms of insurance coverage for the property, given its history of subsidence.

Seek legal advice:

  • Engage a solicitor who specialises in property transactions to review contracts, ensure full disclosure, and advise on any legal considerations related to the subsidence.

Negotiate price and terms:

  • Consider using the subsidence history as a negotiating point. You might be able to negotiate a lower purchase price or other favourable terms due to the property’s history of subsidence.

Consider future implications:

  • Evaluate the property’s future resale value and any ongoing maintenance or repair requirements related to the subsidence. Ensure you’re comfortable with these long-term considerations.

Make an informed decision:

  • Consider all information and advice obtained, weighing the pros and cons, to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with purchasing the property.

What questions should I ask the seller about subsidence?

When dealing with a property that has signs of subsidence, asking the seller detailed questions is crucial to understanding the extent of the issue and how it has been managed. Here are some questions to consider asking the seller:

When was the subsidence first noticed?

  • Understanding when the issue began can provide insights into the severity and longevity of the problem.

What were the visible signs of subsidence?

  • Asking this will help you know what specific problems to look out for and what has been affected.

Has a professional survey been conducted?

  • Inquiring about professional surveys will give you a basis for understanding the professional assessments that have been done.

What were the causes of the subsidence?

  • Knowing the cause can help in assessing whether the issue is likely to recur or if it has been permanently resolved.

What repairs or corrective measures have been undertaken?

  • This question aims to gauge the efforts made to rectify the issue and prevent future occurrences.

Do you have documentation for all the repair works?

  • Having proper documentation will help in evaluating the quality and adequacy of the repairs made.

Was the property underpinned, and if so, when?

  • Underpinning is a significant corrective measure, and knowing this can be vital in assessing the property’s current stability.

Have there been any recurring issues since the repair works?

  • This will help to understand if the solutions implemented have been effective long-term.

What has been the impact on property insurance?

  • Understanding how subsidence has affected insurance premiums and coverage availability is crucial.

Are there any warranties or guarantees on the repair work?

  • Warranties or guarantees can provide some assurance regarding the quality and durability of the repair works.

Has the subsidence affected any neighbouring properties?

  • Knowing whether neighbours have experienced similar issues can provide context regarding the area’s overall stability.

How has the subsidence impacted the property’s market value?

  • This question can give an indication of the financial implication of the subsidence on the property’s worth.

Is it possible to remortgage with subsidence?

Remortgaging a property affected by subsidence is possible, but it does come with its own set of challenges and considerations. When a property has subsidence, it means that the ground beneath it has been unstable, which can cause structural issues. Lenders often view such properties as higher risk, and hence, they might be more cautious in approving a remortgage application.

Firstly, the extent and nature of the subsidence will play a significant role in the remortgaging process. Lenders will want to know whether the subsidence has been stabilised and what measures have been taken to prevent further movement. Detailed reports from structural engineers or surveyors, as well as records of any repair work undertaken, will be essential in demonstrating the property’s current condition and the effectiveness of corrective measures implemented.

Moreover, the impact of subsidence on the property’s value will be a critical consideration for lenders. A professional valuation will likely be necessary to assess the current market value of the property, taking into account the history of subsidence. The outcome of this valuation will influence the Loan to Value (LTV) ratio, which is a crucial factor that lenders consider in the remortgaging process.

Insurance is another vital aspect to consider. Having adequate insurance coverage that includes subsidence is essential. Lenders will want to ensure that the property is sufficiently insured to manage any potential risks associated with further subsidence issues.

Furthermore, the choice of lenders might be more limited when remortgaging a property with a history of subsidence. Specialist lenders or products might be necessary, and the terms and rates offered could be less favourable compared to standard remortgage products. However, consulting with a mortgage broker who has experience with properties affected by subsidence can be quite helpful. They can provide guidance, explore various lending options, and help find a suitable remortgage product that aligns with the property’s condition and the borrower’s financial circumstances.

How do surveyors check for subsidence?

Surveyors use a variety of methods and tools to assess whether a property has been affected by subsidence. The process typically involves a thorough examination of both the exterior and interior of the property to identify any signs of ground movement and structural instability.

Initially, a surveyor might start by evaluating the external condition of the property. They will look for noticeable cracks in the walls, especially around windows and doors, as these are common places where signs of subsidence might appear. The size, shape, and position of the cracks can give insights into whether they are likely caused by subsidence or other factors such as thermal movement or settling.

Surveyors also assess the property’s geographical location and the type of soil it’s built on, as some areas and soil types are more prone to subsidence. Historical data, including previous instances of subsidence in the area or the specific property, is also considered.

Internally, surveyors will examine walls, ceilings, and floors for signs of distortion, cracks, or any misalignment. Doors and windows are checked to see if they open and close correctly, as subsidence can cause frames to become skewed. Fireplaces and where extensions join the main building are also key areas surveyors pay attention to, as these parts of a property can reveal subtle signs of movement.

Another important part of the survey is examining any trees or large shrubs near the property. Vegetation can often be a cause of subsidence, with roots potentially leading to soil shrinkage or damage to the foundations. Surveyors assess the type, size, and proximity of vegetation to understand whether it might be contributing to any subsidence issues.

Technical equipment, such as laser levels and crack monitors, might also be utilised by surveyors to precisely measure any discrepancies in level or ongoing movement in the structure.

What causes subsidence in UK homes?

Subsidence in UK homes can be caused by several factors, often relating to ground movement beneath the property’s foundations. Here are a few common causes:

Soil shrinkage and expansion: Certain types of soil, such as clay, are susceptible to volume changes based on moisture levels. Clay soils tend to shrink when they dry out and expand when they absorb water. These volume changes can lead to ground movement, affecting the stability of the foundations and causing subsidence.

Tree roots: Trees planted close to a property can impact the soil’s moisture level. Tree roots can absorb significant amounts of water from the ground, causing soil shrinkage, which can lead to subsidence, especially in areas with clay soils.

Leaking drains and water pipes: Water leaks from faulty drains and pipes can soften the ground beneath a property, causing it to compress or wash away. This can undermine the property’s foundations, leading to subsidence.

Mining and industrial activity: In areas with a history of mining or significant industrial activity, there might be old mineshafts or cavities underground. Over time, these can cause ground instability and lead to subsidence issues in nearby homes.

Weight of the building: Some buildings, especially larger or older ones, can exert substantial weight on the ground. Combined with other factors like weak soil, this can cause the ground to sink under the building’s weight, resulting in subsidence.

Poor construction or foundation practices: If a property was built with inadequate foundations or on unstable ground without proper preparation, it would be more susceptible to subsidence over time.

Weather patterns: Extreme weather conditions such as heavy rainfall or prolonged drought can impact soil stability. Heavy rains can lead to soil washout, while droughts can cause certain soils, like clay, to crack and shrink.

Previous land use: The history of the land on which a property is built can also influence the likelihood of subsidence. Lands previously used for industrial purposes or filled lands might be more susceptible.

Each of these factors, alone or in combination, can contribute to subsidence in UK homes. Understanding the specific risks and causes relating to a property is crucial for effective prevention and remediation of subsidence issues.

Do I need a specialist survey for subsidence when buying a property?

When purchasing a property where there is a suspicion or known issue of subsidence, getting a specialist survey conducted is highly recommended. A specialist surveyor with expertise in subsidence will be able to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the extent of the problem, its cause, and the potential solutions or necessary repairs.

A standard survey might not always delve deeply into the subsidence issue, whereas a specialist will focus on this aspect with a more detailed lens. They will assess the property’s structural integrity, examine the foundations, and evaluate the surrounding land, including trees and drainage, which could impact the ground stability. Historical data regarding the property and area might also be examined to understand any patterns or recurring issues.

Having a specialised subsidence survey can also be invaluable in making informed decisions about the purchase. It helps in understanding the possible future risks, potential repair costs, and any implications for property insurance. This information is not only vital for peace of mind but can also be a crucial factor during price negotiations and deciding on the investment’s viability.

Additionally, a detailed report from a specialist can also facilitate discussions with mortgage lenders and insurance companies. Lenders may require an exhaustive report to assess the property’s suitability as security for a mortgage loan, and insurance companies might also assess the risks associated with insuring the property against further subsidence damage.

The best way to protect yourself from subsidence

Protecting a property from subsidence involves various proactive measures to manage and mitigate the risks associated with ground movement and structural instability. Here are some strategies to help safeguard property against subsidence:

Regular Maintenance and Inspection: Conduct regular checks on the property, focusing on the appearance of cracks or other signs of structural movement. Ensure that drains and pipes are well-maintained to prevent leaks that could soften the ground around the foundations.

Manage Trees and Vegetation: Monitor and manage the growth of trees and large shrubs around the property. Consider consulting with an arborist to understand the potential impact of root systems on the property’s foundations and take appropriate action, such as pruning or removal if necessary.

Soil Management: In areas prone to soil shrinkage or swelling, consider measures such as proper landscaping, drainage, and watering to maintain consistent soil moisture levels, helping to minimise ground movement.

Professional Surveys: Consider engaging professionals for surveys and assessments if there are any concerns about subsidence or ground stability. This approach will help identify issues early and facilitate timely intervention.

Adequate Insurance: Ensure that the property insurance policy includes coverage for subsidence. This coverage will be crucial in managing repair costs if subsidence issues do arise.

Careful Renovations and Construction: When planning renovations or extensions, ensure that the work is conducted with a clear understanding of the potential impact on the property’s structural integrity. Engage professionals who can adequately assess and manage the risks associated with subsidence.

Historical and Environmental Awareness: Be informed about the historical and environmental factors that might influence subsidence risks, such as previous mining activities or soil types prevalent in the area, and take precautions accordingly.

Incorporating these strategies helps in managing the risks and impacts of subsidence, promoting the long-term stability and resilience of the property. By being proactive and informed, property owners can better navigate the challenges associated with subsidence.

Secure your ideal mortgage with Count Ready even with subsidence concerns!

Are you considering a property with subsidence, or simply have queries about obtaining a mortgage for such properties?

At Count Ready, we are more than just mortgage providers; we are your trusted advisors. With our vast access to a wide array of mortgage products, including those from exclusive partners and specialist lenders, we’re positioned to tailor the perfect solution to your unique needs.
Don’t let property subsidence deter your dreams. Reach out to our professional mortgage experts now or simply send us an online enquiry. We’re here to guide and support you every step of the way.


How can subsidence be fixed?

Fixing subsidence involves identifying the cause of the problem and implementing suitable remedies. It often requires the expertise of structural engineers or specialists. Common solutions include:

Underpinning: Strengthening the foundation of the building by expanding or extending it to more stable ground.

Tree management: Removing or managing trees close to the property to prevent soil drying due to root water uptake.

Repairing leaks: Fixing leaking drains or water pipes that could be causing soil washout or softening.

Soil stabilisation: Involves techniques like injecting materials to improve soil strength and stability.

Should you buy a property with historic subsidence?

Buying a property with historic subsidence can be a calculated risk. It’s essential to do thorough research and consider the following:

Professional assessment: Have a specialist assess the property to understand the extent of previous subsidence and the effectiveness of the repairs.

Insurance: Check whether you can get adequate insurance coverage and at what cost.

Resale value: Consider how the history of subsidence might affect the property’s future resale value and marketability.

Having all the information and professional assessments can guide your decision on whether the investment is worthwhile based on risk tolerance and long-term objectives.

What are the first signs of subsidence?

The initial signs of subsidence to look out for include:

Cracks: New or expanding cracks in walls, ceilings, or outside brickwork. Cracks often appear around doors and windows or where an extension joins the main building.

Sticking doors or windows: Doors or windows that start sticking due to distortion of their frames.

Uneven floors: Floors that are no longer level, showing signs of sloping or distortion.

Each of these signs indicates potential subsidence, warranting further professional investigation to assess the situation accurately.

Can subsidence recur after It has been fixed?

Yes, subsidence can recur even after remedial actions have been taken. After subsidence issues have been addressed, continuous monitoring and maintenance are essential to ensure that the problem does not reappear. Environmental factors, changing weather patterns, or other unforeseen issues, such as new tree growth or leakages, could potentially lead to the recurrence of subsidence.

How much does it cost to fix subsidence?

As mentioned preciously, the cost of fixing subsidence varies based on the severity of the issue and the type of remedy implemented. Minor fixes, such as repairing cracks or removing trees, can cost relatively less. However, more severe subsidence issues requiring underpinning or other extensive structural repairs can be quite costly, ranging from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of pounds. It’s advisable to get detailed quotations from specialists to have a clear understanding of the likely costs involved.

How much does it cost to fix subsidence?

As previously mentioned, the cost of fixing subsidence varies based on the severity of the issue and the type of remedy implemented. Minor fixes, such as repairing cracks or removing trees, can cost relatively less. However, more severe subsidence issues requiring underpinning or other extensive structural repairs can be quite costly, ranging from a few thousand to several tens of thousands of pounds. It’s advisable to get detailed quotations from specialists to have a clear understanding of the likely costs involved.

Do you have to declare subsidence when selling a property?

Yes, it’s a legal requirement to declare any known subsidence issues when selling a property. Full disclosure of past or present subsidence problems, as well as any remedial work that has been carried out, should be made to potential buyers. Failure to disclose such information could lead to legal disputes or compensation claims in the future. Being transparent about subsidence history is crucial for a fair and lawful property transaction.

Does previous subsidence affect house prices?

Yes, previous subsidence can affect house prices. A history of subsidence can make a property less appealing to buyers due to the perceived risks and potential future repair costs. Additionally, potential buyers might face challenges in obtaining mortgage finance or affordable insurance coverage for properties with a history of subsidence, which could also impact the property’s market value negatively.

Does my home insurance cover subsidence?

Home insurance policies often include coverage for subsidence, but it varies between policies and providers. It’s essential to check the terms and conditions of your specific policy to understand the extent of the coverage. There might be exclusions, limitations, or higher excess charges related to subsidence claims. If you’re unsure, it’s advisable to contact your insurance provider for clarification.

Can I sell a house with a history of subsidence?

Yes, you can sell a house with a history of subsidence, but it might be more challenging. Full disclosure of the subsidence history and the remedial actions taken is crucial. Potential buyers might be more cautious, and this may influence their willingness to proceed with the purchase or the price they are willing to pay.

What is underpinning?

Underpinning is a method used to strengthen and stabilise the foundations of a building. It involves extending the existing foundations to reach more stable soil or bedrock or by increasing the foundation breadth or depth to better distribute the building’s load. Underpinning is a common remedial approach used to address subsidence issues and enhance the structural integrity of a building.

What is heave?

Heave is the upward movement of the ground beneath a building due to the expansion of the soil. It often occurs when the soil swells due to increased moisture content, commonly in clay soils. Heave is the opposite of subsidence, which involves the downward movement of the ground. Heave can cause similar structural issues to subsidence, such as cracks and other damages to the building.

What about minor subsidence?

Minor subsidence often manifests as small cracks and slight movement in the building’s structure. Even if the signs are minor, it’s crucial to monitor them and seek professional advice if there are concerns. Early intervention can prevent minor subsidence from escalating into a more severe, costly issue.

How long do I have to declare subsidence for?

When selling a property, you should declare any known history of subsidence, regardless of how long ago it occurred. There isn’t a specific time limit, but full transparency about past issues and repairs is essential for an honest and lawful transaction. It also helps the buyer make an informed decision and may prevent potential disputes or legal issues in the future. Buyers and their mortgage lenders typically value this transparency, as it helps assess the property’s true condition and value.

What's the impact of tree roots on subsidence?

Tree roots can significantly impact subsidence. As trees absorb water from the soil, they can cause the ground to dry out and shrink, particularly in clay soils. This process can lead to the ground contracting and pulling away from the foundations, causing subsidence.

Moreover, the physical presence of tree roots can also directly affect a property’s foundation. Large roots growing underneath the building can cause pressure and movement in the structure, leading to cracks and instability.

What is the difference between subsidence and settlement?

Subsidence and settlement refer to the downward movement of a building’s foundation, but they are caused by different factors and occur under different circumstances.

Subsidence refers to the unexpected or uneven sinking of a building’s foundation due to changes in the underlying soil. This might be caused by factors such as tree roots, leaking drains, or the soil drying out or washing away.

Settlement is the natural and expected downward movement of a building shortly after construction. It happens as the ground compresses slightly under the weight of the new building and is a common, usually non-problematic occurrence in new structures.

While both terms refer to vertical ground movement, their causes, predictability, and the extent of associated risks and damages differ. Subsidence is generally more concerning and may require significant remedial action, while settlement is a more routine, anticipated process.

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