How to spot the signs of subsidence

When buying a house, one of the issues that you need to look out for is subsidence. It’s a problem that can really worry prospective buyers, and with good reason! It can be difficult to spot, expensive to fix and can potentially affect resale value of your home.

What is subsidence?

Subsidence occurs when the ground underneath your house begins to collapse, taking some of the building’s foundations with it. This can put a real strain on the structure of your home and can cause cracks to appear as one side sinks lower than the other.

What causes subsidence?

Subsidence can be caused by various factors; from geological to man-made, and not all homes are at equal risk. Some of these factors can include:

  • Dry soil; meaning that drought-prone areas can be particularly at risk.
  • Trees and vegetation roots, which can disturb the ground underneath the foundations.
  • Clay soil is often more prone to shrinking or swelling depending on the water content, which can often make the ground underneath the foundations less stable.
  • Leaking drains or burst water mains can sometimes soften the soil, which may in turn cause it to contract under the weight of the home.
  • Older homes or period houses can often have more shallow foundations, which can make them more susceptible to subsidence.

What are the signs of subsidence?

Though subsidence is not always easy to detect, particularly in the earlier stages, there are a few key signs of structural movement that you should look out for, including:

  • Cracks larger than 3mm long suddenly developing in walls, particularly around doors or windows.
  • Cracks that appear to be wider at the top than they are at the bottom.
  • Doors and windows sticking where this wasn’t an issue previously.
  • Cracks where an extension meets the main part of the house.
  • Sloping floors.

H2: Can I claim compensation for subsidence?

In some cases, subsidence may have been an issue in your property before you bought your home but was overlooked by the surveyor at the time of purchase. At CEL Solicitors, we believe that every homeowner deserves to know all of the potential problems with a property before they commit to sale. So, if you believe that your surveyor did not take their obligations seriously and subsidence was undisclosed, but already causing problems, when you purchased your home, you may be able to claim compensation from the seller or surveyor, in order to recover the costs that you will incur due to the issue. This compensation could also include a lump sum for the reduction or diminution in value of the property due to the subsidence.

For more information about your rights as a homeowner suffering with subsidence, that may have been undisclosed at the time of purchase, simply contact our expert team of housing solicitors today on 0151 909 8212 or email