Dealing with Subsidence when Selling a Property

Although Subsidence can be a serious problem, this does not mean to say it can’t be sold. In most cases, subsidence is manageable and is safe to live in. Read on to learn more about subsidence when selling a property and how it can affect the value.

Firstly, what is subsidence?

Subsidence is the movement of a surface that causes the ground beneath the building’s foundations to sink and become unstable. This usually happens when the ground loses moisture, causing it to shrink. This is usually caused by long dry spells.

The most common cause of subsidence is trees and shrubs absorbing high volumes of water from the soil that surrounds the property. Soil shrinkage is another reason for subsidence to occur. It can be caused by many things, such as water leaking into the soil beneath the property, washing it away from the foundations.

Checking for subsidence in a property

There are numerous signs for subsidence both inside and outside of a property, including the following:

  • Cracks in the walls, ceilings and/or outside brickwork
  • Expansions of pre-existing cracks
  • Sticking of doors and windows
  • Cracks appearing after long dry spells

Seeking advice from a chartered surveyor is the first thing you should do if you notice any of these signs. The sooner you identify the problem, the easier it will be to amend. However, be aware that fixing subsidence can take time, sometimes with up to 12 months of monitoring.

Fixing subsidence

There are three ways in which you can treat subsidence, with the best option depending on the cause and severity of the issue.

Subsidence treatment options include:

  • Underpinning the foundations
  • The cutting back or removal of trees/bushes
  • Repairing damaged drains and pipes

In more serious scenarios, underpinning may be necessary is this will prevent the property from moving further. However, please note that this option takes time and is quite expensive.

How much does it cost to fix subsidence?

Underpinning is the most expensive option, costing anything between £5,000 and £50,000 depending on the size of the property and extent of the damage. Removing trees can provide a quick and more affordable solution at approximately £120 per hour. However, if you’re dealing with a large tree that requires a few days to remove, this could cost around £3,000 + VAT.

It is worth considering that in rare cases, this can lead to the opposite of subsidence, which is known as “heave”. This is where the ground swells up with excess moisture caused by the absence of a tree.

Finally, if the cause is a leaky pipe, a CCTV drain survey can decide if this is the problem. This can cost around £90, but the exact price may vary depending on your area and the severity of the problem. In some cases, you could receive subsidence treatment with your insurance company if they believe it to be a reasonable claim.

How much does subsidence devalue a property?

Subsidence can put off buyers but helping to bust the myths of subsidence can encourage a sale. If a property is under some kind of treatment plan, the property should become structurally sound again. It would be wise to fix the problem before you sell a property. If not, your home could be devalued by approximately 80 per cent of its market value.

Make sure your property sells with the best estate agents in the Heaton’s

At Joule’s Estate agents, we know how to sell homes in the Heaton’s. If you would like to learn more about how you can get the most from your current property, get in touch.