What is subsidence?
Subsidence can be defined as the sudden sinking of the ground in a motion that isn’t horizontal. Subsidence can be caused by natural causes or human activities. The ground underneath your house can sink at different rates. Subsidence can be a very big issue when buying a house with subsidence or selling a house with subsidence.
Subsidence can affect a house’s structural safety and value. If you find any sign of subsidence in your house you should inform your insurance provider about this as soon as possible.
As a homeowner, you should consider if your house would have had any history of subsidence in the past, you may have discovered this from your property survey when you bought the house.
If the house has subsidence then you may want to consider how to fix it and how this affects your ability to sell the house.
What are the first signs of subsidence?
Subsidence can be spotted when cracks appear in the same position both inside and outside your house. These cracks will also usuaully be seen next to windows and will usually be more than the size of a coin. 3mm. Subsidence cracks are usually diagonal and wider at the bottom than at the top.
Buying a house with subsidence
When considering if to buy a house with subsidence you may be encouraged by having a better negotiating hand and being able to reduce the cost of the home as you will be purchasing it with subsidence.
Buying a house with subsidence also means you have to consider the limited amount of mortgage lenders that you may now have available to you or the possible increased cost of home insurance you may have to deal with.
You should remember that when buying a house with subsidence you are essentially buying a house at risk of structural collapse. Find a mortgage lender who may be willing to lend to you so you can buy a house with subsidence may be much harder than you may expect.
You should speak to a specialist mortgage broker who may be able to advise you on mortgage lenders who could lend to you and allow you to buy a house with subsidence.
Buying a house with subsidence doesn’t necessarily mean that you will run into issues with mortgage lenders or insurance providers. Upon conducting a property survey on the house you will know to what degree the subsidence occurs before buying the property.
Many homeowners have lived in homes for decades with subsidence present and have faced little issues as long as they were able to manage the subsidence.
Most mortgage lenders who will lend to you when you intend to buy a house with subsidence will wait to see the property survey for them to determine how serious the subsidence on the house is before making you a mortgage offer.
Subsidence can now be managed with techniques such as underpinning and homes with subsidence can be sen on the market being traded frequently but these are mostly to cash buyers and not those with mortgage lenders.
When buying a home with subsidence the seller will have to disclose to you that the house has subsidence, how much subsidence it has and how they have been dealing with it.
If the seller doesn’t disclose this to you and you buy a house only to realise it has subsidence then the seller may have some liability.
Should you buy a house with subsidence?
Yes, you may be able to buy a house with subsidence and till take care of it through techniques such as underpinning.
Underpinning is where you strengthen the foundations of an entire house.
Underpinning can cost as much as £50,000 and some insurance policies may have clauses which cater for any work which needs to be done when subsidence is spotted but they will also usually have an excess which you will need to pay before your insurance kicks in.
In any case, before you buy a house with subsidence you should ensure you have taken out a full property survey.
If the property survey reveals that there are serious issues with the home then you may need to consider if buying a house with subsidence is the best thing to do.
If a house has subsidence and you intend to buy it, you should consult a tree surgeon to provide an opinion on any trees that may be close to the house to ensure they won’t cause further problems.
You should also be aware that some home insurers will not provide you insurance if your house has been underpinned before due to subsidence.
The house insurers who provide you with a quote will likely charge you a high premium for providing you house insurance.
Insurance quotes can be as much as £5,000 which is 5 times the typical price of house insurance.
You may still be able to find competitive insurance by using specialist insurance brokers.
When considering if to buy a house with subsidence you should consider these factors.
How bad is the subsidence?
How much work will be needed to fix or manage the subsidence?
How much will it cost to fix the subsidence?
Will you be able to get a mortgage with subsidence?
What impact will the subsidence have on selling the property in the future?
Can you buy a house with subsidence?
Yes, you can buy a house with subsidence but you may find you have a limited number of mortgage lenders who are willing to lend to you. You should speak to a mortgage broker to see what mortgage options you have when considering buying a house with subsidence.
When you buy a house with subsidence it is very important to keep all documents related to any work, analysis and surveys you may have done for insurance purposes and also for your handover pack when you decide to sell the house.
Prospective buyers will like to have all information related to the subsidence in your home when considering if to buy it or not.
How do you check for subsidence cracks?
You can simply check for subsidence cracks by looking next to windows or doors to see if there are any visible cracks that are present on both sides of the wall.
If the crack is thicker at the top than at the bottom and is also diagonal then these may be subsidence cracks.
If this is the case you may want to seek expert advice through a property survey to diagnose the problem further.
If you need financial advice and you live in the UK then you could contact the Money Advice service over the phone or via chat for impartial advice.
You can also contact the debt charity “Step Change” if you are in debt and need help.