Subsidence Cure

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  • Subsidence Cure

    I have a three storey Victorian terraced house in Battersea which I let out. (If you are familiar with the layout of these houses, the back rooms are not part of the terrace and are only joined to one house next door. The back rooms are accessed from the half landings, so the roof is lower over the back rooms.)

    Last year I noticed a crack developing along the join between the back rooms and the rest of the house on the side that is not joined to the house next door.

    I called my insurer, and they instructed Cunningham Lindsey, whose surveyor instructed a CCTV report of the drains. These were claimed to be leaking, and were lined, and the crack was patched up with mortar. I paid £1000 excess towards the work.

    I visited the house this week, and find the crack opening up again. There is now maybe a 2 to 3mm crack on the top floor again.

    I am minded to call Cunningham Lindsey back. In view of their cure not having worked, I do not see why I should have to pay another £1000 excess. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • #2
    No, your contract is with your insurer, not Cunningham Lindsey, so if you really want to do so, call the insurer.

    You've had the drains relined, which will stand you in good stead for a long time, and your insurers paid for some of this work. If the drains were previously leaking, and they are no longer doing that, the ground has now had a chance to dry out, so this could account for the unstable join between the back addition and the main house.

    Was the drain leak thought to be cracks as a result of 100+ years' wear and tear, or tree roots, or something else?

    Did you have "helibars" put in last time, to join the two walls together?

    Have you still got subsidence cover, and if so, did insurers whack up the excess for such claims? [this assumes you have renewed the policy since the work was done]

    Be cautious about "subsidence" claims, as they can have the effect of locking you in to the current insurer, as no other firm might take on the risk.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks Sad S. I am pleased to have a reply.

      Actually I emailed CL's surveyor regarding this today, and he confirms that there is no further excess to pay. He says he will contact me for further investigations, so I am pleased about that anyway.

      To answer your questions:

      1.) I watched the CCTV survey, and thought the drains were in excellent condition for their age. There were no tree roots, or cracks that I saw. (Of course the joints could be weeping by now.) It was the same firm who did the CCTV survey that lined the drains. I wondered at the time if they were making work for themselves, but as you say, at least the job is done now.

      2.) I am shocked to report there seems to have been no reinforcement put in to join the walls together. (I expected there would be, but it looks like the crack was just filled with mortar.)

      3.) Yes, I still have subsidence cover, but the premium is now about double what it was before. You can see why I don't want to make another claim!

      4.) Thanks, yes I knew about this when I claimed. However, since I had cover, and had subsidence, it seemed daft not to claim.

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      • #4
        I hope you get some sense out of the surveyor. keep us posted.

        best of luck!

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        • #5
          Today's news is that the surveyor has now referred me back to my insurer.

          Reading about subsidence cures on the internet, it seems that insurers like to take the cheap option of pumping foam under a building, because this is cheaper than proper underpinning.

          Given the hash they have made of the problem so far, really I would prefer them to underpin the place properly. Can I insist on this, or do I just have to be grateful for whatever further bodge they choose to do?

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks Bandontherun

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks BOTR.

              The problem seems to be getting worse rather than coming and going. I also now have a crack in the ceiling by the rear top bedroom door. The main wall crack is visible in the bathroom (tiled area) so it looks awful, and obviously causes a draft when T is naked.

              The main part of the house has a cellar, so goes down a long way.

              Would it help to put in reinforcement between the two walls as Sad S suggested, or do you think it will still pull apart?

              Comment


              • #8
                Hello guys. It took me a while to find this old thread of mine, but there are new developments:

                I have had BOTR's suggested structural engineer monitor the cracks for the last year. He reported as follows last week:

                The damage may be summarised as:

                - Damage in the ground floor kitchen limited to a slight crack beneath the bay window

                - The presence of cracks in the rear and flank walls of the first and second floor bedrooms

                - A crack at the junction of the rear addition flank wall with the main house (in the bathroom at eaves level)

                - A vertical crack in the party wall; at the junction of the rear addition with the main house

                - Cracks were also visible in the rear walls of the adjacent first and second floor rooms

                - The rear wall of the rear addition appears to lean outwards.


                The property has been subject to an insurance claim for subsidence of the site. No site investigations were undertaken, but the damage was considered to have been caused by water leaking from drains. The drains were repaired and then a crack at the junction of the rear addition flank wall and the main house was repaired, together with a crack in the first floor bathroom. Chronology of the claim was:

                - Discovery Summer 2010

                - Claim notified September 2010

                - Drains repaired December 2010

                - Superstructure repaired January 2011.



                Cracks in the rear addition have been monitored since February 2012. Only the eaves/bathroom crack has moved significantly during that time; it has opened and closed by +/- 0.75 millimetres.



                Given the evidence to date, it seems likely that the superstructure was repaired before the building had settled down. If so instructed, I would prepare a Schedule of Repairs which includes filling cracks with cementitious resin, inserting HeliBars across vertical and raking cracks, replacing plaster in the vicinity of horizontal cracks over Exmet 95s lath, and refreshing decorations in the affected rooms. It may also be prudent to tie the rear addition rear wall back to the floors.


                He suggested I send these comments to my insurer which I have done, and once again they have appointed C********* L******, the same firm as before.

                I really don't trust these people to do a decent job. Do I have to accept CL, or can I get the structural engineer to specify and supervise repairs?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Contact your insurer with your fears over CL.

                  Personally if it were me I would go for belt and braces and underpin in the traditional manner and use helibar even if I had to pay some towards this myself. If you consider the value of the property the cost is minimal.

                  I don't know why people make such a song and dance about underpinning - it is labour intensive with the excavating/proping but he materials are cheap and when done properly it is the answer.



                  Freedom at the point of zero............

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks Interlaken.

                    My insurers have handed all claim handling over to CL. The only person you get through to at NFU is the dopey girls who take your money in the local offices.

                    I get the impression that CL try everything first before they 'let' you underpin. The guy from CL showed up yesterday, and now wants to dig a test pit next Thursday to check for neighbours' tree roots.

                    Regarding underpinning, my main problem is finding a trustworthy builder in London who won't rip me off.

                    edit: Also, of course the disruption to my tenants.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ah yes the old 'test pit' trick - anything to get out of paying up for the work to be done properly. Try CHECKATRADE for your area re underpinning and get several quotes. There is no short way with this one apart from doing the homework.

                      Should not be too much distress to tenants - I find if you explain falling down home against a couple of days of leary builders they usually are OK.
                      Last edited by Interlaken; 22-02-2013, 13:03 PM. Reason: grammar



                      Freedom at the point of zero............

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                      • #12
                        Thanks Interlaken.

                        Would underpinning require the concrete kitchen floor to be taken up, or could it all be done from outside? I won't be able to underpin the party wall from outside. There is alley access to the back garden.

                        Should I underpin the back of the main house as well, or just the rear wing?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Today the loss adjuster's tame contractor turned up to do a test pit. Surprisingly they did find a tree root in it, and took away a sample. I asked if they wanted to take a sample from neighbouring trees to compare the DNA, but they said someone else will be along to do that.

                          Also, next week presumably, they will be bringing a drilling rig over to install a datum at 6 metres deep.

                          I wonder how many more surveys and measurements will be needed before my house is repaired.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            DNA of trees! What next? I don't think the discoverers of the double helix had this in mind back in 1953 but I just shows how insurers will do anything to avoid a claim.



                            Freedom at the point of zero............

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sorry to jump over this thread, do you think the underpinning once done will affect the house nagatively apart from just higher premiums ? Especially in the London area ?

                              Secondly, there is a company that done the unperpinning of a house i was interested in, they seem to be used by CL quite a lot, they are called Concrete Foundations Ltd. I cant personally vouch for them, I'm only giving the information on the basis that they done the underpinning of 2 houses that are next to each other via an insurance claim.

                              They also done that of a house from a housing association, who said the quality of the work was good. I will suggest you do your own due dilligence too.
                              Thanks.

                              Comment

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