Claim or not to claim for crack which possibly could be subsidence

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    Claim or not to claim for crack which possibly could be subsidence

    I own a flat (Share of Freehold if it makes a difference) in a detached property which has developed a crack one of the side. My flat is at the back, above another flat owner. The crack happens to be between the main building and our flats. It is big gap from top and comes all the way down getting smaller. Reading up on it and talking to some surveyors it lead us to believe it is subsidence. We need to establish firstly if it is subsidence and if it is how much it will cost.

    Our dilemma is should we go to insurance for claim.
    As we(rest of the 4 flat owners) are told and read the implications of putting a subsidence claim on the insurance record can be detrimental, and the property is marked for life.

    At this moment one the flat owner has got acquainted with a surveyor who is contracted by his work place. He normally does commercial building but has agreed to visit the property to give his professional(non binding) opinion, understand it will be advisory not written. This could pave the way to decide whether we should call a surveyor and give us the full professional written report or shall we go direct to insurance for claim, depending on the cost.

    My Q is
    1) if we go to insurance for claim how much detrimental it is for the future? Has any one gone through it themselves and if yes how long is the process and are there implications of it if any.

    2) If don't claim and go for it our selves(Share five way might lessen the finance load), then under the terms we still have to inform the insurance for this type of work. If it is subsidence, will by telling the insurance, is the property going to be marked on record anyway or not?

    Much appreciated.

    Claiming for subsidence is a drawn out process where they look at what might be causing it - any large trees nearby, any faulty drains, what type of soil? You are going to have to declare any work done and anyone looking to sell in future is going to need reassurance that the work has been done properly. Best to get your insurers involved from the beginning as the work, if covered, is likely to be expensive.

    You refer to a "main building" and your flats - were the same materials used in both parts of the building and were they built at the same time? You could be in for a long argument about building standards and materials.

    The problem with my property turned out not to be subsidence. You will need a structural engineer's report, not a surveyor and your insurer should obtain one.


      You have to do what is right for the building. By all means get some informal advice. You are worried about the property being marked for life, but a property which has had say underpinning will be better in my opinion, as lightening can't strike twice!.

      The insurance company will send their surveyor to investigate the matter. You may have to pay higher premium during renewal. It may need minor or major repair. It is important to keep the paperwork in relation to this matter (it will be needed when you sell the property).


        You may also have problems obtaining alternative insurance quotations if there is a subsidence claim.

        It is sensible to obtain soime informal advice. If the advice is it is subsidence then there is no option you need to advise insurers failure to do so may prejudice a claim in the future.


          In front of your flats; has the ground been paved in the last twenty years? if the soil has become desiccated it will shrink, whereas if drainage into the ground is improved; concrete or patio replaced with gravel, the soil may swell sufficiently to close up the crack that you describe that is opening like a hinge


            No it is grass which is a large part two cars could easily park in it. Apart for path to walk to the entrances is concreted over.

            New roof 4yrs ago enabled us to have new guttering which is draining ok.


              I would suggest bringing in your own private structural engineer to provide a report. If he thinks it is subsidence he can represent you in a claim and the insurers will almost certainly pay his fees and use him for the tendering of remediation. There are small practices all over the country and I think that if the ground in front is grass you have got a problem and you should get on with getting advice. Worst case is that it is not subsidence but poorly built and either settlement or the crack is opening up due to some construction defect. If you are in the South of England I can speak highly of this firm but if not have a look at their website and find a similar small firm of consulting structural engineering firms in your locality


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