Possible subsidence issues on new purchase?

by Readers Question

8:43 AM, 10th August 2016
About 5 years ago

Possible subsidence issues on new purchase?

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Possible subsidence issues on new purchase?

A friend is looking to buy a property but discovered that it may have been built on a farm or small landfill site. subsidence

The conservatory was replaced and underpinned (insurance claim).

Homebuyers report and brief inspection by a structural engineer show no problems.

How easy would it be to insure? (some brokers have already refused to quote) and how much additional premium would be expected?

What effect is this likely to have when they come to sell?

All advice welcome!




13:25 PM, 16th September 2020
About 7 months ago

A conservatory is a temporary outbuilding, with a life expectancy of anything between 10-20 years. It does not require planing permission and can have ridiculously inadequate foundations, sometimes as little as 30cm.

What's happened here is that the conservatory has been replaced. Any subsidence it experienced could have been due to the shallow foundations which most conservatories have. The new conservatory being underpinned is unusual, but if the new one is around 10-20 years old perhaps the owner decided to get it underpinned for free on insurance, instead of having it replaced again.

Made sense a that time, but a mistake on their part. Despite there being no problems with the actual permanent property, despite a conservatory being a temporary outbuilding with little foundations, the buyer has panicked. All of a sudden, the house has been built on a farm or a land fill. Many properties in the UK have been built on old river beds, clay marshland. And houses have been on farms since the dawn of civilization. A survey has confirmed that the property is absolutely fine, yet when the words 'insurance claim,' and 'underpinning,' are mentioned everyone panics.

This is something to bear in mind with conservatories. They may be relatively cheap, but may need replacing after a decade. If you claim a repair on insurance and have it underpinned, a potential buyer could run.
So be prepared to either have the conservatory completely replaced when it starts to fall apart, or have an extension done instead.

In the buyers position, I would check to make sure that my insurance premiums would not be affected, should I purchase the property. Stressing the fact to the insurance company that the main building is absolutely fine. I would then replace the existing conservatory when it became necessary and/or before resale, with another one or better still a permanent extension. Otherwise, a new buyer will hear of the underpinning of a temporary outbuilding, and panic.

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