The ‘S’ words

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The horror words in any written survey are ‘settlement’ and ‘subsidence’, then closely followed by ‘dampness’.

These are defects which my colleagues and I see on a daily basis.

Dampness is very common and can take many forms. Defective rainwater goods, defective / absent damp proof courses, condensation and plumbing issues can affect all ages of property. Repair is most likely to be a relatively simple building function using the many new repair methods and materials currently on the market.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”1583″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Settlement and Subsidence are potentially more serious issues, but it is important to differentiate between the two. Settlement issues are caused by where the ground in which the foundations are formed compresses over time by virtue of the weight of the building. It frequently affects older buildings, very often where there have been major alterations to the structures such as extensions or loft conversions.

In particular we often see settlement where a new extension wall abuts the wall of the original building. Vertical fracturing at the joint may exist where the ground adjusts to the new loads imposed on it. We refer to this as ‘differential’ settlement.

Subsidence is the result of changes in the very nature of the ground which robs the foundations of their support causing cracking, in the walls. This type of movement is commonly caused by deficiencies in the underground storm or foul water drains, and by volumetric changes in soils…. notably clay soils in the proximity of deciduous trees.

I remember the hot summers of 1976 and the 1990’s when there were numerous insurance claims following evidence of cracking in walls. If any householder notices cracking following the last hot summer, call in a surveyor initially, and if foundation movement is confirmed, an insurance claim may be initiated under the direction of a loss adjuster and structural engineer.

All but the most severe foundation inadequacies can be remedied. Repair works may include the removal of nearby trees, repair of drains, the insertion of metal reinforcement and in some instances foundation underpinning or reconstruction.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Chris Ennis FRICS is a Chartered Surveyor Tel: 01903 261217 email: [email protected][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]


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