Insurers have predicted tens of thousands of homes will sink into the ground from this summer’s record-breaking hot and dry weather.
Lush landscapes that turned to a brownish yellow hue aren’t the only things taking a hit from the summer heatwave. Scorching heat and dry weather can cause the soil under buildings to shrink. Homes might begin cracking as a sign of subsidence, which is the downward movement of the ground supporting a building. This could then result in homes sinking.
The Telegraph recently analysed expert claims and industry figures on how the heatwave’s hot and dry weather is expected to impact homeowners and insurers and explained signs of subsidence.
Keep an eye out for subsidence
Subsidence is most common in properties built on clay, a very shrinkable soil, and homes with shallow foundations. Additionally, properties with big trees nearby can be an issue as the trees draw moisture from the soil.
Although minor cracks can occur in buildings for a wide range of reasons, cracks in a wall can be the first sign that subsidence has occurred in your property or home. Big, diagonal cracks are a warning sign, especially if wider at the top, along with cracks in weak spots like around windows and doors. Subsidence symptoms often appear several months after the dry weather, so checking for cracks needs to be on the minds of homeowners and property investors in the coming months.
Subsidence claims expected to quadruple
Industry figures show that there were about 12,000 subsidence insurance claims in 2017. That number could quadruple to 50,000 this year. As a worst-case scenario, subsidence can take a full year to fix. Afterwards, homeowners could also see a rise in their building insurance premiums. Insurers might even become unwilling to insure properties with higher risks of subsidence.
If you notice cracks developing in your property, it’s important to contact your insurer and report any issues immediately. And if you are planning to buy a house, be sure to get a comprehensive structural survey done of the property, particularly if it is situated in a high-risk area or position.