Subsidence is a scary word for homeowners, investors and would be home purchasers and a Building Inspector is usually the first point of contact when subsidence is suspected.
While cosmetic things like an outdated kitchen or ugly wallpaper are unlikely to scare off prospective buyers, structural issues such as subsidence can potentially be a deal-breaker.
So, what is subsidence. Simply put, subsidence is when the ground beneath the building settles downwards, sinks lower or collapses. If this movement varies in one part of the house to another then it can cause cracks to occur.
The good news is, although subsidence can certainly be a serious problem, it need not be an out-and-out deal-breaker. Most cases of subsidence are perfectly manageable and there are homeowners who have happily lived for years in properties with a history of subsidence.
A quick note for Sellers:
If your property has a history of subsidence you will likely not be able to conceal the fact from prospective buyers. Full disclosure is the best approach, as you would do if your property had problems with damp in the past, you will need to assuage prospective buyers that you have dealt with the problem satisfactorily and competently.
Thankfully it is extremely rare for a house to collapse but it can be an expensive issue to rectify if it is not dealt with quickly and appropriately.
The more overt effects of subsidence are obvious, even to a person who is not a Building Inspector. They are visible in the form of new or expanding cracks in plasterwork or exterior brickwork. FYI not all cracks are caused by subsidence.
Other, less obvious, warning signs are windows and doors becoming harder to open and shut or sticking for no reason or gaps suddenly appearing, floors no longer level and / or cracking of tiles and most obviously cracking of the concrete slab of your home. None of the above symptoms are caused solely by subsidence, and therefore a Brisbane Building Inspector should be consulted to puts all the evidence together to make a ‘diagnosis’ of subsidence. Similar to the way a medical practitioner assess a patient.
If you suspect your home has been affected by subsidence and particularly if you are planning to put your property on the market, you need to take remedial action.
The first step is to get a licensed Building Inspector in Brisbane, especially one experience in identifying subsidence, such as All Suburbs Building Inspections, to conduct a thorough inspection and assess the situation. If subsidence is confirmed, the cause of the subsidence should also be identified in order to be addressed.
Common causes of subsidence are:
The next step is to address the cause of the subsidence. If it is tree roots, the offending tree may need to be removed. If it is water retention, addressing the drainage around the structure will help.
In extreme cases, it may be necessary to underpin the foundations of the house.
Underpinning a house is the method used to repair a house’s foundations, so they are stable again. It is a specialized process that usually involves building additional concrete or steel footings. These new footings are placed in strategic areas underneath and around the existing foundations.
A tip for owners (even if you aren’t thinking of selling)
Keep documented proof of the steps you have taken, the reports you have received and of any works that have been carried out along with any relevant warranties. This way you will be able to put your property on the market with confidence that the incident of subsidence will not be a negative and costly negotiation tool.
A tip for Buyers
The above advice for sellers also applies to buyers. If you suspect subsidence or your pre-purchase report identifies subsidence, then request documentary proof of rectification.
Whether you are selling or buying, the key thing is to be logical and practical in the way you deal with the problem. Keep a level head, take sensible precautions and there is no reason why subsidence should ruin your dream of home ownership.
The following pictures are from a Building Inspection in Bald Hills where subsidence had caused significant structural issues.
Cracking to the slab was visible in outbuildings.
Cracking to exterior brickwork from the movement.
This section of the house is falling away from the other section causing this gap to open up.
The above gap is also visible from the interior of the house.
If you suspect subsidence in your property or potential purchase, All Suburbs Building Inspections ASBIR are specialist building inspectors and can confidently assist you to identify an issues related to subsidence.
With our head office centrally based north of Brisbane at Kallangur and technicians that live both northside, southside and the Gold Coast, we are ideally located to service a large part of South-East Queensland. We service all suburbs of Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Logan, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Manly and windsor, and surrounding hinterland areas.
Call us on 1300 553 007 during business hours, Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm & Saturday 9:00am to 4:00pm to speak to one of our friendly team. Request an obligation free quote 24/7 via our Free Quote Form