Subsidence and Heave
about fire and flood but what is Subsidence and Heave, and are they covered by
my insurance policy? Subsidence
is downward ground movement and the corresponding movement of affected
foundations. Heave is upward ground movement and the corresponding movement of
affected foundations. Both subsidence and heave are covered by most standard buildings
my Insurance Claim Progressed? We
endeavour to progress the work as speedily as is reasonably possible. However,
building damage claims, and subsidence claims in particular, may take many
months to be completed, the average period being 18 months to 2 years. This is
particularly the case when it is necessary to monitor the damage over a period
of time, which will usually exceed six months.
What is the
procedure for dealing with a subsidence Claim?
procedure for the technical management would be:
INITIAL INSPECTION AND APPRAISAL
(a) Is the damage
subsidence related? (b) Is it historic or recent? (c) What is the likely cause?
(d) What further Investigations are appropriate? (e) Should precise crack monitoring
stations be set up.
Arrange site works.
Carry out soil and other testing as necessary. Arrange CCTV/hydraulic testing
if required. Prepare/plot data. Recommend alternative courses of remedial
action as appropriate, with budget costs.
Take readings at 4 to 8
week intervals, as considered appropriate. Plot and report at regular intervals
REPAIRS AND REINSTATEMENTS
Prepare remedial works
scheme details and contract documents. Obtain competitive tenders. Project
Manage the contract works.
underpinning, and will it be necessary to underpin my house? Underpinning
is a method of foundation strengthening, which transfers the building loads to
a deeper subsoil level. The usual approach to subsidence is to identify and remove
the cause of the problem so that the building becomes stable, once again,
without foundation strengthening works. If, however, it is not possible to
stabilise the foundations in this way then it may be necessary to underpin. We
will in most cases undertake the scheme design and prepare detailed documents
for submission to Specialist Contractors for competitive tendering. We will
manage the works, monitor progress and inspect where possible at specific
stages as defined in the tender document. It is not practical or economic for
us to supervise the whole of the works, but by regular visits we endeavour to
ensure as far as is reasonably possible that they are completed satisfactorily
and to the highest standard. It must be understood that partial underpinning is
not a guarantee against further movements and, in a very small proportion of
cases, it has been found necessary to carry out further work
What about the damage to
the superstructure - crack repairs and decorative works? As soon as it has been
established that the cause of the damage has been removed or remedied then
superstructure reinstatement works, crack repairs, stitching of brickwork,
making good of plaster etc, and redecoration, may be carried out. Our schedule
of reinstatement works will incorporate all aspects of the work necessary to
make good the damage. Again, we manage the works, monitor progress by regular
visits and carry out inspections at specific stages.
Must I continue to
occupy the property during the building works? In some cases it is
necessary for the occupier to move into temporary accommodation during the
course of the remedial works. This is often the case if internal underpinning
is required. Crack repair and redecorative works can usually be carried out
while the building remains occupied. Most Building Insurance Policies provide
for alternative accommodation, where it is necessary.
Structural Engineer’s Reports
What is a Structural
Engineer’s Report? A Structural Engineer’s
Report should not be confused with a building survey report prepared by a Chartered
Building Surveyor because it deals specifically with the problem or problems
that a Surveyor or the Client has highlighted, whereas the Building Surveyor’s
report will advise on the general condition of the whole property. How long does it take to issue the Report?
Assuming that access to the property is freely available during normal working
hours, the Report should take no longer than five working days from receipt of
instructions to electronic issue by email and by first class post, if required.
We will collect keys from an estate
agent at no additional cost, provided that the key-holding office is within two
miles of the property.
We will quote a
competitive fixed fee for the Report, which will depend upon the number of
issues to be addressed and the location of the property. In accordance with
industry practice, we require payment before issue of the Report. How much does it cost?
Wall etc Act 1996
What is the purpose of the Act?
The purpose of the Act is, on the one
hand, to protect the rights of a building owner to repair and maintain a building
or to carry out excavation works adjacent to a neighbouring property whilst, on
the other hand, to protect the adjoining owner from any adverse consequences of
such works. For the purpose of the Act, whilst both parties may be building
owners, the term "Building Owner" refers specifically to the owner of
the property in which the building work is to be carried out. The owners of
adjoining properties affected by the proposed works are defined as
How is the Act brought into force?
The Act requires formal Notice to be
served upon an Adjoining Owner or Owners, as defined in the Act, by the
Building Owner who proposes to undertake specific works. This may be a PARTY
STRUCTURE NOTICE, for work intended to be carried out to a shared structure; or
a THREE METRE NOTICE or SIX METRE NOTICE for excavation work intended to be
carried out within defined depths and distances from a structure of an
adjoining owner. If the Adjoining Owner formally indicates his or her consent to
the works within the specified time, then the works may proceed as set out.
What is a” Surveyor”, as defined by the
If an Adjoining Owner does not consent
to the works within fourteen days there is deemed to be a Dispute and the Act
provides for the appointment of Surveyors by the Adjoining Owner and by the
Building Owner. Alternatively, an Agreed Surveyor may be appointed by mutual
consent. If an Adjoining Owner does not respond at all to a Notice, there is a
procedure for appointing a Surveyor on his or her behalf but, although the
appointed Surveyor must act in his or her best interests, it is much better for
the Adjoining Owner to co-operate from the beginning.
What is an “Award”?
The Surveyor or Surveyors agree a course
of action, called an Award, setting out the rights of the Owners, the extent
and method of construction of the building works, and any restrictions regarding
noisy works. The condition of the Adjoining Owners property is also agreed so
that any consequential damage can be easily identified. If two appointed
Surveyors, acting together, cannot agree the Award then a Third Surveyor is
appointed who will act as arbitrator and prepare the Award. The reasonable fees
and costs of the Surveyor or Surveyors, together with the cost of carrying out
the agreed works set out in the Award and any reinstatement of damages, falls
to the Building Owner unless agreed otherwise in the Award and no costs should
fall to the Adjoining Owner if he or she has acted reasonably. If a Surveyor
charges fees or incurs costs which are not deemed reasonable, then an element
of costs may not be paid by the Building Owner and may fall to the Adjoining
Can a Surveyor be dismissed?
Once a Surveyor has been appointed under
the Act by either or both parties, he or she cannot be dismissed other than by
a Court and the appointment must continue until completion of the works as set
out in the Award other than extreme circumstances such as death or incapability
to act. This is to prevent an Owner who does not agree to the terms of an Award
from dismissing his or her Surveyor. The Award, once signed by the Surveyor or
Surveyors, is a legal document and the Building Owner and Adjoining Owner are
bound by its terms. It is therefore very important that the right individual is
appointed in the first instance.
Can a Surveyor act for both parties?
A Surveyor jointly appointed under the
Party Wall Etc Act 1996, that is an Agreed Surveyor, should be independent and
play no part in the design or construction of the works. An Agreed Surveyor
must act completely impartially and serve the best interests of both parties or
reach a compromise that is fair to both sides.
What is an expert witness?
witness is a person with detailed knowledge of a technical subject that
qualifies them to testify in a Court of Law, Tribunal or other less formal
proceeding. The expert witness may state his or her opinion on the meaning of
facts, even though he or she may not have observed the actual events. A
non-expert witness is confined to testifying about facts they observed and not
their opinions on the meaning of those events.