That sinking feeling…
Online search engines are the perfect place to start when looking for your new dream home. We are all tempted by the array of photographs of wonderfully pruned gardens set against a backdrop of blue skies, a fitted kitchen with ample storage space, modern units and appliances and a bathroom that entices thoughts of relaxing evenings soaking in bubbles. We imagine our favourite items of furniture placed within the tastefully decorated reception rooms and bedrooms...
However, for most of us, buying a house is the biggest financial investment we will ever make and, as such, we need to also consider the practicalities of our dream home. Your conveyancer’s job is to ensure that all appropriate searches, investigations and enquiries are carried out to assist you to make an informed decision. After all, you will want to ensure that your investment is a valuable one and that your new home will stand the test of time.
As part of the conveyancing process, you will need to be reassured that any potential risk is taken into consideration – for example, risk of subsidence.
Subsidence is the vertical downward movement of a building foundation caused by the loss of support of the ground beneath the foundations. The most common cause of subsidence in the UK is soil shrinkage, particularly where there are clay soils present, although it can also be caused by a number of other factors such as in-filled quarry or mining sites.
Due to the extensive level of clay found across the UK, as well as high levels of past mining activity, there is a significant risk of subsidence to a large number of properties, particularly in the South West area. The likely damage caused to a property is visible cracking to the walls, unstable foundations and ground instability which may lead to the property becoming unsafe to live in.
Although damage caused by subsidence is usually covered by your buildings insurance policy, as a policyholder, you will be required to pay an excess to remedy any damage caused. The excess for subsidence is typically around £1,000, but you should ensure that care and attention is made when incepting your policy of buildings insurance as some policies will stipulate a higher excess which may be unaffordable.
In addition to this, any insurance claim must be disclosed if you decide to sell the property. In turn, this may affect your ability to sell or mortgage the property, as well as having an adverse effect on its market value.
We offer our buyers a search costing only £10 plus VAT which assesses whether there is any risk of subsidence or ground instability likely to adversely impact on the property they are purchasing. If the search result shows no risk, then the buyer has piece of mind that their future property will not be affected. If, however, the search reveals any potential risk, then we advise that a more extensive search is carried out to find out the overall risk and any recommended remedial actions to be taken.
For more information on any aspect of conveyancing please call us and we will be delighted to assist you.