My house has subsidence issues.
So I thought I would throw a post up to help some of you guys. We all know London’s properties are only built on four feet of sand in some cases as footings and so movement in our homes is pretty common. The problem is how to deal with that movement, both structurally, and aesthetically.
Structurally the only genuine option is underpinning. The question is do you need underpinning? Of course you think yes, and your insurance company believes no, in every case! So they come around and put some pins in the wall and then take a reading. They will come back and then measure the pins placed some months before for further signs of movement. Ok well if the gap has not increased the movement is finished and therefore there is no value or need to pin. To an extent I believe and agree with this. Mainly because once the movement has occurred you will never straighten the house up after all. That does not mean that the problem is over not by any means. Just take a look at the featured image on this page and you’ll see the sash windows are wonky. In this example the London sash window repair specialist has had to plan the top of the sash in order to make the head meet. This kind of movement is normal I am told and planning to sashes to fit box a normal procedure. If the movement is beyond planning a sash, and it would affect the structural integrity of the sash then the next option is replacement sash purpose built with a larger top rail so that it can be planed in. Aesthetically this doesn’t look all that great and it’s at this point you might start fighting the insurance company for a replacement box sash window entirely.
The other scenario is that the movement has continued and as a result you require underpinning. It’s not uncommon for the insurance company to try to delay and wait for another reading. Please do not panic because this makes arguing for replacement sash windows and doors, that have moved all the more easy in the near future. Although always stress the importance of the issue and that it must be rectified immediately. Really it should be, subsidence is not laughing matter.
Once you get a date for underpinning this is when you’ll be able to asses the situation of your joinery for the first time thoroughly, because you’ll really know the full extent of the damage. I would recommend contacting a London sash window repairs specialist that offers a free no obligation quotation – at this point to ask them if they would quote for the structural repairs created by the movement. This way you’ll be able to present the insurance company with an unbiased review of the structural conditions. It is also worth contacting a door specialist because doors can move also. It’s far less likely because doors have a much thicker, stronger frame, however if you notice movement, or the door becomes stiff, checking costs nothing if you can find a company that will offer a free no obligation quotation as we mentioned regarding the windows. French Doors seem to be more susceptible to movement as they do not have the same thickness of frame and refurbishment commonly required.
Make sure to keep an eye for any bricks that crack or become loose. The pointing should also be covered by insurance if it is subsidence related. Normally bay window pillars are the most common point of serious movement, as they are not technically structural to the main property and the lintel may have been made from a timber cut at 45 degrees which moves slowly with the pillars over time.