September 27, 2017

Could Your Property Be At Risk?

Subsidence is one of the most serious problems a homeowner can face, so it’s important to know its indicators.

Out of all the potential problems you could come across in your home, there’s one that property owners are particularly scared of. Yes, we’re talking about the S word – subsidence! This is a very serious problem that occurs when the ground underneath your property shifts and sinks, taking some of the foundations of your home with it. This compromises the structural integrity of your home as one side of it moves downwards. This causes cracks to appears, which are what we immediately associate with subsidence. Are there any other warning signs that you should be looking out for as well, though?

Risk factors

Firstly, what puts a property more at risk of subsidence? There are a number of factors which could make your home more susceptible to it, meaning that vigilance is especially important. Clay soil shifts, shrinks and cracks, making it unstable. The ground in drought prone areas also dries and cracks too. Trees and plants that are close to a home can drain the moisture from the ground as well, causing it to sink. Older properties are often built with much shallower foundations, making them more flexible. Local mining, as well as leaking water mains and pipes, can also change the nature of the soil a house sits on. Investing in a structural survey will help you to identify if your property is at risk.


Cracks are the most obvious and well-known sign of subsidence. However, plenty of cracks are harmless, and can be caused by something like newly plastered walls that have cracked as the structure settled, and natural expansion and shrinkage that has been caused by changing temperatures. Subsidence cracks have distinct characteristics, such as being more than 3mm thick, and are wider at the top than the bottom. They are also visible internally and externally, and are more likely to appear around doors and windows. So if you do see some cracks in your home, look for those tell-tale signs.

Other signs

Subsidence doesn’t just make itself known with cracks. You should also keep an eye on your wallpaper. Yes, you heard that right! Wallpaper will often crinkle at wall and ceiling joins if subsidence is underway. Another clue that all isn’t right is if doors and windows keep sticking. This is due to the frames warping. If you have an extension, subsidence can also cause a crack to appear between that and the main part of your property. These can occur before, after or at the same time as the more well-known signs of subsidence, so it’s important that you’re keeping an eye out for all of them.

Take action sooner rather than later

If you do think that subsidence could be in an issue in your home, it’s important to call in a professional structural engineer to deal with the problem as soon as possible. Subsidence does not disappear by itself, and will only worsen the longer it’s left. As it progresses, the structural integrity of your home could be at risk. The earlier it is spotted, the easier it is to fix. That’s why keeping an eye out for those warning signs is so important.

If you’re concerned that your property might be suffering from subsidence then contact us here to find out how Green Structural Engineering can help.