Should I buy a property with subsidence history?
Sally Delaney from London
Surveying Advice questions and answers
I am purchasing a house in London which I have been made aware has had repair works undertaken for subsidence due to root induced clay shrinkage (professional opinion).
The property is located near/on a combined sewer but the report doesn't state that the drains are responsible for the subsidence. I am not sure whether to proceed with the sale as although the works may be sufficient - this would set alarm bells for future buyers. Am I being over cautious?
The clay soil is an issue as trees can cause shrinkage by drawing water, which in turn can affect foundation stability.
Even though you have not specified whether the tree remains or not, tree removal or cutting back is not always the correct solution. The roots of a tree will seek out water, and if there are drains in close proximity, the condition of the drains and their water tightness should be checked in this instance, and confirmed with a CCTV camera based report.
This procedure should be carried out for any house where ground movement has occurred. All works should be declared to the providers of household insurance now and not at a later date.
David Thomas, Duxbury's Incorporating Peter Dawkins
If you are worried or concered about your own home or are looking for further advice, read our article on subsidence cracks and what to do if you think you have subsidence.