Reducing Subsidence Risk For Property Owners

By Lambourn Admin
Banrach Consulting Engineers

We covered what subsidence is in our last blog on advice for property owners, the signs and an overview of what our engineers do. For those of you who haven’t read our last post yet or who need a reminder here’s a recap.

For properties subsidence is the process whereby a residential or commercial property shifts downwards due to the ground beneath giving way.  There can be a few reasons why the loss of support underneath a building can happen. One such reason is the initial flawed design of a property. Another is excess water moving through the soil below the property, leading to erosion and breaking down.

The end result is heavy damage to the structure of a property and this in turn can be costly to put right if left to fester for too long.

How Do You Reduce The Risk Of Subsidence?

Manage Your Trees

A common cause of why subsidence occurs is due to the presence of a large amount of vegetation and trees surrounding the property. Having too many trees and vegetation around the property absorb the moisture from the soil, leading to soil shrinkage. You should carefully consider your planning locations and adjust your trees to the size of your garden.

Larger trees absorb greater quantities of water so do keep in mind this fact when planning out your garden additions next to the size of your property. Close proximity is also relevant here. Don’t plant a large quantity of trees in a cluster together for a smaller property. Keep enough space in between and some distance from your property.

Keep Your Drains Clean

Beware of leaking drains or water mains. An excess amount of water over a prolonged period of time effects the soil below your property in the opposite way a high proportion of vegetation does. Here the soil becomes flooded.

Leaking water can soften the soil and lead to it breaking down, unable to support the structure above. You should regularly inspect your drains and pipes and ensure they are not blocked or leaking. This may be considered as excessive but it is better to be safer than sorry. If they are damaged, a simple repair will reduce the risk.

A Last Resort

If subsidence is caused by excess vegetation or leaking then the simplest ways of dealing with the situation is to remove or repair the problem. They are the cheapest options. Under no circumstances should you uproot a tree on your own as if you do this wrong you will make the problem worse. Always consult the relevant professional first to survey and assess the damage. A surveyor will be able to direct you towards the best approach.

If damage is irreversible by the removal of trees or repairing pipes and drains for leaks there is another option, underpinning. However, this should be a last resort as it is highly expensive and time consuming.

The process of underpinning works by digging short sections from underneath the property and filling them in with concrete. This method increases the depth and support of damaged foundations.

If You Suspect Subsidence

If you suspect subsidence occurring give Banrach Consulting Engineers a call on 01 969 6373. Our team of subsidence engineers  will assess the damage to your property and provide a full foundation report.

Banrach Consulting Engineers will recommend on the best course of action based on what they discover about the damages to your property.