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Subsidence damage as defined by your insurance policy can be hard to prove. Not all cracks in walls and plasterwork mean you have a subsidence problem; many cracks are caused by natural movement in the house structure due to seasonal temperature and moisture level changes.
These tiny cracks are often in a corner where a stud wall joins a block wall, or where a wall joins the ceiling. They are generally insignificant, but diagonal or vertical cracks in walls, especially when they are wider than the thickness of a €1 coin are something to be concerned about.
Most household insurance policies – and some commercial property insurance policies – cover loss or damage caused by subsidence, heave and landslip. Therefore it is best to have them assessed and repaired before the problem gets any bigger.
As several factors can cause subsidence damage, the most disputed area in subsidence claims is “curing the cause” rather than the repairing the damage already done.
If a broken drain or badly culverted stream is washing the soil away from under your home, just filling the cracks, replacing twisted door frames is just kicking the can down the road. Around 20% of claims have a curable cause, but without a proper investigation it might not be discovered.
Many new houses develop cracks, especially those ones built on the ground with high clay content. When soil dries out, it shrinks slightly causing cracks in the plaster and sometimes in the brickwork. The cracks do not always close after it rains, and over a period, sometimes years, they widen considerably.
This is kind of subsidence can be compounded by the close proximity of moisture hungry trees and shrubs. As a rule of thumb do not plant trees any closer to the property than the maximum height the tree could reach.
Another related problem occurs when large trees close to a property are cut down or pruned severely. The moisture this vegetation used to draw away from the building causes the soil to swell up and “foundation heave” can be the result.
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