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How much does subsidence devalue a property?

If you’re worried about subsidence devaluing your property, we’re here with the answers to your questions.

By how much will subsidence devalue my property?

It’s fair to say that subsidence will devalue your house because of the costs involved in fixing the problem.

Truth is, there’s no way to calculate just how much subsidence devalues a property because there are so many factors to consider, such as the extent of the damage, the cause of the subsidence, and the location. Therefore, it’s not possible to put a precise figure on exactly how much your property will be devalued by subsidence.

However, it’s estimated that the amount your property is devalued by subsidence is the cost of repairs, PLUS around 10%.

It can go even higher than that, meaning that depending upon the extent of the issue, subsidence can negatively affect the value of a property by 25%. And that’s if you’re able to find a buyer willing to take it on.

The number of people prepared to buy a property with subsidence is limited (even if it has been fixed and you’ve got paperwork to prove that) due to high insurance premiums, so the reduced demand will invariably result in a reduced offer being made for your home.

You may find that it’s preferable for you to address the issue rather than putting your property on the market with the subsidence problem so as to limit the amount of money you’ll lose through subsidence devaluing your property.

Repairs can be expensive though, so if you’re selling without repairing, expect to lower your asking price by at least the cost of repairs; and maybe more.

If you want to know how much you’ll need to take off the asking price, take a look at this next section.

What causes subsidence?

It can happen naturally, or it can be due to human activity. Typical causes are tree roots that are near to the property, drainage issues, or underground mining that has affected the land. Pipework beneath or within your foundations can also cause subsidence if they leak or burst. This is because they will cause the earth to be washed away, making the ground unstable.

How can I spot subsidence?

Subsidence is usually quite obvious and can be seen as large cracks; particularly around windows and doors. You may also spot wallpaper that’s rippled or ripped, or seen cracks appearing between an extension and the original building. Other tell-tale signs are paths or driveways that sink or dip, as well as sloping floors.

Small cracks are perfectly natural and are caused by natural shrinkage due to temperature and humidity changes. In fact, brand new homes with fresh plaster will show small cracks when the plaster has dried out. It’s the large (especially diagonal) cracks at the edges of windows and doors that are wider at the top than the bottom that suggest subsidence and will devalue your house.

How much does it cost to repair subsidence? (And how much will subsidence devalue my house if I don’t pay for the repairs?)

The size of your property can affect the overall cost of the job by a significant amount. For example, the price for underpinning a two bedroom terraced house would be around £5,000 on average, whereas the same type of subsidence fix on a four bedroom detached house could run to £17,000 due to the latter having a larger footprint.
As previously mentioned, it’s estimated that the amount your property is devalued by subsidence is the cost of repairs, PLUS around 10%, so keep that in mind when looking at these figures.

There are a number of potential options available to fix the issue of subsidence, although they can run into thousands of pounds depending upon the size of the job:

Cost + VAT Average cost
Underpinning (per metre) £1,000 – £1,750 £1,500
Underpinning (single wall) £5,000 – £36,000 £21,000
Mass concrete method (per metre) £250 – £500 £375
Piling £750 – £1,500 £1,250 per metre sq.
Injecting £400 – £700 £550 per metre sq.
Beam and base method £500 – £900 £700 per metre sq.
Structural engineer (hourly rate) £50 – £90 £70
Survey £400 – £1,500 £950
Party wall agreement £1,500 – £3,500 £2,500
CCTV drain survey £100 – £250 £175
Tree felling £200 – £300 £250

In major cases of subsidence, you may be advised that the only reasonable solution to your issue is to have your home underpinned. This is a process of adding to your property’s foundation depth or breadth to increase the surface area and ensure your home can sit on a more stable surface.

The extent of the underpinning required will depend upon the amount of land affected and this process can take between three to six weeks for a single wall to be underpinned; depending on the severity of the subsidence and the size of your home.

If more than one wall requires underpinning, the process will take considerably longer, and the price will increase accordingly.

Although underpinning generally fixes the problem of subsidence, it can still devalue a property because some buyers won’t want a previously underpinned property as they could think that it may require further structural work in the future.

Depending on the repair method needed, the time taken to fix your issue may extend to up to eight weeks in extreme cases of subsidence where underpinning is required across multiple walls.

However, it could be that your home needs to be monitored before underpinning can commence, so the process could take up to a year to complete and naturally the fees will rise even further.

Unfortunately, the costs to consider for subsidence devaluing your property don’t end there. When the source of your house subsidence has been addressed, additional work could be needed to rectify damage that has been caused. This could typically include:

Replacing bricks

This could be required if bricks have been cracked or damaged. Budget on around £120 per metre sq. for materials. Add to that the labour charge for a brick layer (between £150 – £325).

Repointing brickwork

This can be done by a DIY enthusiast that has patience and knowledge. Otherwise, work on £40 per metre sq. for a professional to do the work.

Rendering external walls

If you had rendering and it has been damaged by subsidence, you may want to have your affected walls re-rendered. Due to the requirement for scaffolding, average costs can be £60 per metre sq.

Replacement windows

Subsidence can cause window frames to warp, so replacement windows could be on your shopping list. Costs will depend on materials but expect to pay around £325 per window.

Internal plastering and decorating costs

Damage caused to internal walls by subsidence results in unsightly cracks so hiring a plasterer or decorator to fix the affected areas (or whole walls) would be sensible before embarking on decorating. You’ll need £200 – £250 per day, plus materials.

Repairing damaged plumbing

Leaking or damaged underground pipes will cause excessive water to be in the soil surrounding your property. This will wash away soil and cause your home to subside. A CCTV survey can determine if this is cause of the subsidence.

Whilst small holes in your pipes can be patched and repaired, full ruptures or blockages that cannot be removed will require new pipes to fix the issue. Depending upon the size of the problem, costs can be around £1,000.

Does my house insurance cover subsidence?

Some house insurance policies will cover subsidence, but only if your house has not had it previously. It will of course depend upon your individual policy, but many cover damage and the cost of repairing items, as well as alternative accommodation whilst the work takes place. Underpinning is sometimes only covered by a specialist insurance package, so it’s best to check the finer details with your provider.

Many home insurance companies won’t cover properties that have been underpinned or have any history of subsidence, but if they do, premiums are likely to be higher than average.

If your home insurance policy does cover the cost of subsidence repairs, you’ll likely have to pay an excess, so it won’t be totally free for you.

Do I have to declare subsidence when I’m selling (even if it’s been fixed)?

It’s important that you are honest and declare any problems with subsidence, including any work that has been undertaken to rectify the problem. You have a legal responsibility to share this information with your agent and conveyancing solicitor.
You’ll also need to include any information about subsidence on the Property Information Form (known as ‘TA6’). This has to be completed as part of the conveyancing process. Form TA6 gathers details about your property’s features and problems so it will be the place to provide a record of any claims you’ve made on your buildings insurance for subsidence issues; even if your property has suffered from subsidence in the past but it’s no longer a problem.

Being open and upfront reduces the risk of a buyer pulling out of the sale or asking for a price reduction part way through the sale process.

If you’ve had your property underpinned, you’ll want to share with your potential buyer the local council’s completion certificate and tell them how long it has been without any subsidence issues.

It’s important to remember that if you inform a buyer (either via the TA6 form or elsewhere) that there aren’t any defects and the buyer then later discovers that there are issues, you could face a misrepresentation claim because subsidence will certainly have an impact on the property’s value, and the cost of repairs can be significant. If you are found to have misrepresented the property, you can expect to pay damages to the new owner to reflect losses they will have incurred, as well as the legal fees.

I want to sell my house but it has subsidence that I can’t afford to fix. What can I do?

If your property is showing signs of subsidence, you’ll probably find it hard to sell because the very mention of the word can scare off potential buyers. In this situation, a cash buying company can be your best option because they won’t need to secure a mortgage; they’ll buy your house for cash.

The price you’ll get in this situation will of course take account of the costs needed to fix the subsidence, but it means you’ll receive a sum that you can use to buy your next property. In the meantime, the cash buying company will carry out the subsidence repairs – as well as anything else that needs to be done – and then sell on the property.

Whilst you may want more than the cash buying company can offer you for your property with subsidence, you should remember that you’ll get a hassle-free sale and you won’t have to pay estate agent fees nor legal fees. That’s because companies that buy any house for cash will cover those costs on your behalf.

Want to talk?

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a property with subsidence, we hope this article has been helpful. If you need any further advice about selling a house with subsidence to a cash buyer, call us or send an email.