Underpinning is the process by which the foundation of a house is strengthened or reinforced to make it more secure. It is usually done to houses located on land that has a history of subsidence.
Subsidence is the downward moving or shaking of the ground. Houses built on land that are prone to subsidence can develop cracks and eventually even collapse in some cases, unless it’s caught early.
Underpinned house insurance is considered specialist insurance because insurers see underpinned houses as high risk and costly to repair. However, you can find several specialist insurance providers that offer cover for underpinned houses.
When you apply for underpinned house insurances, insurers will likely ask you a number of questions before they give you a quote. Some of the questions can include:
When your property was underpinned?
How proportion of your property is underpinned?
If or when your home experience last experienced subsidence?
Was your property underpinned after making an insurance claim?
Whether you have documentation ensuring that your property is secure?
Be sure to be honest about any of the questions asked by the insurance or you may not get a payout if you make a claim.
Underpinned house insurance will likely cost more than standard home insurance policies, as insurers consider underpinned houses as high risk.
Additionally, it’s also likely that insurers will ask to set a much higher excess than standard home insurance.
So for example, if a standard excess is £250, for underpinned home insurance, it may be set at £1,000. This is because claims for subsistence can be very expensive, as the cost repairing houses that have experienced subsistence can be high.
The cost for underpinning a house will vary from house to house. Some of the factors that will affect the cost can include:
The size of the property
The amount of work required
The method of construction of your house
Typically, the cost of underpinning the average house can range from £10,000 to £15,000.
If you suspect that your house may need underpinning, there a couple of signs to look out for:
Cracks in the structure. Keep an eye out for cracks that may have appeared suddenly, especially around doors and windows. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all cracks may be signs of subsidence.
Difficulty in opening or closing doors and windows: Often if your property has shifted, you may find it difficult to open or close doors and windows. However, this is also a problem that can occur due to rapid or significant fluctuations in temperature in moisture.
In any case, if you are worried about subsidence, it may be a good idea to have a builder inspect these signs so you can get a professional opinion.
Some houses are more prone to subsidence than other because:
The type of soil they’re built on: Some soils such as clay can change shape depending on moisture levels, causing the land to shift.
If they have a lot of trees around the property: Trees often extract moisture from the soils, which can cause the ground to dry and sink
If the house is a listed property: Older properties are often built with shallow foundations, compared to modern houses. This makes some more prone to subsidence.
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