Subsidence or not???

23 Jan 2008
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United Kingdom

Needs some advice.

We have been living in our house for 3 years. When we purchased it we was told about possible subsidence (or not). The sellers noticed some cracks around their front door area. (late 2003) They did contact their insurance company who said it was due to an oak tree nr the property. They didn't actually proceed with a claim as the house only needed minor redecoration and a few minor repairs. (we have a copy of the report) The local council then crowned the tree so this wouldn't be an issue again. Also before we purchased we insisted on a structural report. It basically came back clean. It was noted that the minor cracks that had appeared were in their opinion down to the tree and natural shrinkage/movement and there was no evidence of subsidence. They did recommend we use the same insurance company as the previous owners which we did. (premium is as competitive as others)

We have still yet to decorate all the rooms and have just starting stripping off the wall paper in the bedroom above the front door.... on the lefthand side there was a crack under the window. At its widest point it was no bigger than 5mm. It was bigger at the top and went from the window sill to the skirting board where it was just hairline. The crack was below the top coat of plaster but not very deep at all.
On the righthand side there was a similar crack that had been filled and had NOT re-cracked. I chipped away at the filler to ensure the crack wasn't wasn't.
We recently had the front door replaced as the old one was knackered. The plaster around the door is pretty good except for a few faint hairline cracks.. The double glazing fitter said these were due to the door vibration when closing and the frame also very old and moving slightly. (door was at least 15 years old)

Anyway, we are now thinking of selling and are a bit worried about the above. Should we be? There are no cracks to the outside of the house.
Apparently the house next-door has been underpinned!!

We have checked the environmental survey that we had done when we purchased and there is no history of subsidence reported.

So as far as our history goes there has never been any issues.
Should we declare any of the previous owners history? Am i worrying about nothing?
We plan to replaster that bedroom and decorate.

Advice / thoughts are welcome.

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doesn`t sound too bad considering Sussex Clay . presume it`s a semi--next door underpinned-- Don`t know how you stand legaly as to what to disclose. How old is it . Was it Wealden D.c. who did the tree
Council did the tree..Also have in writing that its on a 3 year cycle to be pruned by an arboriculturalist, Its a terraced house. West sussex.

I'm a real worrier so its probably nothing.
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Sounds like you are suffering with 'ground heave' rather than 'subsidence' and you have some minor movement which is evidenced by the cracks that have appeared.
Likely cause of the heave is the oak tree being pollarded and thereby increasing the moisture content in the clay which has caused the clay to swell, which has then put stress on the building at its weakest point and hey presto you have a small crack - its nothing to worry about and why on earth are you going to replaster!! Just rake out the crack and fill with a proprietory filler and decorate, then forget about the whole deal.

The fact that the neighbours house has been underpinned will not (assuming that you are attached) help your situation as their property will not behave (move) in a similar manner to yours and could easily be aggravating your problem!

Once you have made good, just monitor the situation.

One final comment, there may be other factors to consider, but the above comments should cover a good 80% of the problems that are leading to the tensile stress fractures.


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