Subsidence or not?

8 Dec 2015
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United Kingdom
I had a deep crack on my landing at the top of the stairs. This is halls-ajoining so I asked my neighbour if she one and she did! We both told our (different) insurance companies and they both said it was subsidence, hers caused by tree roots in the drain and mine caused by a leaking drain. However when they came to repair my drain, the builders couldn't find any problem even though they had the report from the surveyor sent by the insurance company. They said the water was running fast and clean, so they went away. There was some discussion between the insurers and the builders and eventually the builders returned and put a metre long pipe in the drain. Since the crack at the top of my stairs and nowhere else, is no cracks downstairs or anywhere else, and the builders were adamant there was nothing wrong with the drains, I believe the problem has been incorrectly labeled subsidence. I contacted the insurance company and they said it is subsidence. But are they correct? And if not, what should I do to get the stigma of subsidence removed from my property. Should I contact them again or should I complain straight to the insurance ombudsman? Any info and/or advice gratefully received.
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It's probably not subsidence in that location. But without any more details of the property layout, the conduction materials and method, and the cracking you won't get any meaningful comment
How old is the house? If the crack is at the top of the wall, the wall is spreading at the top compared to its bottom. So either the front or the back section is dropping. This would mean if there was serious subsidence, then either the front or the back centre sections of the house must be dropping. But this should show up as cracks on either the front or back walls. If the crack extends right up through the party wall in the loft it could be a sign of the roof is spreading and pushing the front and back sections of the party wall apart.
Thanks for your replies, do you think I should approach the insurance company again or make a complaint about them to get it investigated?
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You don't actually know if you have anything to complain about.

Ask them for a copy of the report and the qualifications of its author to begin with.
I have a copy of the report which is about 3 sentences long. The assessor wrote his initial report when he visited the house, and a chartered surveyors who didn't view the property wrote the remedial report.
The loss adjuster needs to be qualified in structural matters to be able to give an opinion. If he is not, then you can insist on a survey from someone who is. For your purpose, you should insist on a structural engineers report.

Likewise for the remedial report. Anyone who writes a repair specification needs to know the exact cause, would need to view the property, and would need to be qualified - lots of chartered surveyors are not building surveyors.
Many thanks. I'll see how I get on , pretty sure they are going to say everything's in order though I'm sure its not! They seem to have us over a barrel. Wish now I'd got the repairs done myself, would've been cheaper that the £1000 excess I had to pay, and my policy has gone up £15 a month even though they have 'fixed the problem', ( ie they filled and decorated the crack on the landing and put a metre length of pipe into the drain, even the the builders came twice and could find no damage!) and my house now has the stigma of subsidence ,not good when it comes to selling. I've since found out that the street was bombed during the war and several houses have cracks in exactly the same place as mine. One of these houses is across the road and down a bit from mine,so not linked together in any way! I think insurance companies are quick to say its subsidence as its a nice little earner for them and the layman doesn't know any different.
When you renew your insurance make sure that it is actually recorded that you have disclosed the subsidence, apart from an insurer refusing a claim from you for further subsidence (obviously bad) the sale of the house to future buyers could end up impossible (very bad). Houses with subsidence (even when it is doubted like yours by the sounds of it) need that insurance to be continuous.

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