Underpinning is a method of construction for any property that is suffering from current or previous sinking. It is possible to buy and sell property that has already been underpinned, however it can also lead to problems with insurance companies for both the buyer and the seller.
Structure has moved
Usually, underpinning is needed when the structure of a property moves – which is known as subsidence, and the foundations are needing to be repaired. The soil underneath the existing foundation is excavated and replaced with materials that are new to repair the structure of the property.
Does your property need underpinning?
Subsidence happens when the supporting soil within the foundation starts to move away from the structure, taking away support. This causes the structure to move, and although there are a lot of reasons as to why this happens, many are a result of either physical problems with the property itself or with issues in the ground and the foundations.
Things that happen
You won’t always see a big hole appearing before you realize that your home needs underpinning. But you might notice signs that are smaller such as cracks in the walls and more severe cracks around doorframes and windows. In cases that are extreme, you will notice the property that is leaning to one side, and in all cases, you will need to have a building survey (also known as Structural Survey) done to discover exactly what the extent the damage is. If you worry about your property moving, find more information to read about what to do when you think your property has been damaged.
What to do
First and most important step is to speak to a surveyor and have your property examined by a structural engineer. This report will identify any structural matters which will then determine if your property needs to be or has been underpinned previously.
Seek professional advice
For any properties that are unsafe structurally and in need of underpinning, the very best way is to seek professional expertise and advice. There are several other methods to underpinning property, but if not carried out correctly, it often can lead to serious further damage or even to the collapse of the property. Hire an expert who has skill in subsidence and finds companies that specialize in underpinning.