Underpinning: what impact might it have on your home insurance?

If your house has subsidence and needs underpinning, you may be wondering what effect it will have on your home insurance. Let’s take a look at the main points. 

Chris King From the home team
minute read

How much does it cost to have your hoouse underpinned?

The cost of underpinning a house depends on a whole range of factors, such as the size and the extent of work that needs doing. Generally speaking, you could be looking at somewhere in the region of £15,000. If you live in a large house, or the situation is complicated, that figure could be far higher.

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Can you insure an underpinned house?

Insurance providers can be wary of insuring a house that’s been underpinned as it’s a sign of structural weakness. However, finding buildings insurance shouldn’t be too hard as numerous providers offer cover for underpinned houses, but it could be more expensive.

Should I buy a property that’s been underpinned?

If you’ve fallen in love with a house that’s been underpinned, one of the first things to consider is getting a full structural survey. This will tell you whether there are any ongoing issues affecting the property.  

Bear in mind that there’s a risk the property could be harder to sell in the future. It’s impossible to generalise, though. In some areas where subsidence is common, people aren’t so concerned about an underpinned property. And remember that just because a property is underpinned, it doesn’t mean it’s suffered from subsidence – although it does pay to be wary.

If you do buy an underpinned property, don’t forget to have your buildings insurance in place from the day you exchange, rather than waiting until you move in. As soon as the exchange takes place, the property becomes your responsibility. 

How do I know if my house has subsidence? 

If you’re worried that your house might have subsidence, here are a few tell-tale signs to look for: 

  • Cracks in the building. Not all types of cracks are a sign of subsidence. Most of them are caused by settling – especially in new-builds. But keep an eye on any cracks that appear quite suddenly, around doors and windows. Subsidence cracks are often diagonal and appear wider at the top. 
  • Windows and doors won’t open. If you find you’re struggling to open and close doors, it could be that subsidence has caused the building to shift. While doors can swell and shrink with changes in temperatures and moisture levels, or perhaps a couple of screws in the hinges need tightening, you should contact a building expert if you have any concerns.
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Is my home at risk from subsidence?

Some houses are more at risk from subsidence than others. Risk factors may include: 

  • The type of soil you have. Clay soil is a particular risk as it can shrink and crack in dry weather, making the ground unstable. Clay is more common in the south-east. 

  • Water damage. Leaking drains can soften the underlying ground. 

  • Trees close to the house. They drain the moisture from the soil, causing it to dry out and sink.

  • Living in a period property. Older houses tend to be at higher risk of subsidence, as their foundations aren’t always as deep as new-builds. 

What should I do if I think my house has subsidence?

Call your insurance provider. The sooner subsidence is dealt with, the better. 

How do I get cover for subsidence and underpinning?

The ideal way to find the right insurance policy for you is to compare quotes from a range of insurance providers. Comparing home insurance with Compare the Market takes just 6 minutes**. All you need to do is give us a few details about yourself and your property and we’ll do the rest.  

**On average it can take less than 6 minutes to complete a home insurance quote through Compare the Market based on data in September 2019.

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