Increased subsidence risk due to rainfall

According to Searchflow, the property search provider, UK homeowners could be at risk of over £291m in subsidence damage if there is a dry summer this year.

Long range forecasters are predicting a hot and dry summer, which following the second wettest year on record in 2012 could lead to a surge in subsidence cases.

Andy Lucas, managing director, Property Assure said: “The average number of properties affected by subsidence in the UK in a year is the same of flood.

“Also the largest subsidence event in the last decade was the same in size as the largest flood event, and as pointed out this followed a year of increased rainfall.

“Unlike flood, subsidence risk can be proactively mitigated with some straight forward, easy actions however the first step is to understand your subsidence risk, particularly if purchasing a new property.”

Total rainfall was 15% higher than the annual average last year and according to the British Geological Society, the preceding two years of rainfall have a strong influence on ground saturation in any given year.

In the ten years to 2011 there were two periods of particularly high rainfall which were followed by very dry years.

In the dry years that followed these wet periods, subsidence claims rose by nearly a third (31%) on average.

Since 2001, 220,000 subsidence cases have cost UK homeowners £3bn in repairs.

The average cost per case is just over £13,600. In 2012 there were an estimated 16,500 cases of subsidence so if the UK were to experience a particularly dry 2013, the number of cases could rise to 21,365 this year at a cost of £291m to UK homeowners.

Richard Hinton, business development director, SearchFlow said: “Heavy rainfall and ground saturation leads to swelling in the soil, particularly in areas with high levels of clay.

“If this is followed by a very dry spell the soil dries, shrinks and can crack. This can be a big problem for properties built on this type of soil.

“We’ve had a particularly wet couple of years with 2012 the second wettest on record.

“If the UK has a very dry summer this year it will certainly lead to a surge in subsidence issues for homeowners.”

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