In February the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) declared a state of drought in South East England following two dry winters. Caroline Spellman, Environment Secretary commented that “more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall”.
, the property information and helpline service provider, is warning that drought can also lead to an increase in the risk of subsidence.
“Many home buyers do not realise that subsidence represents the same threat as flooding in the UK, and that the largest cause of subsidence in the UK by far is that caused by soil shrinkage” says Andy Lucas, Managing Director of Property Assure. “We are already seeing the onset of cracking in some buildings founded on clay soils and worryingly this exceptional situation is taking place before the onset of the recognised growing season for trees and vegetation. Certain species of vegetation draw significant amounts of water from the surrounding soil and where planted too close to a building, the moisture content in the underlying clay soils can be significantly reduced causing differential downward movement of the foundation, with resultant cracking to walls / ceilings etc”
, at the beginning of 2012, introduced the ‘Subsidence Risk Certificate’ to its range of due diligence products. Andrea Glover, Managing Director added “We felt the Subsidence Risk Certificate complimented our Mining and Ground Stability reports in providing a purchaser with a complete picture of what could be going on underneath and around their proposed new home so they are fully informed when making what is often the biggest purchase of their lives. We believe that over time this report will form part of the standard searches requested by a solicitor or conveyancer in every transaction.”
As the possibility of drought spreads across the country, it may pay to be aware of the increased risk of subsidence.