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Record rainfall will increase subsidence risk this year

Alex Johnson

3e6044c549a5cf635343461e768a237d690a742a 300x200 Record rainfall will increase subsidence risk this yearA dry summer in 2013 would cost UK homeowners over £291m in damages due to shrink/swell subsidence following record rainfall in 2012, according to conveyancers Searchflow.

2012 was the second wettest year on record – total rainfall for the year was 15% higher than the annual average and if 2013 turns out to be a very dry year, Searchflow argue that there is a risk that subsidence cases could rise. The two recent high rainfall peaks of 2002 and 2008/9 were both followed by much drier years than average during which subsidence claims rose by nearly a third.

Richard Hinton, director at 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.”

Since 2001, there have been more than 220,000 cases of subsidence in the UK which has cost homeowners £3bn in repairs. The average cost per case is just over £13,600. In 2012 there were around 16,500 cases of subsidence.

“Clay soil is prevalent in the North, London and the South East,” said Hinton, “and properties in these areas are particularly susceptible to subsidence issues. Peace of mind is important for those hoping to buy property in these areas, especially when there has been two years of above average wet weather. Buyers should be asking their conveyancer to check the risks associated with subsidence. There’s nothing more precarious than making the biggest purchase of your life without all the facts in front of you.”

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