What is Subsidence? Subsidence is the vertical down movement of the foundation of a building. The movement is caused by a loss of support beneath the foundations, in the ground.
What is Subsidence damage? Subsidence (or the downward vertical movement of the foundation of a building due to loss of support in the ground beneath the foundation) can result in damage to above ground structures when the movement is uneven. Structures depend upon the foundation for stability. Subsidence (particularly uneven subsidence) takes the foundation's ability to offer the necessary stability and can often result in cracking (i.e. property damage).
Do southern California property owners need to worry about subsidence damage? Southern California property owners should consider subsidence one of the main causes of potential property damage as it can be a seriously damaging geohazard. Many property owners hold insurance policies to cover their holdings in the event of damage from natural causes and subsidence may be covered although any subsidence claims made against the policy must be disclosed during the sale of the property.
If you are considering the purchase of a property and you suspect undisclosed subsidence damage, look for these common signs:
- Cracking concentrated in certain areas (usually vertical or diagonal) and tapering in width when comparing the top of the crack to the bottom.
- Cracks that extend through the damp proof course (DPC) and down into the foundation.
- External cracks that are reflected internally.
- Wallpaper coming up at corners between the walls and ceilings.
- Windows and doors that stick (this could be due to distorted openings due to subsidence).
- Cracks that seem to open and close seasonally.
If your southern California property has experienced subsidence damage, identify any clauses in your insurance policy that could apply to the situation. Touch base with a claims expert to seek out compensation for the damages. If you feel you purchased a property from a previous owner who did not disclose substantial subsidence damage, please get in touch with an experienced southern California real estate attorney at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP today. We can help you identify any breach of contract and seek legal recourse.