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What is Building Subsidence?

Home ownership is a rewarding experience and usually a strong investment, but it can also be fraught with confusing terms and mysterious problems. As a homeowner, you don’t have to learn to speak a builder’s language, but you will need to understand specific terms as they become relevant to your home owning experience. One term you will need to understand on a basic level, especially if you hear it used in relation to your home, is “building subsidence.”

Building Subsidence: What it Means, and How it Affects Homeowners

There are a wide variety of factors which can contribute to soil subsidence, which is a naturally occurring, downward movement of the earth. When a structure built upon subsiding soil also begins to move along with the sinking soil, the applicable term is “building subsidence.” Building subsidence can, if not addressed in a timely manner, lead to an array of issues up to and including structural damage.

When sinking soil begins to cause building subsidence, there are some signs which can let homeowners know that trouble may be brewing. Cracks in walls, sticking doors and windows and rippling wallpaper can all indicate the foundation of a structure is in distress, and that building subsidence may be the culprit.

Soil begins to subside when it’s soft or loose, when it collapses on or near mining sites, as a result of erosion or can sometimes be attributed to abnormal soil conditions. Leaking pipes, bodies of water, improper drainage and the soil near trees can all be sources of abnormal moisture introduction, which can compromise the stability of the surrounding earth and lead to soil subsidence. The weight of a building is not a contributing factor to soil subsidence.

Addressing Soil and Building Subsidence

Because building subsidence can have such significant and detrimental affect on the soundness of a structure, it’s of vital importance that homeowners address any signs in short order. It’s also wise to invest in your home by obtaining an inspection report from a registered building inspection report at regular intervals, as the most obvious signs of building subsidence may only become apparent after some damage has been sustained. Weakening of a building’s foundation can have very expensive and dangerous repercussions, rendering a home or commercial building structurally unstable.

If your property has been affected by excessive moisture and leaks, has recently been subjected to excavation adjacent to major structures or is showing signs of soil subsidence, calling in a registered building inspection company to evaluate any existing level of building subsidence is imperative. Because a building inspection company is a neutral third party with no financial stake in the findings of a report, you can also obtain a clear and accurate view of your property’s structural soundness.

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