Having subsidence on your property is a nightmare for any homeowner.
Not only can it be very expensive, but it's incredibly stressful too. So the worry isn't just about how much it's going to cost to rectify the subsidence, it's also about how long it's going to take.
So how long does it take to fix subsidence?
The building work needed to fix subsidence can take as long as 6 weeks, or as little as two days. This depends on the extent and severity of the problem. However, a subsidence issue can take over a year to resolve when also including the time waiting on structural reports, gathering building quotes and negotiating with your insurance company.
In this article we'll cover each of the steps involved, and how long each one can take.
For people who don't want to wait, you can sell a house with subsidence. Hit the red button below to learn more.
Subsidence repair timeframes
Searching "how long does it take to fix subsidence" online yields a number of answers from insurers, surveyors, and builders. Estimates typically range from 2 days to 6 weeks.
Unfortunately though, the Internet can sometimes be misleading. For example,
- According to MyJobQuote.co.uk, "depending on the complexity of the job, [subsidence repair] usually takes 4-5 weeks".
- CheckATrade.co.uk pitch it at a similar timeframe: "On average underpinning will take between 3 – 6 weeks".
Unfortunately, this is very fanciful.
These trade websites are only talking about how long the repairs themselves will take. But that's only a very small part of the process.
In reality, there are many steps before (and even after) the repairs are done - and these are what take all the time.
Step 1. Engage your insurer
Unfortunately, getting a subsidence issue repaired isn't as simple as contacting your insurance company and asking them to sort it.
Before the insurers will pay out, the issue needs to be accurately diagnosed. This requires the expert opinion of a professional structural engineer. (Typically one registered with IStructE, the Institution of Structural Engineers).
But even getting your insurer to agree to send out a structural engineer can to take some time and cajoling.
Step 2. Get an expert assessment
Once a structural engineer's been instructed, you'll need to wait for the engineer's actual visit.
After that, you'll need to wait a little longer for their report to be filed.
From first approaching your insurer to having the structural report back could easily take 1-2 months... and that's before you even know what the real issue is.
Some cases need long-term monitoring
Even when the structural engineer files their report, their findings won't always be final.
As per HomeBuilding.co.uk, "Diagnosing the cause can be difficult, so insurance companies often want to monitor and measure the rate of cracking for at least 12 months in order to diagnose the risk of future movement."
That could be another 12 months before your surveyor and insurer even decide what needs doing!
So much for it taking 3-6 weeks...
Step 3. Gather building quotes
Once your insurer (or structural engineer) finally decide what the exact issue is and what needs doing, you need to engage tradespeople.
Some insurers will do this on your behalf and will use their approved suppliers. Others will leave you to gather quotes and submit them for approval.
Getting quotes from contractors is another job that can take a while. You'll have to:
- Carry out research and gather recommendations.
- Contact your shortlist of builders and arrange for a quote.
- Await their visit.
- Wait for them to submit their quote.
Even then, there are more steps before work can start.
You or your insurer may want to check with your structural engineer that the works quoted will definitely resolve the issue, and that nothing was lost in translation when you requested the quote.
Eventually, you'll be able to submit the quotes to your insurer for their final go-ahead.
Insurer's authority to proceed
When the insurance company have processed the quotes (which obviously takes more time), they'll come back and hopefully authorise you to proceed.
I have spoken with some homeowners who've gotten to this stage, only for the insurer to decide that further reports (or more measuring and monitoring) are required before they'll authorise the job to proceed.
This is how subsidence issues can really start dragging on and taking a long time to resolve.
Hopefully the insurers will give you the go-ahead though.
Step 4. Get the work done (and checked)
When you can finally instruct the contractors to go ahead, you'll need to wait for their team to be available (and wait for materials to arrive).
Eventually, works will commence. The amount of time these will take depends mainly on:
- The severity of the subsidence. Some issues can be resolved quickly and simply, whereas others require far more extensive groundworks.
- The size of the area affected. For example, is the affected area a couple of meters along one wall, or along one (or more) whole sides of the building?
- The extent of cosmetic repairs required. Has the subsidence led to damaged walls, floors and ceilings indoors? The more damage, the longer the repairs will take.
An average course of underpinning can take between 3-6 weeks to complete, as per the findings from MyJobQuote.co.uk and CheckATrade.
However, newer technologies such as Geobear's geopolymer resin injections can fix a subsidence issue in as little as 2 days, but aren't appropriate in all situations.
Even when the works have been finished, you're still not quite at the end of the process...
Step 5. Get a Certificate of Structural Adequacy
A Certificate of Structural Adequacy (CSA) is the document that says "the job is done. This house is fine again".
This document is important as you'll need to provide it to insurers and mortgage lenders when you look to insure, refinance or sell the property in the future.
Unfortunately, attaining a certificate of structural adequacy isn't always immediate.
The property will need to be inspected after the build works, and it'll take a little time to get the surveyor out to the property and to await his final report.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to another lengthy period of monitoring before the structural engineer finally awards the CSA.
Patience is key...
As you can see, if you've found out your property has subsidence, then patience is key.
You're going to be waiting on:
- Insurers (and their various teams of customer service people and underwriting teams)
- Surveyors (and any lengthy monitoring processes they need to carry out)
- Builders (and all the issues with delays that can sometimes come with that).
This is why the other answers you'll find online about subsidence repair only taking 6 weeks are so unrealistic. It's not just the work itself that takes a long time, it's all the people and processes before and after the repairs that you'll need to wait on.
If you've found your property has subsidence (or if you think it has), try to adopt a patient mindset. Assume that it could take a year to resolve. If it's quicker - then great. But setting your expectations appropriately will held manage your stress levels if the process does start to drag on.
If it's looking like your issue could take a long time to resolve, some people consider selling their property rather than hanging around to fix it.
Repairing a property with subsidence vs selling it
Whether you should sell a property with subsidence, or carry out the repairs yourself, totally depends on your situation.
I've designed this short quiz to help you determine what your best course of action might be.
If you have insurance, you'll almost always end up being better off financially by hanging around and having the repairs carried out yourself.
Remember too that if you're still living at your property and intend to stay there for the long term, the insurance claim and repairs are just happening in the background while you go about normal life.
Read more below about how much a subsidence repairs can cost:
The repairs can be difficult and stressful to facilitate though.
Some people just don't want to go through this, and for others it's not a viable option.
Selling a property with subsidence
For example, one of our readers was selling her property in England after having relocated to Australia several months before.
Carrying out an insurance claim and managing extensive repair works is difficult at the best of times, but from the other side of the world it's nearly impossible.
She decided that selling the property, rather than trying to carry out the repairs, was the right option for her. You can read the full case study here:
Ultimately, she was able to sell the property quickly and easily at a price she was happy with.
Take the quiz for free advice
If you're considering selling a house with subsidence, then complete the short quiz below for free advice.
We can help talk through your options, and point you in the right direction:
For many, selling by auction is the best bet. The quiz results pages help talk you through the process if an auction sale's relevant for you (including the auction pros and cons). There are auction houses we know and trust to deal with these types of sales effectively too. We can put you in contact with the best auction houses directly.
Read my other article (which includes causes of subsidence, signs of it, and how to fix it) to learn more:
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert