“Subsidence” is one of those words that strikes fear into homeowners. And rightly so, because it can sometimes cost a fortune to fix. Unfortunately, it can make your property more difficult to sell even after you've completed the repairs too.
BUT let's start with the good news.
Not all subsidence is expensive to fix. Although the average cost to repair subsidence is around £6,000-£14,000, most insurers will cover the cost. This will leave you with just an excess to pay of around £1,000.
Costs can be drastically higher for more severe cases of subsidence though, sometimes reaching as high as £50,000. Unfortunately, not all insurance policies will cover subsidence either.
In this article:
- We'll build a picture of the possible subsidence repair costs by comparing information from insurers to real data from the building trade.
- Next we'll cover the factors that affect the cost of subsidence repair.
- Next we'll explain how long subsidence repair can take.
- Finally, we'll cover the hidden cost of subsidence. Based on my experience, this is the one to really watch out for.
Want to skip the whole topic of fixing subsidence and just sell your property as-is? Take the short quiz below to learn how best you could sell your property with subsidence.
1. How much does subsidence repair cost?
When most of us think about the cost of subsidence, our only reference points are probably the horror stories we've seen in the newspapers. (Or maybe on the property TV shows).
But you know how the papers work... they're only going to cover the most sensational cases.
Fortunately, not every case of subsidence is going to cost £50,000. In fact, that's reserved for just the most severe ones.
1.1. Insurance and Trade data on subsidence repair cost
According to data from the Association of British Insurers, the average insurance claim for subsidence is around £6,250.
(I do have a bit of a problem with this number though. I've found a dozen websites citing this figure, but not one has ever pointed to the ABI actually saying it themselves. Everyone just seems to be parroting the figure without ever finding the source... so it could be worth taking with a pinch of salt).
I wanted to go further, so I found a couple of other figures during our research too.
- Priceyourjob.co.uk gather thousands of quotes from tradesmen across the country. They found the average subsidence repair cost was £14,000. (This assumed an average-sized 3 bed semi-detached home needing subsidence repair along a single wall).
- Myjobquote.co.uk works with over 30,000 tradespeople across the UK, and found the average cost of subsidence repair is around £10,000, depending on the complexity of the job.
So a range of around £6,000-£14,000 sounds reasonable for the average issue. More severe cases will certainly be more expensive, but you can see the average is nowhere near £50,000.
The whole idea is that the insurer is picking up the bill for it anyway, meaning you'll end up having to pay much less.
So how much does that leave you needing to pay?
1.2. What excess will you pay on an insurance claim for subsidence?
One thing I have found in black in white from the ABI is this:
That £1,000 excess means you’ll pay the first £1,000 of any claim, and the insurer will pay the rest.
In other words, if you have buildings insurance in place (and if your policy contains cover for subsidence) then it could cost you as little as £1,000 to repair your subsidence issue.
But how common is subsidence cover on an insurance policy?
Do all insurance policies include subsidence cover?
According to GoCompare (which was launched by a team of insurance experts in 2006) "Subsidence is covered by most house insurance policies, but only if your home has never suffered from subsidence in the past."
This means that if your policy doesn't include subsidence cover, you'll probably have been made aware in one way or another at some point in the past.
So for most homeowners the up-front cost of subsidence repair is going to be limited to the excess on your policy. Which is great news. There's still a big hidden cost to consider which doesn't get talked about enough - but we'll cover that later in this article.
So assuming your insurance policy covers subsidence, it's not nearly as bad as the papers made out is it?
2. What affects the cost of subsidence repair?
As the figures above all indicate, not all cases of subsidence are equal.
Some can be very minor, whereas others are severe.
In other situations, the underlying issue could be much more expensive to remedy, and the issue could go on unnoticed for much longer. Ultimately, this can lead to drastically higher repair costs.
2.1. Factors that affect subsidence repair costs
So what factors ultimately determine how much your issue will cost to fix?
- Original cause of subsidence. As per the example above, some causes are very cheap to remedy, whereas others are very expensive. Read more about causes of subsidence in our related article.
- Type of subsidence. On a similar note, different types of subsidence can be repaired in different ways. New technologies like Geobear resin injections are faster and less intrusive than underpinning, but aren't suitable in all situations.
- Size of affected area. This is a big one. If subsidence is limited to one small and specific stretch of your property's wall, it's much cheaper to fix than if one (or more) whole sides of your property are affected. The size of the affected area usually grows with time, which is another reason that it's best to catch subsidence early.
- Extent of damage done. If large areas of your property are moving away from the rest, costs will be higher than if only one or two small cracks have emerged.
- Location in the UK. Simply put, different contractors cost less or more depending on your location. For example, tradespeople will cost more if you're in London than if you're in the North.
- Insurance cover. Another big one. With a good insurance policy you'll only have to pay your excess, while your insurer foots the rest of the bill. With no insurance, or if your policy excludes subsidence cover, the costs will fall on you.
We've written more about subsidence in this article - it's worth a read.
3. How long does subsidence repair take?
Having subsidence on your property is a really stressful experience for most people. There's a lot of work to do and a load of unknowns hanging over you, meaning you'll be living with some level of stress until it's resolved.
So the question isn't just about how much it's going to cost to rectify... it's also about how long it's going to take.
So how long does it take?
There's a bit of information online that points to around 4-8 weeks to repair subsidence. But this heavily underestimates how long all the parts of the process take.
We've written a full guide here to shed more light on this:
Recommended: How long does it take to repair subsidence?
4. The hidden cost of subsidence
When it comes to subsidence and money, the first question that springs to mind is how much it's going to cost to repair subsidence. And as we've answered in this article, it could be as little as the cost of your insurance excess. (Typically £1,000).
Unfortunately though, it's not just about the money you pay out now. It's the money you lose in the future.
There's one big cost that isn't always considered when it comes to subsidence, and that's the fall in the value of the your property.
Simply put, subsidence devalues your property.
4.1. How subsidence devalues your property (now and in the future)
Subsidence devalues your property for two main reasons:
- Mortgage lenders don't like it. Buyers won't be able to secure a mortgage on a property with an ongoing case of subsidence, limiting you to cash buyers only.
- Buyers themselves don't like it. Even if mortgage lenders were fine with it, subsidence issues scare buyers off too. This is still true after the issues have been rectified.
These two factors will affect you in different ways, depending on whether your property has a subsidence issue now, or whether the issue was in the past.
Remember too that you legally need to disclose subsidence when you sell, so it isn't an issue that can fly under the radar.
If you're looking to sell a property with subsidence, take this short quiz below. It might help to determine the best next steps for you.
Further recommended reading is linked to below.
By Matthew Cooper, Co-Founder of Home Selling Expert