Cracks in Buildings: Comprehensive Insight by Flettons Surveys

Every property buyer and homeowner is wary of cracks in buildings. While buildings can exhibit cracks for a multitude of reasons, it’s essential to determine which ones pose a genuine threat and which can be simply cosmetic issues. A primary concern that arises with cracks is, do they indicate subsidence. At Flettons Surveys, we help you unravel this mystery.

Subsidence Explained

Subsidence refers to the downward movement of load-bearing soils beneath a property’s foundations. This typically happens when these soils shift because of external factors.

Leading Causes of Subsidence Include:

  • Tree-root-induced subsidence: Here, nearby trees absorb significant water from the soil, altering its volume and consistency.
  • Defective drainage: A leading cause is defective drainage, which leads to soil saturation or washout, depriving the foundations of their essential support. This results in the observed downward movement.

Key Indicators of Subsidence Comprise:

  • Newly forming or widening cracks in plasterwork or exterior brickwork.
  • Doors or windows become jammed without a clear reason.
  • Wallpaper rippling is not caused by damp conditions.

Addressing subsidence is crucial, not just structurally but also for insurance considerations. Buildings that experienced subsidence during an insured period, once fixed, typically receive a certificate of structural adequacy. While the current insurer might retain the policy, switching insurers can become challenging. During our Level Three Building Survey, Flettons evaluates cracks, pinpoints probable causes, and offers actionable recommendations.

Other Factors Leading to Cracking Include:

  • Heave: Essentially the opposite of subsidence, heave arises when soils swell, pushing against the structure. It’s frequently observed in older properties built on plastic clay soil.
  • Thermal Cracks: These are benign cracks resulting from the natural thermal expansion or contraction of materials.
  • Lateral Movement: Some older properties exhibit cracks due to lateral shifts resulting from brick bonding degradation. Such issues can often be rectified with partial rebuilding or the installation of helical steel ties.
  • Settlement: These non-progressive cracks arise due to a building’s natural settlement and usually necessitate only minor repairs.

Buying a property is a monumental decision with numerous considerations. Entrust Flettons Surveys, fortified with extensive experience, to safeguard your interests. Let us meticulously evaluate potential homes, ensuring you’re informed and protected against future complications. For a detailed survey quote, access our instant quote calculator or reach out to us directly at 0203 691 0451.