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  • FIRST POST
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 15th Oct 18, 12:38 PM
    • 159Posts
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    MSaxp
    Conservatory subsidence
    • #1
    • 15th Oct 18, 12:38 PM
    Conservatory subsidence 15th Oct 18 at 12:38 PM
    Hi,

    We have a small upvc conservatory (3x3m).

    The house is 12 years old, the conservatory about 6-7.

    Following the very dry summer, the conservatory is showing some signs of subsidence. The doors slightly moved, a hairline crack, but nothing terrible. The house itself doesnt seem to have any issues.

    Do we need to fix the conservatory or is it ok as it doesnt bother us and there are no major cracks?
    Is that something that we could claim from the insurers for?

    thank you
Page 1
    • stuart45
    • By stuart45 15th Oct 18, 1:38 PM
    • 127 Posts
    • 58 Thanks
    stuart45
    • #2
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:38 PM
    • #2
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:38 PM
    You might find it returns as the earth becomes wet again, if you are on shrinkable clay.
    • Aylesbury Duck
    • By Aylesbury Duck 15th Oct 18, 1:39 PM
    • 2,402 Posts
    • 3,185 Thanks
    Aylesbury Duck
    • #3
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:39 PM
    • #3
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:39 PM
    Just monitor it. I've had some similar movement in mine which I've put down to a long dry summer and clay soil. The company came back and adjusted the door for me because it became difficult to close and a small 2mm gap has opened up around the tiled floor edges with the wall of the house, so I've put skirting on to hide it. Conservatories aren't built to proper regs so tend not to have decent foundations that a proper extension would have. This is one of the consequences of having what is technically an outbuilding rather than a much more expensive extension.
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 15th Oct 18, 1:47 PM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    • #4
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:47 PM
    • #4
    • 15th Oct 18, 1:47 PM
    thank you. I guess then the question is: Do I have to fix it, or can I just leave it as is, unless it becomes a bigger issue.

    To be honest, its barely noticeable. We adjusted one door and it's not an issue for us. Dont want it landing on my head obviously.

    Its built on very heavy clay, which has shrunk substantially. there are cracks in the lawn (not the house thankfully). I wonder how long it will take to rehydrate
    • Aylesbury Duck
    • By Aylesbury Duck 15th Oct 18, 2:01 PM
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    Aylesbury Duck
    • #5
    • 15th Oct 18, 2:01 PM
    • #5
    • 15th Oct 18, 2:01 PM
    Leave it as it is. From your description it sounds minor. The length of time it will take for the land to rehydrate depends on the level of the water table and future rainfall. We need weeks and weeks of heavy rain for the ground round my way to recover. Like you, I have very deep cracks in my lawn and garden.
    • shaun from Africa
    • By shaun from Africa 15th Oct 18, 4:11 PM
    • 10,423 Posts
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    shaun from Africa
    • #6
    • 15th Oct 18, 4:11 PM
    • #6
    • 15th Oct 18, 4:11 PM
    Is that something that we could claim from the insurers for?
    Originally posted by MSaxp
    Quite possibly but there is one very important thing to bear in mind.


    Once your insurers become aware of subsidence or possible subsidence on your property, your annual premium for buildings insurance will rise a fair bit.
    On top of this, you will find it next to impossible to get cover from another provider online. (try a dummy quote using one of the comparison sites and when it asks about subsidence state "yes" and watch how may insurers decline to provide a quote.
    Make sure that you don't enter your correct name or house number. Use a postcode from a mile or two away.
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 15th Oct 18, 4:19 PM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 18, 4:19 PM
    • #7
    • 15th Oct 18, 4:19 PM
    yes thats a fair point. In the end I wouldnt really say my house suffers from subsidence as the conservatory is effectively a separate building as far as the structural integrity is concerned.
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 15th Oct 18, 7:32 PM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    • #8
    • 15th Oct 18, 7:32 PM
    • #8
    • 15th Oct 18, 7:32 PM
    Upon closer inspection, it looks like all of the joints between the conservatory and the house are opening up.

    I don't know what the best course of action is. Obviously I can wait and see if it gets worse.

    I can call the conservatory company and ask for ideas.

    Could the conservatory be rebuilt, using the same materials, in order to reduce costs?

    Some photos




    https://ibb.co/cdJ1i0
    https://ibb.co/hadZ30
    • Gloomendoom
    • By Gloomendoom 15th Oct 18, 7:41 PM
    • 15,142 Posts
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    Gloomendoom
    • #9
    • 15th Oct 18, 7:41 PM
    • #9
    • 15th Oct 18, 7:41 PM
    With cracks that size, I wouldn't do anything other than keep an eye on them.

    Before you start ringing insurers, remember that a house with a recorded history of subsidence can be difficult to sell.
    Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience. - Mark Twain
    • Aylesbury Duck
    • By Aylesbury Duck 15th Oct 18, 8:27 PM
    • 2,402 Posts
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    Aylesbury Duck
    I'd monitor the cracks and see if they close up as we enter cooler and wetter months. The only thing to watch out for is a broken slab. The old conservatory we inherited here was on a slab that had subsided and collapsed in the middle, possibly after the clay soil it was on dried out. When we replaced it the whole thing was dug up and a much deeper foundation put in under the new slab.
    • Davesnave
    • By Davesnave 16th Oct 18, 8:23 AM
    • 26,679 Posts
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    Davesnave

    I can call the conservatory company and ask for ideas.
    Originally posted by MSaxp
    They probably won't have any.

    The usual standard for a conservatory is 450mm foundations, but if you're on tricky ground and the house foundations are a standard 1m deep, what you are seeing is likely to be differential movement between the two.

    Of course, the conservatory company could have gone deeper, but they are most interested in being competitive price wise. Unlike a building inspector, they probably wouldn't have cared what soil/ground you have.

    It's too early to think about re-building. We are not likely to get many summers more dry than the one we've just had. It could well be just a minor problem, made tolerable with flexible sealant.
    Last edited by Davesnave; 16-10-2018 at 8:25 AM.
    A garden is never so good as it will be next year....
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 16th Oct 18, 8:51 AM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    Thank you. It does make me feel a bit better.

    The cracks are not huge, we hadnt even thought of subsidence until now, just put it down to standard cracking that you get in all joints. As long as it doesnt get any worse, we dont really mind.

    Any ideas of a sealant that looks mortar-like?
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 16th Oct 18, 12:18 PM
    • 8,041 Posts
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    EachPenny
    The cracks are not huge, we hadnt even thought of subsidence until now, just put it down to standard cracking that you get in all joints. As long as it doesnt get any worse, we dont really mind.

    Any ideas of a sealant that looks mortar-like?
    Originally posted by MSaxp
    I would do absolutely nothing until the ground conditions have returned to something more normal.

    Your pictures are showing what I'd call 'gaps' rather than 'cracks' - in one of them you can see a roughly equal 'gap' in the brickwork, along the top of the windowsill and then up the side of the window frame. This is just movement of the conservatory relative to the house.

    Hopefully the gaps will close up when the weather is wetter - if they don't that is the time to do something.

    Filling the gaps now will mean as the conservatory moves back to its previous position (assuming it does) the material you've used as a filler will become compressed. Flexible sealant will absorb some of this compression, but probably not all.

    That will then put a compressive stress on the brickwork, windowsill and window frame and potentially do further damage.

    If the gaps close up in the winter, but then start reopening next summer (if it is a dry one) then you will know it is a seasonal issue. Looking at the size of the gap, I don't think it is something that flexible sealant will effectively deal with - the required 'stretch' is too much - unless you perhaps wait until the mid-point before doing the filling.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 19th Oct 18, 11:16 AM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    Thank you all.

    This is where we are at the moment. This is the joint between the house and the conservatory. Hope it gets better when it rains a bit.

    https://ibb.co/krD35f
    • PhilE
    • By PhilE 19th Oct 18, 4:24 PM
    • 376 Posts
    • 225 Thanks
    PhilE
    Don't report subsidence to your insurance company, unless you actually have subsidence to the main property. Your premiums will rocket and the value of your property will go down.,

    From what you've described you have cracks in a temporary outbuilding, which has a shallow foundation and life expectancy of around 10 years. There is no need to report this to your insurance company.
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 8th Nov 18, 9:22 AM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    Sorry to come back to this.

    We have a willow tree in the garden, about 10ft away from the conservatory, can that cause significant issues with regards to subsidence?

    Its only a small tree (about 10 feet tall) and is pruned every year, so doesnt grow taller than that. Would pollarding help reduce subsidence risk? Ideally, I dont want to kill the tree.
    • Ganga
    • By Ganga 8th Nov 18, 2:25 PM
    • 1,362 Posts
    • 714 Thanks
    Ganga
    Most insurance copanies do not like willow trees as their roots go a long way underground and can cause damage to property.
    ITS NOT EASY TO GET EVERYTHING WRONG ,I HAVE TO WORK HARD TO DO IT!
    • Stanleybasin
    • By Stanleybasin 10th Nov 18, 8:21 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Stanleybasin
    It sounds and looks like the start of subsidence, presuming your on clay soil? Willows shouldn’t really be anywhere near buildings unless the foundations have been designed with it in mind.

    Do you know how old the willow tree is?

    Without knowing all the ins and outs I’d say remove the tree, I’m pretty sure your insurance company would decline a claim.
    • MSaxp
    • By MSaxp 10th Nov 18, 8:58 AM
    • 159 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    MSaxp
    Thank you. Sounds like if it was up to insurance companies, there wouldn't be any trees anywhere and we'd all have artificial turf

    I dont know exactly how old it is, but it cant be more than 10 years old, as that is how old the house is and the tree was planted by the previous owners. Its a corkscrew willow and i really like it to be honest (not at the cost of bringing my house down).

    I will start by pollarding and see how that goes
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