Underpinning is considered as a part of a building insurance. This is because, in case of any danger to the building, underpinning work is carried out. When the housing property or the building is subsidised, the subsidence should be stopped immediately to prevent any further damage from happening to the property.
Underpinning is the process of strengthening the existing foundation of the building by introducing extra foundation base to carry the load of the dilapidated building. Underpinning is usually covered by the building insurers in the most serious cases.
What to Subsidence and Settlement Mean?
When it comes to underpinning and insurance, building insurers often talk about subsidence and settlement. You can’t actually understand the difference between these words without searching for their meaning in an Oxford English dictionary. May be your surveyor won’t even know it.
Simply put, the settlement is applied when the components of the building not covered by the policy are damaged or fail.
Subsidence is applied when the damage to the building is caused by the failure in its foundation or ground. This is usually covered by the insurance policy.
It is quite easily possible for the building insurer to identify and get control over the subsidence. Its effect on the building can be stopped by removing the vegetation around the building or by looking into the leakages and getting them repaired. Consumers are of the view that underpinning grants the best insurance cover and anything else is like settling for less. However, the damage caused by the subsidence is the only cost covered by the most building insurance policy.
Is Underpinning Covered Under Insurance?
In order to make the repairs effective, insurer first ensures if the repairs would actually stabilize the building. For this, the insurer is generally willing to pay any amount to ensure the stability of property. In this case, the building insurer may only pay for the initial expenses in maintaining the immediate problem and may not be covering the further subsidence.
It is usually witnessed that Underpinning is not required to ensure the stability of property and is considered as a preventative action, therefore not a part of insurance policy. As a surveyor and engineer, it is their duty to check whether the method chosen by the insurer to stabilise the property other than underpinning is viable or not. If the expert advice says that under particular circumstances underpinning is appropriate to stop the movement, you have right to stop the process.
The most common case of movement of a building or its reason for instability is the inadequate depth of the foundation over a shrinkable clay soil. There are other cases also that are often confusing to be taken under movements like overloading, sulphate attack, thermal movement or shrinkage. If after thorough monitoring it is seen that the structural movement of the building is serious and is of the progressive nature, there is a need to consider the different types of Underpinning and the one suitable for the condition.
Thus, your surveyor should know what kind of underpinning should be undertaken for the particular situation and what type of it is covered by the building policy.