Call us now

I agree for Surveyor Local to contact me.


29 Sep, 2023/ by Surveyor Local /News

The newspapers love to overplay sink-holes when they appear. And the pictures they produce - usually from above or taken with a resident standing by the lip of the hole for a sense of perspective - certainly pique the imagination.

One of the questions that is frequently raised from such vivid photographs and lurid reporting is how sink-holes occur, with supplementary questions of how they are formed - and, perhaps more importantly, how a sink-hole is dealt with and what it means to any affected properties in its vicinity.

The creation of a sink-hole

There are several potential causes of a sink-hole forming. According to the British Geological Survey, it may be as simple as wear and tear of the structure of the rock beneath the surface. Some rock will erode naturally, while others will be impacted by environmental circumstances, such as a high acidity of rainfall or other water flowing through or over them.

In other instances, there may be a subterranean cave network or a sequence of mineshafts whose structure begins to fail. The ‘ceiling' of the open area underground weakens and then falls in on itself creating the sink-hole.

And, if the home is built on the position of a former landfill site, there is a possibility that the covered detritus will rot away, thereby engendering pockets of space into which buildings may ultimately tip.

Impact on homes and buildings

If the rock strata beneath a building begins to fail, the ground will begin to slump. At first, there will probably only be minor signs of the problem if a building is located on top of the burgeoning sink-hole or near it.

Similar to subsidence (created by the formation of a void in particularly clay soils drying out forcing the weight of the structure into it), it may become obvious that cracks are appearing in walls, particularly where they meet the corners of doors and windows. 

These may widen over time and, in the worst case, when the sink-hole makes itself known on the surface, may result in structural collapse. More often, though, there is serious subsidence-like evidence.

Dealing with the problem when buying a home

There are several specialized companies, such as Groundsure, which provide a service of checking the geological evidence, as well as having access to maps of the systems of caves and mineshafts. From this, it can be ascertained the level of risk and what the remedial action should be, along with the immediacy for works.

If you are at all concerned, you can inform your chartered surveyor of your suspicions, and they will look at the specific areas to confirm the likelihood of subsidence and its potential causes.

The surveyor will confirm their findings in their report and highlight, where appropriate, items for your conveyancing solicitor to look into on your behalf. This may take the form of advising additional searches be ordered, including opting for a bespoke report from Groundsure and other companies to verify the existence of an immediate or potential future problem.

And that's where it is really worth contacting Surveyor Local

Not only will the surveyor work hard to find all the problems affecting the property, they will also be keen to adopt new and proven technology in order to give the best survey possible.

Surveyor Local will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay. 

You'll get one of over 100 fully-qualified RICS surveyors, who is local to the property you are buying so they will know the area and bring that knowledge to their assessment and their analysis of the issues with the new home.

Next-day bookings are usually available, and your appointed surveyor will look after arranging access to the property with the estate agent and the seller. Once the survey is complete, they will send you a PDF copy of the report by email.

Call  to get your survey quote started, or to discuss your concerns with the acquisition of your planned property.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Surveyor Local's easy-to-use quote generator. Simply input your name, postcode, email address, phone number and an approximate value of the property (usually the agreed price), and we'll give you an instant quote for the work (with an email copy). 

We'll do the rest once you confirm your acceptance of the quote.

Share this news post:

More from this category