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Typical signs of subsidence include new or expanding cracks in plasterwork or outside brickwork, doors or windows sticking for no particular reason, or ripping wallpapaer that isn’t caused by damp.
Subsidence tends to happen when a house is built on clay soils and either the water table drops due to a long, dry spell or water is removed from the ground, often by large trees. As the clay contracts, it moves the foundations and may cause structural damage to a building. Subsidence can also occur in sand or gravel when soil is washed away from beneath the foundations.
There isn’t usually a cause for real concern unless cracks appear suddenly and are more than 3mm in width. If that happens, monitor any movement over a period of time, perhaps for as long as twelve months.
If you do have subsidence, one solution is underpinning the foundations, which usually prevents further movement but is costly and disruptive. It’s estimated that only 20-30% of cases actually need underpinning, so seek professional advice before taking any action.