How Sinkholes Can Threaten Your Property

Increased rainfall over the last few years has led to a rise in incidents involving sinkholes that could affect the price of the property you are thinking about selling. Sinkholes can form for a variety of reasons and can occur anywhere. The first you generally know is when the ground collapses and the damage is done. One prime example in recent months was the sinkhole that developed on the Mancunian Way in Manchester – a 40 foot crater that led to the road being shut for weeks whilst it was repaired.

Whilst not directly damaging property prices it proves that these natural occurrences can happen practically anywhere and at any time.

What Causes Sinkholes?

They generally occur in areas where there is soluble rock such as limestone or gypsum that can be eroded by the passage of water. Where the bedrock is exposed this can be easily seen and the erosion monitored but where the bedrock is hidden the first idea that there might be a problem is when the ground collapses.

The rise in sinkholes in the UK isn’t just all down to the changing environment. It also has a lot to do with buildings and construction, in particular the run off of water that these create. Combine this with areas such as the South East of England where they are suffering higher rainfalls than normal and you begin to create a good environment for sinkholes to develop.

Most of the sinkholes created are not as bad, nor as dangerous, as the large crater in Manchester but they can have an adverse effect on the price of a property.

Sinkholes and Property Prices

Obviously if your property is in an area that is prone to sinkholes it can cause a problem when you come to sell. Not only are insurers beginning to take this type of occurrence into account, increasing their premiums, but it can lead to substantial repair costs if one should occur on or around your property. Many surveyors check ground stability for a home especially if it is in a potential flood area and this may, of course, have a negative impact on the value of the property.

There has been little research done on how the presence or potential for a sinkhole could affect property prices in the UK in general, but in Florida they have been suffering from the problem for some time. In at least three counties across the state there is a problem with the soil and there have been a number of notable incidents, including one where a fifty foot hole appeared behind a property in Windermere. Even the appearance of a sinkhole some distance away has led to the property prices in the area shifting down by as much as 40 to 50%.

Whilst we are not in the same situation as Florida here in the UK, the increase in rainfall in some areas of the country has raised concern about possible sinkholes. Whether you are selling a property or intending to buy one, it makes sense to ensure that your conveyancing highlights any potential that one might occur.

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