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Our house is being damaged by subsidence. The insurer agrees and has accepted liability (actually, passed it on to a specialist third party). At present they are monitoring the situation and organising the felling of the trees that are presumed to be the cause. The plan is to monitor the situation to ensure that the movement has stopped and then repair the damage.

My question is: what should we expect the repairs to fix, and what is the process? I'm concerned that the insurer will try to talk us into agreeing to less than we are entitled to, so I want some general idea of what the rules are and the points at which we can argue and negotiate

The property was built around 1996 and is a brick detached house. We live in England.

The damage includes exterior and interior cracking, and windows and one door that don't shut easily. Also along one wall the foundations have shifted, so that the bricks under the damp course have moved out a centimetre or so, and associated with this there is a ~1cm crack in another wall running from the damp course down below ground (presumably right down to the foundations).

  • Will the insurers ask us to agree a list of works before they start? Will we be asked to sign off acceptance of the work afterwards? What kind of warranty do we have if we subsequently discover problems with the repairs (e.g. a window starts leaking a few months later)?

  • How extensive should "cosmetic" repairs to cracks be? For instance, what if there is a visible difference in the paint on the repair? Or will they redecorate a whole room to ensure that everything is even?

  • What will be done about exterior cracks? Will they just repoint them? What if there is a visible difference between old and new mortar?

  • Are they required to re-fit windows and doors that no longer close smoothly? (We had new windows fitted when we moved in ~15 years ago)

  • Assuming the foundation movement is not structural, what are they required to do about the bricks that have moved underneath the damp course? Do they have to remove and re-set them (looks like a huge task), or can they just leave it as it is?

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  • Any questions relating to what work they plan to do should probably be directed at your insurer and/or the company doing the work. – Steve Melnikoff Aug 12 '20 at 10:51
  • @SteveMelnikoff Yes, obviously. However I'm concerned that they will try to talk us into agreeing to less than we are entitled to, so I want some general idea of what the rules are and the points at which we can argue and negotiate. – Paul Johnson Aug 12 '20 at 11:17
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    I’m voting to close this question because this is about home improvement and insurance not personal finance. – Pete B. Aug 12 '20 at 12:58
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    It is not "home improvement", its about what the insurance company is liable for. And if insurance isn't on-topic then why does it have a tag? – Paul Johnson Aug 12 '20 at 13:18
  • I'm not voting either way, but the fact that an area is on-topic in general doesn't automatically mean that every possible detail of that area is on-topic. – GS - Apologise to Monica Aug 15 '20 at 12:59
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+50

There are three parties involved in this repair. They are: You; the insurance company; and if there is a lender they should also play a role.

If you feel that you might be talked into accepting repairs that won't fully address the issue, you might want to hire your own expert. You would be interested in getting their assessment of the situation, and what repairs would be needed to address everything from the root cause, to the structural damage, to the cosmetic issues.

You would also want to understand what warranty/coverage still exists regarding this issue, and anything else related that might popup. You might want to ask for help reviewing the policy you have regarding these fixes.

If you have a loan the lender should be interested in making sure their investment is protected. They will care about everything that is structural. That should also include the windows. They will care less about the purely cosmetic repairs like interior paint. Notify them early so they can get involved early. That also allows you to understand what things they may want to inspect/approve during the project. They may also have requirements about showing proof that everything was done.

There should be several opportunities to sign off on items during the project. When dealing with the foundation of the house, surprises can be found after they start the project.

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