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Hi there,

 

I've been in a quandary about what to do for some time. My detached single brick skin garage, currently housing what most garages do; crap, is showing signs of movement on the back corner, furthest from the actual house itself. In distance terms, the back corner of the garage is probably some 20ft away from the closest point of the house. Currently, and we've been here 4 years, the house is fine and is showing no signs of anything bad. The garage has always had cracks in it.

 

I'm a panicky type of person and am becoming worried about what to do. I have a structural engineer in the family who has very vaguely said "The garage has been damaged due to movement, probably be cheaper to knock it down and rebuilt", whilst my Father-in-law has urged me to contact the insurance with the end game of getting a nice new garage as they'll probably demolish and rebuild also.

 

The problem I have is that everyone - including structural engineer (although not an official report of any kind) - have told me not to worry about the house, but I am. Anyway, I digress, the problem being I think (hoping to have this confirmed) if I approach the insurance company who confirm that the garage has/is subsiding and needs remedial work this will flag up on the property forever more, meaning my insurers (although obliged to continue insuring me) have carte blanche to scale my future premiums infinitely and make future re-mortgaging and selling difficult, ultimately resulting in a hefty reduction on the asking price of the house when it comes to it just to get rid... all because of a garage.

 

This is where another friend of mine, known for being pragmatic, has suggested fix it myself. Avoid the insurance provided it remains on just the garage and the house remains ostensibly fine. I have a good friend who's a bricklayer and builder who has had a look and suggested we dig out the foundation of the garage, check it all round and check for cracks, tree roots, poor drainage etc, shore up if necessary and rebuild the portion of the garage effected and blend in, approximately 100 bricks he tells me. Whilst it's not in my nature to bodge and patch things up, I do feel that at this stage I should give some consideration to this as it is "only" a garage, not attached to the house and, to a layman (and indeed a couple of "experts") the house appears completely unaffected.

 

The ideal solution as far as I can see, we expose something obvious during foundation excavation, repair and no-one's any the wiser and no "black mark" on my houses record. Should the situation spiral and the house becomes affected then it's likely I'll have no choice to involve the insurance, but as the situation stands now, I'm tempted to keep them out of it.

 

If anyone can advice or attempt to allay the fear, panic and sleepless nights I'm currently experiencing that would go a long way. For the psych's out there, I had a very poor credit history when I was younger and spent a long time being sub-prime, so whilst this isn't quite the same thing, I enjoy being "mainstream" without a stigma, and I fear a marker on the property's record for subsidence, even it is just the poxy garage, will remove this privilege and make me sub-prime once again for many years to come. That's why I'm apprehensive.

 

Sorry for the long post!

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Apologies, this is a pretty negative response............

 

Personally you can see all the pitfalls already, I think your solution is a good idea.

 

Regarding making a claim .......

Have you checked the policy wording, a lot of the time there will be a clause refering to garages and subs stating the main structure has to be affected as well for a claim for out buidlings to be accepted. This may be the reason for not making a claim.

 

If the insurer was to take this on, after determining it is caused by subs/heave and not inadequate footings or poor design, they will look for he cause and address for that to be remedied (often at your own cost if not covered under the policy - drains washing the sub base away yes, trees sucking the moisture and needing cutting down/reducing - no) then consider firstly superstructure repairs, then underpinning and as a last removal/rebuild.

 

Telling them, even if there is no claim accepted can be a pain, you still have to disclose to others you made a claim for subs, even if the claim was rejected, it is still a claim under the policy.

 

Sorry.

  • Haha 1

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Yes sometimes separate garages are not covered for subsidence.

 

Even if you could claim, you would probably suffer a greater financial loss by claiming. The house will be flagged for subsidence, making it difficult to move insurers for years, as they increase the premiums. Also the house could be worth less as a result.

 

Many people in this situation will just see it as a problem with the way the garage was constructed and carry out a repair or knock down to rebuild. Just because the garage has a problem, does not mean the house has or will suffer the same issue. You could inspect the walls of the house carefully for signs of any cracks and if you are concerned get a surveyor to have a look.


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Well that's promising, both of you tend to "agree" with my train of thought. I'll keep a vigilant eye on the house but I don't have any reason to believe the house is under threat at this stage, and I think initial shoring up and ensuring the garage doesn't cause any safety concerns like crumbling into next door's garden, with a view to rebuilding at a later date.

 

I think, and this is an uneducated guess, that next door's guttering and down pipe is partially to blame but will keep an eye on this, just an observatory hunch at the moment. Thanks to everyone that viewed and commented, I feel slightly calmer now!

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If you think next doors guttering is an issue, then why not mention it to them. They may not realise and it may affect their own property.

 

If they fix it and there's no deterioration to your garage, then problem solved.

 

Alternatively, if you can get it fixed on insurance then potential purchasers have the reassurance that remedial work has been done to ensure your property has been well maintained.


 

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Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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It's only a theory and I'm not skilled enough to know whether it is or isn't. Plus, last week I asked to go into their garden to view the other side of the corner which faces into their garden and as they had some excavation and patio work done right at that point last year, I asked what they had done specifically and how far they dug and they very quickly went on the defensive. I don't think they caused the crack in that corner but I was just exploring possible reasons, but their reaction was quite obvious.

 

To prove anything I'd need an expert, and may go down that route later on, but for now I'll just ensure it's stable. I'm doing a brick laying course at evening school later in the summer so will gauge how well I do at that and how confident I'm feeling as to whether I rebuild it myself, given it's ultimately a single skin box with a flat roof. Time will tell whether this is far too ambitious or a stroke of genius.

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Do you know where any drains might run under your property? For example, we have the public sewer running under our garage so the cost of a brick built garage was prohibitive for us due to cost of special foundations and bridging over the sewer 12ft underground. Your local council should have drainage plans I think.


 

What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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I'm reasonably confident, having located all the manholes, that the drainage doesn't run under any of the structures on the plot, all the houses in the row (detached) are in line with each other and the sewage appears to run between the houses and the garages where there is approximately a 8ft gap between corner of house and corner of garage. There is a manhole in this space and after lifting the cover it doesn't turn or head towards the garage, just further along to the next property.

 

That said, I'm no drainage expert but have looked at getting a local company to do a CCTV scan of the drains just to ensure there isn't a split in that run near my garage.

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Just thought I'd update this thread and ask for further advice. We've done some investigations into the drainage and there is no damage to any of the drainage systems and neither does it run under the garage at any point.

 

After more measuring and levelling we've worked out that although it cracked at the right rear corner the actual movement is on the front right corner. This ties in nicely with nextdoor's downpipe which the drainage surveys show don't go into the sewer so likely into a soakaway somewhere. The only thing I can think is that their soakway is near my garage and washing the ground away as the downpipe heads off underground in that direction. I will take a picture later to explain it better.

 

Can anyone offer any advice on how I approach this with the neighbours and what to do? I get on OK with them but I'm guessing the last thing they want to hear is me potentially blaming them for the damage. I can't be sure it is that but have to find out somehow without digging on their property!

 

Cheers

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Don't know. Speak to a builder. It might just be a case of the neighbour digging out where the downpipe is and putting in some material that offers better drainage or can they put a water storage container at the bottom of the downpipe to collect water for watering garden plants.

 

Just tell them that you have a slight problem with the garage and that it has been linked to their downpipe. You are not seeking to make any claim, as that would increase house insurance for all neughbours with the same postcode. Explain that any subsidence claim however minor would go against the postcode on an Insurance database and people could see a large increase in premiums. Also house prices could be affected. The cheaper solution would be to deal with the water from the downpipe and once the garage has stop moving to carry out relevant repair.


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