Watch for signs of home subsidence in warmer months

As Australia's weather transitions into the seasons of spring and then summer, it's important to remember the hotter and drier conditions not only affect our personal comfort but also our homes.

According to Mainmark civil engineer James O'Grady, extended dry weather can affect the soils surrounding our homes which may impact the foundations.

Many suburban areas in Australia contain reactive clay soils which are prone to shrinking and swelling due to changes in moisture levels.

Soil movement can cause the foundation ground under homes to contract, which is known as subsidence. When buildings become noticeably un-level due to subsidence, it can result in substantial and expensive structural damage if left untreated, so it is important to recognise the more serious signs of subsidence early and act without delay.

While minor hairline cracks along walls are common with normal seasonal house movement, wider and deeper cracks can be a clear sign of foundation issues. O'Grady says the signs of subsidence may not be immediately obvious or just limited to wall cracks, so it helps to know what else to look for.

Sinking or sloping floors may also indicate structural settlement. Windows and doors becoming jammed or misaligned, skirting boards separating from the wall or puddles forming around the exterior paths or driveways of the home can also indicate foundation issues.

If the signs of subsidence appear, it's important to consult structural and geotechnical engineers, and ground engineering experts.

Building movement can be caused by other underlying or site-specific issues which require a professional assessment and working knowledge of the local area.

For more information about the signs and effects of subsidence, and how to remediate and protect the home go to

Mainmark provides an interactive map that allows users to explore typical problem areas around a house, acting as a checklist for anyone concerned about structural changes around their home.


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