Professional underpinning contractors can help to strengthen the foundations of an existing structure below ground level. Underpinning is most commonly used to treat subsidence, which is when the foundations of a building move slightly and need specialist repair work to avoid further damage. Subsidence occurs when subsoil draws away from the foundations, creating a cavity the building subsides into. It’s most commonly caused by faulty drains or tree roots but can also appear in properties that have been built on an unlevel surface, for example, a hill, or in the case of an earthquake.
The other reason that your property might need underpinning is if you are planning on building another storey either above or below ground level. This can often mean the depth of the existing foundations is no longer adequate to support the load of the modified building.
Do I Need Underpinning?
It’s impossible to tell if your house needs underpinning without a professional assessment. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that mean you should get your property checked out. The most obvious are cracks in the walls – but don’t worry, this doesn’t always signify subsidence. Old or new plaster can often crack, but deep cracks, particularly around the doors or window frames are danger signs.
In some cases, tackling the cause of subsidence, such as faulty drains or tree roots can correct the problem. In other cases, underpinning is needed. This is particularly true for old properties with shallow foundations. A chartered surveyor will be able to advise you on the best course of action for your property.
Is Building Regulations Approval Needed For Underpinning?
If your house does indeed need underpinning, it’s important that you know exactly what permissions you need. The regulations define this as building work and appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that the underpinning stabilises the movement of the building. Any sewers or drain nearby must also be taken into account.
It’s essential that Underpinning has Building Regulations Approval as if not carried out correctly, it could cause significant damage, or even collapse, to the existing property. This is why it is absolutely vital that a trained professional carry out the work.
How Do I Get Building Regulations Approval For Underpinning?
In order to get building regulations approval, you need to contact a ‘building control body’ (BCB) to check the building regulations or apply for approval. There are two different types of BCB:
- Local Authority BCB – you apply to your council for approval
- Private BCB – You apply through a private approved inspector, who will notify your local authority about the work
There are three types of application that you can apply for. These are:
- Full Plans – This is the most thorough option and the one you will need if you are having underpinning work carried out. You can expect a decision within 5 weeks or 2 months with your consent.
- Building Notice – This is the kind of application you need for smaller projects and you can start work 2 days after your notice has been submitted to your BCB. You do not get formal approval like you do with full plans.
- Regularisation – This is when you apply for retrospective work that has been carried out without consent (this applies to work carried out after 11 November 1985). This type of application can only be applied for by a local authority BCB.
How Much Does A Building Regulations Application For Underpinning Cost?
The cost depends on the following:
- The type of work involved
- The number of dwellings in the building
- The total floor area (particularly relevant for underpinning)
Do You Need Planning Permission For Underpinning?
Luckily, maintenance on foundations doesn’t usually require Planning Permission. However, there are some exceptions. This includes if your property is a listed building or is located in a conservation area such as a national park or area of outstanding natural beauty. In these instances, you should check with your Local Authority before carrying out any work.
Dart & Co Foundations
At Dart & Co Foundations, we first assess the problem and then value accordingly. Our expert groundwork solutions involve a number of methods including underpinning for subsidence issues and foundation repair.
If you’d like to talk to a member of our team about what to do next, give us a call on 08002061563 or fill out our contact form to request a response.