So What Actually Is Underpinning?

Underpinning Foundation Methods | What Exactly Is It? | News | U&M

So What Actually Is Underpinning?

Terms like underpinning are thrown about in the construction industry, but it’s not always easy to be clear what they really mean. So what exactly is underpinning, what are underpinning foundation methods and what implications does it have if you need to have your home underpinned?

What Is Underpinning?

Underpinning simply means strengthening the foundations of an existing building. This is usually because there’s subsidence underneath, caused by weak or saturated soil or cavities such as old mine-workings. Some causes of subsidence, like tree roots interfering with the foundations, can be dealt with simply, but often underpinning will be required.

There are two main types of underpinning foundation methods:

  • Mass concrete underpinning is the older method, which involves excavating beneath the foundations, section by section, and filling with concrete. This is a longwinded and fairly disruptive method, but there are cases where it still offers the best option.
  • Minipiling is a newer technique, in which piles are driven or bored through the weaker soil to a level of bedrock or stronger soil, allowing them to support the weight of the building. This technique has the advantages of being relatively quick and non-disruptive.

What Does Underpinning Cost?

The cost of underpinning jobs can vary considerably, according to a number of factors. Obviously, the extent of the work required will be a major issue, but the cost may also be affected by any specific difficulties encountered. It can also depend on what part of the country you live in.

For an average house, you could expect to spend between £10,000 and £15,000, though it could be more if you also require structural repairs. While this might seem expensive, it may be covered by your building insurance. In any case, the alternative of ignoring the problem is likely to cost a good deal more in the long run.

You should always get at least three quotes, but remember that the cheapest won’t always be the best. Find out whether the company specialises in underpinning, and whether it has a track record of satisfied customers.

Will Underpinning Affect My Insurance?

One of the concerns often raised with underpinning is that it might be difficult to insure your home once it’s been underpinned. It’s true that insurance companies tend to be cautious, assuming the problems that caused the subsidence haven’t gone away.

However, there are specialist firms that will insure underpinned properties. This may cost a little more than average, but it shouldn’t be difficult to insure your home.

You’re very welcome to get in touch with us if you want to know more about underpinning.