Commercial buildings such as shopping centres and offices need to be fully operational to generate revenue. However, they can suffer from settlement of the ground beneath their foundations or slabs, and uneven settlement of external paved areas – all of which are detrimental to the building’s operation.
If subsidence occurs beneath a commercial building, it is imperative it is dealt with quickly and efficiently to minimise any loss of revenue and consequential costs to the owner or occupier.
Mainmark specialise in commercial building re-levelling and can raise and re-support buildings and above ground structures of any size. Our solutions are non-invasive and cost effective, meaning remediation can be achieved with minimal disruption to the occupants, and in most cases, commercial premises are able to remain open and function as usual.
What is subsidence and the causes?
Subsidence is the gradual downward movement of a building or structure that often occurs due to changes in soil conditions or the upward movement of the underlying ground. Many common causes of commercial building subsidence are:
The property has been built on compressible clay soil
During construction, soil underneath the building has not been correctly compacted
After a drought, surrounding plants and trees absorb all of the moisture from the soil, causing it to shrink, making the ground unstable
Ground vibrations from passing traffic or excavations
The foundations of the commercial building have not been properly executed or are incomplete.
Heavy rain or leaking drains have caused severe water damage that has weakened the soil and its foundations.
Signs of subsidence
One of the most identifiable signs of commercial building subsidence is the emergence of cracks in the building’s walls or the facility’s floors beginning to sink. If cracks in the walls have been caused by subsidence, they will generally be diagonal and will show either inside the building in the plaster work, or outside the building in the brickwork. It is also easy to spot sloping or sinking floors in the building as floors will look uneven, and gaps may appear near the skirting.
The quicker you can identify commercial building subsidence, the quicker the remediation process can begin. In addition to the signs mentioned above, other common signs of subsidence include:
- Unexpected structural damage
- Gaps beginning to appear between the doors and window frames, causing them not to open or close correctly, due to the movement of the building
- The structure of the commercial building begins to lean significantly in one direction
- Drain systems start to fail and water damage occurs
- Water in the sink flows in the opposite direction.
If you notice any of these signs and think your commercial building is suffering from subsidence, it’s important to act quickly and seek expert advice. Mainmark has delivered ground improvement and re-levelling solutions around the globe, for buildings for more than 20 years. To contact our experienced team, click here.
How does subsidence affect the operation of the building?
Subsidence can cause a huge problem to commercial buildings such as shopping centres and offices. If commercial building subsidence is present and left untreated, this can lead to the closure of the premises which results in disruption to trading and staff, and therefore loss of revenue. The loss is often much higher than the cost of remediation itself!
In extreme cases, commercial building subsidence can also cause damage to stock, equipment or furniture within the premises.
Not only can subsidence cause disruption to the facility, sloping or sinking concrete floors could cause injury to people inside the building, which may lead to insurance claims.
Can subsidence affect buildings insurance?
Commercial buildings insurance policies usually offer cover for subsidence, however it is important you check the terms and conditions of your policy for any limits/exclusions and bear in mind that subsidence claims can be high. You also need to inform your insurer of any previous history of subsidence to the commercial building and be aware that this may affect whether your premises can be insured or not.
It’s important to note that if you are the owner of the property, it will be your responsibility to take care of buildings insurance. However, if you rent the building, insurance should generally be covered by your landlord.
You should also take out contents insurance that will cover any furniture or equipment and stock should subsidence cause any damage to them.
How Mainmark can help
Using innovative, cost-effective solutions, Mainmark provide remediation to commercial buildings with minimum occupant disruption. We specialise in ground engineering that provides fast results without the need to close your business, meaning that in many cases, operations are able to continue as normal.
Our advanced technologies strengthen the ground beneath the foundations and facilitate commercial building re-levelling to lift and re-support structures. Where appropriate, Mainmark will conduct a sub-soil investigation, assessing the soil conditions before and after treatment by measuring how compact the soil is.
Mainmark’s experienced team of engineers and technicians can also repair cracks in the walls, sinking floors and driveways, and concrete slabs.
The technology used is non-invasive and no excavations are required. During the remediation process, small diameter holes are drilled through the ground slabs and foundations to allow injectors to be inserted. This approach is likened to key-hole surgery and ensures there is very little mess and no dust to clean up.
Multiple survey points are installed and located across the building, and are continuously monitored by robotic survey instruments or laser levels.
Benefits of Mainmark’s methods
Non-invasive techniques associated with key-hole surgery cause minimal disruption to the premises and occupants
Time-efficient – Mainmark quickly and professionally complete small and large-scale projects using innovative ground stabilisation techniques
Weak ground is strengthened and the commercial building becomes re-level, re-supported and crack free
No further damage to the building is caused, instead Mainmark fix existing damage in order to restore the building – wall cracks generally close, doors and windows open and close correctly again and hazards are eliminated