THE SUBSIDENCE INDUSTRY has formed a forum to help tackle the surge of claims from 2003 and prepare the construction industry for a similar wave expected after this year's dry weather.
Subsidence repair contractors association ASUCplus called for the formation of the forum to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the claims expected for 2004.
Recommendations on a number of areas are being prepared, including liability and recovery, technical innovation, risk management and cash settlement.
Subsidence claims are said to take up to 18 months to settle with an average cost of £15,000.
Forum spokesman and ASUCplus past chairman Robert Withers said: 'If we can establish a generic protocol in the areas we've identified, this will allow all parties to get on and settle the claim.
'We want to unify the various parties involved in the subsidence claims handling process and enhance the understanding of each other's role.'
It is estimated that up to 50,000 homes notified £500M worth of claims as a result of the 2003 dry spell. If 2004 follows suit, a further 50,000 homes could be affected by subsidence, adding another £500M to the claims bill.
'The industry has lost a lot of skills and expertise over the years, so this forum and our [ASUCplus'] best practice guide will be an invaluable information tool for people who are dealing with an 'event year' for the first time, ' he said.
lMembers of the Subsidence Forum include Norwich Union, Zurich, Lloyds TSB, the Halifax, Capita, Cunningham Lyndsey, Crawfords, GAB Robins, the National House Building Council, the Building Research Establishment, the UK Drainage Network, Structural Surveys Direct, Treesubs, Building Risk Solutions, Ellipta, VKHPDouglas Rose Partnership and representatives from ASUCplus.