If your property has already collapsed or moved significantly, you can skip this step. However, early detection is critical in order to minimize damage and protect your property. There are often subtle and early warning signs, such as sudden progression of concrete, stucco, or drywall cracks. Also, the property may make noise, such as board pops or creaks. Look for sudden pipe leaks or water leaks in your area as well. Often, soil subsidence or landslides are triggered by water.
If You Suspect Soil Subsidence Or Landslide Movement, Call A Professional
If you suspect soil subsidence or landslide movement, you need to contact a qualified soil engineer or contractor right away. A good source to find a qualified professional is simply perform a Google search for "soil engineer" or "soil contractor" in your area. A manometer survey is fairly inexpensive and will show whether your home is sinking or tilting. A manometer survey coupled with a visual inspection should enable a soil professional to advise you on whether you have an immediate problem.
Another great source of advice and information can be obtained through a qualified attorney. Contact an attorney that has experience in these types of situations. You can Google "landslide lawyer" in your area and get a list of attorneys that handle these types of cases. Most of these attorneys would provide you with a free consultation and give you lists of qualified contractors/engineers and evaluate whether faulty construction or the negligence of another has caused the problem.
What To Do Once Cause Has Been Determined
If a government construction project or pipe leak has caused your soil subsidence or landslide problem, you will need to file a claim with the appropriate governmental entity. Failure to file a claim, may result in a waiver of important legal claims, such as negligence and nuisance. Depending on the type of injury, a claim may need to be filed within as little as 6 months from the date of loss.
If soil movement is caused by faulty construction of your developer, there is another route to pursue. For homes built after 2003, Senate Bill 800 requires a claim to be filed with the developer that will give him a chance to repair. If the repair proposal is insufficient, mediation must be pursued. If mediation does not resolve the matter, litigation is the final resort.
If the soil movement is caused by a neighboring property owners negligence, Civil Code 832 comes into play. CC 832 states that neighbors owe one another lateral and subjacent support.
This type of claim often takes a year or more to resolve. Depending on the extent of the damage to your property, you may want to consider making alternative living arrangements. You should also consider negotiating with your bank to freeze the loan payments during the litigation process. Your attorney can help you with the loan freeze.
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