Cracks due to drought: what steps to take to be compensated?

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The lack of water that affects the whole of France has particularly unfortunate effects on buildings. The authorities estimate that 10 million houses could be victims of cracks. The reason ? Swelled with water during the winter season, the clay contained in the soil shrinks during the summer in the event of intense drought.

The more these phenomena of climatic alternation take place, the more there are possibilities of displacements of grounds. Eventually, this ends up creating major cracks in the walls of some homes. The regions most affected by this danger are Occitania, New Aquitaine, Grand Est and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

“From the end of August to the end of October, it is the period of maximum dryness, maximum loss of volume. So the cracks will be the most important. In winter, we will have the phenomenon of rehydration, which will be long, and which will come, by swelling, to lift the foundations and close the cracks”, explains a geotechnical engineer interviewed by France 3 Occitanie.

There are three types of cracks, which present an increasing danger. Microcracks, 0.2 mm thick or less, are not of concern. Fine cracks, up to 2 mm, should be monitored carefully, as they can lead to water infiltration. Finally, the through cracks, or so-called “staircase”, which are more than 2 mm thick, are particularly problematic. If you notice the presence of one or more of these cracks on your walls, notify your insurance.

Unfortunately, to be compensated by your home insurance, your house must be located in an area that has been recognized as a natural disaster. If not, you will be solely responsible for the cost of the crack filling work. These are estimated on average at 16,300 euros, according to the Court of Auditors, but the amount of work can very quickly explode. It may be useful to contact your municipality to report your problem, in order to perhaps obtain the requalification of your residential sector in an area affected by a natural disaster.

A resident of Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone (Hérault) tells France 3 that her insurance took six years to process her file and agree to finance work in her house. However, she tempers: “I can consider myself lucky because it was quite quick. When I spoke about it with people in the neighborhood, they were confronted with experts who do not want to hear about and recognize the natural drought”. However, due to increasingly long and frequent drought periods, home insurance is expected to be increasingly confronted with this type of demand in the future.