New Subsidence Guide – and My ‘Hat-Trick’

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Tony Boobier
by Tony Boobier

This month ( November 2023) the Institution of Structural Engineers published their new book ‘Subsidence’.  I was delighted to have played a part in this, as co-author and editor.

Subsidence is a phenomena which affects buildings due to downwards movement, resulting in cracking, loss of serviceability and in the worst cases, in collapse. Millions of UK pounds have been spent on the problem. In the early stages of my career in insurance, I spent a lot of time on the subject. When a letter was sent to the Association of British Insurers on the topic, addressed to ‘Mr Subsidence’ it was forwarded to me.

At the time there was a lot of confusion about the topic. The IStructE under the chairmanship of  Prof Brian Clancy decided in 1993 to try and write a definitive set of notes, and I was part of the Task Force which compiled a Guide to Subsidence in 1994. It comprised a major milestone in the industry, and stimulated a number of key customer-orientated changes. A second edition was issued in 2000, which I co-authored, and which was sufficiently forward thinking as to last two decades.

But in 2022 the Institution decided to revisit the topic, and 2023 marks the release of the new Guide, which I not only co-authored but also was on the Editorial Panel. Like the 2000 version, this new edition is forward thinking in that it considers the digital age and also, importantly, the challenge of climate change.

With a large proportion of subsidence being due to the effect of trees on clay strata, the default answer had been to remove or reduce the trees – but this solution has need to be rethought in an ear of climate change. It hasn’t been easy.

But for me, personally, the new edition comprises my ‘hat-trick’ on the topic.

The new Guide is available for purchase at

Tony Boobier