Well maybe for us they are, but for some properties they are most definitely not and can spoil the most glorious of summers for their owners.
Hot and dry summers lacking average rainfall patterns have a varying effect upon the ground we build upon. Water tables will fall, the topsoil dries out (burnt grass) and as the drought continues the subsoil loses its moisture. It is not surprising then that if an unusually long hot and dry summer occurs the effect of this drying deepens and if the subsoil type/conditions are such, it will have an effect upon the foundations which bear upon it. Most easily affected are soils prone to shrinkage and it is these areas of the country which have shrinkable clay, which are most severely affected. One such area is London and surrounds which geologically is formed in a clay basin (London, Gault clays etc).
If you can remember 1976 (!) it was a particularly long, hot and dry summer. It was in fact a record year of 45 continuous days without rain. The result of this was shrinkage of load bearing shrinkable clay subsoils and subsidence arising from foundation failure. It became a bumper time thereafter for the Insurance industry (cost around £50million) under-pinners and contractors putting things back together again.
S0 …. 2018? Can it happen again?
Short answer is yes, of course it can. Therefore consider (wherever you are in the country) the possibility of the effects of subsoil drying. Visible shrinkage and cracking of soils at the surface? Settlement of footpaths and boundary walls? Cracks appearing in walls which extend below DPC level? There are lots of clues….. keep your eyes peeled!
And it doesn’t stop there! When it does rain, the ground swells again.
- Ground shrinking and swelling, British Geological survey, May 2012