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Old 06-03-2007, 08:30 AM
 
971 posts, read 2,615,460 times
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If I rent an apt in one of the larger cities, do I have to worry about sinkholes? Are sinkholes all over the state or just some parts?
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Old 06-03-2007, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Miami
6,457 posts, read 12,974,234 times
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Most of the sinkholes in Florida occur in the Tampa, Orlando, Ocala area. This link is to a map of where most of the sink holes have occured. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/g...ole_poster.pdf
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:31 AM
 
971 posts, read 2,615,460 times
Reputation: 252
thanks, I will check that out

Quote:
Originally Posted by doggiebus View Post
Most of the sinkholes in Florida occur in the Tampa, Orlando, Ocala area. This link is to a map of where most of the sink holes have occured. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/g...ole_poster.pdf
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Old 06-03-2007, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Tampa Bay Area
169 posts, read 763,957 times
Reputation: 155
Default Worry about sink holes

Sink holes are rarely craters that open in the ground and quickly consume a structure...

They are usually small pockets of soil that subside due to a collapse in the limerock below the surface that has erroded over time from changes in subsoil moisture rates - it errodes (drains away the lime rock) during wet times. Then during drought periods months at times) the lime rock becomes brittle and light (the part that drains away tends to be the center of the rock). Later in the year the rains come the soil above becomes saturated with water, heavy and then the lime rock beneath it, which now has a hole in it and is brittle, collapses

But your question is if you should "worry" about a sink hole. What would you worry about? If you're renting and therefore do not own the building then the only concern I see would be your posessions at risk within the structure or your limit of options should you be consequently stuck in a lease in a building that is unsound. If there's another worry let me know and I'll address it.

Two recommendations - one is renter's insurance - worth every dime and covers you for far more inevitable losses than sink holes. The other is a clause that you write into your lease that allows you to honorably break your lease and move with no more notice (time) than you think you would need to locate another place and collect your belongings at a rate your comfortable with, conditioned on the presence of some event that makes your unit uninhabitable (Your neighbor's smoking or poorly rewired stereo that causes a fire - water damaging or smoke damaging your unit are a more likely occurance).

If you're concerned about waking up one night and finding yourself in a hollywood clip of a collapsing building and a run-for-your-life situation don't be. Sink holes start relatively small- they don't hide, you see the settling immediately, an engineer comes the same day and assesses the situation and they either repair the structure or move people out. Sometimes they do both. Very few properties are condemed as a total loss because of sink holes. Serious damange takes weeks to occur. They are frequenlty repaired and recertified by engineers and in most cases become reinsurable.

If you however own a property and therefore the liability of what happens to the structure/improvements under the conditions of a sink hole you should very carefully examine the insurance policy and make sure you have coverage. The state just changed the laws for insurance coverage on sink holes and in the two most prevelant sink hole claim counties they did not make coverage for sink hole claims automatic on your policy, you must separately insure for this claim in these counties (Pasco and Hernando).

Another issue which doesn't get much press but is generally more damaging to property and NOT generally covered by your insurance is subsidence. It basically looks and feels the same as a sink hole - only generally worse, but it's caused by a totally different source which can occur anywhere.

Subsidence is where the earth falls away below and creates a crater hole but it's caused usually by land fills or trash/debre that's been buried and then rots and no longer supports the soil above.

Make sure your where you live has never been built on a land fill and you should be ok. But remember - once upon a time even the most urban areas where once rural. Dumps were in the most unexpected places back then. The EPA posts a list by state of land fills
http://www.epa.gov/lmop/proj/xls/lmopdatafl.xls (broken link)
This is their florida list but I don't think this is comprehensive. Each county keeps their own historic records back - should contact the county you decide to live in.

But, unfortunately even if you know your property's not on a land fill you you may still have a risk if you don't know if it wasn't built on the "waste lot" a builder might have used to throw lumber or trash in while they were building out a subdivision. This practice isn't allowed any more but back in the 60's and 70's when there was less regulation it was pretty common. How do you know if this could be a problem for you? Well there won't be any maps or public records but you could hire a specialist to have what is the equivalent of a land "MRI" scan conducted on your property (in side and out) before you close on a purchse.

The scans go down 90 feet or more and can cost from $1000 to thousands depending on how large an area you're scanning. The vendor we've used is John Casey (727) 844 - 5143 His service can tell you if there are any sink holes, subsidence, how the soil's density changes etc...

In the end, don't worry too much about sink holes unless you're moving to Pasco or Hernando counties. Other areas don't normally have a lot of trouble with them - occassionally but they are more rare.

I live in Pasco county and although you get a lot of reports of sink holes, we have insurance that covers us if it happens - it didn't stop us from buying here.
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Old 06-03-2007, 12:58 PM
 
971 posts, read 2,615,460 times
Reputation: 252
thanks, I think that answers all of my questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ntfeldman View Post
Sink holes are rarely craters that open in the ground and quickly consume a structure...

They are usually small pockets of soil that subside due to a collapse in the limerock below the surface that has erroded over time from changes in subsoil moisture rates - it errodes (drains away the lime rock) during wet times. Then during drought periods months at times) the lime rock becomes brittle and light (the part that drains away tends to be the center of the rock). Later in the year the rains come the soil above becomes saturated with water, heavy and then the lime rock beneath it, which now has a hole in it and is brittle, collapses

But your question is if you should "worry" about a sink hole. What would you worry about? If you're renting and therefore do not own the building then the only concern I see would be your posessions at risk within the structure or your limit of options should you be consequently stuck in a lease in a building that is unsound. If there's another worry let me know and I'll address it.

Two recommendations - one is renter's insurance - worth every dime and covers you for far more inevitable losses than sink holes. The other is a clause that you write into your lease that allows you to honorably break your lease and move with no more notice (time) than you think you would need to locate another place and collect your belongings at a rate your comfortable with, conditioned on the presence of some event that makes your unit uninhabitable (Your neighbor's smoking or poorly rewired stereo that causes a fire - water damaging or smoke damaging your unit are a more likely occurance).

If you're concerned about waking up one night and finding yourself in a hollywood clip of a collapsing building and a run-for-your-life situation don't be. Sink holes start relatively small- they don't hide, you see the settling immediately, an engineer comes the same day and assesses the situation and they either repair the structure or move people out. Sometimes they do both. Very few properties are condemed as a total loss because of sink holes. Serious damange takes weeks to occur. They are frequenlty repaired and recertified by engineers and in most cases become reinsurable.

If you however own a property and therefore the liability of what happens to the structure/improvements under the conditions of a sink hole you should very carefully examine the insurance policy and make sure you have coverage. The state just changed the laws for insurance coverage on sink holes and in the two most prevelant sink hole claim counties they did not make coverage for sink hole claims automatic on your policy, you must separately insure for this claim in these counties (Pasco and Hernando).

Another issue which doesn't get much press but is generally more damaging to property and NOT generally covered by your insurance is subsidence. It basically looks and feels the same as a sink hole - only generally worse, but it's caused by a totally different source which can occur anywhere.

Subsidence is where the earth falls away below and creates a crater hole but it's caused usually by land fills or trash/debre that's been buried and then rots and no longer supports the soil above.

Make sure your where you live has never been built on a land fill and you should be ok. But remember - once upon a time even the most urban areas where once rural. Dumps were in the most unexpected places back then. The EPA posts a list by state of land fills
http://www.epa.gov/lmop/proj/xls/lmopdatafl.xls (broken link)
This is their florida list but I don't think this is comprehensive. Each county keeps their own historic records back - should contact the county you decide to live in.

But, unfortunately even if you know your property's not on a land fill you you may still have a risk if you don't know if it wasn't built on the "waste lot" a builder might have used to throw lumber or trash in while they were building out a subdivision. This practice isn't allowed any more but back in the 60's and 70's when there was less regulation it was pretty common. How do you know if this could be a problem for you? Well there won't be any maps or public records but you could hire a specialist to have what is the equivalent of a land "MRI" scan conducted on your property (in side and out) before you close on a purchse.

The scans go down 90 feet or more and can cost from $1000 to thousands depending on how large an area you're scanning. The vendor we've used is John Casey (727) 844 - 5143 His service can tell you if there are any sink holes, subsidence, how the soil's density changes etc...

In the end, don't worry too much about sink holes unless you're moving to Pasco or Hernando counties. Other areas don't normally have a lot of trouble with them - occassionally but they are more rare.

I live in Pasco county and although you get a lot of reports of sink holes, we have insurance that covers us if it happens - it didn't stop us from buying here.
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Tampa FL
5 posts, read 18,561 times
Reputation: 13
Sinkholes or sinkhole activity can and does impact apartment buildings or condos. The insurance issues are somewhat more complicated than when a single family home is impacted, but smart condo associations will ensure their insurance covers sinkhole loss.

If renting, and not owning, renter's insurance is a very smart move - and it is very cheap, too. It will cover your possessions, and also provide you liability coverage, too. If you buy a condo, you'll need a special condo insurance policy. Your condo ass'n covers all the "common areas" but does not provide coverage for the inside of your unit. A condo insurance policy will provide you with that coverage, and again, it's pretty cheap.

Sinkholes occur throughout Florida, although many people believe them to be primarily located only in the north Tampa counties. This isn't true - sinkholes and sinkhole activity can be found from the Keys to Georgia, and everywhere in between. Don't worry about sinkholes any more than you'd worry about a fire. But like a fire, make sure you have insurance coverage!

Watch out for signs of sinkhole activity at your home or at possible homes you're looking to purchase. Signs of sinkhole activity include what is commonly mistaken as "normal settlement" - such as cracking on exterior walls, including cracks that look like "stair steps," abnormal water or electric bills, plumbing problems, sticking or jamming doors or windows, strange house noises, dead patches of grass or plants (sometimes in a circular pattern). If these signs are evident, BE CAUTIOUS!

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Last edited by doggiebus; 02-19-2010 at 04:34 PM..
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