Advisory board: help homeowners and tenants with foundation damage

Many buildings in the Netherlands are built on unstable soil, and more than 400,000 of the country’s properties are therefore expected to face foundation damage. This means major problems for many: they feel unsafe in their home or have money worries. If the government does not help resolve the problem, the costs to Dutch society will eventually rise to over €50 billion and social disquiet about it will greatly increase. To prevent the foundations problem escalating into a foundations crisis, the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) proposes a national approach to the problem. Its advisory report Firm Foundations was published today. It was received by the caretaker ministers of the Interior & Kingdom Relations and Infrastructure & Water Management.

In its advisory report, the Council prioritises the effectiveness with which the problem is to be tackled. This requires a national approach, with five components being addressed simultaneously:

1) Provide proper information about the condition of every building's foundations 

The foundations problem is currently not being tackled effectively because it is unclear exactly which of the country’s buildings have damaged foundations or will sustain such damage in the future. As a result, existing or future foundation damage is not factored into house prices, and unknowing buyers and tenants can find themselves facing major problems. An important prerequisite for an effective approach to the foundations problem is for information about the foundations of all buildings in the Netherlands to be made available in the short term. In a few years' time, it should therefore be obligatory to provide that information when selling or leasing homes and other buildings.

2) Prevent foundation damage

Municipalities, water authorities, and provinces can do far more to prevent problems with foundations, for example by not lowering the water level in peat meadow areas where subsidence occurs, or by ensuring in urban areas that the groundwater level does not vary too much. Under the proposed national approach, municipalities and water authorities will need to draw up and implement plans in the next few years for preventing foundation damage in all areas that are at risk.

3) Support owners and tenants  

People currently living in a home with foundation problems will face the full consequences when the information about the foundations becomes available. Public authorities – but also real-estate agents, banks, and other stakeholders – must therefore offer them the best possible support. For instance, the government should appoint a National Foundations Damage Coordinator to oversee a national helpdesk to which affected individuals and businesses can turn.

4) Create grant and loan options

Building owners bear primary responsibility for repairing damage to their foundations, but the authorities should help them do so during a transition period. The government should make €12 billion available over the next 12 years for foundation surveys, remedial plans, and foundation repair. To prevent some building owners being unable to pay for repairing their foundations, the loan options that already exist for them need to be improved.

5) Improve implementation

The national approach to foundation damage places major demands on the construction sector. The government should therefore reach agreement with the sector on rapid scaling-up of capacity, standardisation of work, quality assurance, and innovation. The Council recommends that the government allocate an additional €360 million for this purpose.

Note to editors

To request interviews, please contact the Council’s Communication Officer Anneke Verschoor at or on +31 (0)6 1535 9540

For more information about the advisory report, please contact the project leader, Joris Stok, at or +31 (0)6 1324 6502.  

You can download the press release and the advisory report from from 29 February 2024 at 17.00 p.m.

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