That sinking feeling: Couple are left 'devastated' after their £850,000 Norfolk Broads cottage develops a severe tilt 'overnight' - forcing them to abandon their home of 17 years

A couple have been left 'devastated' after waking up to find their stunning £850,000 cottage had started sinking 'overnight' - forcing them to abandon the property.    
Ken Pitts and wife Gail, in their 60s, discovered their idyllic thatched home on the River Bure in Horning, Norfolk had developed a severe tilt around three months ago.
The couple have now been forced to move out of their home of 17 years while they wait to find out whether it will have to be demolished. 
Today Mr Pitts said there had been no warning signs that the west side of their home starting to sink and that it simply happened 'overnight', leaving them 'devastated'. 

Neighbours have claimed the 1970s-built cottage started sinking shortly after it was re-thatched because wooden pile foundations had broken under the weight. 
Signs have been erected around the property with the words 'Danger; Unsafe.'  
The site of their reed-thatched home leaning significantly to one side has caused a stir among locals and passers-by.  

Building surveyor at North & Hawkins Building Consultancy, Tom North, 40, offered his thoughts on why the property might be sinking. 
He said: 'Obviously the area is extremely wet and most of those properties, and certainly the old ones, will have timber pile foundations which will be driven down to the ground.
'One possibility is the house may have timber pile foundations and the timber piles may have broken because the ground below has shifted or has decayed and deteriorated. 
'Because the timber piles have broken it may be imposed by the mass and isn't able to support it anymore. It is similar to a rock on top of a wet sponge.
'You can put new foundations in. The question is whether you try and stabilise it. Sometimes you don't want to risk the damage it may cause.'   
Some locals also took to Facebook to express their concern for the couple.
Local Maggie Tuck said: 'I heard one end was steel piles the other was old wooden piles. It's the wood piles that have collapsed.
'They are going to take off the thatch to save it and then demolish.Very sad.'
Sally Blackburn added wrote: 'We passed this last week and I actually couldn't bear to look at it, too upsetting.'
Viv Garner added: 'I used to dream of living there when I was a child. So sad to see this.'
The three-bedroom house offers a large garden with a river frontage, along with allocated boat mooring and fishing opportunities.
It also includes a master with king-sized bed and balcony, a well-equipped kitchen and a light and airy sitting room leading out onto a large riverside sundeck.
Over the last five years 25 properties have been sold on the road in the village which has shops, pubs and restaurants.
A Broads Authority spokesperson said: 'It is a huge shame that this lovely cottage appears to be in such a precarious position.
'Unfortunately it is something that can be an ongoing danger for properties built on unstable ground.
'We wish the owners all the best as they assess what can be done.
'If the cottage is within our area as a planning authority we would offer free pre-planning advice should this be needed in the future.' 
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