Differential or uneven settlement occurs when the soil beneath a structure cannot bear the weight imposed. It describes the situation where a building's foundation settles unequally in different areas after construction.
The settlement of a structure is the amount that the structure will sink during and after construction. This may lead to structural damage or in some cases destruction of the structure. It is usually caused by a change in soil structure or poor drainage conditions in the soil, which may cause some places to compact more than others. Most recommendations for maintenance and some methods of repair or reinforcement relate back to the need to prevent differential settlement.