If you're looking to purchase a property that may be at risk of flooding, you'll need to be more prepared than the average prospective home owner. From the research you can perform yourself through your regional environment agency, reports you can source about your new home, or the detailed information your chartered surveyor provides, this guide looks at the different aspects of identifying and dealing with a property at risk of flooding.
The best way to get in-depth information about any flood risk to your property is to order a Flood Risk Indicator report from the Land Registry. The report costs £9 and will give a full rundown of any flood risks in relation to your property, and can be ordered online from the Land Registry.
A flood risk indicator result will reveal:
You may want to check flood risk maps, speak to locals in the area or even talk to a flood risk consultant.
Before obtaining a survey or report, you may also want to check first for the obvious signs of flooding or flood risk. Check if the house you want to buy is near a river, stream, lake or any body of water, and do your research online. Different government agencies issue flood maps with warnings and information on where areas prone to flooding are, depending on where you live.
England: The Environment Agency issues flood risk maps.
Wales: Natural Resources Wales have long term flood risk maps.
Scotland: Scottish Environment Protection Agency issues a selection of maps with areas prone to flooding
Northern Ireland: The Department of the Environment issues an interactive map viewer.
You can also get in touch with the relevant agency to get a flood history report about a particular property, which tend to be free. If your property is at risk from floods, you'll be able to sign up for alerts from your relevant agency to get warnings of flood risks as any occur.
As useful as online flood maps can be, they don’t always account for individual homes. Speak with the owners of neighbouring houses to find out if there had been any previous incidents that might not show up on a map. If that fails, you can always try looking at local council records. Plus, you can always just ask the previous owners.
One of the first things you should do is ask your estate agent if your area is prone to risks like flooding. A good estate agent will find out from the seller if there is anything about the property that will affect the buyer’s decision to purchase it, and tell you.
For a comprehensive guide to what you should look for during a house viewing, and questions you should ask your estate agent, check out our downloadable House Viewing Checklist.
If you have checked the flood risk maps, consulted the locals and still have questions, you can always hire a professional flood risk consultant. This can cost a few hundred pounds, but they will give you an extensive and accurate indication of:
Both the RICS Homebuyers Report and RICS Building Survey may advise on any flooding history if this is known to the surveyor. However, it is worth getting a full flood risk survey so you know the exact risk to your property.
If after doing your research you decide to go ahead with purchasing a house in a high-risk area, you should definitely get good flood insurance before signing.
Home insurance will be more expensive in flood risk areas, but the alternative cost of repairs will be far more expensive to deal with.
There are even government flood insurance schemes to help make the cover more affordable, too. In general, your location and the value of the property will determine how much you pay. You can check home insurance options to compare and save on different providers.
So, to avoid any nasty surprises, do your research and look up the area your property is in on the flood maps mentioned above, to determine if your property is at risk. If you still want to buy it despite the risk, make sure you have adequate flood insurance.
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