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04 Aug, 2023/ by Surveyor Local /News, Tips

We've probably all seen the heart-wrenching stories on the news of people standing in several inches of water and mud (and even sewage!) in their front rooms, kitchens or at their businesses as they inform the reporter in a state of disbelief and bewilderment that the excessive rainfall had resulted in their property being flooded.

Dramatic pictures of helicopters airlifting vulnerable people from the roofs of their houses or the army using inflatable dinghies to traverse the canals that were formerly the local road network only serve to heighten the sense of disbelief that this is happening so frequently.

Even worse are those locations where the poor residents have suffered multiple flooding incidents over just a few short months.

Flooding might be caused by straightforward issues such as blocked mains drains struggling to cope with the influx. The risk increases up to rivers breaking their banks and sea swells breaching the coastal protections put in place. And, of course, on the coast, there is another problem caused by greater tides: coastal erosion, where the number of stories of collapsing cliffs impacting the communities residing on top of them seem to be increasing in regularity.

The science behind these phenomena is quite complex, but simply it primarily comes down to impact of climate change. The consistent record-breaking high temperatures for countries and the planet as a whole creates volatile weather systems causing extremes in weather. So, rather than having the occasional heatwave, we now experience temperatures nudging into the high thirties and even the forties on a regular basis, even though the UK has a nominally temperate climate.

When it comes to rain, rather than the historically clement showers that Britain has been used to, the country now experiences deluges of huge proportions, dumping as much rain as we normally get in a few weeks on the (sometimes baked hard) land in just hours. Couple this with the approach to farming of some animals, which pull up most of the greenery in the earth, and the fashion to have hard-standing elements to gardens such as patios, decking and artificial grass, any rain that falls runs off the land, and on into the drains or rivers.

The drainage system in the United Kingdom is antique with much of it dating back to the Victorian engineers who built the labyrinth of tunnels. As the rain falls, the structure becomes overwhelmed and the drains back up, creating a flood risk. Water companies, after years of neglecting essential upgrades to the sewerage and drainage systems are then forced to let sewage outfall into the rivers and sea, itself creating a natural disaster.

In a similar way, because of the volume of water from heavy rainfall flowing off the land into the rivers, the levels swell until they break their banks and flood the area.

There is also the knock-on impact from flooding at a property when it comes to house insurance and making claims for flood damage. With the increase in the number of flooding events and their frequency, insurance providers are understandably boosting the premiums that need to be paid for homeowners in the affected areas, which are likely to be even higher for those where it occurs repeatedly.

All of this doom and gloom is probably not what you want to hear when it comes to moving house and you're investigating the possibility that the new home you were looking forward to buying and moving into may be subject to heightened flood risk. All because of where it's located or because of issues with the drains and sewage systems that service it.

But there are things you can do, so don't despair!

Flood advice

The governmental Environment Agency has a website for users to check the current state of flooding and the alerts and severity of them that are in place. This can be on a general area of the country or a specific location. 

One of the things you can do, particularly if you are moving into an area you are unfamiliar with, is to check the current status using the postcode of the property you are thinking of buying. The websites are regularly updated for England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

You could also visit the area and strike up conversations with your potential neighbours to get their experiences of how likely the area is to flood and the regularity of it doing so.

Checking the flood records

With the worrying statistic that, currently, one in six properties at risk of flooding by 2050, and likely to increase with the state of environmental impact from climate change, it is essential that the history of flooding at your proposed property specifically and the local area generally is checked.

Your conveyancing solicitors will order a flood search as a matter of course during the legal processing of your planned purchase. This will provide the information that you're looking for. If there are questions or concerns, this information can be passed on to your surveyor for them to investigate further for evidence of prior flooding.

If you have taken the decision to pay for a RICS Level 3 Survey, the most comprehensive of the surveys available, the surveyor will actively search for evidence of flooding and its impact. For the RICS Level 2 Survey, the surveyor will observe accessible areas to identify any possible evidence, but won't delve too deeply - unless that evidence is very obvious. In either report, your appointed surveyor will also highlight anything for your solicitor to follow up with regards to flooding.

So what you need to do as a matter of course is to order a suitable survey for your planned purchase that has a RICS-qualified chartered surveyor who knows the local area well.

And that's where it really is worth contacting Surveyor Local

Surveyor Local will provide a quote that will not change - what you are quoted is what you pay. 

You'll get one of over 100 fully-qualified RICS surveyors, who is local to the property you are buying so they will know the area and bring that knowledge to their assessment and analysis of the issues with the new home.

Next-day bookings are usually available, and your appointed surveyor will look after arranging access to the property with the estate agent and the seller. Once the survey is complete, they will send you a PDF copy of the report by email.

Call to get your survey quote started, or to discuss your concerns with the acquisition your planned property.

Or you can get a quick quote, using Surveyor Local's easy-to-use quote generator. Simply put in your name, postcode, email address, phone number and an approximate value of the property (usually the agreed price), and we'll give you an instant quote for the work (with an email copy). 

We'll do the rest once you confirm your acceptance of the quote.

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