Flooding – don’t get caught out on your new property.

Is your property at risk of flooding

If you’re hoping to buy a new home this spring, in all likelihood the first thing you’ll notice as you arrive for your viewing is how perfect the garden looks, with the first daffodils coming through and a crisp blue sky overhead (well, hopefully!). 
This image will have you thinking of summer warmth, not rain, yet the recent snowfall we’ve had was a reminder of how unpredictable British weather is becoming. 
After the wettest December in 100 years brought severe flooding last winter, and with the Environment Agency now warning that one in six homes in the UK has some risk of flooding, it’s important to find out the facts before you buy. 
The danger may appear minimal if you can’t see a river nearby, but it’s important to know that this isn’t the only factor affecting the risk (for instance, surface water flooding can occur). 
Before you view a home, you can do a quick check with the Environment Agency’s postcode checker (http://apps.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood/31618.aspx). You can ask your estate agent about flood risk, too. Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, they are required to treat you fairly and tell you anything that might affect your decision to buy – which would include the potential of flooding! 
If you’re considering making an offer, we recommend you take a few moments to check for yourself that the property isn’t prone to flooding. Here are our top tips: 
1. Check the risk of flooding from rivers and sea (http://watermaps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/wiyby.aspx?topic=floodmap#x=357683&y=355134&scale=2), surface water (http://watermaps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/wiyby.aspx?topic=ufmfsw#x=357683&y=355134&scale=2), and reservoirs (http://watermaps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/wiyby.aspx?topic=reservoir#x=357683&y=355134&scale=2). 
2. Email enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk to find out whether the area around the property has ever flooded before. You’ll need to include some basic details, such as the property’s address – for full details of what’s required, see the Government website (https://www.gov.uk/prepare-for-a-flood/find-out-if-youre-at-risk). 
3. For £10.80, you can order a more detailed Land Registry flood risk indicator here (https://www.gov.uk/search-property-information-land-registry). 
4. For peace of mind, contact the local council to ask about the history of flooding in the area, and speak to the neighbours. 
If your research reveals that your new home has any risk of flooding, and you hope to proceed, we recommend that you seek specialist advice from a flood risk consultant. This could cost a few hundred pounds, but is money well spent. 
We also advise you get an insurance quote before making an offer – or you run the risk of discovering later that your new home is uninsurable! This could be costly, since the average flood insurance claim is now £20,000 – £40,000. Even if you can get cover, be aware that increasing numbers of insurers are asking homeowners to pay £10,000 or more as their policy excess. 
Last but not least, if you do buy a property at risk of flooding, then we recommend you sign up for free warning alerts with Floodline (https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings). You should also visit the Government’s website for more advice about improving your home’s flood defences and creating a flood plan (https://www.gov.uk/prepare-for-a-flood/make-a-flood-plan). 

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