Should I buy a House in a Flood Risk Area?

Should I Buy

You have found your perfect home; the right size, a great garden and the perfect location…. But then the property searches come back and there is a big red flag indicating the property is at risk of flooding. What do you do now?

Many buyers will be put off immediately, and perhaps rightly so. No one would want to end up regretting one of the biggest investment decisions in their lives should a devastating flood hit.

However, it should also be recognised that there are limitations to the flood risk data used to inform the standard property searches. No one would want to pass up the opportunity to purchase their dream home on the basis that the flood risk has been exaggerated or miscategorised.

The age of a property

In the case of new-build properties, those constructed in the past 15-20 years, it should be expected that flood risk to a site has been managed and mitigated through the design and layout of the development. It is now a planning policy requirement to do so and therefore these types of developments should not typically flag as being at high risk of flooding, particularly from fluvial (river) flooding. However, Flood Risk Assessments were not as stringent and robust as they now are, and surface water flooding may have been overlooked. It is therefore vital that you conduct your own due-diligence.

For older properties this tends not to be the case. Historically towns and villages were built around watercourses and rivers and there is therefore an inherent risk when development is close to water, or along natural flow paths.

Why is site-specific information important?

Understanding the flood risk to a site in greater detail may help change your perspective on your prospective property purchase:

  • Flood maps often do not provide detail relating to the flood depths that could occur. Despite being located within a flood zone, the flood depths at a site may be surprisingly insignificant.
  • Flood maps may not account for all flood defences, or flood defence schemes that are in the pipeline.
  • Flood maps may not accurately account for existing drainage arrangements.
  • Flood maps do not accurately account for characteristics on a site-scale, such as local changes in ground levels.
  • Flood maps do not consider how a property is constructed, the internal finishes and floor levels.

All of these factors can affect the extents and impacts of flooding that may be experienced at a property. The impacts of a flood at or close to a property may not be as devastating as initially assumed.

How can FPS help?

A Due Diligence Report or Home Buyers Flood Survey can assess the flood risk to a property in greater detail, assessing flood risk and site-specific data beyond the remit of a standard property search. A Property Flood Resilience Survey can also be completed to determine how resistant or resilient the property may be to flooding, and what additional measures could be implemented to minimise the risk.

FPS Environmental Ltd are able to offer Due Diligence Reports, Home Buyers Surveys and Property Flood Resilience Surveys. If you are in the process of purchasing a property, or have recently moved in, and want to be better informed of the potential flood risk to your new home, please get in touch to see how we can help you better understand and mitigate the potential flood risk.

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