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Just found out our potential new home is a high flood risk

(29 Posts)
LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:13:47

Was hoping to exchange contracts on a new home in the next few days and reading through all the paperwork the solicitor just sent and apparently the place is a high flood risk even though it has never flooded.

There is a tiny stream about 20 m from the bottom of the garden and the entrance to the lounge from the garden is up a couple of steps. We already have building and contents insurance set up and that was no problem. I have looked again and it seems that getting insurance is no problem.

Any thoughts or advice? My heart says ignore it but my head says that we don't want to end up with a property we can't insure or ever sell.

EsTutMirLeid Fri 13-Sep-13 22:19:12

They ask you about the closeness of water and big trees when you do your insurance. Did you declare it? Are you sure insurance isn't a problem?

Thrustbadger Fri 13-Sep-13 22:22:25

I live in what is classed a high risk area. It isn't, the house flooded 80 years ago and nowhere near since.

For a start there's a massive flood wall built on the canal 40 years ago so the level would have to rise 6 ft which isn't going to happen. Especially as there's now a floodgate system built just downstream and they can open the gates and flood fields instead if needed.

So check out the actual situation.

LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:23:21

The insurance has never asked me about this. It asked if the property has ever had water/flood damage but not about water and trees.

Ponders Fri 13-Sep-13 22:28:52

I know when I have looked for home insurance via a search engine some have asked if there is any water within (I think) 300m

there is a tiny brook about 50m away (downhill) & on that basis some companies refused to quote

but we have never had any problems getting insurance, & if you have already got some set up then I don't think you need to worry either - your 'high flood risk' must be completely hypothetical!

LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:31:30

Sorry forgot my manners with the stress of the report - thanks es tut. grin

Thurst - I am thinking about paying for a more detailed flood assessment as I do find it hard to believe the house could ever flood - but I am not an expert on this sort of thing.

EsTutMirLeid Fri 13-Sep-13 22:34:16

I was definitely asked about whether there were any big trees near the property and the proximity of water. I have neither so I can't say how if I'd have said yes would have affected the insurance quote.

I'm a very practical girl and listen to advice and if a property I was buying was described as 'high flood risk' I jut wouldn't risk it. I remember my friends being flooded in Evesham about 5 years ago, the water reached their upstairs bedroom window.

LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:34:38

Thanks ponders. Off to bed now but will try a few more house insurance quotes in the morning to see what they ask about water. Have also emailed our mortgage adviser who did the buildings and contents for us to ask him about this. (Why does he not work at 22.33 on a Friday night?)

EsTutMirLeid Fri 13-Sep-13 22:36:32

Don't worry about it too much tonight. Get a good nights sleep and spring into action in the morning. Do the environment agency have maps and stuff, is that how they work out whether somewhere may flood or not? Maybe try google for them?

LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:39:15

Estut - I think you do make sense - but I have been counting down to move from our very unpractical flat to our perfect family home for months now. But trying to be practical and make sure my heart doesn't over rule my head.

Unfortunately my dh follows his heart with property and so I am trying to be the sensible one!

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 13-Sep-13 22:40:26

Go to the council's website and see if you can access the plans for the area. They may show whether your potential new home is actually in a flood plain. If the website dies not show this info, you will be able to view actual paper maps showing it in the local library (local to the new house, that is, not to your current house).

LIG1979 Fri 13-Sep-13 22:42:53

Yes - already looked at the environment agency website and there is a few bad areas on either side of us (a couple of roads away) and a tiny bit at the edge between the garden and the land behind it. There is very little flood risk in the estate.

ILoveAFullFridge Fri 13-Sep-13 22:46:38

Even if the insurance do not ask about water when they quote, you may find when you get the paperwork that flooding is specifically excluded if you have a water source nearby. Or they may cancel it on you after a few weeks. I've had that happen to me. Once when the insurers realised that I lived under a flat roof, and another time (different property, different insurers) when they realised that there was a tree within a couple of metres of the house. Very frustrating.

lottiegarbanzo Fri 13-Sep-13 22:49:43

What is the document that warns of the risk? Can your solicitor offer any interpretation? Check on the environment agency web-site. Remember a one in a hundred year flood doesn't sound very likely but next year could be the one.

Is it a newish house? There has been a lot of building on floodplains against EA advice in recent decades. You could check with EA, or the planning authority, what EA's comments on the planning application for the development were. If they advised against, it could still have been built but could be really problematic.

I used a number of comparison sites when renewing our insurance recently. I'm pretty sure they all asked the 'within x metres of a watercourse' question, do check.

Hogwash Fri 13-Sep-13 22:52:43

We went through this years ago and our instinct was to not touch the properties. Follow your head, not your heart, and look at the actual risk - if it floods you loose everything.

Prawntoast Fri 13-Sep-13 23:00:20

It's a really difficult issue. We offered on a house last year and as part of the searches the house was revealed as being in a high flood risk area. We were advised to obtain a more detailed flood risk assessment. It came back indicating that although the property was in a high risk area, no insurance claims for flood damage had been made in the near vincinity but that houses around 100ms away had. The report concluded that insurance should not be a problem. I did my own research and obtain a number of quotes, Esure refused to cover but the other 3 insurers did cover, but the premiums were substantially higher than the current property we were living in (same size etc so reasonably comparable). Insurance is the biggest issue. historically insurers have agreed that they will continue to offer insurance to high risk properties as long as the govt commits to flood defence improvements. these haven't been that forthcoming but insurers are still at the moment mostly covering these properties and are saying that all policies may have an additional premium to cover flood risk regardless of whether your property is in a flood risk area. They aren't legally obliged to do this though, after all why should all their customers pay for a risk that they aren't exposed to, that's not the point of individually underwritten insurance. So there is a risk that insurance will continue to become more expensive for flood risk properties, regardless of whether the property has been affected in the past or the property will be non insurable and thus unmortgageable.
For what it's worth we pulled out of the sale and purchased elsewhere and I work in insurance so know how they operate.

Prawntoast Fri 13-Sep-13 23:01:33

Aargh, just realised there's no paragraphs in my post above, apologies for the readability of lack thereof.

Prawntoast Fri 13-Sep-13 23:02:19

Or that not of, that's it I'm off to bed!

greenfolder Fri 13-Sep-13 23:10:23

things have moved on with this issue;

Prawntoast Fri 13-Sep-13 23:16:24

it's an agreement in principle, personally I wouldn't purchase a property in a high risk area until the ABI proposal is actually implemented as there are still "implementation issues" to resolve but it will depend on your own acceptance of risk.

MrsAMerrick Sat 14-Sep-13 08:31:49

We bought our house 8 years ago, and it is in a high flood risk. However, we are on a road where one side is higher than the other, IyswIm. Our house is up a steep drive, about 8ft above the road. On the other side the houses are at road level, and there is a tiny strength which runs along the bottom of the ditch at the back of their gardens, about 4ft lower than the houses. There was a really bad flood about 15 years ago, the stream turned into a raging torrent and flooded all the houses opposite, up to the light switched in their downstairs rooms. It's never been as bad since, but a little way along the road someone's car got washed away when it rained heavily last year.
Just after we moved in there was a huge storm and the tiny stream which had effectively dried up Rose by 5ft in a matter of 3 hours - I couldn't believe how fast it happened. it almost reached some houses but not quite. I think before buying a house in a flood risk are you have to look at the geography. I would never have believed that a tiny trickle of water could become so dangerous so quickly. We asked the neighbours on each side to show us how high the waters had come up before we bought. Insurance wasn't a huge problem because the person we spoke to had the sense to understand that, although we were within 50m of a stream, we were about 3m above it. I love the road we live in but I would Never buy a house on the other side. Floods are horrid things.

LIG1979 Sat 14-Sep-13 09:30:48

Thanks. After a sleepless night we have decided to get a further assessment before we make a decision.

Managed to find a few quotes that asked about the distance from water and they still seemed quite happy to insure at a good price.

The flood risk is not actually on the house but at the bottom of the garden so I imagine by the time you get to the house any flood would be minimal since it is quite a bit higher than the brook. However, the office at the bottom of the garden is on a platform which makes me wonder if the sellers knew about the risk when putting that in.

There haven't been any floods in the history and similarly the claims for flooding is 'low' in the report.

The frustrating thing is that the solicitor got the report a month ago and only sent it to us yesterday!

BrownSauceSandwich Sat 14-Sep-13 10:06:46

I would definitely want to know how high above water level the house is. A couple of steps would not cut it for me... three meters, probably yes. You only have to look at aerial photos of the flooding of recent years to know that a horizontal distance of 20 m or so from a water course is no protection... You want height.

As for the environment agency's maps... Well, I wouldn't trust them massively. A good friend of mine is blacklisted by the insurance companies that stick rigorously to EA forecasting, even though his house is on a cliff 10m above the river.

If I were you, I'd look at an ordnance survey map of the area, see what larger water courses your stream runs into. If there's a big, flood prone river near the same elevation, it could well back-up way beyond the height you'd expect of the stream. Find out about any flooding in the area over the last 10 years... Add an extra metre to the height of the worst flood, for good measure. If your house is still clear, I reckon I'd go for it.

headlesslambrini Sat 14-Sep-13 10:11:07

Not sure where you are in the country but we are meant to be in for a really bad wet day tomorrow. Why don't you ask to go around and actually see for yourself what it's like.

Minnieisthedevilmouse Sat 14-Sep-13 10:16:28

99% of London is on a high flood risk due to Thames. Regularly it's high enough to wet basements in offices. Barrier protects outer layers on almost daily basis.

Nobody suggests moving it. Everyone is insured. So, it's a calculated risk really. Think carefully. But you don't have to not move just because of it.

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