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High surface water risk - where do I go from here?
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coffeecart · 05/08/2022 20:27

I put in an offer on a flat I really love today. I'm still waiting to hear back but randomly thought to check the flood risk website and found that the property has high surface water risk. The risk from rivers and the sea is very low.

I don't really want to walk away as the flat is perfect in every other way. However, I obviously don't want to live in a property that's going to inevitably flood. It's a garden flat (lower ground floor) so the concern is heightened. It's in London zone 2 and most of the area is marked as medium or high risk as it's on a hill.

My main concern is wasting a lot of money and time, so I'm trying to figure out the best way to get more information to then draw my own view.

So far on my list:

  • Google to see if anything comes up about flooding in the area or the road - I couldn't find anything
  • Ask the seller if they have had any issues with flooding, especially during the storms last summer (does it matter how I do this? Are they obliged to be honest if I ask through the EA? Would it need to go through solicitors?)
  • Get a full flood risk assessment - one of those that looks at the specific property rather than just spitting out an output based on topographic databases
  • Asking the surveyor to specifically check for signs of flood damage
  • There are two garden flats in the building. I could drop a note for the other flat and ask to speak to them candidly about whether they've had issues, assuming they would be more forthright than the vendor

Is there anything else I could be doing? What order would you get these things done, so that any major issues are flagged as soon as possible?

I'm not looking for comments to run away now. I'm happy to spend a few hundred pounds so that I can reach my own conclusion as to whether it's something I'm willing to risk. I just don't want this to drag out or for me to waste thousands.

Thank you in advance!

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Alexahelp · 05/08/2022 22:35

Your searches will flag up potential flood risks and you can get a specialist flood risk search done from there. You’ll see any history of flood events too. These reports are different to the publicly available ones sometimes - the general one for ours showed high risk, the specialist one was low as it took better into account the short but steep bank between a river and our garden! Think about where you actually are on the hill.

all this will come up during the legal process, but being realistic shedloads of London shows high surface water risk as it’s an urban area and drainage can be pants. It can be resolved if councils invest in appropriate measures, some are better than others. Easy to say I know but don’t panic too soon.

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VegetablesAreMyFriends · 05/08/2022 22:42

Had the same but nothing came up in the environment survey.

There's a few more threads here on the same.

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Discovereads · 05/08/2022 22:47

I’d be looking at drainage and flood mitigation structures in and around the property as well. It’s all well and good researching history and risk, but even if it’s a 1 in a 100yrs there’s a flood, you’re going to want to know the likely direction of water travel, and how much water the current drainage and structures can handle.

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TizerorFizz · 05/08/2022 22:58

We have had flood mitigation measures put in down our road. Big planted beds. On a hill though, I am slightly mystified by this. You should see any water running form the hill. However if local drains are overwhelmed it doesn’t go anywhere except into basements as they are lower. So get a proper flood survey.

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Turmerictolly · 05/08/2022 23:09

Maybe check you can get cover for buildings and contents insurance once you get the specialist report.

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turkeyboots · 06/08/2022 07:51

And if you go ahead, tile the floors and put all plugs and electrics at mid wall height. Not attractive potentially, but makes post floor clean up much easier.

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Katkincake · 06/08/2022 07:57

Surface water flood risk coupled with lower ground / basement flat I would walk away. I work in flooding. Colleagues have attended multiple meetings with London Mayor to look at the problem it’s that serious.

surface water flooding in cities with basement flats are one of our major future concerns with climate change. Not so much the damage (which can be offset with above suggestions on adaption) but the real risk to life that it presents to basement flat occupiers.

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TizerorFizz · 06/08/2022 09:15

I assume it’s not London if the sea is mentioned. Unless I misunderstood the op. Surface water flooding occurs when it has nowhere to go. So often the drains do not work efficiently and hard surfaces do not absorb the excess water. It is a growing problem with the huge deluges we get. Some councils have improved the situation and the op needs up to date detailed info. Not every basement/garden flats will flood.

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Jennywiththeribbon · 06/08/2022 11:29

Have you done a general Google and looked at local FB groups? We found a few comments about our road which was high risk for surface flooding. I also found local council's reports and planning to prevent future flooding which identified the reason for the last two floods.

Our house was probate so we spoke to the neighbours. They said the gardens (but never the houses) have occasionally flooded (approx every 5 years to ankle height) but that the water has gone in less than 20 mins.

We haven't had any issues in insuring our house but the mortgage company insisted on a specific maximum excess.

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VegetablesAreMyFriends · 06/08/2022 11:37

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coffeecart · 06/08/2022 13:51

Thanks everyone.

I think building insurance is ok. The flat is share of freehold and so I'd imagine the freeholders already have sufficient insurance in place.

I have read some of the previous threads on here but a lot of the comments tend to be "I'd walk away now". It might be solid advice but I'd like to assess my options a bit more fully before doing so!

Sorry for the potentially stupid FTB question - can I get a flood risk survey done before paying for all the regular searches, surveys etc?

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coffeecart · 06/08/2022 14:10

Jennywiththeribbon · 06/08/2022 11:29

Have you done a general Google and looked at local FB groups? We found a few comments about our road which was high risk for surface flooding. I also found local council's reports and planning to prevent future flooding which identified the reason for the last two floods.

Our house was probate so we spoke to the neighbours. They said the gardens (but never the houses) have occasionally flooded (approx every 5 years to ankle height) but that the water has gone in less than 20 mins.

We haven't had any issues in insuring our house but the mortgage company insisted on a specific maximum excess.

I had checked on Google but FB groups was a great shout. I can't find anything relating to flooding within the local groups or on Nextdoor.

Thanks to FB, I've now managed to dig out a recent report by the council into last year's flooding. It's saying there were 5 properties in the local area that flooded in July 2021, none of which were on the road I'm looking at.

There's also a few paragraphs on the road itself. The council reckon a surface water pathway is unlikely since the road is flat and not directly connected by roads to areas of concern. It's at a lower elevation than some of the surrounding roads (which I assume is where the EA high risk is coming from) but the flows from higher areas shouldn't come our way. Houses are set back from the road and bordered by a wall (this is true for the one I'm looking at) which gives protection.

I think I now feel more secure in moving forward - my offer was accepted this morning! I'll obviously still get the flood risk survey done though.

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TizerorFizz · 06/08/2022 14:14

@coffeecart
Map.urban-water.co.uk is a useful
tool too.

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RandomMess · 06/08/2022 14:21

You could get the lower ground floor tanked and a pump but it would be a notable cost.

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