In 2009 the Environment Agency estimated that 1 in 6 (5.2million) properties in England are at risk of flooding in one form or another. This was double the numbers that were previously thought to be at risk. The reason for the increase is that for the first time properties at risk from surface water flooding have been included. The risk from surface water flooding is likely to increase due the rise in the number of unusual weather events brought about by climate change. Some 70% of the damage suffered in the floods of summer 2007 was from surface water.
The losses suffered by insurers will drive up the cost of premiums for those properties deemed at risk. If insurance cover is not available on standard terms it will also make it extremely difficult to get a mortgage. The availability of insurance on ‘normal’ terms and the greater perceived risk of flooding will have an effect on a property’s value.
Whilst information about flooding from rivers and the sea can be easily obtained from the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk the flood maps do not include information about other flood risks, including surface water and ground water flooding. However, there are companies that can provide a ‘desktop’ flood search for a modest cost that is dwarfed by the potential losses that could be suffered if the property flooded. If you are buying a house it is better to have this information at an early stage before you incur legal and other costs.
On a positive note steps can be taken to reduce flood risk. This is either in the form of measures to prevent the property flooding or by using materials that allow the building to dry out faster with less permanent damage. Further guidance on this and more can be found on the EA website and via the link below to an RICS guide ‘A Clear Guide to Flooding for Property Owners’.
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