New flooding surveys in anticipation of 2013

22nd August 2011

According to an Environment Agency survey, 45% of people living in a floodplain are unaware of the fact.

The insurance industry has pledged to cover most properties at flood risk until 2013 but after this date, there will be no guarantees. Mortgages of uninsured or uninsurable properties may then be breaching their contracts with lenders.

In anticipation of new insurance rules coming into force in 2013, George F. White, Chartered Surveyors will now include a flooding survey in all their formal valuations to indicate the likelihood of future flooding.

Guy Sampson, Surveyor with George F White has recently completed an MSc study specialising in flooding as a consideration for Chartered Surveyors. He explains:

“An important point is that your house can be at high flood risk, yet be nowhere near a watercourse. For example, in the floods of 2007, approximately half the insurance claims for flood damage were made by people outside the floodplain. They had been affected by ‘surface water flooding’, where the drainage systems cannot cope with the volume of rainwater present, which instead collects on the surface.

“Difficult as it is to imagine willingly moving into a property where there is a risk of dirty water invading your house and destroying or damaging all it encounters, the reality is that most people are simply unaware there is a risk in the first place. Such considerations become eclipsed by all the other factors influencing which house you buy. Has it just been beautifully refurbished? How close are the schools? Is there a nice park nearby?

“But what if it has just been refurbished to repair the damage done by floodwater a year ago, and what if the only reason the park is not ‘prime development land’ is because the area is known to flood and is undevelopable?

There is evidence that, immediately after a flood, affected properties rarely exchange hands, or will sell for discounted prices. However as evidence of damage fades and flooding recedes from the collective awareness of purchasers, prices very swiftly return to levels comparable with unaffected property.

“Yet the risk of the house flooding remains constant. Why should discounts be temporary simply because a buyer is not advised of the liability they may be acquiring? You would, after all, expect a solicitor or surveyor acting on your behalf in a purchase to advise you of any other unseen issues such as restrictive covenants. If they did not raise the issue of flooding, there is a chance that they could be open to a claim for negligence.

“Our flooding survey now included in formal valuations will automatically reduce prospective investors’ risks and help indicate the danger of invading water.”

George F White also offers professional and comprehensive expert witness advice to solicitors, bankers and accountants on all aspects of land and property valuation.

Environment Agency: ‘Flooding in England: A National Assessment of Flood Risk’ April 2009.

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