Is my dream home a flooding risk?

I have found my dream house, but I am worried that it is at risk of flooding. What should I do?The Environment Agency can advise on whether a property is at risk from flooding.

t I have found my dream house, but I am worried that it is at risk of flooding. What should I do?

The Environment Agency can advise on whether a property is at risk from flooding. The indicative floodplain maps are available on its website (www.environment-agency.gov.uk) An appropriate professional could also carry out a flood assessment survey - the Flood Protection Association and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) may be able to advise on professionals who could undertake the survey. Your local council or sewerage undertaker may also be able to provide advice. Where an Internal Drainage Board manages the drainage in the area, it might be able to advise on flood risks. Don't forget about neighbours and the local authority, who might also provide useful information - and the library may hold records of past flooding. Once you have bought the property, the Environment Agency will be able to advise on flood protection works.

t Will I be able to sell the house in future or will the risk of flooding deter a buyer?

Being in a flood risk area does not necessarily mean that your home will be flooded. These are many contributing factors that all need to occur at the same time and sometimes this might happen only once every 50 years or so. About five million people in two million properties live in flood risk areas in England and Wales.

t Will the risk of flooding increase in the future?

The risk of flooding appears to be increasing; the two primary causes of this are climate change leading to increase of rainfall and developments on floodplains (which are themselves at risk of flooding), which increase the risk of flooding downstream.

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t Will I be able to obtain buildings insurance?

The Environment Agency's flood maps take into account whether houses are low, moderate or high risk. Commonly, flood insurance cover is provided as normal for the first two categories. However, if you live in a 'significant' risk area you may have to negotiate special terms with an insurance company to obtain cover - and you should check that cover is available before you agree to buy the property.

t Philippa Rudd is a Partner with Cozens-Hardy & Jewson Solicitors, Castle Chambers, Opie Street, Norwich, NR1 3DP.

Tel: 01603 625231

www.cozens-hardy.com

t If you have a question or dilemma over the legalities of buying or selling a property which you would like to appear in this supplement, please contact Philippa by e-mailing caroline.culot@archant.co.uk

t These questions and answers are not intended as a complete statement of the law. Specific legal advice should always be taken.