The following are the main types of searches that may need to be made in connection with a purchase. If you are not taking up a mortgage it is entirely a matter for you what searches, if any, you wish to obtain.
Where we are acting for your lender, as well as for yourself, we shall need to undertake such searches as we consider necessary to protect your lender’s interests, as well as any searches you ask us to obtain. Routinely we obtain Local Searches, Drainage Searches and, in relevant areas, Mining Searches.
You need to instruct us specifically whether you wish us to obtain an Environmental Search, Plansearch and Chancel Search.
This is a search made of the Local Authority intended to reveal, for example, planning consents for the property, the status of access roads and whether the property is a listed building or in a conservation area.
Any new lender will require you to obtain a local search and we advise you to do so even if you are not taking up a mortgage.
This gives information about drains and sewers and provides a helpful plan.
A Mining Search is required for areas where there is a history of mining. In old mining areas there is always some risk of subsidence or shaft collapses.
A standard Local Search will not reveal any landfill sites waste disposal dumps or whether the land is at risk from contamination, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence or radioactivity. It has been found that there are over 250,000 sites, which have been filled, and that there are over 400,000 industrial sites, which are no longer in existence, which may have contaminated land. Many of these sites may have already been built on to provide housing. It is estimated that 1% of all land in Britain is contaminated with pollutants.
An Environmental Search will show if a property is built on former landfill sites, waste sites or industrial or unstable land. It will also provide a risk assessment as to nearby sites that may release contamination and whether the land is an area affected by Radon gas, flooding, landslip, coal mining or subsidence. The report covers a 500 metre radius of the property.
The principle “buyer beware” applies and if you purchase land that is contaminated you may be liable to pay for the clean-up costs of the pollution created by former owners. You may also find it very difficult to sell the property yourself in the future.
We strongly advise you to instruct us to obtain an Environmental Search.
A Local Search will not give information about pending developments in the immediate vicinity of the property in which you are interested. A Plansearch will give details of planning applications that have been granted for such developments.
A Plansearch will cost £40 inclusive of VAT.
Very occasionally a property owner may have to pay towards the cost of repairs to old (pre-Reformation) churches. This search will inform you of potential liabilities.
The cost of a Chancel Search is £18 inclusive of VAT.
If the search shows that the property has a potential liability you can take an insurance policy which will last for the period during which you own the property. The cost of the policy is £45 inclusive of VAT.