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Property Searches

What are property searches?

Most people know that when you buy a property your solicitor will carry out searches on your behalf. What is not known is what these searches are and what can be found.

There are four searches that will be undertaken by your solicitor on your behalf.

These are:

  • Local authority search
  • Environmental search
  • Water and drainage search
  • Chancel check search

Local Search

The Local Search will tell you if, for example, the property is a listed building or in a conservation area. If the property you are purchasing is a listed building or in a conservation area you will need to request consent from the local authority for any work you wish to do to the property. If you wish to install heating at the property and it is a listed building this will require consent for example; any works that are done without consent are a criminal act.

The search will also advise if any trees within the boundary of your property are protected by a tree preservation order. If a tree preservation order is in place you will need to contact the local authority for their consent to any works to the tree – this includes trimming the branches.

A local search is carried out on the specific property only and will not provide any information about neighbouring properties. The search will reveal any planning permissions and building regulations for any works at the properties and your solicitors will request copies of any documents that have been revealed within 10 years that are necessary.

The search will also reveal whether the roadways abutting the property are unadopted or unadopted. If the roadways are adopted the council will be responsible for all repair and maintenance. If however they are unadopted liability for repair and maintenance lies with the propertied abutting the road if they have a right to use to access way.

Environmental Search

An environmental search is carried out by a specialist search company. They check past land use records relating to the area to check if the land is likely to be contaminated. If the property has been flooded this will also be revealed and you will need to check with your buildings insurance as your premium could be higher than normal because of this. Environmental searches also reveal if the property suffers from subsidence. If the search reveals a high risk of subsidence we suggest you contact your surveyor so that they can look further into this.

The environmental search will also reveal if there are any solar farms, winds farms or alike nearby and if any are proposed in the nearby area. Radon Gas is also investigated as part of this search. If radon gas is present a radon test can be carried out to look into this further.

More information about radon gas can be found online at http://www.ukradon.org/information.

Water and Drainage Search

A water and drainage search is carried out to provide confirmation whether a property is connected to a public sewer or septic tank. The search will confirm if the property is connected a public of private water supply. With the search plans are enclosed to show whether the property is close to or nearby to water mains or public sewers. If there are public sewers are pumping stations within the boundary you will need to gain consent from the water authority for any works as you are not allowed to build over these without a build over agreement.

The plans to the search will also reveals where the private drains are. You will be responsible for the maintenance of the private drain to the water authority connection. The responsibility may also lie with other properties in the street depending on the position and network of the drains and the plan can help you identity this. The water and drainage search will also reveal if the property is on a water meter and advise the location of this. The water authority will want to put a water meter at the property if one is not present.

Chancel Check Search

Chancel repair liability is a legal obligation on some property owners in England and Wales to pay for certain repairs to a church which may or may not be the local parish church. .A chancel check search is undertaken to ascertain as to whether the owner of the property is obliged to contribute towards these costs. If the property is revealed as being subject to repair an indemnity insurance policy is recommended.

Additional searches such as a mining search may also be required depending on the location of the property and your solicitor will advise you accordingly of this.

The role of property searches is to make sure that you as a purchaser are have all the facts about a property before you buy it and do not find any problems until it is too late.

If you would like to discuss your conveyancing requirements please contact Danielle Mellor at danielle.mellor@cookco.co.uk or call the office on 0117 3179719.

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