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Do I need Conveyancing searches?

Do I need Conveyancing searches?


Expert view

You probably already know that when you buy a property, your conveyancer completes conveyancing searches on the property for you, but you may not know why. This article will take you through all the main property searches that are carried out but remember to ask your conveyancer if you are not sure about the searches being completed on your property purchase.

Official Local Search

A local search is undertaken with the Local Authority where the property you are buying is located.   This is one of the most important searches because it includes information about:

  • the planning and building regulations history of the property
  • any enforcement notices
  • road schemes close to the property
  • adoption of highways
  • public rights of way
  • conservation areas
  • listed buildings

This search gives a broad range of information about the property you are buying, but it doesn’t show any planning or building regulation consents for neighbouring or nearby properties. A local search is completed against the property itself, so it wouldn’t show up anything not connected to the property. This is a common misconception about a local search.

You can request an additional search to get this sort of information though. This is called a Plansearch Plus Search. You can read more about this search further down the list.

There are two types of local search. There is an official local search and a personal search.   An official local search is completed direct with the Local Authority. The benefit of an official search is that all the information supplied is correct and up to date. A personal local search is undertaken with a search agency and is much cheaper than the official search.  As the information does not come direct from the Local Authority, it’s not always up to date or correct. Some solicitors use the personal search option to save costs, but we only ever carry out official local searches. This is so we know that the correct information is being given about the property.

The timescales for official local searches depends on the Local Authority.  Most searches are completed in about a week, but some Local Authorities do have large backlogs. This can result in searches taking as long as 6-8 weeks. It’s important to factor in these timescales, particularly if you are under time pressure to complete on your property purchase.

An official local search will cost anywhere from £100 to £400, depending on the Local Authority and if you are buying with a mortgage, a local search is a requirement.

Water & Drainage Search

A water & drainage search is completed with the local sewerage provider.  The search includes information on whether the property is connected to mains water and drainage, the location of the sewers and if the property is connected to a water meter.   A plan is also provided with the search which shows the location of the public sewers and water pipes.  This is important to understand if any part of the property has been constructed over any sewers or pipes without consent.

Most searches are completed in about one or two weeks and the cost will range from £50 to £100, depending on the water authority.

A water & drainage search is a requirement if you are buying with a mortgage.

Environmental Search

An environmental search gives you information, based on historical and current records, about whether the property is built on or nearby contaminated land. The search will give you a ‘pass’ certificate if the property is not considered to be contaminated land, but if issues are revealed in the search,  further information will be needed and we’d raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitors.
This search usually only takes a few days, and costs from £50 to £80.

You’ll have to complete an environmental search if you’re buying with the help of a mortgage.

Flood Search

A flood search provides information on the area where the property is located and whether the property is at risk from different types of flooding such as surface water flooding as well as river and coastal flooding. The flood search will allocate a risk rating for the property of low, medium or high risk.

Due to the increasing risk of flooding throughout the UK, this is becoming an increasingly common search and it’s important because of buildings insurance for the property. The report can indicate if there have been any issues in obtaining buildings insurance for the property because of a risk of flooding.

If the property you are thinking about buying is in an area that could be at risk of flooding, we will always recommended completing a flood search.

A flood search usually only takes a few days to complete and costs about £25, depending on the supplier.

Coal Mining Search

Coal mining searches are completed with the Coal Authority. Many parts of the UK have had mining in the past and this search shows any historical mining activity that would have been carried out beneath the property you are hoping to purchase.

If any activity is shown on the search, this can cause issues with the value of the property and mortgage lenders can sometimes refuse to lend. As a result, we always carry out a mining search, if the property is an area affected by mining.

A coal mining search normally takes from a few days up to a week and costs about £45.

Plansearch Plus Search

This is an additional planning search which gives information on the local area where the property you are going to buy is situated. This includes: 

  • New telecommunication masts
  • The development of any supermarkets or factories nearby
  • New nightclubs or late night noise disturbances 
  • Local school information
  • Crime statistics

It also provides planning information on any planning consents in the area of the property.   This is the only search which provides this information and as mentioned before, a local search will not provide you any of this information.

This search will usually take a few days and although the cost varies depending on the supplier, the average cost is about £40.

There are more searches that could be relevant to your property, but your conveyancer will suggest any additional searches that may be required.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help you move into your property on your timescales, call our experienced team now on 0117 926 4121 or make a free online enquiry.