Is your new home at risk of flooding?

This topic couldn’t be more current with the horrendous flooding affecting parts of the north of the country.

It’s hard to argue that Global Warming isn’t happening, and with Cornwall being almost completely surrounded by water it could be at serious risk in the long term.

Whilst the coastline in many areas is one of dramatic cliffs there are still many settlements such as St Ives, Looe and Padstow to mention a few where the risk of flooding is likely to increase during the 21st century as well as riverside villages such as Helford, and Lerryn and not forgetting towns such as Truro and Falmouth.

According to the latest figures from the Environment Agency there are more than 12,000 properties in Cornwall that are at medium or high risk of being flooded.  The postcode unit with the highest proportion of high-risk properties in the county is PL13 1A and the figures show that nearly 4,000 properties in Cornish postcodes are at a high long term risk.  This means there is a one in 30 chance or higher that they will be flooded within a year and just under 2,000 of these are residential properties.

Just over 9,000 properties are thought to be at medium risk which means a chance of between one in 30 and one in 100 that they will be flooded each year.

There are some particular areas at risk such as PL13 1A, in Looe with highest proportion of high risk properties in the Cornwall where 303 properties have a high risk of flooding.  That was followed by PL13 1D, also in Looe, where 160 of 323 properties are at high risk, and TR11 3Y in Falmouth where 26 of 62 properties are at high risk.  This excludes postcodes where there are less than 10 properties and despite these numbers only 3% of residential properties in Cornwall are affected.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service attended 72 incidents of flooding in 2018/19 but not all flooding incidents attended by fire crews are caused by the weather, with some caused by burst water mains and in some cases people have accidentally left taps running.

As part of any survey such as a HomeBuyers Survey or a Building Survey even before we leave the office to carry out our inspection the risk of flooding is something we always consider and each property is checked on the Environment Agency website before being inspected.  The EA website should not be the only consideration however and we are always mindful when on site to assess the risk consider the effect on drainage from a building.

It may not be of great concern in the case of a property with land if part of the lower meadow floods in winter but any flooding affecting the house or buildings could be catastrophic.

One of our surveyors recalls surveying a very low-lying former watermill between Bodmin and Wadebridge.

As part of our survey we always lift accessible drain covers and, in this case, when the covers were lifted every inspection chamber was completely full of water.  What was happening was that the property was so low lying and the water table so high that ground water was getting into the system rendering it completely useless.

So remember when you ask us to survey your new home there are many things that we consider not only the condition of the building but environmental matters such as flooding.

Published 21 November 2019