As homeowners and potential buyers we must be exceptionally cautious of every element that may affect our homes, from initial viewings to moving in to your London home and putting the kettle on. The great city of London and all its glory is not immune to floods. Looking back in history, London faced the Great 1928 River Thames Flood, where 14 souls perished and over a 1000 made homeless.
Are Londoners at a risk now? We conceivably are, with over 680,000 properties and homes within the capital possibly being disastrously affected. As homeowners and buyers in London, we must ensure to check, and double check if indeed our property is situated near the London floodplain. The floodplain is an area of land which neighbours rivers or streams, and due to being closely situated to running water, makes them prone to flooding.
Looking at data from the Environment Agency, currently the most threatened areas within London are Hammersmith, Fulham, Southwark and Wandsworth.
Types of Flooding in London
There are various types and causes of flooding in London, ranging from surface water, river and tidal flooding. Potential home buyers should note that a property does not have to be closely situated near a river to be affected by flooding.
Surface water flooding is common in areas of East London. This occurs when there is heavy rainfall on the ground or paved areas, where the level of drainage to remove access water is poor. In turn, the accumulated water can affect footpaths and public facilities, and our homes if not dealt with appropriately. If you are buying a property in Shoreditch, make sure flooding is considered during your property transaction.
River flooding occurs when the specific river cannot handle the amount of water that is entering it and can prove to be disastrous for nearby homeowners and potential buyers. Depending on the amount of water, earth buildings, masonry with soluble mortar, and buildings with weak or shallow foundations can be very adversely affected.
The tidal flood of the River Thames in Hampton in January 2014 is an example of another type of flooding which is possible. Tidal flooding occurs when a flood is caused by the incoming of a significantly high tide. These tides are sufficient enough to cause minor or even major flooding. The River Thames tidal flooding in Hampton caused extensive flooding of roads, footpaths and also homes. It is therefore important to ensure that your home has flood defences in place, and, more importantly, the surrounding area where your home is situated, has the best defences in place also.
London Flood Defences
There are many flood defences currently in place within London, the biggest of all being the Environment Agency’s London Thames Barrier. This flooding defence is one of the largest movable flood barriers across the globe. It is speculated that the Barrier may possibly face some adaptation and structural change, to combat climate changes and the rising flood waters.
Concrete and earth bank defences are also in place all around the floodplain, and areas which are likely to flood in London. David Cameron has proposed to increase these banks around West Drayton, near Heathrow; a £2.8 million proposed funding is in place for works to commence in 2014-2015.
Highly effective dams and reservoirs can also be found dotted around London, these capture excess rainfall to allow the water to be slowly released downstream, controlling water levels and water pressure. A proposed £13.4 million scheme has been discussed around Gatwick to build larger and stronger dams and reservoirs, benefiting around 3000 homes.
If your home is indeed at risk of being affected by floods, it is useful to keep in mind that you may face problems in obtaining building insurance and mortgages when looking for your new London home. If your property is at risk of being flooded it is essential to have building and contents insurance in place, it is usual to acquire both insurances from the same provider, otherwise this may result in a discount on the premium (which may be relatively high). High premiums would further affect the value of the property, this would result in the difficulty of obtaining a mortgage on such a home to increase, and again reducing the home’s value even more.
Tenants should note that your landlords should have the cover in place already.
House Buying in London
Prior to purchasing a house possibly situated in an area which can be prone to flooding, you will require a professional conveyancing solicitor. A conveyancer will perform an Environmental Search to determine any previous flooding or the possible likelihood of future flooding taking place.
Your conveyancing solicitor covering London can further provide you with a Flood Risk Search Report to determine whether your property is located on or near a floodplain, or if there’s any secondary indication that your home may possibly be as risk. In order to receive quotes from up to four professional conveyancing solicitors, you can fill out our conveyancing form for quotes for conveyancing fees.
You may also need a professional Chartered Surveyor, who will be able to carry out a thorough survey to determine the impact of any previous flooding on the building. They will then also be able to make any recommendations to reduce the impact and if any further surveys are necessary. Your surveyor will then be able to tell you if flooding has affected the value of your property and advise on flood protection. For quotes from up to four of our RICS Chartered Surveyors, you can fill out our surveying form here.
If you require any assistance with information/issues got to do with flooding, or believe your property may be possibly at risk. Contact: Floodline on 0845 988 1188.