What is an Environmental Search?

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An environmental search looks at the risk of flood to your property. 

As part of the pre contract ‘investigation of title’, the buyer’s solicitor will generally undertake a number of searches. This will include an environmental search. Here we look at what an environmental search does, how long it takes, and how much it costs.

What is an Environmental Search?

An environmental search (as the name suggests) provides details about the land on and around the property you are buying, and in particular examines environmental issues.

What does an Environmental Search tell you?

Your environmental search will tell you:-

  • Contamination – whether the land is or has been contaminated
  • Flooding – whether there has been or is a risk of flooding
  • Industrial or manufacturing use – whether the land has been used for these purposes
  • Subsidence – if the land is at risk of subsidence or there is a history of this
  • Energy and Infrastructure – things like power, mobile phone masts, and so on

Who does an Environmental Search?

The buyer’s solicitor will undertake the environmental (and other) searches as part of the pre contract ‘investigation of title’.

When is an Environmental Search done?

All of the pre contract searches (including environmental) will generally be done early in the conveyancing process. Typically this will be after the contract pack has been received by the buyers solicitors from the sellers solicitors, and before the process of ‘pre contract enquiries’ begins.

Where do I get an Environmental Search?

Your solicitor will usually obtain the environmental search via a specialist conveyancing search agency.

How much does an Environmental Search Cost?

As rough guide, the environmental search is currently £60-70. Remember that once this (and the other searches) are done you will be committed to that cost which is non refundable. So be sure you want to go ahead with the purchase of the house.

The environmental search also looks at things such as former uses of land – eg industrial.

How long does an Environmental Search take?

This varies from time to time, but is generally days (not weeks) from the point at which your solicitor orders the search.

Do I have to have an Environmental Search?

If you are taking a mortgage to purchase the property, it is a requirement of all UK mortgage lending that searches (including environmental) are undertaken by the buyer’s solicitor. Technically, you can do away with it if you are a cash buyer – but it is likely that your solicitor will ask you to sign some form of waiver if you insist on this!

Have questions about Environmental Searches?

If you have questions about environmental or any other types of searches, please reach out to our expert team of property and conveyancing solicitors – we will be delighted to help!

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