The Different Types of Property Searches: Essential Checks When Buying a House

When buying a house, carrying out thorough property searches is key to making sure your investment is sound and free of hidden issues. Property searches provide important information about the property and its surroundings, helping you avoid unexpected problems down the line. In this article, we explain the different types of property searches you should consider, including Local Authority, Water & Drainage, Environmental, Chancel, Planning, and Highways searches.

1. Local Authority Search

A Local Authority Search is a comprehensive check of the local authority’s records concerning the property. This search shows critical information, such as:

  • Planning permissions and building regulation consents: Making sure any existing structures or modifications comply with local regulations.
  • Proposals for road schemes: Identifying potential future developments that could affect the property and its surroundings.
  • Environmental and pollution notices: Highlighting any environmental concerns or contamination issues.
  • Common land or village green registrations: Checking if any part of the property is registered as common land, which could restrict development or use.

It’s important to note that a Local Authority Search only discloses matters affecting the specific property, not neighbouring properties. If you have concerns about nearby developments, an additional search might be required.

2. Water & Drainage Search

The Water & Drainage Search focuses on the property’s connection to necessary water services. This search answers questions, such as:

  • Is the property connected to mains water supply and drainage?: Guarantying the property has access to essential utilities.
  • Sewer maps: Providing information about public sewers, disposal mains, and lateral drains.
  • Adoption agreements: Identifying sewers subject to adoption agreements, which might restrict future development.

Understanding the water and drainage situation is vital for both residential and commercial properties, as it impacts everything from daily living to potential renovations.

3. Environmental Search

An Environmental Search is conducted to uncover any environmental issues that could affect the property’s value or usability. This search includes:

  • Contamination: Checking for soil or water contamination that could pose health risks.
  • Floodplain data: Identifying if the property is at risk of flooding, which could affect insurance and safety.
  • Historic land uses: Review past uses of the land to detect any potential environmental hazards.

While this search provides a detailed overview, it does not include a site visit or soil testing, so further investigation might be needed if issues are found.

4. Chancel Search

A Chancel Search reveals if the property is in an area where owners might be liable for contributing to repairs of the local parish church’s chancel. This search is important because:

  • Potential liabilities: Unexpected repair costs can be significant and impact the property’s value.
  • Indemnity insurance: If a liability is found, indemnity insurance can protect against future claims.

Avoid contacting the parish church directly, as this can affect the availability of indemnity insurance.

5. Planning Search

The Planning Search provides insights into current and potential future developments near the property. This search includes:

  • Planning applications: Review applications submitted to the local authority for nearby land, such as extensions or new constructions.
  • Future development: Using OS mapping to predict potential development in the area, which can affect property value and desirability.

Understanding local planning activities can help you anticipate changes that might impact your new home or investment.

6. Highways Search

A Highways Search is vital for confirming legal access to the property. This search checks:

  • Adopted highways: Making sure the property abuts an adopted highway, providing legal access.
  • Private roadways: Verifying any private roadways have the right of way and connect to public highways.

This search proves you have clear and lawful access to your property, helping avoid future disputes and guaranteeing ease of travel.

When buying a house, conducting these property searches is fundamental to uncovering any hidden issues and making sure your investment is secure. Each type of search provides valuable information about the property and its surroundings. By understanding and addressing these factors, you can make an informed decision and protect your investment of your new home. If you have any questions or need assistance with property searches, our team of experts at Ancora Law are here to help.