Flood risk check – Can I check my flood risk for FREE?

Is it possible to obtain a flood risk check for free?

Flood risk checks are not provided in the UK for free. According to the Association of British Insurers most flooding does not occur at locations identified on the Environment Agency mapping. The reason is that flood damage and risk is usually a combination of complex site specific circumstances along with unique hydrological conditions.

First of all, the EA maps show the risk of land flooding – not buildings and that is usually fundamental.

In addition, relevant factors include:
  • Type of building construction
  • Level of floor
  • Specific rainfall intensity
  • Hydrological conditions in the vicinity
  • Hydrogeological risks relating to vadose and groundwater flows
  • Surface water flows and permeability
  • Soakaways and other localised drainage capacity or condition issues – the main single reason for flood claims in the UK
  • Mains failure
  • Combined sewer failure

As the majority of these issues are not covered by the EA, or any other public mapping, they should not be relied on.

Can the Environment Agency or my Local Council check my flood risk for me?

No. It is strictly not the responsibility of the Environment Agency or Local Councils to check and evaluate flood risk for individuals. It is the responsibility of individuals or companies in the UK to obtain independent professional advice on flood risk from a Civil Engineering Consultant.

Why would I need a flood risk check / flood risk assessment?

There are numerous reasons including:

  • Solicitors will recommend this is done prior to purchase of a residential or business property.
  • Insurers will often require such evidence to provide competitive coverage
  • Banks can require it for lending / mortgages
  • Often required in relation to any planning changes such as change of use, extensions or new housing.
  • Perhaps you have been flooded or came close to flooding and want to be proactive in understanding and mitigating the risk.

Who can undertake a flood risk check / flood risk assessment?

Similar to most countries in Europe in the UK flood risk check / flood risk assessments are undertaken by independent professional Civil Engineering Consultants. In the UK professional Civil Engineers should have degrees in Civil Engineering (usually including water engineering, soil mechanics, engineering geology, fluid mechanics and hydrology) and be members of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

As such the professional standards are set out by the ICEs members code of conduct. A Civil Engineering Consultant writing assessments should also have ideally have over 10 years practical experience. A Civil Engineering Consultant should work for a Civil Engineering Consultancy. This Consultancy should have Professional Indemnity Insurance for the provision of professional Civil Engineering advice, ultimately with specialist underwriters at Lloyds of London.

Can an environmental engineer, planning consultant, structural engineer, builder or architect undertake a flood risk check or flood risk assessment?

Some do, but it would be questionable that they were technical qualified and adequately insured to undertake such work. A key indication of professionalism, is to know where the limits of your professional expertise is.

Can I really get flood risk checks / flood risk assessments undertaken for £900 and under?

We consider it highly unlikely that any professional company in the UK can produce a professional report for such a low sum as they would be losing money in doing so. The costs generally need to include:

  • Reviewing professionally a clients needs
  • Writing and agreeing a formal contract. Storing documents safely for 6 years.
  • Research, discussion and writing of a formal report
  • Invoicing, VAT, national insurance, income tax, pensions, corporation tax
  • Professional memberships and continual professional training
  • Company insurances, such as professional indemnity insurance at Lloyds of London, public liability insurance etc.
  • A contribution to other typical business overhead costs, such as buildings/computers/marketing/corporation tax etc.

So if you are provided with a quote for even the most basic flood risk report or under £1000, then check if there is a catch.

Flood risk assessment reports and mitigation can cost anything from £1200 to £10,000.