The typically soggy summer and torrential rain across most parts of the UK has highlighted the issue of flooding and the problems it can cause in many homes and communities – acting as a reminder that prospective homebuyers need to be aware of ‘surprise factors’ like flooding  which aren’t always apparent when buying a new home.

Research from insurance comparison website, Quotezone has revealed a list of possible risks for homeowners, along with their associated spike in insurance premiums – with flooding being one of the most prominent causes of high insurance costs. A history of flooding can increase home insurance premiums by an average of 128%. In addition to this, the climate emergency is increasing the frequency and severity of flooding across the UK so that flood damage and its associated costs are only likely to get worse. Despite this, it might not always be obvious that the house you’re looking at may be prone to flooding which is why Quotezone are urging buyers to be vigilant in their approach.

And it’s not just flood risks giving nasty surprises. Home buyers should also be on the lookout for pests such as woodworm – and the invasive and resilient Japanese Knotweed which can both damage your home and alter its structural integrity. Knotweed and other invasive species cost the UK economy £41 million a year to repair.

The study by Quotezone, which is based on a sample size taken from more than 350,000 home insurance policies collated over three years, revealed a watch list of potentially surprising factors that prospective homebuyers should be aware of when choosing a new home. These include:

  • How close the home is to a river
  • Signs of invasive species such as knotweed and woodworm
  • If there are tall trees nearby
  • Whether the property requires structural support

All of these factors can dramatically increase home insurance premiums – and in some cases, can also cause the mortgage process to stall or the property purchase to fail.

Quotezone have used the list to offer some advice for homebuyers before they commit to purchasing a home, to make sure they aren’t hit by potential hidden costs or future problems:

  • Always check for flood risks. Talk to neighbours and make some checks online to see if there is a history of flooding in the area. A flood won’t just out your premiums up – you’ll also have to deal with the lasting impact of any physical damage to your flood hit property and your belongings – plus the costs of any precautions that you may need to implement in order to protect the house during flooding season.
  • Check to see how close the house is to a river. The climate crisis means that this is becoming an increasing concern for home owners when it wasn’t previously – and insurers are beginning to acknowledge the risk too. In fact, living within 200m of a river (compared to more than 400m away) could increase an average home insurance premium by over a third (38%). If you make a quick search, you can avoid this cost. Or weigh up if it is worth it, in order to live in this location.
  • Like Japanese Knotweed, woodworm can also cause long-term structural damage and – worse than this – they are often not covered in standard building insurance. So be sure to check for signs of woodworm as you look around your potential home. If you go ahead and buy the house without checking, woodworm damage can prove extremely costly to repair. In the short term – depending on the severity of the infestation – it can also lower your chances of getting a mortgage too. Look out for fresh, existing woodworm holes and tunnels in any beams or wood as this will be the main indicator that woodworms have infested the home.
  • Ask the existing owner if the property requires any additional structural support and make sure that you get a response in writing. If it needs structural support or underpinning, this can increase your home insurance premium by up to 74%. This can prove very costly, long term and will also make it harder to sell.

Speaking about the findings, Quotzone founder, Greg Wilson, said:

“By doing their research and knowing what to be on the lookout for, first-time buyers can make the stressful process of buying their first house a lot more straight-forward and help prevent potential issues with mortgage approvals and home buyer surveys, by being able to spot risky flaws in their new house from the outset.

“It will also help buyers work out a more accurate calculation for their mortgage repayments if they are aware that premiums will be higher should they still wish to purchase a property that they know will represent a higher insurance risk.  Especially if the risk in question requires a significant investment to upgrade or protect the property long-term – all useful things to know when working out if they can afford the purchase.”

Have you checked your new home has no hidden surprises and you’re confidently ready to make your move? Get in touch with us today for a free, no-obligation quote. If you’re thinking of downsizing we have secure, stone-built storage facilities right here in the centre of Bridport. We can help you to pack your things and put them straight into storage for you until you’re ready to deal with them, taking all the stress out of moving for you. Give us a call to find out more.