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When you purchase a property, your conveyancer is there to help assist, advise and protect your legal interest throughout.  As part of the process, pre-contract searches are often raised to ensure we have as much information as possible about the prospective property before committing you to purchase upon an exchange of contracts.

While there are several types of pre-contract searches, the four most common types obtained in a residential property transaction are explained in our article by property Conveyancer and Wollens partner Mark Iddles.  

  1. Local Search

This is a search of the Local Authored records for the property in question. This reveals a wide variety things including the planning and building regulation history of the property, if roads near are publicly adopted or privately owned and if there are any planning charges, listed building classifications or tree preservation orders covering the property.

  1. Drainage and Water Search

This search identifies if the property is connected to mains drainage and water. It also confirms who the service providers are provides are and gives a rough guide as to where the various pipes are located so we can check you have all the necessary rights in pace.

  1. Environmental Search

This search carious out checks on the local area of the property and flags up issues such as potential land contamination, flood risk and ground stability issues. This can then lead on to more specialised searches being required depending on the findings. It is also useful when you come to check insurance estimates to make sure you can obtain cover the property at a reasonable rate.

  1. Chancel Risk Search

This is a check against the property to see if it is located in an area that historically was required to pay towards the cost and maintenance of a local church. While these obligations have been questioned in terms of validity following changes in the law in 2013, the search itself is relatively economical, as is the solution of indemnity insurance if it is a possibility and therefore it is common for this search to still be undertaken.

Depending on the findings and location of the property, other searches such as mining, services and planning reports can also be obtained.

If you are having a mortgage or any form of secured lending, most of the time you are obligated to obtain these searches. If not, or on the rare occasion your lender does not insist on these, you can choose to have some, none or all of the above. While price and time differs around the country, on average they cost around £375+VAT and can approximately four to five weeks to be returned.

One last point, pre-contract searches should not be mixed up with a survey. A survey is carried out by a surveyor who will inspect the state and incitation of the property and produce a report for you. Surveyors carry out various levels of inspection and produce different survey types depending on the service you require. This is something you would arrange if needed.

Mark Iddles 6

How we can help

At Wollens we have committed teams in each of our offices who will work closely with you and guide you through the property process step by step. While it may seem a streamlined process to us, we know how daunting it can be and are on hand to help, each step of the way.

For further information, please contact  Mark Iddles Partner in our conveyancing team. Call us on 01803 225180

Or email [email protected] 


Mark Iddles, Partner 

Email us : [email protected]

call one of our offices:

South Devon     01803 213251

Exeter                01392 274006

North Devon      01271 342268

You can also complete an online enquiry form. One of the Wollens team will contact you as soon as they are available.

Residential property