Order your property searches today
Are you worried that a property you're interested could be affected by hidden problems in the neighbourhood? Property searches can give you all the information you need about the local area.

Lenders require the main searches before granting you a mortgage, but they can be very useful for cash buyers too.

Conveyancing Searches

(Last Updated: 13/09/2023)
13 min read
Conveyancing searches when buying a house form an integral part of the process and should be seen as a 'must have' and not a 'do I need?'.

The water/environmental companies and local councils store information that your seller won't know, so obtaining searches when buying a house could bring light to potential issues that neither you, the seller, nor their conveyancing solicitors would know.

Do Cash Buyers need property searches?

Mortgage lenders won't lend their money without evidence that certain searches have been obtained, so why would you want to risk your own money by buying without property searches?

Our advice would be to always get conveyancing searches when buying a house, even if you are buying without a mortgage. All too often, there are restrictions or notes on the local authority register that affect your property/land, which could cause you a problem if you try to sell later on.

If your buyer's searches find issues you missed, that might mean you can't sell the property at full market value.

What searches are done when buying a house?

These are the main property searches. There are additional searches you can order when buying a house, which we set out further down the article.
Chancel Search

The land on which your property is built retains a potential liability that you have to contribute to the cost of repairs to the chancel of a parish church. This medieval anomaly affects thousands of properties across England and Wales.

Whilst the liability may not be recorded in the title to the property, it may still be binding on the current owner. 

As the liability relates to former rectorial land which often stretched for many miles, it can affect old or new properties, urban or rural, and the potential costs can run into thousands of pounds.

Drainage and Water Search

The Regulated Drainage and Water Search identifies if a property is connected to the mains water supply, the location of public water drains, whether there are any public sewers within the boundaries of the property or in the near vicinity, and if any sewers or proposed sewers are adopted.

It also indicates whether foul water and surface water drain from the property to a public sewer, and the basis of charging for sewerage and water supply.

Environmental Search

The Environmental Search Report identifies past and present industrial land use, which may indicate the potential for the land to be classified as contaminated.

If the local authority has registered the land as ‘contaminated’, it can pass the liability and costs for cleaning it up to you as the owner or occupier if it cannot find the person responsible for originally contaminating it.

Clean-up costs often exceed the value of the property and/or land. Most environment reports also contain information about nearby industrial processes or installations such as landfill or waste management sites, as well as pollution incidents.

Regulated Local Authority Search

Most commonly known as the Local Authority Search, this search is mainly restricted to the property/land of the title you are buying and identifies any issues that might adversely affect it.

This includes information about planning consents, highways information and road adoption agreements, and any notices and/or restrictions affecting the property if, for example, it is within a conservation area, smoke control area or if there are any tree preservation orders.

This search does not identify issues beyond the boundary of the property.

Conveyancing Search Pack

The searches above are likely to satisfy the requirements of all lenders unless you have to purchase any additional searches (on a case-by-case basis) or your lender requires you to get an Official Local Authority Search.

We offer a conveyancing search pack for £295 INC VAT. We can also provide you with any additional searches you may need.

Additional searches when buying a house

    Coal Mining Search
Certain parts of the UK are at risk of hazards caused by mining activity, which has the potential to cause subsidence. If you are buying property or land in Cornwall, for example, your mortgage lender will usually require a Coal Mining Search.

This will identify current, planned or historic underground workings, and may indicate if any previous claims have been made for subsidence.

    Flood Risk Report
A property does not have to be near a river or sea to be at risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency estimates that over 500,000 properties are at ‘significant risk’ of flooding. They suggest that 1.4 million properties are at risk of river (fluvial) or coastal (tidal) flooding, with 2.8m at risk of surface water (pluvial) flooding. 1 million properties are at risk of both types of flooding.

As well as identifying traditional flood risks and whether the property benefits from flood defences, a flood report may identify if the property is at risk of groundwater flooding from rainwater, one of the main causes of the 2013/2014 floods. A flood report can also indicate the insurability of a property which may be a mortgage requirement.

    Planning Report
A Planning Report goes beyond the scope of a Local Authority Search by providing information about the surrounding area, more detailed information regarding the current and prior planning history of the property, and information about land use policies.

This report provides a professional opinion about the development potential of the property, and identifies any areas or sites nearby that may be of potential future interest to a developer, but where planning has not yet been submitted. These sites may include neighbouring properties and land. The professional opinion also considers the risk of change actually taking place, and whether you should undertake any further searches which may reveal covenant control on adjoining land.

    Energy and Infrastructure Report
An Energy and Infrastructure Report highlights if your property is located near sites likely to be affected by HS2, areas for fracking, wind farms, solar farms or wind turbines, and Crossrail.

    Subsidence Report
This report confirms if your property is in an area affected by subsidence due to soil shrinkage. This is an optional report which you can choose not to get if you are happy to proceed without it.

    Commons Registration Search
The Commons Search reveals if any part of your property is registered as common land. If so, that part will be subject to public access. If the entire land your property is sitting on is considered common land, the council may order its removal.

    Radon Search
If your property is located in a radon affected area, it is recommended to get this additional report. Radon is a radioactive gas which could make you really ill. The report will provide recommendations in case your property is affected.

How long after searches do you complete?

This depends on whether or not the searches reveal any potential risks. If that is the case, you can try to renegotiate the price with the seller.

If, however, you are satisfied with the results, you can move on to exchange contracts. You can expect this to be done within 1-3 weeks after getting your conveyancing searches back. Our team will help you throughout the entire process.

Order Your Searches
Commons Registration

Commons Registration Search

Drainage and Water

Drainage and Water Search

Highway Search

Conveyancing Searches Example: HighwaySearch

Planning Report

Planning Report

Local Authority

Regulated Local Authority Search

Energy & Infrastructure

Energy and Infrastructure Search

Climate Risk Report

Conveyancing Searches Example: Climate Report

Environmental Appraisal

Conveyancing Searches Example: Environmental Appraisal

Environmental Report

Environmental Search

Flood Appraisal

Conveyancing Searches Example: Flood Appraisal

Flood Risk

Flood Risk Report

Coal Mining

Coal Mining Search


Subsidence Report


Chancel Search


Radon Search

Chancel Search

Chancel Search


Drainage and Water Search

Climate Risk Report

Conveyancing Searches Example: Climate Report

Environmental Report

Environmental Search

Regulated Local Authority

Regulated Local Authority Search

£295 INC VAT

Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing
Reviewed by:
Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.
SAM Conveyancing's guide on getting a coal mining search report

Coal Mining Search

Environmental Search Report from SAM Conveyancing

Environmental Search Report

Water and Drainage Search explained by SAM Conveyancing

Water and Drainage Search


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